Practice & Understand Those Turkey Vocalizations

Go to any sporting goods store and you will usually find a big section on instructional tapes and DVDs to help you learn how to perfect your turkey calling technique.  But did you know the Internet has many educational resources that are just as good…and best of all they are FREE.   Grab a few of your turkey calls and let’s play along as we attempt to mimic the many unique vocalizations made by the wild turkey.

Take a look: Check out the ESPN Hunting Audio Library by clicking here.


The National Wild Turkey Federation also has a page of sounds available by clicking here.

Another page of similar sounds can be found here.

The bottom line is to be a successful turkey hunter you need to practice, practice, practice.   One wrong note and you could just send that big gobbler running off in the opposite direction.   Understand the sounds and learn to master at the very least the most basic calls.   To be a successful turkey hunter means you must properly incorporate the right call, at the right time…and in the right place.   Simple…huh?   Get practicing!!! 

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Of Priorities, Commitments & Partners Afield

One of the aspects about enjoying the outdoors I have always valued was a common sharing of the passion to participate by fellow sportsmen.   Indeed, without constant reminding or conjoling…there was a time when most of my outdoor pals knew that certain days of the calendar year were considered sacred.   Among those days would be considered the trout fishing opener, the regular fishing opener, the small game opener, the pheasant opener, and the firearms deer opener, to name but a few.   That statement’s no longer true today.   In fact, I find it increasingly more difficult to assemble my sportsman friends on the same page so we can all continue sharing time together participating in the activities we love.

Basically the way I see it there are two general types of sportsmen.   There’s the enthusiast who likes to do most everything solitary because this allows for a more relaxing, peaceful, contemplative time away from life’s usual struggles.   Then, of course, there are the sportsmen who tend to be more social…deriving enjoyment by laughing and reliving memories with a group of like-minded individuals.

Throughout most of my sportsman career…I have always gravitated toward the more social aspects of enjoying the outdoors.

There was a time not too many years ago I could pick up the phone and within 15 minutes find a handful of guys who anxiously wanted to spend the afternoon pheasant hunting.   If they already had other plans…those plans were quickly scrubbed to go hunting.

There was also a time not long ago when I could suggest the idea that we all plan a trip out West hunting antelope for a week…and everyone involved scrambled to ensure their schedules would allow this activity to happen.

Indeed, there was a time when spending a week up in Canada fishing was no big deal…regrettably, however, those days now seem to be in the rear-view mirror of life for many of my outdoor cohorts.

Today, we seem to have our priorities rearranged on many other things besides the outdoors.   Maybe this is a product of getting older and having more family commitments.   Perhaps our busy lifestyles have us so wore down that on weekends all we want to do is “veg out” in front of the TV and watch a ball game.   I don’t know…but for me the trend is somewhat disturbing.   And I can’t say that I am completely excluded from being part of the problem myself.   God only knows how many times I have turned down friends recently because the invite wasn’t convenient to my schedule.

So what are we all doing wrong?   Why have so many people allowed the pursuit of outdoor activities to take a backseat to other aspects of life?   Don’t we all understand that our days on this earth are quite limited and that we should be maximizing that time to pursue the activities we know we all enjoy?    Apparently not.

During the past few years I have seen my annual fishing opener and the deer opener camps wane in participant interest.   What used to be a vibrant bunch of guys giving each other relentless grief has turned into a skeleton crew of diehards who now silently mourn “the good ol’ days” of the past.   The dates for these events have not changed on the calendar.   The locations for the events have not changed, either.   What has changed are the people…and the level of their passion for staying involved and making the events a good time.

Oh, sure…the dynamics of any group of people are going to see personality conflicts (we’ve had them) from time to time.   You’ll also see attrition due to people moving out of state or passing on to higher hunting grounds…but ideally what should emerge is an opportunity for new blood created by the absence of those who are less fortunate.   Those opportunities, however, are not always quickly seized nor are they being recognized by potential newcomers.

After seriously contemplating cancelling my annual Minnesota fish camp this coming May I have decided that to do so would be a terrible mistake.   Despite the fact commitments so far by attendees have been less than desired, I am convinced more than ever the show must go on.   Yesterday, I made reservations and booked fish camp for yet another year.   Even though our numbers this year will likely be far fewer than we have experienced in the past…it would be an injustice to those who want to participate to let the tradition totally collapse because of shifting priorities among other prior participants.   See post on last year’s openers.

Subscribing to the theory that when one door closes…others open up…consider this.   If you’re a fisherman with a buddy and a boat, drop me a note if you are interested in being part of a fun fish camp in northern Minnesota (near Bemidji) during the weekend of May 12th thru 14th for the Minnesota Fishing Opener.   I have a limited number of beds available for guys who are truly committed to having fun and would appreciate celebrating a long-standing Minnesota tradition.   Share with me a brief synopsis about you and your buddy…including a short statement that shows you are committed to the cause.   In the near future, I might then extend a few invites to lucky folks who will have the opportunity to join me for a weekend of fun you’ll hopefully long remember.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

The Best Fishing Fillet Knife I’ve Never Used

Imagine a fishing fillet knife that the maker claims only needs sharpening once a year.   Sound too incredible to be true?   Perhaps…but if it’s the Leech Lake Knife made by Don Canney of Cedar Rapids, Iowa the statement is probably true.   Designed particularly for filleting use on northern pike and walleye, this handmade knife is nothing short of genius.   Arguably, the design and quality of this knife makes it one of the best, if not the best, fishing fillet knives ever developed.

So what would possess the former mayor of Cedar Rapids to get into the knife-making business?   Quite honestly, he was tired of using inferior quality knives that required sharpening almost after every use.   He then put his engineering skills to work and came up with a uniquely designed double-edged knife that is proving to be “the Cadillac of fillet knives” so to speak…at least in terms of handmade knives found in Midwest fishing circles.

I purchased a Canney knife back in 1999 at a sportshow in Minneapolis.   In fact, it was a proxy purchase because an acquaintance actually picked it out and bought it on my behalf.   I had heard so many good things about the knife I finally broke down and decided I had to own one.   I would go so far as to say I have never heard a single complaint about the knife…just compliments.   If you’re interested in reading more, take a gander at this message thread.


There’s just something special about owning a knife that you know wasn’t stamped out by a machine and mass produced.   In fact, the pride of ownership with a quality knife can equal that of a fine firearm.   Then, of course, when you pay 8 to 10 times more money for a quality knife your pocketbook feels the pride, too…or at least it should instill a little pride in the purchase. 

I have one big regret, though.   I wish Mr. Canney wouldn’t have signed and personalized the knife for me.


You see, ever since I brought the knife home I could not bring myself to put it in my tacklebox.   Nope, instead it has rested on the top shelf of my gun safe with the many other items I cherish.   Occasionally I will take the knife out, admire the superb craftsmanship for awhile, place a new light coat of oil on the metal…and then place it back in for safe-keeping.   At this rate I figure the edge will last me a lifetime with no need for ever re-sharpening it.

Honestly, I’ve been getting the urge to purchase another Canney Leech Lake Knife to add to my collection…and this would be one that actually makes it to my tacklebox.   Occasionally I see ads for the knives in the regional outdoor newspapers…but doing an extensive search I could not find a website for the knife-maker.   I know there used to be one at, but the site no longer seems to be available.   The knives can, however, be purchased online at Reed’s Sports if you can’t make it to one of the spring sports shows where Canney displays.


I do believe that every sportsman should own a fine knife for their sporting collection…and when that knife is handmade there’s just something even more special about showing it off to your friends.   Take a closer look at the Leech Lake Fillet Knife…and I think you’ll agree it’s a bargain of a fishing knife for the price.

© 2006 Jim Braaten.  All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.