Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Outdoors

Take it Outside Planner: Wild turkey hunting, Little Manatee River paddling and cast iron cooking

BRING IT: A CAST IRON PAN

If you find yourself in the woods this Thanksgiving, hope you brought along a Dutch oven to make my holiday favorite, Son of a Gun stew. My favorite pots and skillets are made by a company called Lodge, which has been in the Appalachian mountain town of South Pittsburg, Tenn., population 3,300, since 1896. If properly cared for, a good cast iron pan or pot can last for generations. When it comes to Dutch ovens, camp versions are usually footed, so they can sit above the coals (though they also can hang from a tripod), and have a flanged lid where coals nestle. This allows heat to cook the food from above and below. The reason so many camp cooks, including this veteran, swear by cast iron is that these pots and pans distribute the heat evenly. You can cook slow and steady, which really brings out the flavor in everything from grouper cheeks to venison loins. Cooking with coal, or charcoal briquettes, is an easy way to get started. Just place one-third of the coals under the pot and two-thirds on the flanged lid. Then walk away, come back an hour or two later and enjoy a tasty one-pot meal.

GOBBLE GOBBLE: WILD TURKEY

Florida's resident wild turkey, the Osceola, is one of five subspecies found in the United States (the others are the Eastern, Rio Grande, Merriam's and Gould's), but it is perhaps the most sought-after one because it can only be found in certain areas of the state. The National Wild Turkey Federation and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission generally recognize wild turkeys taken within or south of Dixie, Gilchrist, Alachua, Union, Bradford, Clay and Duval counties to be Osceola. Eastern turkeys and hybrids are usually found north and west of these counties. Male turkeys spend the night roosting in the trees, and at first light, they fly down to collect their hens. The best way to find a turkey is to "call" one. And that's where Ransom, the "gobbler," comes in.

One hundred years ago, this bird was on the brink of extinction. By the time of the Great Depression, wild turkeys in the United States numbered fewer than 30,000. But strong conservation laws and a federal tax on guns helped raise the money needed to protect these birds. Today, there are more than 7 million wild turkeys in the United States, and Florida's hunters (as well as nonresidents who come to target the Osceola) enjoy fall and spring turkey seasons. Besides keen eyesight and exceptional hearing, the Osceola can run up to 25 mph and fly up to 50 mph, according to some estimates. So to be successful, a hunter must remain quiet, well-hidden and ready to fire with little notice.

Many turkey hunters spend years trying to bag a gobbler. But most don't mind. It's the journey, not the destination, that matters.

DAY TRIP: PADDLE THE LITTLE MANATEE

One of the best-kept secrets in Central Florida, this sleepy little river north of Bradenton is one of the best day trips in the state. The tannin-stained river has plenty of sandbars to pull over and rest as well as many good access points. Look for turtles and otters in the water and birds of prey soaring overhead. The trail ends on the south bank at Little Manatee River State Park, which has full-facility camping. The Canoe Outpost in Wimauma is full service, but plan early because the river gets crowded on weekends. (813) 634-2228. thecanoeoutpost.com.

NIFTY GIFTY: HEAD LAMP

Looking for last-minute gift for your favorite outdoors lover? Consider a head lamp. Count on spending $30 to $40 for a model that will work in the rain. A quality head lamp is not the type of thing most folks will splurge on, so you will probably get a heartfelt thank-you for your thoughtfulness.

   
Comments

Captainís Corner: Devise a strategy before heading out into the cold

The quality of fishing this month depends on how many cold fronts are in our future. When the water creeps down below 60 degrees, many fish will slow their metabolism in order to survive. They require less food than in the warmer months, making some ...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Captainís Corner: Make sure the fly gets in front of a hungry fish

Back-to-back winter cold fronts not only confuse inshore fish but the fly fishers who pursue them. The most perfectly tied fly is not effective unless it is in front of a fish that is anxious to eat it. The best daytime tides, very low early and inco...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/14/18

Captainís Corner: Cold, windy days just fine for trout fishing

Trout have been my most productive target during the start of this new year. Winter cold fronts and cold water are making conditions difficult to target snook and reds. Strong winds from passing fronts make it hard to work the shallow-water flats. Th...
Published: 01/12/18
Updated: 01/13/18

Captainís Corner: Cold driving out kings, but there are alternatives

Mother Nature gives and she takes away. Nature gave us warm water and great king fishing until Dec. 31. She ushered in the new year with a severe cold front with high winds and rough seas that kept us in port every day. The cold air and overcast skie...
Published: 01/11/18
Updated: 01/12/18

Captainís Corner: Techniques for catching (and cooking) tasty sheepshead

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Published: 01/10/18
Captainís Corner: Colder weather calls for different approaches

Captainís Corner: Colder weather calls for different approaches

With colder weather the first big change is what bait to use. Before the cold fronts in the first week we were using greenbacks and catching a bunch of snook. With the cold weather that has hit us we are now shifting gears and using shrimp and throwi...
Published: 01/08/18
Updated: 01/09/18

Captainís Corner: Winter need not interrupt fishing

The inevitable effects of wintertime fishing have finally arrived, but there are plenty of opportunities for the determined angler. Trout, both silver and specs, are cold water tolerant and among the best bets inshore. Now too is when schools of shee...
Published: 01/07/18
Updated: 01/08/18

Captainís Corner: With this cold, itís time for sheepshead

With cold air and water temperatures, nothing is hot when it comes it fishing. An eight-year recovery on snook erased by water temperatures in the 50s. January has not been kind so far. Thereís basically one solid option in times like these: sheepshe...
Published: 01/06/18
Updated: 01/07/18

Captainís Corner: Cold weather shouldnít stop you from targeting trout

Dealing with cold water is nothing new for trout anglers. Most often, fish head to deeper water as they seek more stable temperatures; consequently, deep water near your favorite grass flat will often hold schools of trout until the water temperature...
Published: 01/06/18

Captainís Corner: When weather calms, spearfishermen should target amberjack

Amberjack season opened Jan. 1 and as soon as the seas calm, many anglers and spearfishermen will be heading west into the Gulf of Mexico in search of these fish. The 2017 season was dramatically short, only left open by the Marine Fisheries Council ...
Published: 01/04/18
Updated: 01/05/18