I haven’t posted in 3 months….and it’s ironic, because right after my last post, I had the most successful outing I’ve had in a while.
On April 22nd, the Saturday that was included in my 2012 public land turkey hunting permit, I headed out to the field at about 5:15. I was already late. I didn’t have my coffee made, my gear organized, or even any turkey loads purchased. I headed to Walmart to try and pick up some turkey ammo, and of course they were all sold out…..so I bought some #4 steel duck loads and continued onward.
This was my first turkey hunting season. I got my permit/license last year, but never made it into the field. So, because I had never done it before, I tried to keep my gear expenditure to a minimum until I knew I was going to get serious. That being said, I only own a dove vest (not a nice turkey vest with a flap-down seat), a set of Primos and Hunter’s Specialties calls from WallyWorld and my pump Winchester. I looked like an idiot, but I got out in the field about 10 minutes before dawn and headed to the hedgerow from which I had spotted turkeys 2 days earlier.
It was the perfect temperature and there were absolutely no clouds. Good thing that I brought my ThermaCell though, because the bugs were pretty bad in my hedgerow. I picked a spot where I could see the whole back corner of the corn field in which I had scouted the turkeys that week. Right about dawn, I made a couple calls with my owl-imitator call to see if I could locate any birds on the roost. No response. I tried a few more times as we moved towards sunrise.
At sunrise, I still hadn’t heard anything, so I decided to switch to my slate call. I scratched out a couple low clucks, and to my complete surprise, a gobbler absolutely hammered back. It was the coolest thing I have experienced in hunting to date. The sound that that bird made in response to my weak, beginner calling was crazy. I made a few more strokes, and about 15 birds hammered back. I must have situated myself into the center of a turkey mother lode. I was completely surrounded by birds. The field behind me had something out in the middle that I couldn’t see. The field and trees in front of me had multiple gobblers and/or jakes that were all worked up.
I was so excited. I kept on calling. I kept adjusting my legs that were fast asleep, while trying to keep myself completely camouflaged. I was wearing my cheap-ass camo jeans, camo long sleeve shirt for bow hunting, camo gloves and facemask. I had to keep my gun hidden under some weeds because it is not a camo gun, and has a turkey-frightening, metal sheen.
I called and called for over an hour. The bird must have been taking 2 steps per half hour, because it didn’t seem to get any closer. I glassed over the field at one point and could see the big boy sitting right in the edge of the woods, eating something, but lifting his head every time I called.
At about 2 hours, I was starting to get worried. The birds had moved away, and then moved closer, and then moved away. Suddenly, a pack of at least 5 turkeys – 4 males with one female (oddly enough), burst out into the middle of the field that I was sitting in, and weaved in a strange zig-zag pattern while running very rapidly. I stopped calling and let them do there thing. Then they moved into this low bunch of saplings directly on the opposite side of the field from me, and were moving further and further away. I was sure that I lost them.
I read something about fooling birds by moving to a new spot mid-hunt, but that it was normally very hard because they have such incredible site, that most guys get caught when they try to do it. I was willing to give it a try, so I picked up my gear and peered over the hedgerow. I didn’t see any birds, and I almost couldn’t hear them anymore. I moved down the edge of the field, in clear site, to a new spot. I sat down even further back from the field, under a huge oak tree.
With my back to the tree, I gave some more scrapes on my slate. Immediately, I had the birds hammering again. They gobbled and gobbled, and soon fell dead silent after moving what sounded like incredibly close to me. While they were silent, they were actually sneaking in to see what was making all the noise. I was straining to see through the edge of the trees when I caught a glimpse of the 3 turkey’s heads. It was 2 jakes and one big gobbler. I’ve never shot a turkey before, so my hands were shaking. The birds were about 30 yards away, and I only had an improved cylinder choke in my gun (I was too cheap to by an undertaker turkey choke). They were all bunched together, but I had my bead right on them. As soon as the gobbler took 2 steps out in front of the other 2 birds, I squeezed.
I put that load right in the middle of his eyes. His buddies all took off running then flying. It sounded like a small tornado as they all freaked out. My dude was flapping for a couple seconds, but then nothing. I was so excited that I broke a basic rule and got up and ran out to the bird.
I think this post is long enough, but I wanted to make sure I completely described this amazing hunt. No other type of hunt has yet to get my heart pounding like that.
See epic picture of my gobbler below. 17 pounds with a 9 13/16″ beard and 15/16″ and 17/16″ talons.