Saturday, November 18, 2017
Outdoors

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

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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: Snook bite remains aggressive

We are in the midst of prefrontal conditions, so there should be good fishing today. Bait seems to have moved on the last full moon and judging by the amount of bait fry that has filtered onto the flats, it spawned also. Load up the wells with the sm...
Updated: 10 hours ago

Captainís Corner: Calm seas closer to beaches rewards with kingfish

Strong east winds have made it challenging for offshore anglers. The first few miles are quite tolerable since the land buffers the shoreline. After that, sea conditions have been tougher. Anglers searching for kingfish have been rewarded with calm s...
Published: 11/16/17

Captainís Corner: A little wind doesnít stop hot fishing in November

Despite many windy days, November fishing has been amazing. The water is cooling off, and the fish are becoming more aggressive. Itís getting to be the time of year when the cold fronts start to make their way out of the north. When this happens, win...
Published: 11/15/17

Captainís Corner: Fly fishing success possible, even in wind

When your day to fly fish arrives, do you hope for a day without wind? Knowledgeable fly fishers know there are many ways to deal with different wind situations. Avoid open water, and select an area that offers protection. Stay close to shore and use...
Published: 11/12/17
Updated: 11/14/17

Captainís Corner: Low tides and cold fronts make for rewarding fishing

Fall and winter low tides combined with cold fronts passing through can lead to highly rewarding fishing. It takes winds blowing 20-plus miles an hour out of the northeast combined with an astronomical low tide around the new moon and full moon phase...
Published: 11/12/17
Updated: 11/13/17

Captainís Corner: Reef fish abundant offshore; mackerel, kings better near shore

Before this recent cold front, we were able to travel where we wanted, and the calm seas allowed us to make the mistake of running past the best depths for our type of fishing. The 40- to 50-foot depths produced almost nonstop action from reef fish, ...
Published: 11/12/17
Captainís Corner: Mackerel still going strong in bay area

Captainís Corner: Mackerel still going strong in bay area

The fall king mackerel run is still going strong. The fish have seemed to come in waves; one week there are numerous fish more than 30 pounds, and a week or two later no one can find any more than 20. It also seems the fish are not moving south all t...
Published: 11/11/17

Captainís Corner: Cold front should push fish into backcountry waters

The approaching front is forecast to drop temperatures for a couple of days. This should push more fish into the backcountry rivers and creeks that feed the bay. Once the front passes and the weather stabilizes, fishing should return to normal. This ...
Published: 11/10/17

Captainís Corner: Kingfish domination

With calm seas and water temperature just the way they like it, kingfish will dominate much of the nearshore and offshore activity. Light wind and strong tides from the weekendís full moon have allowed nearshore waters to cleanse, so baits are being ...
Published: 11/08/17
Captainís Corner: November means strong snook fishing

Captainís Corner: November means strong snook fishing

November is the month that moves most inshore fish from the flats to the backcountry creeks, docks and rivers. Itís a month when you can enjoy great weather and great fishing without waking up at the crack of dawn. The South Shore in particular has s...
Published: 11/07/17
Updated: 11/09/17