Turkey patterns constantly change during the Spring season, knowing what those are and what they might mean for your hunt can be critical in filling that tag. During the final week of May, turkeys may exhibit specific behaviors due to various factors, including breeding activity, weather conditions, and hunting pressure. Here are some key behaviors to consider during this time:
1. Breeding activity: By late May, the turkey breeding season is typically winding down, but there may still be some late-nesting hens and active gobblers. Toms might continue to gobble, but their response to calls may be less enthusiastic compared to earlier in the season. However, if you come across receptive hens, gobblers may still be in pursuit.
2. Roosting patterns: Turkeys generally maintain consistent roosting patterns, and during the final week of May, they may still be using the same roost sites as earlier in the season. Pay attention to where turkeys roost, as it will help you plan your morning setups.
3. Feeding routines: Turkeys will continue to feed throughout the day, with a focus on replenishing their energy reserves after the breeding season. Identify preferred feeding areas such as open fields, agricultural fields, or mast-producing trees. Turkeys will often travel to these locations during the late morning or early afternoon.
4. Increased wariness: As the season progresses and turkeys have experienced hunting pressure, they tend to become more cautious and wary of calls and decoys. They may be less responsive to aggressive calling and exhibit more skepticism towards decoys. Using subtle and realistic calling techniques can be more effective.
5. Adjusting to weather conditions: Weather can play a significant role in turkey behavior during late May. If the weather is warm, turkeys may adjust their activity patterns and feed more during cooler hours. Rainy or windy conditions may limit their movement and make them more likely to seek sheltered areas.
6. Changing habitat preferences: By late May, turkeys may alter their habitat preferences. They might move from dense cover used during the breeding season to more open areas, such as fields or edges of woodlands. Consider scouting to identify these transitional areas.
7. Hunting pressure impact: Turkeys that have experienced hunting pressure throughout the season can become more difficult to hunt. They might move to less-accessible areas, become more nocturnal, or change their patterns altogether. Adjust your hunting strategies accordingly, such as hunting quieter or less-pressured locations.
Observing turkey behavior in your specific hunting area during the final week of May is crucial. Spend time scouting, noting any changes in turkey activity, and adjust your hunting techniques accordingly. Adapting to their behavior patterns can increase your chances of a successful hunt during the closing days of the season.
So you’ve thought about Fly Fishing this season, we’ve put together a list of the few essentials needed to kick start your season and new obsession.
Fly Rod: A fly rod is a long, flexible fishing rod designed specifically for fly fishing. The length and weight of the rod will depend on the type of fishing you plan to do, but a good all-around rod for freshwater fishing is usually 9 feet long and weighs between 4 and 6 ounces.
Fly Reel: The fly reel is attached to the rod and holds the fly line. Look for a reel that matches the weight of your rod and has a good drag system.
Fly Line: The fly line is the weight-forward line that you cast with the fly rod. The weight of the line should match the weight of your rod and reel.
Leader and Tippet: The leader is a tapered line that connects the fly line to the fly. The tippet is a thin, transparent line that connects the fly to the leader. The length and weight of the leader and tippet will depend on the size of the fly and the fish you are targeting.
Flies: Flies are the lures used in fly fishing. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors and imitate different types of insects and baitfish. Start with a few basic patterns like Woolly Buggers, Adams, and Pheasant Tails.
Waders and Boots (optional): If you plan to fish in cold water or wade in the water, you may want to invest in a pair of waders and boots. Waders are waterproof pants that extend up to the chest, while boots provide traction on slippery rocks and mud.
Other Accessories: You may also want to bring a fly box to hold your flies, a pair of polarized sunglasses to reduce glare, and a hat to protect you from the sun.
Lightning, which does strike in the same place twice, can literally knock your socks off and change your personality
Lightning is much simpler than people realize. It’s nothing more than a brilliant, naturally occurring electrostatic discharge in which two electrically charged regions in the atmosphere or on the ground temporarily equalize themselves, causing the release of up to a billion joules of energy. There. Aren’t you glad you asked?
Myths abound about lightning. It does strike the same place twice. It is not attracted to metal. And if you want to get hit by it, Florida is a swell place to go. Where myths abound, so do surprising facts. Here are 13 things you probably didn’t know about lightning, a few of which could save your life, or at least win you a few bucks.
1. Lightning does not come from the sky.
We all think of lightning as nature’s air-to-ground missiles, but it's actually the other way. The negative charge preceding a lightning strike hits the earth—or an earth-bound object like a tower—and then a visible flash zooms from the ground up. This takes place in a millionth of a second, so it’s kind of hard to tell which way the strike is actually moving. But it’s generally up. This could help you win a bar bet.
2. Men are nearly four times more likely to be killed by lightning than women.
That’s bad news for guys, but in this case, it has nothing to do with feminism. It’s because men spend more time outdoors, especially fishing, which turns out to be a great way to get zapped. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, between 2006 and 2016, 33 people were hit by lightning while fishing, more than any other outdoor activity. Think about it: You’re out on the water with nowhere to take shelter, and you’re the tallest thing around. If you were lightning, you’d hit a fisherman, too.
3. Lightning is not attracted to metal.
Lightning is attracted to the tallest thing around, which often happens to be metal. Think field-goal posts, TV towers, and the top eyelet of a fishing rod while casting in a boat on a lake. Metal does, however, conduct electricity efficiently, which is why you shouldn’t climb a field-goal post during a lightning storm or lick a downed electrical wire, even if there is no lightning.
4. Rubber doesn’t protect you from lightning strikes.
Wearing rubber boots, for example, doesn’t reduce your odds of being struck and won’t make things any less excruciating if you do get hit. Same goes for car tires. The reason a car is a good place to be in a storm is because the metal top and sides conduct the electricity around you and into the ground. If you’re in a car, the best thing to do is pull over, turn off the engine, and don’t touch anything metallic in the car. Just keep your damn hands to yourself.
5. The best place to get struck by lightning in the U.S. is Florida.
Of the 15 U.S. counties with the most lightning strikes, 14 are in Florida. It makes sense. Geographically, the place has water on three sides. Meteorologically, it has a subtropical climate, with almost daily thunderstorms. Behaviorally, it has lots of dudes fishing, some of whom are drinking beer, which does not increase common sense. “Lightning Alley” between Orlando and Tampa is a particularly good place if you have limited time and want to maximize your odds.
6. Your odds of surviving a lightning strike in the U.S. are about 90 percent.
This is in part because CPR is so widely practiced here. On average about 51 Americans die from strikes annually, although the total has decreased in recent years. Just 16 people were killed by lightning in 2017. The Guinness World Record for being struck belongs to the late Roy Sullivan, a U.S. Park Ranger in Shenandoah National Park. He was struck seven times—the odds of which are 1 in 10 to the 28th power. He survived them all and lived a more or less normal existence until he took his life at the age of 71.
7. Thunder and lightning are the same thing, kind of.
Thunder is the sound lightning makes. Okay, pay attention, because this is the science part. Lightning is a stream of electrons flowing between or within clouds, or between a cloud and the ground. The electrons heat the air around them to 50,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hotter than any Big Green Egg. As the hot air cools, it creates a “resonating tube of partial vacuum surrounding the lightning’s path,” according to Scientific American. The rapidly expanding and contracting air in the tube makes a big cracking sound. As the cracking-sound vibrations die out, they rumble. Thunder can be heard as far as 10 miles away.
8. Your odds of being struck by lightning are probably going up.
Currently, your odds of being struck in a given year are about 1 in 1.2 million, and about 1 in 15,000 during your lifetime, according to the National Weather Service. Yet astraphobia—the fear of being struck—is one of the most common phobias in America. But the odds are likely going up. The cause? Climate change, just like everything else. A study in Science magazine predicts that for every degree of global temperature increase, the number of lightning strikes increases by 6 percent.
9. You can be killed by lightning while standing beneath a clear blue sky.
Lightning can strike up to 10 miles away from a thunderstorm. A lightning bolt is about an inch wide in diameter and can be as much as 90 miles long, according to researcher Martin Uman, author of All About Lightning.
10. Lightning can literally knock your socks off.
The blast of superheated air that accompanies a lightning strike can cause clothing to explode off your body. Lightning can also turn the sweat on your body to steam, giving you third-degree burns. (The sudden expansion of sap is what occasionally causes trees to explode when hit.) Blood vessels may rupture, leading to a temporary scarring pattern known as Lichtenberg figures.
11. Electricity can save the life of a lightning-strike victim.
Strikes most often kill because the massive electrical discharge stops a victim’s heart. Paradoxically, what the unconscious victim may need most is a second shock from a defibrillator to restart the heart. Victims have likened the pain of a strike to being stung from the inside by a thousand hornets or being inside a microwave oven.
12. Lightning often strikes the same place twice—or much more than twice.
This myth is regularly proven wrong when a strong storm passes over very tall buildings or TV towers, which can be hit multiple times in a single weather event. Each year, New York’s Empire State Building is struck anywhere from 25 to 100 times.
13. Lightning can change your personality.
In a Psychology Todayblog post, University of Miami neuroscientists tell of an orthopedic surgeon who, after being struck by lightning, developed an urge to play the piano. A few months later he gave up medicine to become a classical musician. This was almost certainly a great disappointment to his parents.
Written by Bill Heavey for Field & Stream and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’ve seen them standing in the river, casting to and fro, and wondered what the fuss is about. You’ve seen your friends’ obsession. You’ve reckoned that a decent trout would put up an exciting fight on that light tackle. So here you are, at the dawn of your first season of flyfishing.
As you’ll soon see, there’s a fair amount going on. Much about flyfishing will be unlike the fishing you’ve done before, and it can be a little bewildering at first. But it’s also a hoot, and chances are you will enjoy it enough to come back for more. Here are a few things you’ll experience in that first season.
1. Less Force Equals a Longer Cast
You spot a rising trout at the outside edge of your casting range. You apply more force to reach it, but the line plops down in a bunch of S-curves well short of the target. The fish is still rising, so you try again, with the same result. Your excitement now mixes with frustration and your muscles are tense. You’re in a cycle that ends with an un-caught trout calmly digesting its snack.
It’s natural to think that casting longer requires you to cast harder, but it’s wrong. If you try to muscle a fly line, it usually ends up collapsing. Experts say using too much force is the number-one casting flaw, and believe me, it’s not limited to first-year fly fishers. Do this: Stop casting for a few minutes. Breathe and let the tension ebb. When you resume, make it your top priority to have a light touch—crisp, but light. You’ll be surprised at how much your casting improves.
2. What the Water Temperature, Speed, and Depth Mean for Flyfishing
If you visit your charming local brook after a night of thunderstorms, you will see how quickly weather can affect trout habitat. Generally speaking, flyfishing for trout is much more enjoyable and effective when the stream is in "normal" condition—that is, not "blown out" by heavy rain, warm and shallow from summer heat, or frigid from winter cold.
You can save yourself some disappointment and gas money by seeing what shape the water is in before you go. Find a local fly shop and see if they post reports on stream conditions, or check the U.S. Geological Survey’s Current Water Data for the Nation page, which lists real-time flows and, for some streams, water temperature. If your trout stream is too warm to fish, go fish for bass, preferably smallmouth. You may find you prefer bass to trout, even if you don’t want to admit it to yourself.
3. Why You Have to Stand in the Water
There are many situations where spinning-rod anglers pull on waders and walk into the water, but they don’t always need to. They can cast far enough to reach the spots likely to hold fish, and they don’t require room for a back cast. But the new fly fisher will quickly realize why he or she needs to be standing out in the stream: It’s often necessary to get physically closer to places in the stream where fish live, and you usually have to throw the line behind you before you can throw it in front of you.
The need to wade is actually one of the nice things about flyfishing. Joining the trout in their environment is both challenging and fun. Taking even a few steps into the stream opens up lots of room for your back cast, and getting closer to the fish is a strategic advantage, because the less line lying on the water between angler and fly, the better. By the way, don’t immediately wade in up to your rib cage so you can reach deeper water. You might be surprised how many trout hang close to the shore. Fish the near water first, then wade deeper.
4. Smaller Flies are Often Better at Catching Fish
The chalkboard at the fly shop said size 14 flies were hatching, so you tied on a size 14 fly, but the trout ignored it. They took natural flies all around it, maybe even right next to it, but your size 14 didn’t fool them. A size 16 might have. It’s not that the fly shop was wrong; gauging fly size by hook dimensions is a fairly imprecise way estimate. Sometimes, for reasons only the fish understand, a fly that’s a couple millimeters too big is unacceptable. Down-size a bit and your luck may well improve.
One rule of thumb says size, shape, and color, in that order, are the key characteristics of flies, so if the right pattern isn’t working, going smaller should be your first adjustment. And don’t think trout won’t see a smaller fly. Many are caught every season on nymphs the size of sesame seeds.
5. Your Fly Needs to Float Naturally
Getting a good drift can be surprisingly tricky. You know the basic strategy: Drop the fly upstream of where the fish is feeding and let it drift downstream to the trout, just like the naturals are doing. The naturals, of course, aren’t tied to a 9-foot leader and however many feet of PVC fly line. That leader and, especially, that line often cause the fly to get yanked off course, because they’re lying on water that’s not flowing at the same rate as the water where your fly is floating. The drag can be so subtle that you can’t even see it, but still bad enough that your fly moves unnaturally and the fish isn’t fooled.
There are lots of ways to deal with drag. You can find a casting angle where the intervening current doesn’t pull the line so much. You can make casts, like the reach cast, that have some built-in slack. The simplest thing to do is get closer to the fish, so there’s less line on the water. Stay downstream of the trout so you won’t be seen.
6. What Time You Go Fishing Is Everything
You may find yourself on a well-known stream in mid-afternoon on a sunny day and wonder what all the fuss is about. There are no mayflies or caddisflies on the water or in the air, no splashing from surface-feeding trout, no evidence whatsoever that the water holds fish. Come back that same evening and you’ll think you’re in a different place, with insects everywhere and fish rising like crazy.
Broad-daylight fishing is by no means a waste of time, and depending on the location, the season and the insect activity, can be very productive indeed. But as a rule, you’ll have better action at dawn and dusk. Not only will you have more fish and insect activity, but you’ll also avoid conflicts with daytime river users like tubers and canoeists. In the summer, the water is coolest at dawn, which usually makes for livelier fish.
7. Fly Casting Is … Different
If you’re like me, your first attempts at fly casting didn’t go smoothly. My backcasts smacked the water, my forward casts landed like spaghetti, and sometimes I ended up with line wrapped around myself. I never snapped a rod over my knee in frustration, but I wanted to a few times.
Casting a fly line is fundamentally different than casting with a spinning or bait-casting rod. Unlike those, a fly rod is designed to throw the line, not the lure or bait. Reading up and watching videos will help, but the best way to shorten your learning curve is to be taught by a good caster and teacher. Local chapters of Trout Unlimited and the Federation of Fly Fishers regularly offer classes for modest fees. Fly shops often hold classes and clinics, too. It’s worth taking the trouble.
8. Good Fly Rods Are More Fun
Most of us start out with relatively inexpensive gear, for the same reason a guitar student won’t show up for his or her first lesson with a $6,000 Les Paul. Happily, today’s lower- and mid-priced fly rods and reels are darned good, and besides, it’s how you use the rod that counts.
Still, if you get a chance to make a few casts with a high-end Sage, Orvis, or Winston, you’ll notice a difference. They’re lighter, they’re easier to control for accurate casting, and they effortlessly lay out nice long casts. Not everyone can plunk down $1,500 for a rod, reel, and line, but if it feels like flyfishing is something you will do a lot of in the years to come, do get the best gear you can afford.
9. You Really Do Need Waders
Sure, standing bare-legged in a cool stream on a hot summer day sounds nice. It even makes sense on tiny, high-elevation brook trout streams. But in most places, most of the time, you need to be wearing waders. Reason One: trout live in cold water. There’s only so much time one can comfortably spend “wet wading” in a 58-degree stream. (Feel free to disregard if your first season of flyfishing takes place on a bonefish flat in the tropics.) Reason Two: Waders have soles designed for underwater use, made of either felt or “sticky” rubber like Vibram. Walking in regular sneakers on slippery underwater rocks is flat-out dangerous.
Chest waders also serve as another thermal layer when fishing in cold weather. Hip waders are cheaper, cooler, and less bulky in transit, but I guarantee you’ll get your crotch wet somehow, no matter how careful you are. Waist-high wading pants are a nice compromise. Stocking-foot waders have booties and are used with separate wading boots; they offer great support. Boot-foot waders have rubber boots built in; they’re warmer and easier to put on and take off.
10. Surface vs. Subsurface Fishing
The fact trout they eat floating flies is one of the reasons they’re so much fun to fish for, but they don’t do it all the time. They feed at the surface when flies are hatching, but the rest of the time they feed below, usually close to the bottom. No rises doesn’t mean no fish—it just means you need to use a different tactic.
Exploring the stream-bed landscape with a nymph or a streamer is a great way to catch trout, and it sure beats starting at a blank pool, waiting for a rise. It often yields bigger fish—the old guys that are too lazy to dash around at the surface. Nymphing requires concentration, watching, and feeling for a clue that an unseen fish has taken your fly (a strike indicator can be a big help.) Just like with a dry fly on the surface, your goal is a natural drift, at the appropriate depth.
Of course there’s more. Flies, knots, trout behavior, bug biology, rules, and regulations—like any interesting hobby, flyfishing comes with plenty to learn. But that’s part of the fun. Your first season will teach you many lessons, and so will the ones to come.
Written by Morgan Lyle for Field & Stream and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.
How plastic shims can fine-tune your gun—and make you a better shot
The 98 cents’ worth of plastic shims that came with your new $1,800 semiauto might be the most important part of the whole shotgun. Stock shims let you fine-tune cast and drop to get a perfect fit—and make your new gun almost a part of you. This is a big deal. Before shims, altering a wood stock involved a gunsmith and real money, and changing the dimensions on synthetic stocks was pretty much impossible.
Now, many shotguns come with shims, including such affordable standards as the SuperNova pump and the Mossberg 930. No longer is the off-the-rack shotgun a one-size-fits-all proposition. That little bag of plastic shims can make you a much better shot, if you know how to use what’s inside.
The first thing to do with your shim kit is…nothing. Put it someplace where you will not lose it, and start with an honest appraisal of your gun mount. If you practice it on a regular basis and are already dialed in, you can skip this step. Otherwise—and here I am talking to the vast majority of you—listen up.
Your head is the rear sight of the shotgun, but think of it as a scope for a moment: There’s no point in sighting in a gun if the mounts and rings are loose and the scope wiggles. Likewise, if your head doesn’t meet the stock consistently, your point of impact will wander and gun fit becomes a moving target. You need to crank down the screws. With a real scope, you use a Torx wrench. With a shotgun, you practice your gun mount until the “sight” (your head) comes to the same place on the stock every time.
I’ve written ad nauseam about how to mount a shotgun correctly, but it really matters, so let’s review: Practice at home by first checking and then double-checking that your gun is unloaded. Pick a spot on an opposite wall, fix your eyes on it, and bring the gun up so that the muzzle points to the spot without your looking at the bead. Do this by pushing the muzzle toward the target while raising the stock smoothly to your face first, not your shoulder. Don’t crush your head into the stock, because you won’t do that in the field. If you practice this drill with a Mini Maglite AA in the muzzle, the beam will tell you if the gun is pointing where it’s supposed to. You can also check your work in a mirror. When you mount the gun on your reflection, you should see your eye centered over the rib. Do that for 10 to 15 minutes a night for a couple of weeks.
Once you are mounting your gun consistently, take it to the range and shoot “groups” with a tight choke while standing 16 yards from the target. Use paper, a steel pattern plate (no steel ammo with steel plates, though) if you have access to one, or a hanging bedsheet with a mark painted on it. Mount the gun, neither rushing nor aiming, and shoot at the mark. Don’t correct if you’re off target. You’re trying to shoot a good group, not hit the bull’s-eye.
If you hit the same place every time, you’re ready to consider shims. (If you don’t, keep on practicing your gun mount.) Look at the center of your group. If it’s on or less than 2 inches off the mark, you’re probably good (depending on where you want your point of aim to be; see below). Otherwise, for every 2 inches off, you need a 1⁄8-inch adjustment to the stock in the appropriate direction.
The shims go where the buttstock meets the receiver, so you’ll need a Phillips screwdriver to remove the pad, and a long flat-head screwdriver or extended socket wrench to take off the stock. (Some kits also include a plate that goes over the stock bolt after you put the stock back on.)
If you want the gun to shoot higher, use a shim that gives you less drop; in the case of Italian shims, it’s a lower number of millimeters. With U.S. shims, it’s usually something like +1/8. (Check the manual.) To lower your point of impact, which is the most common adjustment, use one with a greater number of millimeters or –1/8. Move the pattern right with cast off, left with cast on. Italian shims are marked D for destra (“right” for cast off) and S for sinistra (“left” for cast on, or “evil,” which is completely unfair to us left-handers). Repeat the pattern process and change out shims as necessary until you’re satisfied. When that’s done, I like to go to station 7 on the skeet field and shoot low-house outgoers with a low-gun start to be sure the gun hits where I’m looking.
Where you set your point of impact is up to you. Most hunters and many sporting-clays shooters prefer a gun that centers the pattern on the point of aim, giving a 50/50 pattern that prints half above and half below the aiming mark, and a sight picture that’s flat along the rib. Some upland hunters and target shooters prefer to “float” the bird over the barrel, and therefore like a gun that shoots a little high—about 55/45—and lets them see a little bit of rib. Trapshooters like guns that shoot 60/40 or even higher. However you prefer to shim your stock, you’ll have made it a perfect fit for you, and that’s time and 98 cents very well spent.
GEAR TIP: Beware the Floating Gun Case
Floating gun cases have become standard equipment among waterfowlers and many other hunters. They’re convenient and offer peace of mind should the boat swamp. But they have one huge drawback: They don’t breathe. If you put a damp waterfowl gun in a floating case after your hunt, it might be orange with rust by the time you get home a couple of hours later. It has happened to me. Take the time to wipe your gun down with an oiled cloth before you put it back in the case. By the way, the best method for drying the inside of a floating case is to stick it on a boot dryer.
Written by Phil Bourjaily for Field & Stream and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.