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Bill Joseph, 

By Taxidermist Bill Joseph

"Straight From The Field" is brought to you by Bill Joseph of Nature's Way Taxidermy.  The editorials on this page is from his own perspectives and viewpoints. Experienced not only in Taxidermy but  lifetime outdoorsmen and know the wants & necessities of our outdoors people. On these pages Bill will bring these to the forefront and answer many of your "Straight from the Field" questions. You can contact him via email @ Bill Joseph or by phone at (716) 731-4215 Located at 2285 Lockport Road Sanborn NY 14132 ~ Or post your questions on the Outdoor Forum HERE Your question will help everyone!

How to tag a Niagara County Turkey Got a Wall Hanger? Now What! Spring Turkey Hunting Part II Spring Turkey
To Decoy or Not to Decoy?
Gut Shot? Liver Shot? Rattle Them InNEWER!
Don't let them hang around NEW!

Big Bass on the 
Coast Guard Drift

2008 Turkey Report Woodsmen Where are You? Be Careful What You Wish For  

Sportsmen Protecting Our Future [SPOF] - Letter to NYSDEC concerning big game hunting 

Rattle Them In

Text Box: Rattle Bag

Yes, rattling really works.  This technique of deer-calling has become my most important tool in my deer hunting success over the past years.  Most of you deer hunters have seen the "pros" rattle up deer on those popular hunting shows.  But, most New York hunters don't seem to believe that rattling works here.  About fifteen years ago, on a beautiful cold morning in November, I grabbed a set of small antlers, smacked them together for about a minute, and laughed to myself "This doesn't work.".   Then, I hung the antlers on a nail on my tree.  About a minute went by, and I heard a branch crack behind me.  I turned my head, and there stood a beautiful 8-point.  I got lucky and harvested that deer at about five yards.

Since that day, rattling is what I do - from opening day of bow, to the end of muzzle loader season.  I'm not trying to brag, but I've rattled in and harvested a buck every year since that first encounter.  It works. 

So, how is it done?  First, I use a rattling box, which you can buy anywhere.  Real antlers are bulky, and I think there's a safety issue when you're waving around real antlers while hunting.  There are also rattling bags.  They work well, but I think they're a little bit heavy to carry. 

While on stand, for one minute every hour, I do a rattling sequence.  I try to sound like two small bucks sparring, nothing real aggressive.  I also add in some buck grunts and doe bleats.  Next, I quickly put everything away, and get ready.  If it works, it happens fast.  All of a sudden, a buck will be right in your lap.  You have to be ready.

So, you have a choice.  Sit there day after day, and hope a deer walks by, or call them in.  Bucks, like humans, love to see a good fight, and are very curious.

I guarantee if you give this a try, it will work.  But, you have to be consistent.  Rattle for one minute every hour while on stand.  Rattling will change your deer hunting life.

 Good luck,
Bill Joseph - Nature's Way Taxidermy


A fellow came into my shop and told me he harvested a deer in the Alabama Swamps last year.  He also told me how bad the deer tasted.  He said it must have been the swamp water it was drinking.  I then asked him how he went about gutting the deer, how long he let it hang, and what the temperature was like.  He then explained that, after gutting the deer, he washed the cavity with water, then hung the deer for three days in about 50-60 degree temperatures.  I then told him that that was why his meat tasted bad.  Let me explain.

The first thing he did wrong was wash the deer out with water.  Introducing water into a deer carcass will actually start bacteria growth.  You want the blood and juices to dry, sealing the meat.  You'll notice after washing the cavity, that the meat will remain slimy.  That sliminess is bacteria, quickly spoiling your meat.  Stop washing the cavity, please.  If you have to put ice into the cavity of the deer due to extreme temperatures, make sure to double-bag the ice, so water doesn't escape into the cavity.

Next, he let his deer hang too long.  This is my rule. If the temperature is above 50 degrees, your deer has to be processed and in the freezer within 24 hours.  If the temperature is below 50 degrees, your deer should be processed and frozen within 3 days.  And, of course, temps below freezing, your deer will be OK until it thaws out.

And, if there are flies present, process deer immediately.

I know what you're going to say.  Your grandfather used to hang his deer for weeks, and that's why a lot of people don't like the taste of deer meat today.

I've processed thousands of deer, and I've seen and heard it all.  The faster you get your deer meat in the freezer, the better it will taste.  Feel free to call me anytime with questions about this topic

As a side note; when gutting your deer, you MUST remove the pee sack.  Leaving this in the deer will spoil your deer within 24 hours.

One more thing, if you're bringing your deer to a professional processor, bring it immediately.  DON'T let it hang around, because we may not be able to get to your deer immediately.

Good Luck,
Bill Joseph, Taxidermist - Nature's Way Taxidermy


The big topic these days among hunters is horn restriction in New York. A select group of hunters may get their way in this state. Do we really need the government of New York now telling us how many points the bucks we harvest can have? If your group of hunters wants to practice antler restriction in your area, that's fine. But, this cannot be made a state-wide law. Please hear me out.
The fact is, it doesn't work. Pennsylvania has severely damaged their deer herd practicing horn restrictions. Don't ask their game commission, just talk to some of their hunters. They will tell you the real story, and I've seen it firsthand.
So here's the theory behind horn restrictions. You want to let the young bucks grow up to trophy status. Sounds good.

But actually, in most cases, you are protecting the inferior buck and harvesting the deer with good genetics. Let me give you an example. The members of your camp, or our government, tell you that you can only shoot bucks of eight points or better. Now here's the scenario. It's simple. You're at your hunting camp, you have 500 acres, and 5 hunters. You're in your tree stand and a four-point, a spike, and an eight-point come by your stand. Each deer is from different parents and each deer is a year and a half old. So which deer has real potential to grow to trophy status? The odds are that the eight-point has superior genetics over the other two. But guess what happens? We harvest the eight-point, because that's the law. And the inferior bucks are now left to breed. If you multiply this scenario, you should get the picture. But here's where it gets tricky. For the first few years, the results are misleading. It seems like this practice is working, because now, by law, hunters have to wait to harvest the superior deer out of the herd. Trust me,it's only downhill from here. The bottom line is that the government and we hunters have no business tampering with nature. So let's enjoy what we have. There are some beautiful bucks harvested every year in New York State, so let's keep it that way.

Something to think about.


When it comes to bowhunting, the most important thing you could talk about is recovering your deer after you've arrowed one. Last year I gut shot the biggest buck of my life, something I'm not proud of, but this is the reality of bowhunting. Anything can happen when you release an arrow.
So when you've made a bad shot, you have two choices. Chase the deer all over the county, or let him bed down and recover your trophy.
So I decided to wait ten hours and recover my deer. He laid down 100 yards from my stand and expired. To say I was happy is an understatement.
They say 20 % of deer are not recovered, and those are pretty bad odds. The gut, liver shot is the shot that falls into this bad percentage spot. All bowhunters know you need to let a gut/liver shot deer go at least ten hours before you start tracking them. They teach you this at the bowhunters safety course. And after years of bowhunting, I truly believed it was almost impossible to recover a gut-shot deer. And I didn't care how long you let him bed down.

So, what was the difference this day? I waited an hour before getting down out of my stand, and instead of looking for my arrow, and looking for first blood, I quickly snuck out of the woods and then waited ten hours. **Please read that again, because this is the secret to recovering a gut/liver shot deer.

Now this is the point of this article. It took me 25 years of bowhunting to understand that when you look for your arrow and first blood, you have now begun tracking your deer. And because a gut/liver shot deer will not go far to lay down, you have now alerted the deer with your search for your arrow and first blood, sending him on the run. At this point, you can throw the ten-hour waiting time out the window, because you didn't wait. Recovery will be almost impossible at this point. To make matters more confusing, is the fact that a liver-shot deer bleeds a lot, making the hunter believe the deer will expire quickly, and there is nothing farther from the truth.

Now I know what you're thinking. How do you know if you've gut/liver shot a deer? A deer will usually hunch up like a mad cat and just slowly walk away. But in any case, if you're in doubt of your shot placement, follow the same strategy as a gut/liver shot deer.

I'm sorry, but I've got to say it again. If you've gut/liver shot your deer - DO NOT look for your arrow or first blood. Sneak out of the woods and wait ten hours, not eight hours, not nine hours, but at least ten. This is true, even in rain or snow. Your deer will lay down within 150 yards and die. Yes, it may be hard finding a deer with no blood, but I guarantee you will not find him if you push him to the next county.
I hope this helps someone out there this year.

Good luck. Please call me if you have any questions about this.


The other day I was flipping through the 500 channels on TV, when I came across a deer-hunting show. After five minutes of disbelief, I couldn't watch it any more. This show had "hunting teams" shooting deer for points and a prize at the end. It made me sick to my stomach. I thought, "what have we sportsmen become?" 

All I hear any more from guys is them talking about food plots, trail cams, QDM, horn restrictions and "what did that deer score?". And guess what, I have been guilty all of this. We need to stop what we're doing. The heritage of hunting is in jeopardy. Soon, being a woodsman will not matter. If you harvest a deer for any reason other than food, you are doing it for the wrong reasons. 

Furthermore, fathers are even teaching their kids instant gratification mentality. Just plant a food plot, pattern the deer with a trail cam and - Instant deer! The anti-hunters are giving us all the rope we need to hang ourselves, and we're doing a good job of it. 

baler stewart 9yrs 41 pt buck.jpg (60627 bytes)It's up to us senior hunters to teach our youth that there are no shortcuts to become a respected woodsman.

We need to get back to the basics. Leave your 4-wheeler at home, get rid of all the gizmos, and become one with nature. Enjoy your time in the woods and appreciate the deer that you harvest - big or small. 

Baler Stewart 9 yrs. 
Click for bigger pic

Bill Joseph


It's time to start bass fishing, and the coast guard drift is the hot spot. Trust me, you don't have to go to Lake Erie to catch big bass. This drift will produce numbers of smaller bass all season long, but if you want bass in the 5-pound class, you'll need to know a few tricks about this drift. The big bass are not always there. They spend most of their time in deep water in Lake Ontario, making them hard to target. 

What drives the big bass into the river is wind, hard north-easterlies, which means bad weather. The high winds will destabilize the water temperatures in the lake, pushing the big bass into the river. So what I do is watch the weather and fish hard during and a couple days following the weather front. The big bass will quickly move out to deep water once the lake stabilizes. 

Now, how do you catch them? First, you have to find them. I'll start in front of the South Fort boat launch, doing the typical drift out into the lake. Keep trying different depths until you hook up. Most of the big bass will be in about 30 feet of water, where the river meets the lake, just past the coast guard base. This spot will not be a nice place to be with North winds. 

The rigs I use are the typical 3-way swivel rigs. With a shiner, worm, or - I'll share a little secret that my good friend Captain Tony LaRosa shared with me about 5 years ago - Jumbo Peeled Cooked Shrimp. Big bass love them! And if the fishing is slow, you can eat them for lunch! The most important thing about drifting the coast guard drift is staying on the bottom. If you're not snagging up 50% of the time, you're not doing it right. So, when everyone's home watching fishing on TV, because the weather is bad, you'll know where to find me.

Good luck, Bill Joseph

How to Tag a Niagara County Turkey

As you know, there are turkeys everywhere in Niagara County. So, it should be easy to get one. But the fact is, with so many birds, and the sport becoming so popular, it's become harder to tag a mature bird. Big Toms have so many hens, that there is no need for them to gobble or come to your calls. And when he does sound off, hunters are everywhere, setting up in that 10-acre hardwood you're hunting. So, after 20 years of chasing turkeys, I've learned a few things. For now, I'll talk about scouting.

Here are some things to remember when scouting:

1. Get out a couple weeks before the season opens and pattern the birds. This doesn't mean walking all over the area you plan on hunting. 

2. Scout from a distance. 

3. Get out at sunrise. 

4. Set up in a hedgerow or across the field from where the turkeys like to roost. 

5. Listen and watch - no calling! See where the turkeys want to go.

Just remember, in Niagara County, the wood lots are small and the land is flat. You can't just walk around without a plan. You'll just bump the birds out of your hot spot.

Hope this helps! Get out as much as possible and BE SAFE!

See picture & story of Bill's 2008 Niagara County Turkey report below GO HERE

Got a Wall Hanger? - Now what!

One of the big questions taxidermists get is, "I got a big fish or deer, now what do I do?" So, I thought I'd post some tips. When it comes to fish, the first thing is, don't let the fish flop around damaging itself. Next, get the fish out of the sun, into a plastic bag and into the freezer. If you want to release the fish and have a reproduction made, you need to measure the length, girth, and take a picture.

Now, deer hunters. DON'T TAG YOUR DEER THROUGH THE EAR! DON'T DRAG THE DEER ON HIS SHOULDER OR NECK AREA! And NEVER TIE A ROPE AROUND HIS NECK!..... Immediately get a hold of your taxidermist, because deer capes are touchy, especially if it's warm out, or the deer is wet. This is true for all fur-bearers. Whatever you harvest, bird, deer, fur-bearer, or fish, needs to be frozen as soon as possible. This will ensure a beautiful mount that will last forever.

Good luck, Bill Joseph

Post your questions on the Outdoor Forum HERE  
Or email Bill Joseph HERE  ~ Please put "Straight From The Field" in the subject box. Thanks

Spring Turkey Hunting - Part II

12-gauge.gif (37366 bytes)


Now that you've done some scouting, and you've been practicing your calling (driving everyone in your house crazy), here's a list of some things you may need:

  • Gun, 12 ga., full choke, turkey loads
  • Turkey vest - not essential
  • Calls - Box call, slate call, mouth calls
  • Camouflage - head to toe
  • Binoculars - not essential
  • Rubber boots
  • Insect repellant
  • Decoys - not essential

When it comes to your gun, you have to get out before the season and shoot it. Put up some turkey targets and see how your gun patterns. You may have to play with different loads to get a desired pattern.

In regards to calling, you don't have to be an expert caller to get a turkey. I strongly suggest watching some good turkey hunting videos. This will help, but remember, videos only show the good stuff!

Here are some of my Golden Rules:

  • Know how your gun shoots. Don't shoot beyond 30 yards. (to assure a clean kill)
  • Get permission from land-owners.
  • Have Patience - turkeys are on their own schedule, so don't be in a rush.
  • Know your target, there are other guys out there!

Hopefully some of these tips will help you get started. If you have any questions, send me an e-mail.



         With spring turkey hunting just around the corner, one big question keeps coming up - decoys. When it comes to decoys, I have mixed feelings. They have cost me some birds, and they have gotten me some. Decoys work well if turkeys can see a long way, like in open country. My experience has been, that if a turkey is coming to your call in thicker habitat, such as Niagara County, a turkey will sometimes spook when he pops out into the open. I think you're better off letting the Tom look for the hen that's been calling to him, instead of him seeing a motionless decoy. Decoys also work well if you're setting up, like deer hunting, and just periodically calling to quiet birds. The reason is, that you don't know the direction of an approaching quiet turkey. The decoy can take the attention off you and give you a chance to take a shot. This works well when hunting with kids, for the same reason. Decoys work well if you spot a Tom strutting in an open field. I like to belly crawl, holding the decoy in front of me, and placing it at the edge of a field. I've had Toms see me crawling with the decoy and come running even before I had the chance to set the decoy up. 

         Some hunters depend on decoys too much, and spend more time setting them up, when they should be sitting down and staying still. 

       Last year, I harvested a big old Tom as a direct result of using a decoy. I'd been hunting this bird for two years with no success. He was call-shy. If you called to him at all, he would shut up and go the other way. So, after two days of watching him strutting in a field, I was able to pattern him. On the third day, I waited. Knowing how dominant this bird was, I knew he would not tolerate a Jake and Hen decoy set-up in the field he had been going to for the last two days. So I waited without calling, and at 8:00 he showed up. He entered the field, saw the decoys, and ran over for a fight. 

      There are a million turkey situations you will face. Decoys can help, but don't be too quick to use them. They are not always necessary. 

Good luck - Bill Joseph.

See picture & story of Bill's 2008 Niagara County Turkey report below GO HERE

No Boat, No Problem
Bill Joseph

In spring, Niagara County is the place to be. When water temperatures along shore hit 45-50 degrees, this means that the trout and salmon will be within casting range of shore. 25 years ago, before everyone had a boat, casting spoons was the way guys caught trout and salmon. The mouth of Four-mile Creek was the hot spot. Back then, you couldn't even find a spot to stand. Today, you'd be lucky to find anyone there. But, this doesn't mean there aren't any fish there. Note: A popular spoon that is still cast today is the Acme "Little Cleo" lure as pictured here. Silver with the blue stripe, silver/green or the color shown works best in the 2/5 ounce size.

So, if you'd like to give this a try, here's how:

  • Where is the mouth of Four-mile? Start in Youngstown, head out on Old Lake Rd (18F). Turn onto Woodcliff Drive off Lake Road (across from Bandana's Rest.). Follow end to to parking area. Walk trails to the lake.
  • What equipment do I need? A medium-action spinning rod (8-10 lb. test), lures (Little Cleo's, KO Wobblers, or any heavy spoon, my favorite colors are silver/blue, silver/green, silver/orange). Make sure that you have good line, and always use a swivel when using these lures or they will twist up your line.

The best spot will be where the creek flows into the lake. You will not believe the fish that are out there: brown trout, lake trout, rainbows, coho salmon, northern pike, bass, and even carp. All attracted by the warm water coming out of the creek.

Cast out as far as you can into the lake. Count to five, and start your retrieve. That's all there is to it. This exact technique will also work anywhere along the shore of the lake and the lower Niagara.

Some other good shore-fishing spots are: Youngstown Village docks, Fort Niagara beach, Art Park, Whirlpool and Devil's Hole State Park, and Wilson and Olcott piers.

Have patience, they're out there. It will be worth all that casting when you hook up with a giant brown trout!

Good Luck!

NOTE: For more shore fishing tips visit THIS PAGE on Outdoors Niagara


25lb11inbeardniacty052208.jpg (36125 bytes)Pictured: Bill Joseph's 25 lb. Spring Turkey. This guy had an 11" Beard [the turkey]

Another spring turkey season came to an end, and from all reports, it should be a record-book take in Niagara County. With gas prices being so high, hunters stayed home, pushing the numbers up locally. Just about everyone I've talked to scored a bird, and some tagged out with two. The weather was good for the most part, and the bugs were not so bad. Being self-employed, I was able to hunt just about every day, and had action on most outings. And congratulations to Quaker Boy pro-staffer, Chuck Brolinski of Lewiston. We're mounting a beautiful bird he harvested in the last minutes of the season. That's determination, and that's what it takes! 
Click for larger picture
           Can you believe that 25 years ago there wasn't a turkey in Niagara County, and now they're everywhere - it's amazing! I believe the coyote is the reason why turkeys have done so well. Yep, you heard me right. Let's face it, if the coyote, with all his ACME gizmos can't kill the Roadrunner, he is surely no threat to the turkey! But seriously, the coyote may get lucky once in a while and have a turkey dinner. But for the most part, he protects them, keeping the real killers, the egg-ravaging wild cats, skunks, possums and raccoons in balance. And if you think about it, coyote and turkey populations have grown together. So let's thank the wiley coyote for keeping things under control. He's not the enemy, but we'll talk about that another time. 

Good job, guys! Bill Joseph

Post your questions on the Outdoor Forum HERE  
Or email Bill Joseph HERE  ~ Please put "Straight From The Field" in the subject box. Thanks

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