#OperationThunderChicken: The Journey Continues

This is the second weekend that The Engineer and I have had good weather and headed out to the turkey fields for Spring Archery Season!  Now I know basically nothing about turkey hunting, and The Engineer doesn’t know a ton either, but we’ve picked up some random tips from friends and my google skills.  The general consensus is that the weather has simply been too cold for mating to begin.  They don’t work off our calendar.  It doesn’t matter to them at all that the state has decided the season starts on April 7th…..if they aren’t ready to mate they just aren’t ready.  If they aren’t ready to mate, they are less likely to respond to calls because they are just busy doing other turkey things…..whatever it is turkeys do during the day.  We have been consistently seeing some birds on some public land about half an hour South of the house.  It’s easy enough to drive down after work a couple nights a week to keep tabs on the flock.  Of course, public land means that we aren’t always the only ones driving down in an attempt to score a bird!  But, it’s our land and we are working with what we’ve got!

IMG_9554

I bought that male decoy….The Wimpy Jake….and I’m hoping for big things from him!

Last weekend we woke up bright and early Saturday morning to rain.  Rain might be good for covering your noise, but when it’s still only in the low 40’s and neither The Engineer nor myself have rain gear…..going to sit in a blind in the rain isn’t our idea of a good time.  We ran some errands and I organized the kitchen and bathroom cabinets while we waited for the sun to come out and the ground to dry up a little bit.  We went out and did a bit more scouting Saturday evening.  There is a larger section of public land closer to home, but we couldn’t find any signs of life there.  I walked down to one of the fields at the bottom of a valley and couldn’t even hear any chirping birds…..it was oddly creepy.  We did head down to our reliable sighting spot, and there were two males in the distance getting all puffed up and circling each other.  They were quite in the distance……binocular distance…. but it was very cool to see none the less!

Sunday morning we were in the blind to see the sunrise.  Sadly, unlike our fall experience where we heard the turkeys all morning…..we heard almost nothing!  One very, very distance hen but then nothing after that at all.  Well…..we did hear a shotgun about an after after sunrise…..which mostly ended our dreams of morning success.  Public land can be a competitive place, especially around highly populated areas.  I’m grateful for the option to go sit on land that I “own” as a tax payer, but those areas are hard to come by when 90% of the state is privately owned.  It’s not as romantic as living in one of the Western states where large swatches of the land are open to public use, and you can walk deep into wilderness without seeing or hearing another person.

What we did see Sunday morning were deer, and honestly that’s pretty exciting in and of itself.  To get a small herd of deer to wandering into a clearing 50 yards from your blind and then just stand and look at you is pretty exciting.  Over the course of the 4ish hours we were out in the field, we saw 6 deer….one group of 5 and 1 single doe.  We also had some acoustic tunes provided curtesy of a woodpecker and a mostly dead tree limb.  We’ve also seen a ton of pheasants driving to and fro on all the gravel roads in the area, and I think The Engineer has been formulating some fall pheasant hunting strategies.  Sadly, there were no turkeys to be had.

img_1332.jpeg

Last night though we had a promising, albeit gross sign, that the weather is shifting in the direction of Spring.  I had ticks crawling on my hands as we were sitting in the blind!  EWWWWW gross, gross, gross!!!!!

I know that bugs, critters, and all manner of insects are part of spending time in the outdoors, and I have grown to really like spending quiet mornings and evenings in the blind watching nature.  However, ticks don’t seem to serve much purpose other than spreading disease.  I remember running around on my Grandparent’s farm as a child, coming in the house, and feeling ticks crawling up my legs and into my ears.  It didn’t bother me anymore than having an ant crawl on me would bother me now.  I guess ignorance really is bliss.  Childhood me knew nothing about the illness and disease they carried.  I guess those days are over and gone.

We stripped off all our outer clothes in the garage, and I spend most of the rest of last night making The Engineer check for ticks on all our clothes, checking any other places they could possibly be hanging out, and feeling phantom ticks walking on me.  He keeps assuring me that there are none in the house, none that he can find in the garage, and if anything they are in his truck……. That last one is doing nothing to make me feel better about the situation, but he assures me that this is just part of the whole hunting experience.

The Engineer thought he was so funny last night….probably mostly because the ticks were leaving him alone!

Along with the gross creepy crawlies last night, came our first real up close and personal turkey interaction!  A lone hen went walking on by about 15 feet from the blind.  She didn’t even know we were sitting there!  Well…..maybe she did know, but she certainly didn’t act like she cared!  Spring season is male only so we just got to enjoy watching her walk along the creek bottom.  The other reason I’m somewhat convinced that mating hasn’t started around here yet is because she totally ignored our decoys.  Generally hens move towards toms to mate, but she just walked right on past them.  It could be that she was too busy eating to notice…..which more power to you girl!  You get those yummy tick snacks!

We had hoped to head back out this morning, however we woke up to howling winds.  Not only do arrows not fly very well in very windy conditions…..it becomes a bit challenging to keep the blind on the ground.  Last night it was gusty enough to we’d occasionally have to grab the sides of the blinds and hold it down.  Having a blind blow off the top of you really ruins the element of surprise!  I’m hoping that the winds calm down later today, and maybe we can head out to the fields and get one on his way to bed.  It’s such a beautiful day out, it’s a shame it has to be so windy.  Worse comes to worse I guess we can take Scout a Roo on a walk over to the duck pond.  It appears that our cute resident duck couple survived the blizzard and Scout really enjoys keeping tabs on all the ducks and geese on the pond!

I saw this video this morning and it gave The Engineer and I a good laugh.  This is probably as close to turkey hunting that I’m going to get today with the wind the way it is.  I guess I should maybe round up all our camo from the garage and throw it in the washing machine……drown the ticks!  Since writing I’m starting to feel more phantom bugs, so maybe I should also go give myself a good scrubbing.  Also, in case you’re curious….The Engineer and I are maybe a blend of Mr. Impatient and The Over Caller…..although not nearly as bad as the video!  It’s easier than you think to go a big hog wild on the calls.  One minute in the blind feels like 10 regular minutes!

UPGRADES!!

We are only a couple weeks into the spring turkey season, and The Engineer and I have been scouting, planning, and working for a turkey on some local public land.  It’s hard work, but we’ve seen some cool things while out and about on our adventures together.  I want to share all our fun discoveries and strategies, but I don’t want to blast you with daily upgrades, so I need to figure out a good organization for all the fun.  Fingers crossed one of these times out I get an arrow into a big ‘ol thunder chicken!

Image result for thunder chicken meme

The Engineer….can’t hear me yell from one room away….hears distance gobbles from far away counties!

In the meantime I thought I’d share some fun news!

I bought my domain!

Actually, I was hoping that it would get rid of the wordpress part of the web address, but it didn’t.  It did however get rid of the ads so now you don’t have to deal with strange ads while you’re trying to enjoy the adventures!  Overall I was really hoping that the upgrade would be more exciting, but it’s still an exciting step forward for me!  The upgrade did let me change the background color though so I swapped out the weird green/grey/baby poop color for something a big more festive!

 

Bringing on the Weather

For the first time in what seems like forever, The Engineer and I are home for the weekend.  There is a ton of stuff I was looking forward to doing this weekend, and I had big plans.  It’s Spring turkey season, so I really wanted to get some friend time in.  I have some furniture that needs to be refinished, and the loft needs to be organized into The Engineer’s man cave.  Currently up there its just a hot mess of things that need to be put away or are waiting to be unpacked after the move.

But then the blizzard came, and instead of working on furniture in the garage, we took a nap and watched Netflix.  I did briefly perk up to notice our development being plowed.  It seemed like a slightly futile effort as it was still snowing and blowing quite a bit yesterday afternoon.  Everything was supposed to end last night around 10, but I woke up to more snow and wind this morning.  Thankfully, everything has stopped now and it has gotten a bit warmer…..for now anyway.

No automatic alt text available.

Ahhhhh Midwest weather…..#thebest!

If staying at home during a blizzard isn’t your thing, you can do like The Engineer and I did last night and attend the annual Ducks Unlimited Banquet with some friends.  All day long I thought for sure the event would be cancelled, everything else in the state and surrounding states was closed, cancelled, or postponed….but I guess duck people are a different breed.  I should have known when they changed the name of the Facebook event notification to “Snow Party” that there weren’t going to let Mother Nature push them around.  So, against the advice of the city, state, and everything our parents told us growing up about being out in winter storms, we threw the big scoop shovel in the back of the truck and headed out.  Now it’s only 10ish miles between our house and where the event was being held, but those weren’t 10 in town miles…..they were 10 out of town highway miles on roads that they county gave up plowing 8 hours beforehand.

30073418_1766161686755985_965356993089466714_o

Perfect weather for a nice country drive!

The roads weren’t as bad as we had anticipated them being, and all things considered the visibility was actually very good.  We all made it to and from the event without incident.  The real tragedy of the night was that The Engineer and I came home without any new treasures.  No guns, no commemorative prints or decoys….not even at hat!  I did snag some turkey calls, but that doesn’t technically count as they weren’t my raffle win.  Our friends won them and re-gifted them to me as they don’t go out turkey hunting.  I had never been to the banquet, and I have to say it was way more involved than I imagined.  Once you’re there and see all the food, raffle prizes, people, and planning involved in the event, it makes sense why they decided to press on despite the weather.  It is all for the ducks after all!

Worse than the thought of us making a quick drive through the blizzard is the thought of the blizzards effects on livestock and wildlife.  Late Spring or early Fall blizzards are typically more deadly than just your ordinary Winter blizzard.  They usually begin with freezing rain and sleet and then progress into heavy blowing snow that sticks and builds up thanks to the base layer of moisture.  A few years ago, cattle herds in the Western part of the state were decimated by an early Winter storm.  This time of year, a storm of this quality and magnitude can be even worse.  Many farmers and ranchers are already done calving for the year, and the reality is that calves just aren’t designed to withstand this kind of weather.  If an adult herd can’t make it through a storm, the little babes don’t stand a very good chance.

safe_image

Photo by Bryce Tevelad

This is the reality that we live with in the Midwest.  Mother Nature isn’t kind and doesn’t care if you think you’ve planned out calving or planting perfectly.  Around here she can change on a dime, and it can leave farmers and ranchers scrambling to provide safety and shelter for their herds and hoping that their crops aren’t destroyed.  Beyond domestic livestock, birds who migrated back North are sometimes trapped in weather they try and avoid.  Any nests that have already been laid probably didn’t survive the cold and wet the last few nights have brought to the area.  The reality is that not every Spring baby will survive into Summer.  The farmer who took the picture above reported to the local news that though they saved the calf in the picture, they did loose one last night.  I’m sure that calf wasn’t the only babe lost to the storm, but hopefully the numbers statewide aren’t anywhere near the 100,000 that was the estimated loss during the 2013 storm.

It was an odd irony for me last night at the Ducks Unlimted banquet.  I couldn’t help thinking and worrying about a little duck couple that have made their home on my development’s pond this Spring.  The Engineer assured me that since they are always out wandering the development as a couple that they probably haven’t laid any eggs yet, so here’s to hoping that’s the case.  Hopefully they found a warm, dryish spot in the reeds out of the wind to weather the storm.

Spring Things

It’s been a busy March around Casa Mishappenings.  I’m not much for basketball, but I feel like my March has given a whole new meaning to March Madness!

To start the month, The Engineer and I took our first real, adult vacation!!  We spent a few days in Orlando catching a couple spring training games.  We also did some regular tourist things…..beers at Coco Beach, the Kennedy Space Center, and of course….

……THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER!!!  We totally bought too many butter beers and I got an overpriced Ravenclaw sweatshirt, but I don’t even care!  Pro tip about Universal Studios….if you’re on a budget and don’t want to pay for express passes, I would seriously suggest going through the rides as single riders.  Basically you take an alternative track to the front of the lines and they use you as a space filler.  If you don’t go single rider, and don’t splurge for the express passes, you’ll spend a lot of time in lines.  We spent at least 90 minutes waiting in line at Gringott’s bank because we didn’t wait the extra 10 minutes for the single rider line to reopen….big mistake!  This won’t work out well if you’re a family with kids probably, but was fine for The Engineer and I.  We always ended up in the same car or group anyway….just maybe not sitting right next to each other.

The only major buzzkills of the trip were our flights, the hotel, and the total lack of anything not touristy to do in Orlando.  It felt like we couldn’t even find a nice place to go to dinner that wasn’t just a chain restaurant.  All I really wanted was some good fish, or even an amazeballs plate of fish tacos, and we couldn’t even find that between the Red Lobsters and the Joe’s Crab Shacks…..  I did however get a Mickey Mouse ice cream head like we got as kids when we went to Disney as a family….so all hope wasn’t lost!

IMG_9476

Tastes like childhood!

Our hotel, the Days Inn Kissimmee formerly known as the Copacobana Motor Inn, was less than stellar.  It was a hot deal off Hotwire.com so we didn’t know the name prior to booking.  I will say, it was clean and you could tell they are slowly trying to make improvements……but doors that close and don’t seem like a strong breeze might rip it outta the door frame would have maybe been my remold starting point.  It was about as good as you’d picture a $35 a night hotel being.  The desk had two different chairs, there were patched holes in the walls, and overall it just wasn’t great.  We debated leaving for a different hotel, but we spent such little time there it seemed like more work to try and get our money back and move.  We did however pack everything up and put it in the rental car everyday because you could never really tell if the door was going to stay locked from the outside…..it “locked” from the inside, but again lock is relative.  If someone really wanted in our room….they would have gotten in.

beach

Hers and His….and some surfers!

IMG_9428

Beach hair don’t care!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We flew Allegiant because it leaves from home and offers a direct flight to Orlando.  I’m not sure I would ever fly them again.  We paid for and booked everything up front, but with Allegiant you have to pay for specific seats.  So I paid for two seats together for both flights.  We didn’t get the seats we paid for on the way to Florida, and I had to pay extra on the way home to move The Engineer and I back into two seats together.  They also overbooked the flight down to Orlando and were trying to convince people to drive to Omaha and take a different flight…..again…..we’ve all paid for specific seats on the plane….so why is this even happening?!  We didn’t take the offer as it would have essentially burned a whole day of our vacation being at home and driving to Omaha….plus the issue of getting our car back from the Omaha airport.

plane

How flying makes me feel….least favorite activity!

air

People watching at baggage claim….the best!

All in all I’m making the trip sound horrible, but it was actually a really good time!  It would have only been better if it had been a wee bit warmer, but then we would have come home as cripsy fried bacon probably….so it’s just as well.  It was warm enough if you were in the sun and out of the wind to feel hot.  In the shade or out in the wind on the coast it was chilly enough that we wanted long sleeves, but I refused to wear anything other than shorts!  It wasn’t too cold to drink beer outside so I’ll take that as a win.  Speaking of wins, there was no relationship feuding over the results of the baseball games.  The Phillies and Braves each won a game, so all was fair in love and baseball!

 

Another big March event was that The Engineer has now officially moved it!  As part of our new “double income household” life, The Engineer declared that next vacation we aren’t getting the cheapest hotel and skipping the express passes…..”We need those passes!”  You don’t need the passes…..just follow the pro tip it took us all day to learn and go single rider all the way….the hotel however…..will be upgraded on our next vacation!  Although, if we can survive the horrible hotel and his somewhat whiplash-y driving in the very zippy rental car for a week….we can probably survive just about anything together!

IMG_9430