Carter Enterprises – Wise Choice Thumb Trigger Release Review

I have been shooting Carter releases for years.  Often I am asked, why don’t you try Brand X, or have you ever shot Brand Y?  And in truth, I have.  It’s been a few years, but there was a short period of time that I tried several different release manufacturers.  There were a few I liked, and a few I liked really well, but I was never able to find anything that made me want switch.  For the past 6 years, I have never gone into the woods or stepped on the target range without my Carter release.

Someone could make the argument that a release is just a simple device.  As long as it clips on your bowstring, and releases when you want it to, no release is better than any other.  From strictly a functionality standpoint, it would be hard to argue with them.  That is after all the primary purpose of a release.  However, for anyone who shoots their bow more than a few times a year, you know there is a little more to it than that.

There are two major factors that determine how well I like a release, the first being fit and the second is adjustability.  The Wise Choice by Carter performs excellent in both of these categories. The fit of the Wise Choice is perfect for my hands.  My hands are not small, but I don’t have large hands by any means.  I find that the finger groves on most releases are either too wide, or not pronounced enough.  On the Wise Choice, I can shoot well without gloves, and when the temperatures begin to drop in the fall, I have no issues with a lighter pair of gloves which are typically worn all deer season long.  I’ve heard of others using one type of release during summer shooting and early season when it is warm, but then switch to another release as temps drop and they wear thicker gloves.  I like to hunt with what I practice all year-long with, so having a release that fits me is extremely important.  The Carter Wise Choice also comes with an index finger hole that further assists with consistent grip placement, another major plus in my opinion for this release.

The thumb trigger is easily adjustable and rotates by loosening a single Allen head screw, which is important to get the trigger positioned exactly where you need it.  When I start hunting with gloves later in the fall, I like that I can fine tune the placement of my trigger so that it feels the same as it did without wearing gloves.  You can adjust the tension of the thumb trigger just as easy as by turning the tension set screw.  This allows you to quickly decrease or increase the amount of tension needed to set off the release.  I find this very helpful as gloves tend to decrease the sensitivity in your thumb.  For that reason, I like to slightly increase the tension in my release when deer hunting to avoid prematurely releasing an arrow.

Last but not least, the Wise Choice comes equipped with and adjustable lanyard.  I had never used a lanyard on thumb trigger releases in the past, but now that I have one, I could not imagine using my release without it.   When I’m walking to retrieve my arrows, or walking to my hunting spot, I like to attach my release to my belt loop so it is always readily available.  When I am on a spot and stalk hunt, I like that my release is right at my hand while still being able to grab binos or a range finder without the release being in the way.

If you are familiar with Carter releases, you know that every little detail is well thought out and each release design is extensively tested before a release ever hits the market.  The folks at Carter make the best releases available in my opinion.  Best of all, their customer service is unmatched in the industry.  To check out the Wise Choice and all other Carter releases, check out their website at www.carterenterprises.com.

 

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2017 Ohio Turkey – Hunting the Roost

After having success at Dad’s farm in Indiana on April 28th, I was eager to get home and see if I could end my Ohio Turkey drought. It had been 3 years since I had last tagged a bird in my home state, and I had no intention of going another year without doing so. I had recently acquired permission to hunt a portion of my neighbor’s property; a long bottom field adjacent to a wood lot where at least 2 toms roosted almost every night. For 2 weeks I spent every possible morning doing my best to coax one or more of these toms into my decoy spread, but nothing I tried worked. They had no intention of breaking their morning routine, which included flying down and immediately heading to some big agriculture fields to the south. On May 16, with just under a week left in the season, I decided to see if I could get permission to hunt the remainder of my neighbor’s property. After a quick conversation, permission was granted, and my hope was restored.

Though this was the first year I had permission to turkey hunt on this property, I had shed hunted on it the last two years, so I was already familiar with the lay of the land. Based on the location the birds were roosting and what I already knew about the property, I figured that they were using an old logging road to get in and out of the river bottom. From there, they would cross a large hardwood flat and make their way to the fields they spent the rest of their day in before returning to the roost each night. But this knowledge was all for not if I were to spook these birds before even getting started. So the first thing I did before setting up my blind was take a quick drive and try to locate the flock prior to making any moves. As expected, I located them a short distance from where I would be hunting, and based on previous information gained in the days prior, I knew these birds would not leave this field and the larger field to the south until close to sunset. Quickly, I returned home and gathered all my gear, returned to the property and got set up for the next morning.

The next few days played out very similar to one another. I saw birds on the roost, heard plenty of gobbling, but they slipped past me no matter what I tried. I moved my blind a few times in an effort to narrow the distance between myself and where they were roosting, but as close as I came, I just couldn’t get the job done. These turkeys were very practiced in their morning habits, and even the sight of a DSD Upright Hen wasn’t going to slow them down. On the morning of May 20, my 7-year-old daughter went with me, and we had a great hunt. I thought we might get it done when we had the two toms within 40 yards of the blind, but a group of 4 jakes came in a busted up the party. I think she was a little bummed that we didn’t put a tag on one of the jakes, but I used it as a great opportunity to explain to her that harvesting an animal was only a small part of the experience we get from hunting.

May 21st was the last day of the Ohio season, and the weather was calling for storms all day. It was time to pull out my backup plan and get aggressive.  At around 4:30 PM that afternoon I made my way down the old logging road for the last time. My plan was simple. I knew where these birds were, and I knew where they were going; My blind was getting setup directly in between the two locations. I would be approximately 55 yards from their roost trees, and there would be no getting out undetected. I had no decoys and no calls. It was just me, my blind, and my bow. It was officially deer season for turkeys, as I like to call it.

The first hour was quiet. I wasn’t 100% sure what time these turkeys made their way into the timber, but I was sure the storms moving in would speed things up a little. Around 5:30, thunder boomed and a shock gobble immediately followed. Moments later, another thunderous boom from the heavens, and another shock gobble.  This time much closer! By my estimation, the bird was only 100 yards from me now. I grabbed my bow and got ready. Less than 10 minutes later a lone tom popped out from behind a large beech tree. I had played this out in my mind countless time, but it still caught me completely off guard. I tried to range him a few times, and then realized how silly that was knowing full well he couldn’t be more than 10 yards. I drew back my bow, steadied the pin on my Hogg Father, and for the second time this season sailed my arrow well above my intended target. I was in complete disbelief. I had set my pin to 30 yards expecting a further shot. In all the excitement, I never even thought to adjust it. That was it, I had waited all this time just to screw up. I watched as the big tom slipped down the logging road, and moments later he flew up into one of the big sycamores below me. My plan had worked flawlessly, but I had failed to execute. I could not believe I had put in all this time, and my season was going to come down to a miss.

As I sat quietly in my blind, frustrated and angry with myself, a gobble caught my attention. In the moments leading up to my miss, I thought to myself it was odd that this bird had come in alone. Never since I first laid eyes on the pair of toms I was after had I seen one of them without the other. Maybe my season was not over yet. Perhaps I would get another chance. Another gobble, still in the same place as before. I hurried to nock another arrow and ready myself for a second opportunity. 10 minutes later, the two toms popped up over the ridge. They were about 60 yards away, just on the other side of the property line, but they were slowly making their way towards me. As they crossed the fence line I adjusted my sight and came to full draw. I attempted to take aim, but I could not make out my pin. It was too dark due to the cloud cover and thick foliage above. I tried to convince myself I could make the shot, but I knew it would not be ethical. I let my bow down and watched as the two toms disappeared down the ridge towards the river bottom. Seconds later, the two toms emerged side by side, in a small grassy meadow. Out from under the cover of the trees, there was more than enough light to take a shot. I quickly ranged the closest bird, adjusted my pin and let my arrow fly. The unmistakable thud of my arrow impacting its target followed! The tom furthest away took flight while the bird I had shot hobbled out of sight further into the bottom. I knew I had made a fatal shot, but it looked like it might be just a little far back. With more storms approaching, I wasted little time getting out of my blind and taking up the trail.

When I got to where the bird was standing when I shot, I found a few small drops of blood but nothing more. He had made his way along a deer trail into endless amounts of waist-high stinging nettles. Now I was worried. There was a good chance if this bird got off the trail, I would not find him. I tried not to let that discourage me and began my search. I weaved back and forth along the width of the grown up river bottom but I could not find any sign of my bird. I continued on a few yards further when I came upon the downed tom. At first he seemed hesitant to flee, but then he took off at a slow run. I gave chase, and was instantly thankful I had never had to run down a turkey before. Even fatally wounded, he was quicker than I, and it was all I could do to keep up. As I started to close the distance, he suddenly disappeared. I approached the location I had last seen him, though I failed to notice we had come to the edge of the river. Before I had time to react, I was sliding down an 8 foot embankment straight into the water. Luckily, it was only about 2 feet deep, and I was not hurt in the fall. I continued my pursuit, and as I started catching up to the bird I could tell he did not have much left in him. Half way across the river, I was finally able to reach out and grab him. I was completely out of breath and soaked to the bone. I was tired and barely able to make it back up the river bank. As I sat there with my first Ohio turkey in 3 years, it dawned on me I had dropped my bow in the river when I fell. All I could do was laugh. My bird was a mess, I had no idea where my bow was, but I was happy!

He was a great bird, with 7/8″ and 1″ spurs, a 9 1/2″ beard and coming in right at 23 lbs, I could not be more than happy.

Never have I had such a wild ending to a turkey hunt. Although it was certainly memorable, I hope that was the last time I go swimming for a turkey. I owe this turkey in part to my wife and good friend Brett Bueltel, as they both encouraged me to stay on these birds long after I was ready to give up on them. Persistence was key as was the ability to adapt and try a new approach. This was the first time I have hunted birds near the roost, and I learned a few valuable lessons for the next time.

Bird Stats:

  • 23 lbs.
  • 9.5″ beard
  • 7/8″ and 1″ spurs

Rich’s Gear:

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Sharing the Outdoors – A Family Hunt and an Ohio Gobbler

It was Friday, April 28th.  My wife and I had just made it back from our last vacation as a family of two a couple of days prior, and the Ohio turkey season was already underway.  My wife was, at the time, 33 weeks pregnant with our first child, and I had finally talked her into coming out to turkey hunt with me.  Luckily the hunt didn’t disappoint.

I had been getting several pictures on my wireless Covert trail cameras of a few longbeards working the field on the property I hunt on a pretty consistent basis.  With that information, I knew where we had to be setup when season opened.  It was a pretty long hike to get back to the spot I wanted to be setup, so I decided it would be good to get my Xenek Apex blind setup a couple of weeks early.  Not only would this reduce the amount of gear we’d have to carry in for the morning hunt, but by setting up the blind early we could get setup closer to the roost, and give the birds some time to get used to the new blind.  I set the Xenek blind off the edge of the field a few feet and staked it down well in preparation for the spring storms that typically move through Ohio.

The night before our hunt we gathered our gear in preparation for the following morning, charged up the camera batteries, and hit the sack early.  The alarm sounded off bright and early at 4:30 AM and without hesitation both of us popped out of bed.  After getting dressed we threw our gear in the truck and headed on our way; anxious for what the morning may have in store.  Since this was the first turkey hunt I had taken my wife on, I did a quick run down on what to expect during our drive.  We arrived at the farm plenty early, packed up and started our trek to our setup we had prepared weeks before.  The weather was perfect and I just had a feeling we’d be in for a good hunt.

After getting to the blind, I quickly setup the DSD decoy spread consisting of the Strutter, submissive hen, and the feeding hen with the Motion Madness kit installed while Abby situated the gear inside the blind.  I placed a few GoPro’s around the decoys in hopes of capturing some good 2nd angle footage before finally climbing in the blind.  It was still plenty dark outside as I prepared my bow and started setting up the primary camera.  I had just started getting my wireless mics setup when all of a sudden GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE!  I immediately looked over at Abby and she looked at me and we both got a big grin on our faces.  The bird had fired off less than 50 yards from where we were setup.  I hastily setup the rest of my camera gear and recorded a pre-hunt interview.  The gobbles of the bird in the tree near us set off a chain reaction and soon another was gobbling about 150 yards away.  It was only 6:15 at the time so we figured we had a little while before they flew down for the day.  We settled back in our blind chairs and soaked in the sights and sounds of daybreak.

Shortly after legal shooting light, Abby taps me on the leg and points off to our left…”There’s a turkey!”.  I looked out of the blind and sure enough, about 80 yards away in the neighboring field was a gobbler.  Seconds later the gobbler that was gobbling his head off behind our blind pitched down in the field to join his buddy.  Birds were everywhere it seemed.  In the distance you could hear another gobbler sounding off, hens were clucking and yelping nearby, and a third gobbler had now joined the other two in the field.  My preseason preparations appeared to pay off; We were setup in the perfect spot.  They could see the white-faced DSD Strutter decoy and all it took was a few purrs on my Tom Teasers slate call and they were hooked.  The trio of gobblers bee-lined straight to our decoy setup and I reached for my bow as I worked the camera.

The lead gobbler struck first as he wing slapped the DSD Strutter.  Fighting purrs ensued as did the physical assault to the DSD.  I wasted no time and settled the top pin of my Spot Hogg double pin sight and released.  In a bright green flash (Firenock) buried into the side of the gobbler and he took off back in the direction they came from.  The other gobblers didn’t know what had happened and continued to harass the DSD Strutter decoy for a few minutes.  Not wanting to let the opportunity pass, Abby pulled out her new DSLR and started snapping off pics of the gobbler in the decoys.  After about 10 minutes or so, the gobblers finally made their way off back to our left and out of sight.  It was time to go and retrieve our bird.

Anyone that knows me, knows how passionate I am about hunting and the outdoors.  Being able to share my excitement with my beautiful wife and unborn daughter was an exhilarating experience.  The excitement in her eyes when she heard the first gobble of the morning, and getting to see the longbeards at less than 10 yards was something I’m sure she’ll remember for quite some time.  I know I will.

“April 28th…a turkey hunt that I will remember forever.”

Bird Stats:

  • 20.5 lbs.
  • 10-5/8″ beard
  • 3/4″ spurs

Brett’s Gear:

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Xenek Apex Ground Blind Review

I’ve spent a lot of time sitting in a blind over the past several years.  A majority of that time has been spent in one of the original Double Bull Matrix 360 blinds, the Dark Horse or one of the newer Deluxe blinds.  For bowhunting, I have a strong preference for the blinds with a 180 degree front window.  The Double Bull blinds have never failed me, and I still use them today, but there were always a few nit picky things that I would have liked to see improved on.  These are things that other blind companies on the market have failed to address.

While walking the aisles of the NWTF Convention this spring, a digital camo blind caught my eye.  The name of the company, Xenek, was unfamiliar to me at the time.  I don’t know if it was the KUIU Verde pattern that drew me in at first, or the fact that the front 180 degree window was wide open.  And by wide open, I mean WIDE open.  I was immediately intrigued so I stopped over at the booth to learn more about them.  After spending a few minutes at the Xenek booth, I knew I had to give their Apex blind a shot this spring.

In my opinion the biggest advantage the Xenek Apex blind has over other blinds on the market is its front window adjustment capability.  As I mentioned before, the blind window can be opened extremely wide.  So you may ask, “why is this helpful?”.  One thing that other blinds on the market have failed to address is how to use them to hunt on any type of hilly terrain.  Setup a blind on top of a ridge or down in a valley, and you run into the problem of being able to open up the front window enough in either direction to allow you to take a shot up or down hill.  The Xenek Apex blind front window will adjust to where the bottom of the front window is roughly 18″ or so off of the ground floor.  Likewise, for uphill shooting, the window opens almost to the top of the blind wall.  This is also a huge advantage for when you take children hunting with you.

Another gripe I have with other blinds on the market is the amount of light that can pass through the blind material and/or rear windows.  A stray beam of sunlight through a window or even light coming in through thin fabric can quickly alert your prey when something moves in front of it from inside.  The best camouflage while hunting in the blind is to have a solid black/dark interior to hide your movements while also wearing a dark solid color (black preferred).  The Xenek Apex blind accomplishes this by using a thick 600 denier fabric with solid black polyurethane backing.  Not only does this keep the light out of the blind, but it also keeps the interior of the blind dry during a rain storm.

I have spent years filming solo in my Double Bull blinds.  Even on the occasion that I brought along a hunting partner, I never really had issues fitting all of my gear and my hunting partner inside.  I have, however, hunted on occasion with two other people in the blind which can be a bit cramped when most of the floor space is taken up with a camera tripod.  To overcome this, Xenek has added tripod slots in the front two panels of the Apex blind.  With the tripod slots, you can position your cameras tripod real close to the blind wall and put one or possibly two of the tripod legs through the slot, instantly freeing up valuable real estate inside the blind.  When not in use the flaps completely seal shut.  If you add a Fourth Arrow Rex or Raptor arm on top of your tripod and utilize the blinds built-in tripod slots, you can easily remain hidden in the back of the blind and maneuver the camera to keep blind rods and straps out of your shot while also maximizing your cameras field of view.

Another cool feature of the Xenek Apex ground blind are the built-in threaded Mini-Mount hub couplings.  Every hub on the blind, both inside and out, has a threaded Mini-Mount hub coupling where you can easily attach a secondary camera or other threaded accessory.  Xenek sells a Mini-Mount camera mount which directly interfaces with the built-in hub couplings and is perfect for attaching a GoPro or similar style camera to help you capture the perfect secondary angles.  When not using the Mini-Mount, it folds up nice and compact to reduce the amount of space taken up inside your pack.

Speaking of packs…the Apex blind also comes with a free blind backpack.  I won’t go into great detail here, but with the shoulder straps, waist belt and chest strap, the blind backpack makes it easy to carry all of year gear into the field in a single trip…without breaking your back doing so.  There are several more great features of this blind including built-in brush loops; extra reinforced hubs, corners, and window corners; removable/replaceable shoot through mesh front window; and solid fiberglass blind rods in lieu of weaker hollow blind rods.

I think it goes without saying that I have been very pleased with my Xenek Apex blind so far this spring.  It has performed flawlessly and has already helped me to fill my first Ohio tag of 2017.

You can order your Apex ground blind here: Xenek Apex Ground Blind

Use the following affiliate code at checkout: SELFILMED

Exclusive Bonus Offer – After placing your order using our affiliate code at checkout, get in touch with us through our GET IN TOUCH form on our website.  We’ll email you back from our SELFILMED email.  When you receive the email, send us a copy of your order invoice and we will send you a FREE fitted SELFILMED hat.  Your free hat will be delivered within 4-6 weeks after confirmation.

Xenek Apex Blind Specifications:
•  72” x 72” (at hubs) x 73” tall.
•  25 Pounds
•  KUIU’s VERDE digital camo pattern.
•  600d polyester skin with black PU backing.
•  Removable/replaceable laminated Polyester/Spandex/PU elastic window covers.
•  10 built-in accessory mount locations (threaded hub couplings).
•  Tripod slots integrated into the wall system.
•  Reinforcing at corners of ground blind and other areas prone to wear.

 

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2017 Indiana Long Beard – Rich Peace

Last year, for the first time since 2002, I failed to kill a turkey.  I still managed to have some enjoyable, even exciting hunts, but the sting of failure has sat with me for the last 12 months.  I knew leading into the 2017 turkey season, there was going to be a lot of pressure on me to get the job done.  After the first three days of hunting in Ohio, as hard as I tried not to, I found myself getting frustrated and discouraged.  The bird numbers near my house are still down substantially compared to years past and I simply wasn’t seeing or hearing any birds on the properties I had permission to hunt.  Thankfully my dad’s farm in Indiana was covered up in birds, and after he and his longtime friend Fred filled their tags on opening morning, he was excited to have me down to see if I could get the monkey off my back.

When the alarm went off at 3:30 AM on April 28th, I found myself surprisingly eager to roll out of bed.  My wife would tell you I’m no morning person; Things change when turkey hunting is involved.  After gathering up my gear and loading the truck, I was on my way to my dad’s place.  I got in right at 6:00 AM and we immediately set out to get set up.  On our way to the blind we bumped a turkey off the roost, but we quickly overlooked it as the gobblers started to sound off in the distance.  We identified 4 or 5 birds that we felt were well within calling distance, and settled back to let the morning unfold.

About fly down time, I began doing some soft yelping to see if we could drum up a response.  It didn’t take long before we had a bird working to my calls.  He was still a few hundred yards away, but was gradually getting closer.  A few minutes after he started closing the distance, we heard several sets of loud yelps just between us and the gobbler.  We figured at that point we were SOL, and for a little while it sure seemed that way.  The tom that was coming our way quickly shut up, and there was no more indication that he was headed towards us.

Around 7:30, I decided to let out another series of yelps.  NOTHING!  Not a peep.  At first I decided to just be patient and wait the morning out, but just for kicks, I decided to call out the back window in hopes that a better focused direction of my calling would get a lonely gobbler’s attention.  Sure enough, a bird answered back immediately.  I waited another 5 minutes and called again, this time out of the front of the blind, he gobbled back almost immediately and sounded to be quite a bit closer.  I knew from past experience that if I continued to call, it was likely that he would hang up expecting me to come to him.  So I put my call down and readied my bow.  10 or 15 minutes passed, and still nothing.  I couldn’t resist any longer, I picked up my call and let out a very soft set of yelps and clucks.  Half way through my calling, the gobble that came as a reply nearly made me jump out of my chair.  He was closer alright, he could not have been more than 40 yards to our left.

I looked over at my dad and told him to keep and eye out.  I knew it would be a matter of seconds before the gobbler popped into the field.  Seconds passed, and then minutes, and I was left wondering what on earth was taking him so long to materialize.  Partially from fear that the bird had started to move away from the blind, and partially from sheer impatience, I decided to grab my slate call out of my bag and see if a few soft purrs would finally lure this bird into our DSD spread.  Apparently my Tom Teasers slate call is magic, because as soon as I put my hands on it my dad tapped me on the shoulder and told me that there were two strutters right next to the blind.  And when he said right next to the blind, he meant RIGHT NEXT TO THE BLIND.  As I glanced up and saw them quickly approaching the decoys, I could hear their wing tips dragging the dew-covered wheat in the field.  I quickly grabbed the tripod handle and got the birds in focus, while at the same time picking up my bow.  Before I even had time to zoom in on the lead bird, he began his assault of my dad’s DSD Jake.  I let him go for a few minutes before I clipped on my Carter release and prepared to take the shot.  With the tom quartering towards me at 8 yards, I settled my pin right on his waddles, and began putting pressure on my release.  It surprised me when it went off, but what surprised me ever more was seeing my arrow zip 2 inches over my intended target.  I was in complete disbelief!  I had aimed so precisely and had such a good release, I could not believe I had botched this opportunity.

I was more than a little relieved to see that the two toms had not gone far and were still standing within 20 yards from the blind.  I quickly grabbed my backup arrow and started to nock it.  It was at that time I realized the pin on my Hogg Father was set for 35 yards.  Of course, that explained why I had shot so high.  Quickly I adjusted my sight and came again to full draw.  I settled my pin once more, this time right above the copper band on his left wing.  I released arrow number 2 and POW…I shot right through the side of the blind!  Now, I was in a panic.  I grabbed another arrow as quickly as possible and prepared myself to make one last shot at these birds, which amazingly were still standing right where they had been seconds earlier.

I’m not sure what it was, but something told me to calm down, and try to call these birds back to the decoys.  So instead of rushing another shot, I began to softly purr and cluck at them.  Gobble-Gobble-Gobble!  That was a good sign.  A few more soft calls, and another set of gobbles as a reply.  Just then, a Jake showed up from the field edge just beyond where the toms were standing.  He was wary of them, as well as the DSD Jake which was now laying on it’s side just in front of us.  He began to slowly walk into the middle of the field, and was just enough of a distraction for the two toms to forget what was going on.  They started to follow him, but it was apparent they were not planning to investigate the decoys further.  This was my chance.  I checked quickly to make sure the birds were back in frame on my camera and drew my bow.  I let out a few yelps in a effort to stop their walking, but they were having none of it.  At 25 yards, I led the front bird about and inch and squeezed off.  My Grim Reaper tipped arrow slammed home and brought the tom to the ground.  RELEIF!  My Dad and I began laughing hysterically now that the crisis had ended.  What seemed to be a slam-dunk hunt had suddenly turned into a roller coaster of emotions.

I can’t say it was my finest turkey hunt ever, but it was certainly the one I will remember most.  Not only was it my first turkey on Dad’s new farm, it was also my first turkey while hunting with my dad.  Add in the excitement and pandemonium that ensued after that first shot, and it’ll be a long time before I experience a more enjoyable hunt.  Bird number 1 for the year is down, now it’s time to get back to Ohio and see if I can’t finally connect on the monster bird I chased all season in 2016.

Bird Stats:

  • 21.5 lbs.
  • 11.25″ beard
  • 1″ spurs

Rich’s Gear:

 

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