Pros and Cons of Hunting Gobblers Before Spring Green-Up

By Vikki Trout

Early season turkey tactics — prime time
for gobblers!

This early spring gobbler is trying to find that hen he heard earlier

Even though there is no sign of spring, this gobbler had one thing on his mind, and it was not weather-related. He was looking for that “hen” that he heard somewhere close by. (Photo: Vikki Trout)

I thought to myself — he’s just over the ridge. If I can move slightly, I will be in line and on his side. Well, bad decision!

Who would have thought 10 yards would ruin that morning? Even though I hugged the ground as I snuck in, he nailed me in the naked, wide-open woods. I learned a valuable lesson about sparse foliage in early spring that day. Based off my own experiences, use these pros and cons — benefits and liabilities — to score before the green-up.

Four Early Spring Benefits

1. Hearing a gobbler after roost descent

Hearing a gobbler sound off with exuberance in the darkness is exciting. And when he hits the ground and continues gobbling, we are even more energized. Prior to the green-up, it’s much easier to detect the presence of a vocal gobbler because his voice carries throughout the woods. Of course, you have to be careful since the turkey may turn direction and will sound as though he is somewhere else. I usually like to listen long enough to determine his location before I move. After green-up, they sometimes talk and we just don’t hear them. Late spring dense foliage can diminish our hearing capabilities.

2. Predicting the path

In most states, hens are still breeding when spring turkey season begins. Hunters can factor this into their strategy. Hens will move very little when breeding since they’ve already established their nesting sites. As they travel to and from feeding areas they’re much more predictable and they do their best to avoid other hens. If they hear hen talk, especially if you sound like an old boss hen, they may change direction because they don’t want to lose their gobbler to some other floozy! But sounding like a sweet little jenny may bring the hen with gobbler in tow.

Early season hens can be troublesome without the right tactics

Hens can be quite the nuisance — especially during the early season. To the hunter’s advantage, if we can intercept them on the way from the roost to the feeding area, we may intercept the tom that accompanies them. (Photo: Vikki Trout)

3. Setting up during pre-dawn

Many times my husband and I would roost a gobbler and come back the next morning before first light. The advantage to open woods is that when you are setting up in the dark, you will not be as likely to pick a location that could impair your shot. Open woods increases the odds of an open shot — if the opportunity presents itself.

4. Double-teaming

I cannot begin to tell you how many turkeys have fallen when my husband John and I used the double-team method. This works very well, especially in open woods. The shooter would set up 30 to 40 yards in front of the caller. When the caller would talk turkey, the gobbler would assume his “girlfriend” was farther away. This strategy brought many birds into shooting range. It works great in open woods because the gobbler knows exactly where the call originates.

Four Early Spring Liabilities

1. Getting too close

Remember that gobbler I tried to approach just 10 yards closer? He was gobbling with every breath and it was only a matter of time until he would get wary since he wasn’t seeing any hen. He was thinking what every gobbler out there thinks — the hen should come to him — so he waited. The woods were bare and trees had not yet begun to bloom, so I should not have attempted to relocate. He saw something he didn’t like, turned and vamoosed. A little foliage would have helped me get away with the move.

2. Moving at the wrong time

When hunting open woods, be very careful of when you make the decision to move. You are relatively safe if you move as soon as you hear the gobbler announce his location. But if you wait, the gobbler could have shut up because he’s on the move and you can run smack-dab into him. If I decide I need to move, I’ll wait until he gobbles, then immediately be on the move. If he’s close, I stay put!

This hunter managed to catch an early spring gobbler before the green-up

The author’s husband John with a dandy gobbler prior to the green-up. (Photo: Vikki Trout)

3. Using hen talk as locator calls

When the typical owl, crow or peacock doesn’t get an answer, some hunters get out the hen calls. But walking and calling in open woods can cost you. Don’t assume the gobblers aren’t around just because you don’t see or hear anything. Sometimes they are tight beaked for no good reason. I have sat in my photo blind and watched longbeards say nothing to a crow that’s sitting over their head hollering, and I have also watched them crank up and go nuts over the annoying crow. It just depends on their mood. Be careful about using hen calls as locators in open woods. The gobbler may be within eyesight, and using a hen call can turn that bird into a call-shy gobbler.

4. Coping with hens

Dealing with hen turkeys is never easy. They do their utmost to keep the gobblers away from us. They can hear your calls and pinpoint your precise location. When they hear the calling — it’s Katie-bar-the-door and take the gobbler with them. I spoke earlier of double-teaming to lure the gobbler into range, and that method can also be applied to bringing the hens in. And when the hen moves out of harm’s way, you’ll soon be reaching for your Havalon Piranta!

About Vikki Trout:

vikki-trout-hunter-outdoor-writer-445x445Vikki Trout is a full-time freelance writer and photographer from southern Indiana. She loves hunting turkey, deer, bear and small game. When she’s not hunting, she loves capturing wildlife through the lens of her camera. Visit her website at


Get the right knife for
those spring turkeys! Click here:

Piranta Edge_lorez

99 total views, 24 views today

Posted in Guest Writers, How To, Hunting Tips, Land & Water Fowl Hunting, Turkey Hunting, Vikki Trout | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Recipe: Wild Turkey with Pineapple Lime Sauce

By Tracy L. Schmidt

Wild turkey is no butterball — here’s how
to make it better!

Wild turkey with pineapple lime sauce recipe

I sometimes have to cut the wild turkey breast in half because it is so large and use it to make meals for two nights. Here is a look at the finished dish. (Photo: Tracy Schmidt)

My husband Dan taught me how to hunt wild turkeys. We have had many great adventures battling early season ticks, being caught out in swampy areas during driving rainstorms and dealing with henned-up toms that won’t cross creeks or old barbwire fences. We’ve put in a lot of muddy miles and seen some really cool things in the spring woods.

Nothing is more riveting than listening to the thundering gobble of a wild turkey. Time passes so quickly, and it’s amazing that you are actually interacting with an animal that way. You almost hold your breath when they go silent and you wait for them to come out of some corner and cross in front of you.

The author hunting wild turkey, her second ever

Here’s a photo of me with my second turkey – a big one. His spurs measured 1 1/2″! (Photo: Tracy Schmidt)

Turkeys are beautiful to watch strutting around out in the fields during spring. We like to drive around in the countryside just to watch them. It’s amazing to see the toms spinning around all fanned out, trying to impress the ladies. And they taste amazing, too! Every turkey hunt can become a great story and end with the opportunity to share a delicious recipe.


A half or whole wild turkey breast, depending on size
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 dash black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup onions, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh lime zest
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple in juice


The secret here is that the acid in the pineapple helps tenderize and moisten the wild turkey meat. The lime rind gives it a little zing that goes well with the thyme. To get more juice out of a lime, I pop it into the microwave for 15-20 seconds and roll it on the cutting board before I juice it. That way I can get enough juice for this recipe out of a single lime.

A wild turkey recipe cooked to perfection

The acidity in the pineapple helps tenderize and moisten the turkey meat. (Photo: Tracy Schmidt)

Cut the turkey breast into portions. Rub the pieces with lime juice, then salt and pepper them. Heat oil in skillet, brown the turkey and transfer it to a plate. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet until soft but not browned. Return the turkey to the skillet along with any juices and simmer, covered, over low heat for 20 minutes. Stir occasionally. Add the lime zest, pineapple with juice and thyme to the skillet. Turn the turkey portions to coat them and cook uncovered for another 10 minutes, making sure the final temperature reaches 165°F. Serve on platter and top it with some extra pineapple-lime sauce.

About Tracy L. Schmidt:

Tracy Schmidt headhsotTracy L. Schmidt is a certified master food preservation specialist and the author of the book “Venison Wisdom.” Each of her recipes is tested and perfected. She is married to Daniel Schmidt, editor in chief of Deer & Deer Hunting magazine and host of “Deer & Deer Hunting TV” on NBC Sports. Tracy enjoys the versatility of Havalon Knives in both the kitchen and the field.

Whether you’re hunting, skinning or
cooking wild turkey in the kitchen,
make sure you’ve got the right knife
for the job! Click here:

Havalon Piranta Stag hunting and skinning knife

90 total views, 6 views today

Posted in Guest Writers, How To, Land & Water Fowl Hunting, Recipes, Tracy Schmidt, Turkey Hunting | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Spring is Trophy Time for Tailwater Trout

By Mike Bleech

5 tips for when and how to
catch BIG trout!

Tailwater brown trout are most likely caught during early spring

Early spring is a time when big brown trout are more likely to be caught. Even so, the often less than perfect weather holds down the number of anglers on the water. (Photo: Mike Bleech)

The stick bait hit the water in a relatively calm pocket. One twitch, a second twitch and a shiny brown shape stopped the lure. A hard hook set put a deep bend in the rod, prompting a fast run downstream. Then, the start of an upstream run seemed to let the angler gain line as the big fish swung around and past the boat.

So goes the exciting fight of a big tailwaters brown trout during early spring.

Early spring may not be the best time to fish for trout in the tailwaters of dams. It may not be the best time to get a lot of action. But for whatever reason, early spring may be the most likely time to connect with big trout, particularly big brown trout. Cast bait, lures or flies — all of these approaches can be effective if done with determination.

1. Use Color

When using artificial lures, whether it’s stick baits or streamer flies, be sure to carry several color patterns. Some should be natural colors. Some should be louder color patterns that get the attention of trout, or taunt them. Bright red, orange, yellow or chartreuse are especially attractive to trout in cold water. Gold and red is a standard color pattern for stick baits in this situation.

2. Use Big Baits

Trout are meat eaters, and they’re hungry. Big trout prefer a good mouthful, so use larger minnows, at least four inches but preferably six. Live minnows will almost certainly be more effective than artificial lures. You can also try stick baits about the same size. If your preferred fishing method is fly fishing, use streamers.

Stringing minnows may be the best way to fish them. Tie a loop or a snap to the end of the line. Insert a bait needle into the mouth and out the vent. Attach a treble hook, then pull the shank into the vent while inserting one hook point between the ventral fin and the tail. This keeps the hook toward the rear of the minnow.

Nearly all trout hooked on strung minnows are hooked in a lip.

Strung minnows are highly effective for catching trout in less than perfect waters

A strung shiner may be the most effective terminal rig for fishing the swift water below many dams. (Photo: Mike Bleech)

3. Capitalize on Natural Feeding Patterns

Baitfish are often injured or stunned when they pass through a dam. Trout might be feeding on these struggling baitfish for miles below some dams, so more often than not a stop-and-go retrieve is most effective. This retrieve is similar to a natural feeding pattern. When using a series of slow pulls with pauses between each, strikes generally happen during pauses.

4. Cover the Water

Reading the water in the tailwaters of a dam which impounds a medium to large river isn’t easy. Trout could be anywhere. Establishing any sort of location pattern may be impossible, so make a plan to cover as much water as possible with the time you have.

From shore: Anglers who fish from shore or wade are often limited in the amount of water they can reach. It often depends on the size of the river or creek, and on accessibility to the shoreline. Try to cover every bit of water, up and down or sideways.

Drift fishing: Drifting in a boat is generally the best way to fish a tailwaters stretch. Drifting with the current does not allow time to get a cast into all of the water. Here, the approach changes from covering every bit of water to hitting the high points.

Anchor drifting: An alternative is slow current drifting with some sort of drifting anchor. A coffee can filled with cement makes a good one. Maybe the best is a long, slender lead anchor, a shape that is least likely to hang on bottom. Adjusting the length of anchor line being used is a way of fine tuning the effects of the drifting anchor. Running the anchor line through a sturdy pulley on the bow makes this relatively easy.

Do not be concerned about the noise an anchor makes when dragging and bouncing along the river bottom. The sound of stones rolling along bottom is a natural sound. However, using lead or cement may be less disturbing to fish than an iron anchor.

Anchor drifting works in slow currents for catching trout

A drift anchor should have a shape that is not prone to snagging on the river bottom. (Photo: Mike Bleech)

5. Go Easy on the Fish

A large majority of serious trophy trout anglers practice catch and release. Perhaps the trout of a lifetime may be kept for hanging on a wall; otherwise, killing trout makes no sense. Every dead trout is one less that might grow to trophy proportions.

Trout that will not be photographed should not be netted or removed from the water. Handle them as little as possible. Carry needlenose pliers for removing hooks. You may want to consider pinching barbs down to facilitate removal.

Bait anglers should not allow time for trout to swallow the bait. Preventing this will result in most trout being hooked in the lips where hook removal will not be too traumatic. Another very good reason for setting hooks quickly is that a trout will be less likely to reject a bait. With numerous cross-currents in the typically heavy early spring flows, line drag can be a problem. Trout do not grow large by being easily fooled.

About Mike Bleech:

mike-bleech-head-shotMike Bleech has been a full-time freelance writer/photographer since 1980 with more than 5,000 articles published in more than 100 publications. He is the outdoor columnist for the Erie Times-News and the Warren Times Observer. Over the years he has become an accomplished trout fisherman and an expert at hunting the Allegheny National Forest and other public lands.

Always make sure you have the best
fillet knife by your side! See our Baracuta
line below:

Havalon Baracuta fillet knife

135 total views, 3 views today

Posted in Fishing Tips, Fresh & Saltwater Fishing, Guest Writers, How To, Hunting & Fishing Equipment, Mike Bleech, Trout Fishing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Recipe: Tracy & Dan’s Batter-Fried Bluegills

By Tracy L. Schmidt

Shore dinner leads to romance and
a family-favorite panfish recipe!

Bluegills caught on a family fishing trip

These bluegills were caught on our family vacation last year. We had a great time catching and cooking them for dinner. (Photo: Tracy Schmidt)

Do you still remember who first took you fishing? My grandfather, William J. Macintosh, took me. We were at Cape Cod in Massachusetts and tossed a line in for fun off some rocks. I caught a pair of crabs that became tangled in my line. I tell you, those were the best darn crabs I ever saw. I was so excited and was hollering so much about my pair of crabs that you would have thought I caught a world record fish.

How my grandpa got those things untangled and tossed back into the ocean I couldn’t tell you, but I bet he would tell you it was all worth it to see the smile on my face. Especially since several decades later it’s still fresh in my memory.

Fishing can produce a lot of great family memories, and some good food too

Our daughter, Taylor, will always treasure the memory of her first fish. Her teacher? Her father, Dan, passed on a meaningful tradition! (Photo: Tracy Schmidt)

Now let’s fast forward to the man who taught me how to catch bluegills and crappies, my husband Daniel E. Schmidt. When we were dating he took me to a remote wilderness lake in northern Wisconsin where we fished from a rowboat alongside the loons. It was an amazing experience to be alone on the lake in the sunshine, catching our dinner. Dan taught me how to clean and cook fish as well. I must give credit where credit is due. The following recipe is the result of almost fifteen years of shore dinners.

I like the coarser texture of this breading, and the simple list of ingredients makes it great for a road trip. Plain flour tends to flake up more than this blend. By salting and peppering the fish before breading, it tends to hold the seasoning better. Frying in peanut oil produces a crisp coating that’s nicely browned.

Plate full of crunchy, tasty fried bluegill

Nothing is more satisfying than a plate full of crunchy fish, especially if you caught them yourself. (Photo: Tracy Schmidt)


Peanut oil for frying
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
Table salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup flour
1 cup flake cereal crumbs
Quart-sized plastic zip bag


Heat oil in large heavy pan until 365°F. Warm oven to 200°F and line a baking sheet with paper towels to keep fried fish warm between batches. Crack the eggs into a shallow bowl and beat them with a fork; then add the milk and mix together.

Pat the fish dry and season with salt and pepper. Put the flour, cereal crumbs and garlic powder in a plastic zip bag and mix. Dip one fillet at a time in the egg mixture, then place in the bag, zip it shut and shake. Repeat the dipping and coating so each piece of fish is coated twice.

Deep fry the fillets until they are crispy and brown for 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer each batch to the baking sheet to keep warm until you are done frying the rest of the fillets so they will remain crispy.

About Tracy L. Schmidt:

Tracy Schmidt headhsotTracy L. Schmidt is a certified master food preservation specialist and the author of the book “Venison Wisdom.” Each of her recipes is tested and perfected. She is married to Daniel Schmidt, editor in chief of Deer & Deer Hunting magazine and host of “Deer & Deer Hunting TV” on NBC Sports. Tracy enjoys the versatility of Havalon Knives in both the kitchen and the field.

Need a fillet knife for your next catch?
Check out our Baracuta line below!
Click here:

Havalon fillet knives

266 total views, 6 views today

Posted in Cook Bluegill, Cooking Fish, Fresh & Saltwater Fishing, Guest Writers, How To, Recipes, Tracy Schmidt | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Sorensen Wins Prestigious Pinnacle Award


Steve Sorensen, (814) 757 – 9411, Cell (814) 688 – 2044

Sorensen wins Pinnacle Award

Steve Sorensen with his “Pinnacle” Award from the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA). Sorensen won the award for his article “The Arthur Young Buck — 1830.” (Photo: Steve Sorensen)

Steve Sorensen, editor of the Havalon Sportsman’s Post, has received the 2015 “Pinnacle” Award from the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), a national organization promoting the tradition of outdoor sports. With sponsoring partner Mossy Oak, POMA offers the Pinnacle as its highest honor for exceptional journalistic achievement and creative work in the outdoor press. POMA gives only one Pinnacle Award annually in each of its six categories of work:

1. Newspaper/Internet Article
2. Magazine Article
3. Book
4. Broadcast Media
5. Art and Photography
6. Wildlife Conservation

Sorensen took the top award in the Magazine category for an article titled “The Arthur Young Buck — 1830,” the historic tale of a McKean County, PA buck, the earliest animal recognized in any big game record book in the world. It was published in the December 2013 issue of Pennsylvania Game News magazine.

Besides the 2015 Pinnacle, Sorensen has won many state awards. His newspaper column, “The Everyday Hunter,” is a three-time winner of “Best Newspaper Column” from the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writer’s Association. His column appears regularly in the Olean Times Herald (NY) and the Forest Press (PA).

He has published feature articles in a variety of magazines including Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, Deer and Deer Hunting, North American Whitetail, Pennsylvania Game News, Ohio Valley Outdoors and more. He is the content editor for the Havalon Sportsman’s Post from Havalon Knives, a field editor for both Bear Hunters Online and Deer Hunters Online and a popular speaker at sportsman’s dinners.

Sorensen has also authored three books, “Growing Up With Guns” (2013), and two volumes in The Everyday Hunter Handbook Series: “Secrets of Using Pre-Orbital Gland Lure” (2014) and “A 30-Day Hunt for Faith” (2015).

Sorensen lives in Russell, PA with his wife Barbara and miniature groundhog dog Remy. For more information about Steve, his writing and his speaking, go to

POMA website:

121 total views, 4 views today

Posted in Guest Writers, Outdoor Life, Press Release, Publications, Steve Sorensen | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment