Well... when I started thinking it was a little too early to start my 2003 Spring Turkey Hunting Diary I realized that I'll be hunting in less than a month!! I have begun to renew my relationships with landowners and hunting friends. Now is also the time to purchase any licenses, especially non-resident. I always at this time of year either begin to scout new areas and review topography maps of the locations I can't visit. I have begun to look at my logs and review when the gobbling started, peeked, etc.
This season I will be hunting in Tennessee, Virginia, Montana, Texas, and 2 trips to South Carolina. I will be making entries to my diary sporadically until the season opens, giving some information on scouting trips, listening trips, and sightings of birds. Once the season begins, unless I am out of town, I will try to make daily updates. I will not use real names or real places in my diary, other than my own name, to protect the innocent. :o) I hope this diary will be entertainment for some of you and maybe someone can even learn something. Entries to the diary will probably pickup about mid-March and continue on until the end of the season. I will start to give my gobbling reports and my thoughts on what the birds are doing. If anyone has any questions or comments please email me! I'm going to try and post my show schedule as soon as I have it figured out so I can meet with some of you again and meet some others for the first time!
I look forward to sharing this season with you...
I got out some over the last weekend and was encouraged by the amount of turkey sign I found. Over the last couple weeks, myself and buddies have spotted large flocks of birds, anywhere from 20-40 in some of the areas that we hunt. I haven't been out listening at all yet, but it looks like the weather is going to warm up over the next several days and that might get the birds talking a little bit. After the incredible mast crop we had this fall I thought the birds would go into the breeding season in good shape but I am concerned about the amount of snow and ice that we had and it's effect on the turkeys. We will just have to wait and see... I had a nice surprise this AM when I left our house... there were 3 big gobblers standing in the middle of the road. I'll be keeping tabs on them for Amy... ;o) I may try to get out in the mornings over the next week or so and see what I can hear. I have heard a few reports of gobbling birds. I'll be hunting the South Carolina Low Country in less than 2 weeks! I can't wait... it's almost here!!!!
I heard a bird gobble a few times Monday morning from the house. Just roost gobbling and nothing serious yet. Hearing reports of people seeing strutting birds with family flocks and that's about right for this time of year. It's going to be warming up over the next few days and that might get them talking a little more. I'm heading off to the SC Low Country to hunt the opener down there this Saturday, and we will hunt through Monday. Friend in SC has been seeing and hearing birds on his lease in the upstate and the birds will probably be doing the same where we are hunting. Everything is packed and I'm ready to go... Can't wait!
Shot my gun yesterday afternoon just to make sure everything was okay... I'm shooting a Remington 870 12 ga. Super Magnum, Star-Dot Choke, Tru-Glo sights, and Winchester Supreme High Velocity 3-1/2" # 5's. They perform really well in my gun and I'm very pleased with the setup.
My SC adventure. and what an adventure it was! I'm almost positive I will
leave some things out and Diablo may have to fill in some spots, but here it
Diablo and I arrived at the area we were hunting about noon on Friday, and went for a quick scouting trip. This area has had an incredible amount of rain. I think I heard 15" in the last month or so. and more to come while we were there. After finding some fresh tracks and some sign we went back to the place we were staying to meet up with the landowner for a tour of the property. in "Big Blue". I'm a Ford man myself, but this was one bad truck and it was an adventure traveling along flooded farm roads through the property. we went through a couple swampy areas in the truck that I wouldn't even want to take a boat through and if a tree was across the road. "Big Blue" either ran over it or in one instance through it. if "Big Blue" hadn't had a roof I would have been out of the truck on more than one occasion. After some Friday scouting we had a decent idea of where we should be opening morning. Had a great dinner and went to bed hoping for decent weather. Diablo and I were both guiding for 2 other guys.
I'll let Diablo give you the story of his opening morning hunt, but I will tell you that Diablo killed a nice gobbler and the guy hunting with him killed a super-jake. As told by Diablo...
"My hunter and I hunted the far northwest corner of the adjoining property about 400 yards north of where we all found 2 sets of big gobbler tracks while out riding in Big Blue the day before . We didn't hear any gobbling at first light so we eased down the road, and slogged through some burnt over pine stands and set up in the timber well off the outside edge of a long secluded field. Off and on, I pounded out some lost hen yelps on my Battleship hoping the sound would carry over the wind and find an old gobbler's ear. A little after 7am 3 jakes entered the far south end of the field...I yelped at them to get their attention...they all looked, one strutted and they all started heading our way. We were enjoying the show and telling stories of turkey hunts past when all of a sudden off my left shoulder I heard the drumming of a gobbler about 65 yards away. DON'T MOVE, I whispered. I eased my hand over low and pointed in the direction I was hearing the drumming. It took me a few moments to locate the gobbler visually but I could certainly hear his drumming. Finally there he was. I asked my partner if he could get on him...he said "no way...he's too far left...you shoot him". Are you sure? I said. "Absolutely - you take him" he responded. Okeedokeee...you don't have to tell this ol' boy twice to kill an old gobber. The gobbler put on quite a show...black volkswagen with white hood ornament syndrome. He strutted no less than 10 or 12 times...never spitting...only drumming. As I soft called to him, he'd take a step, drum, look, take another step... This went on for about 15 minutes in which he finally closed to within 40 yards. Bang - Hevi Shot 2 3/4 1 5/8oz load of 4's lifted the old boy up off the ground and flat on his back...he flopped twice and it was over. I stood up quickly and glanced through the pines to see if the jakes had left the scene. I didn't see any so started after my gobbler after I rocked the action of my 870 open and leaned the gun against our tree. I took one step and my partner said WHOA...the jakes are still coming. A pine tree blocked my view I couldn't see them. So I just hit the deck. About that time WHACK! I bumped my gun and it smacked my partner on the back of the head...we laughed as the jakes never skipped a beat. I soft called to the jakes and the super jake strutted again and all 3 marched right in. Another 40 yard shot planted the gobbler for good around 7:15am as his 2 buddies left the scene rather quickly in opposite directions. Lots of high fives and smiles all around for sure. We enjoyed the moment, then walked about 1 mile back to the truck to get the cameras. Along the way we spotted another longbeard...hopefully fodder for another story sometime soon. What a way to start a season."
I guess I should first say that the guy I would be taking Saturday morning had never turkey hunted before. I knew we were in luck as I have done well working the beginners luck thing. I was right! We started our hunt listening over a swamp (pretty much everything there was a swamp after all the rain) and I thought I heard a bird gobble once way back in the swamp but couldn't be sure. We did have an almost solid white possum come by our setup that AM. He wasn't albino as he had dark eyes, but he looked like the ghost possum coming out of the swamp. After good gobbling light and nothing talking we decided to head for a field that we had scouted the evening before and setup to call for a little while. No action there other than 2 shots from the direction of Diablo and his hunter. We got up and started working our way further back into the swamp just prospecting every 100 yards or so. It was very cool, overcast, and some occasional sprinkles and it was pretty quiet in the woods. We worked our way through the swamp and just as we were about to come out into a small green-field I got a hen to answer me with some exciting yelps and cutts. I knew we needed to get somewhat out of the swamp and on dry ground and felt we could at least get the hen to play and maybe there would be a gobbler with her. After having a heated discussion with the hen she finally appeared about 80 yards through the palmettos. She seemed to be alone but I thought that at least we were getting some action and the hen was coming in fairly close and doing a lot of talking. About the time I was thinking that, the big stud rolled out of the palmettos behind her, having said nary a word while the hen and I were talking aggressively back and forth. He blew up into strut one time about 60 yards and dropped and marched our direction. At 25 yards I told my hunter to shoot when he got a clear shot. The gobbler stepped out from behind a big tree and saw something he didn't like and turned to go back the other way. I yelped at him to slow him down a little and BOOM. great shot at about 32 steps on an incredible bird. his first ever turkey hunt and he had a trophy of a lifetime. 19.5 pounds, 11.75" beard, and 1.25" pearl colored spurs. A great hunt and what a way to start my season!
After getting back to the house and taking picture with all the hunters and birds the rain started and boy did it rain. I think between Friday night and Saturday afternoon we got 3" of rain. it was WET! Diablo and I were invited to go and hunt with the guy Diablo had taken in the morning so we headed up to his place for the afternoon and Sunday morning hunt. While we were waiting for the rain to stop we looked out the window and spotted 5 gobblers, 3 longbeards and 2 jakes working across the field. All of our gear was in the truck so Diablo and I took off with one of the fellows there that had never killed a turkey to try and call them up close enough to a shed to get a shot. We circled around to stay out of site and got in position out of the rain in the shed and Diablo began to call and the 2 jakes in the group started working our way slowly but surely. It might be interesting for you all to know that the shooter was hid behind a fertilizing farm implement, Diablo was sitting on a white bucket behind a 55 gallon drum and I was hidden behind another 55 gallon drum...and yes the mossy oak camo blending in perfectly. Just then, one of the other hunters pulled into the driveway and the turkeys ran out of the field and headed for cover. The rain let up a little and we hit the woods to try and get these guys a gobbler. We spotted a few turkeys in the back corner of a field that went into the woods so we circled and setup to do some blind calling with no luck. We tried a couple more spots with no action but got to see some beautiful property that these guys have put a lot of hard work into. Diablo and his group had some action but the guy missed a nice gobbler at about 45 yards. They spotted 1 pair of adult gobblers and 1 group of 4 adult gobblers...and decided to make a move on the pair (less eyeballs to fool). They used a small group of pines to block their approach. Jeff's hunter slipped to the far edge and set up as Jeff stayed back about 35 yards to call. The gobblers showed up first about 80 yards out and one slowly closed to about 45 yards...he like the power crystal. BANG! and off the gobblers ran...simply put...KEEP YOUR CHEEK DOWN ON THE STOCK GUYS!
The birds on this spot just weren't ready yet. We saw hens without gobblers and groups of gobblers just feeding together. They are a couple weeks from really getting right I believe. As we were coming back to the place we were staying the landowner rushes out and says there are more turkeys, including a big gobbler, out in the field again. It was getting close to roosting time and we tried to make a quick move to get setup and we ended up bumping the birds as they were getting ready to leave the field. We had another great dinner and a calling session before heading off to bed. I also got to see a video of "Flat-Nose" the tree climbing bulldog. that was a sight to see. Anyway, I digress. I was taking two other guys Sunday morning and we went to a known roosting area to try and hear a bird with no luck. I did get to see my first armadillo. or possum on a half-shell as those guys call it. After not hearing any roost gobbling and knowing the mood the birds were in we decided to setup on a field edge and just blind call until about 9:00 when Diablo and I had to head back out. 2 jakes walked up on the right side of one of the guys and he was unable to get turned for shot. We also heard 1 bird gobble 1 time but he never came on the scene. After that setup we walked a road that led to a field and found lots of sign. One of the guys setup on that road area Sunday afternoon and took a nice gobbler. with no spurs!
Jeff and his hunters hunted the other tract across the road and actually heard 4 different birds gobble deep in a now high-water swamp. they never showed themselves, but 6 jakes did. Jeff called them in and they all passed on what would've been gimme shots. They'll be their next year....if the waters ever recede!
Jeff and I had a great time hunting with these guys but it was time to head back to the place we had hunted opening day and give some calling lessons to some friends of the landowner that were coming by one of them being the brotherof the Governor of SC.
But first. we had a chance for a real quick hunt on our own and it didn't take us long to get on a bird. of course, he had 11 hens with him and he was a hoss! We had setup on a long green-field and took a nap for a little while and then decided to do some last minute scouting for our quick Monday morning hunt. Diablo rounded the bend in a field and spotted a couple hens. no it was 5 hens, no it was 8 hens. no it was 11 hens and a big stud of a gobbler with them. Diablo struck up a conversation with one of the hens and they started heading that way. We were setup around the bend and Diablo was glassing them and I was sitting in a honeysuckle patch waiting for them to come around the bend. Finally the first hen showed, then the rest, then the big gobbler. and he was 80 yards out but working our way. Diablo carried on a conversation with the hen and the bird gobbled several times. and you would not believe it if you had not seen it, but he would gobble at 75-80 yards out and it was barely audible. He was just controlling the volume of his gobble and knew the hen in the honeysuckle could hear him. It was very interesting. The hen leading the conversation worked in to 40 yards and this was looking good. The gobbler worked right in behind her but hung up at about 55 yards. I wouldn't even think of shooting him that far, and finally they turned and made their way back across the field. The corner of the field we were setup in was fairly wet and we don't know if that kept them from coming further or if they just didn't want to. The gobbler went to one side of the field and the hens the other. Diablo and I had the same idea and we decided to try and bust them. I stepped out into the field and the hens went one way and the gobbler the other. It was perfect but there was a lot of time between then and dark for him to get back with the hens. We devised our plan for the morning and got out of there. It was an exciting hunt and we were SO close. maybe in the AM.
The next morning Diablo and I setup in our pre-determined spot on the field edge and got ready. Getting there was half the battle as the field was recently disked and you would sink in the mud to about mid-calf. We were wore out when we got to the spot. At daylight 2 birds sounded off and one was the big boy. He answered Diablo's calling several times and sure enough started heading our way. Just when he was probably 50 yards from coming into our field we heard the hens and it was over. He quit gobbling and the group of hens took him away. We stayed put for a while and even called in a lonely hen and spotted 2 other hens crossing a distant field. but no gobbler. It started to rain and that was our sign to head home. I'm hoping to get another chance to hunt this gobbler. even if I am guiding someone and they get the shot. He is a bird that I could easily burn a season chasing until I killed him. I like them. ;o) On the way out. not far from the truck we had an awesome sight. a mature Bald Eagle flew over our head! What an incredible bird and getting to see him/her up that close was pretty special.
We headed home and a nice gobbler on the side of the road waved goodbye to us as we were leaving. I whispered under my breath to him that I would be back! More great memories made. We met some wonderful people and made some good friends. It was a great hunt with a great friend and I would like to thank Diablo for inviting me along. can't wait until we can return. I have a bone to pick with a particular ol' gobbler. ;o)
4 different trips in 19.25 hours of hunting (8 hunts over 2.5 days aggregate action from Freddy and Jeff)
Heard 9 gobblers
Saw 13 gobblers, 11 jakes, 18 hens
Called in 4 gobblers, 9 jakes, 2 hens
Killed 2 gobblers, 1 jake
Missed 1 gobbler
Passed up 6 jakes
Final official specs on Jeff's gobbler.... - 20.5 lbs; 9.75" beard; 1" spurs.
It is here and the adventure continues...
Back from SC… Again…
Headed back down to South Carolina for another weekend of guiding. Jeff and I were to take a group of 2 fathers and their sons. We had beautiful weather, a decent hunt, and a great time.
The first morning we setup in the same area that I had called a bird in for a guy last week. At daylight a bird started gobbling on his own about 200 yards away and right where I wanted him to be. Good start… I started the bird with a few soft tree yelps and got and immediate response. We waited and he continued to gobble. When I thought it was good light for fly-down I did a few fly-downs with “The Wing” and a few short cackles. I was answered by a hen directly behind us. I thought great, we are between the gobbler and his hens. After the gobbling bird flew down I started on him and had him working in. The whole time we could hear soft hen talk behind us and I whispered to the boy (14 years old) and his father that I wouldn’t be surprised if the hens behind us had a gobbler with them. The gobbling bird was closing the distance and then the father whispered that he could see the hens behind us… and about 50 yards behind them were 3 big gobblers and one in full strut. The hens crossed the corner of the field about 30 yards away and I though this was going to be a gimme. But, as so often happens with unpredictable birds the gobblers turned and came into the woods with us… directly behind us. I managed to get the hunter turned around and facing the approaching gobblers that were now about 30 yards out. They closed to about 25 yards and as he was looking around the left side of the tree I was looking around the right side of the tree and had several shot opportunities but wanted him to do the shooting. He got his gun up on the closest gobbler and shot… and they all flew away. I think it was a clean miss and the youngster hung his head for a while but shortly afterward he was okay. They at least got to experience it…
We hunted several more hours and struck a bird that had taken up residence on an island in a swamp. We tried to work him but he would shut-up after a few gobblers. The rest of the day was uneventful as was Sunday AM. The manager of the farm we were hunting took out one of the sons on Saturday AM and they scored on a nice double.
Jeff and the guys he was hunting with had a pretty slow morning on Saturday but got Zeus to talk with them a little bit Saturday afternoon. He is starting to really get under Jeff’s skin. Jeff and his group went back Sunday AM to try again for Zeus and had an encounter with a few of his ladies but Zeus never showed himself. I think this old gobbler got the fire burning in Jeff again… I could see it in his eyes! Jeff and I would love another chance for just the two of us to match wits with this old boy again…
We headed back late Sunday morning and as we came by an airport, there at the end of the runway was a big gobbler and his ladies. Jeff stopped to take some pictures and as they got nervous Jeff said for me to call to them with my mouth. Guess what… he gobbled back!
We had a great time and met some more great people… the adventure continues…
I have started to do some listening in the mornings and starting to see some strutting. I heard 1 yesterday morning and 1 yesterday evening. I heard several birds gobble this morning and watched 4 big gobblers do there thing for a group of 7-8 hens. On the way back I spotted 2 nice longbeards in the woods and got a couple pictures of them. The birds are right on schedule and doing what they are supposed to...
GN and I had another incredible couple days of hunting in TN. Our plan was to
start opening day in east TN where GN had been hearing a lot of gobbling earlier
in the week and then depending on the weather and activity we may head out to
middle TN for the remaining couple days we were going to hunt. A huge rain cold
front was expected to hit early opening morning.
Opening day dawned fairly clear and warm and GN thought we would get in a couple hours of hunting before the front came through. He had one bird in mind that was consistently gobbling on the same hillside. Before daylight as we were heading up the ridge sure enough, as GN said, a bird gobbled right off the high knob. We slipped in to within 80 yards in the predawn darkness and setup on the hot gobbling bird. We hadn't heard any hens and felt really good about the situation we were in. The bird was roosted close to a fence line and the inevitable happened. After good roost gobbling the bird went quiet and we couldn't figure out why. Then noisy footsteps in the leave right in front of us confirmed our suspicion... 2 young hunters had walked practically under the gobbler and setup 20 yards from us. Being in a dangerous situation GN and I immediately got up and left the scene and we saw the big gobbler flush from the limb. I hate those type of situations. We heard a very few other birds gobbling sporadically in the distance and tried to get on them, but the front moving in really shut things down after flydown. After prospecting and blind calling through a large piece of property the rain started and we made the decision to get on the backside of the front and head to middle TN.
After a pretty lengthy drive we arrived at the spot we were hunting and hoping to get in a couple hours of scouting and setup a blind in an area we had success in the past. It was around the "Battlefield" for those of you that remember last year. The weather was low clouds and fairly cool and definitely not great turkey hunting weather. After setting up and spending some time blind calling there and conversing with some hens down below us we decided to check out a new area of the farm where we had never hunted. When we stepped out of the truck at the other place and headed up the hollow it became apparent that this was an awesome spot... beautiful turkey country, footprints and fresh droppings in the road! We headed up the small farm lane and eased to the edge of a group of large oaks with pasture all around. As we were standing there in awe of the place we spotted 2 gobblers in a swale in the field heading at an angle towards us about 125 yards out. We immediately sat down and got guns ready. Neither of us had a call accessible as we were just scouting remember. I decided to let loose a couple series of yelps with just my natural voice. No response but we stayed patient. After several minutes and no turkey I kind of relaxed and GN says... "Don't move, there he is!" Having never been on the property we didn't realize the pond circled around and up the hollow and the gobbler had to walk around it instead of coming straight to us. GN asked if I could get my gun on him and I said "Yes" and GN said "Kill him!" I shifted my gun hard left and the gobbler craned his neck and I shot. The bird went down and GN and I got to him quickly. It was a flash hunt in every since of the word. Fantastic! The gobbler was 20 lbs., 9" thick beard, and 7/8" spurs. A great looking 2 year old gobbler. After taking others for the last two weekends it felt mighty good to pull my own trigger. It was dark by the time we got back to the truck.
Here is a picture taken when we got back …
After getting back to the truck and taking pictures etc. we headed out the farm road and GN says it's a perfect time to roost a bird. We pulled over to one spot and as GN and I stepped out the beeeeeeeeep sound from leaving the keys in the vehicle went off... and a turkey gobbled about 80-100 yards up in the woods. We slipped back in the truck laughing our tails off and pulled over atop a high spot and got him and several buddies to gobble back and some owl hoots. Plan was laid for in the AM but again it was a part of the farm where we didn't know the land in where the birds gobbled. After we got back to the motel GN studied the maps and found what we needed... a road leading to a pasture above the birds. Perfect! The next morning was cold and breezy with occasional stiff gusts, not ideal turkey weather. But it was clear then. We found the road the next morning a slipped in to a high field on a ridge near the roost gobbling area and setup. We had several birds gobbling around us and boy were they gobbling... tearing it up. Then we heard the dreaded sound of hen talk and our hopes went downhill. After they flew down and started working away from us we tried to circle them and a hen busted us moving through the cedars. We hit the deck and calmed her down with some soft calling. Those gobblers wouldn't answer anymore but while we were calling a bird from behind us kept answering, actually cutting off some of our calls. The wind had picked up right after daylight and it was hard to tell exactly how far he was behind us. We headed his direction and setup in a beautiful spot but the bird was on a high knob above us and we couldn't get to him and despite GN's best calling efforts he wouldn't come down the hill. Twice he came to about 80 yards and then marched back out the ridgeline. He was in a strut zone and was marching form one end to the other gobbling all the time. But he was upwind and uphill, a bad combination. After about an hour and 20 minutes and after GN moved away calling and he still would not come off the high ground we decided next time he gobbled way out the ridge we would hustle up the hill to set-up in the area where he had kept hanging up on us. When he gobbled out the ridge on the far end of his circuit, we made our move. We slipped through some more beautiful turkeys woods and he gobbled as were working our way up the hillside. We picked the pace up a little and after a minute or so he gobbled right on the line we wanted him too. We basically just hit the deck, clucked twice and I got my gun up. We were fortunate that there was a blow-down between us and the bird. He may have heard us walking through the leaves and thought we were hens. Just then I caught movement over the ridge about 40 yards out and he stepped up and gobbled then raised his head. GN said to me "That turkey is HUGE!" He was obscured by some small brush in the blow-down we were in and I couldn't get a shot. I told GN that he had to go left or right and I would have a shot. He stepped up to the right and went behind a tree so I eased up just a little to be able to shoot and when he stepped out at 25 yards I let him it... The bird flipped over backwards and GN says again "That's the biggest turkey I have ever seen Freddy!" We got to the bird and I couldn't believe my eyes... he was absolutely huge! GN guessed the weight at 26.5 pounds and I couldn't even venture a guess. We took some pictures, cherished the moment, and recounted the hunt that lasted 1 hour and 45 minutes. He was a true toad of a gobbler. We weighed the bird on 3 different sets of scales and the big gobbler pulled to needle to 27 pounds on everyone of them!! Just to add to the incredible bird he had 2 beards, 1 beard 9-5/8" and the other was 7". One spur was curved, sharp, and 1-1/4" and the other spur was broken off but still a respectable 1-1/8". Another huge gobbler that GN has put me on! The man knows his big gobblers! What an incredible hunt for an incredible bird...
Here is a picture of me and GN… you guys finally get to see him… ;o)
GN had been gracious enough to let me shoot the first 2 birds even though he could have killed each of them... he is 'da man! It was now time to get him one! After getting pictures and taking care of my bird we headed off to the spot we had fooled with the hens the day before as GN had a hunch they would be back in the same spot. We slipped in and started prospecting and GN cackled on a diaphragm and thought he heard a bird off a point in a pasture. By this time the wind had gotten up and it was still pretty chilly. I didn't hear the bird but we slipped around to try and locate him or another bird and sure enough we heard some hen talk and then several gobbles. They would answer our calling occasionally and we made a few moves. We finally spotted 3 gobblers out in the pasture and 1 was definitely a longbeard. We set back up and the birds headed our way but went under the crest of the hill and out of sight. I was setup behind GN calling lightly and I caught movement of another gobbler slipping in quiet. He was a smart old bird as he slipped up and peeked over the ridgeline and surveyed the situation before slipping off back down the hill. We never saw or heard the 3 birds again but could hear some hen and jake talk along with a few gobbles from down the ridgeline. We knew with the hens that we need to head them off. Based on the information from yesterday where the birds had ended up late day in the creek bottom, GN made a strategic move to put us in the same bottom in front of the birds. After we got set down we started to hear some hen talk and thought they were coming our way. We made just a few soft calls and shortly GN says "Don't move!" The gobbler was on a cow path heading our way. A group of 8-9 hens came out below us at about 70 yards, but the gobbler was right in our lap. He strolled up to about 25 yards and GN piled him up... not hardly a flop. It was another huge gobbler weighing 23 pounds, 10-1/4" beard, and1-1/8" spurs. Another incredible hunt and an incredible day! After GN took his bird , he looked at me and said, "Freddy. I think these birds would appreciate it if we left the county." so we headed back home and gave the turkeys a break! ;o)
Here is a picture of all three birds… the first bird was breasted out and saved from the afternoon before… GN’s bird is on the left, the nice 2 year old gobbler in the middle, and the big pig on the right…
I want to thank GN again for another wonderful trip to TN. We had a great hunt and a great time as usual.
of all, I'd like to let everyone know that I am not the "journalist"
that my husband is so this hunt will be fairly "to the point".
Friday morning arrived bright and early with my usual saying "stupid turkeys"... why can't they get out of bed at a decent hour (9am would be awesome)!
We set out for the turkey woods and got there with plenty of time to spare. We got our decoys set up in the field about 25 yards out. Jeff (Diablo) had scoped out a place for us to set up this morning. We were on an edge of a large field with a creek bottom behind us. For our fort, we put up two blinds in front of us and around the sides... and I tried out the new inner-tube seat that Wal*Mart had on sale... well needless to say it's been nicknamed the "tractor tire". I was never the least bit uncomfortable - could sit still for hours. We had an awesome cedar tree out in front of us that was awesome cover. We set up within about 85 yards of turkeys behind us. Jeff had some awesome cutting matches with the hens behind us. After everyone flew down, the hens gathered their gobblers and took them away from the loud mouth hens near the field. All was quiet for a while and we could hear a few distant gobbles every now and then.
Here is our setup... notice how invisible the blind is. The turkeys didn’t have a chance...
We were still keeping our vigil in the fort behind the cedar tree. Jeff was still calling a little bit since the decoys were still out in the field. About 25 minutes after the turkeys quit gobbling and the hussy hens took them away we got to have a close up look at a silent gobbler coming in to the hens. He was with 2 jakes... so there must be one "barney-bad-butt" turkey in those woods for him to come in silent and with 2 jakes. Of course, he sent the two jakes out as "scouters" to check out the decoys and I guess to see if they were the real things.
I very slowly (more slowly than I think Freddy was comfortable with) got my gun up and put the bead on his fat white head. We put new Tru-Glo sights on my gun this year and I made myself be very patient with this turkey and made a great shot. He went down like a ton o' bricks and the 2 jakes that were with him went into scared-to-death mode. One took flight right over the trees above us and the other ran into the field a little ways and stopped to look over his shoulder as if to say "come on buddy... let's get out of here!" Needless to say the longbeard could not go anywhere and Freddy passed on the young gobbler.
The turkey’s view...
He weighed in at 20lbs. Had a 9" beard and 1" spurs. A great turkey!
Thanks go to Jeff for getting us to the right spot and calling them in and special thanks to my honey for letting me shoot first!
Thanks to GN for the idea on the pics... and here’s a picture just for him...
As for the rest of the hunt we got on a few more birds including several cussing matches with some irate hens. Gobblers were scarce the rest of the day but we hunted hard and covered some territory. The next morning we had a quick hunt and setup in the bottom where all the activity was going on the morning before. No gobbles close but we heard some a distance away. We got up and moved toward them and got a bird to play the game for a short while before hens led him off into property we can’t hunt. On the way out we ran into the landowners son and he killed a beautiful gobbler on another piece of property.
Jeff and I got in a quick hunt Saturday afternoon. We spotted several jakes in a field on the way in and on the way to our planned setup spot we saw a gobbler in the same field that Amy had killed her bird in. We went to our setup spot and he gobbled several times but wouldn’t come our way. We held our ground and had a bird fly up to roost about 70 yards away and after a short time we called it a day. Another great hunt in SC…
Opening day sort of went like this... this is taken from the Roanoke Times & World News by Mark Taylor - http://www.roanoke.com/roatimes/news/story148100.html
One of the more interesting complaints I've heard since the season started had nothing to do with shut-mouth gobblers or bothersome breezes.
"I hate deer," friend and occasional hunting partner Freddy McGuire from Goodview told me.
Hunting with his wife, Amy, McGuire was successfully calling in some gobblers Saturday when four deer cut between them and the birds. The deer got within 10 yards before smelling the couple and bolting - right toward the turkeys.
"It's the only reason she didn't kill a bird," said McGuire, who's on the pro staff for Primos Hunting Calls.
I don't feel too sorry for them. The two have already had some incredible out-of-state hunts this spring. Monday morning McGuire called in a gobbler for a visiting friend during a hunt in Bedford County. The bird turned out to be huge, weighing 24 pounds, with an 11 1/2 -inch beard and 1 3/8 -inch spurs. McGuire even managed to get the exciting hunt on videotape.
"If I had a better camera it could have ended up on the 'Truth 14,'" McGuire joked, referring to an annual video series produced by Primos.
Instead, McGuire will probably settle for publishing the clip on his excellent Internet site (vaturkey.com).
McGuire said he thinks hunting conditions generally have been tough because many gobblers currently are preoccupied with real hens. He's hearing a little gobbling from roosting birds, but not much after the turkeys hit the ground. He believes things will improve over the next couple of weeks.
"It's only going to get better," he said.
I'll let Jeff tell about the next 2 days...
Well the story starts as I arrive Sunday afternoon (4-13-03) and meet up with
Freddy and Amy. Must say that I’ve never seen Mr. McGuire wrapped so tight –
that deer episode from Saturday morning certainly left an impression. We decided
to go fishing, at which time I mentioned to Freddy “not too worry…you’re
just in a downswing in your bio-rhythms” J “things will turn around soon”.
In just a little while we started catching fish and before long we had a good
mess for dinner. “The upswing has begun” heh heh…The 3 of us managed to
roost a few gobblers that night with one in particular in a great location that
afforded a good approach and set-up. We had a big time making him gobble as well
as firing up several barred owls. Although our hopes were high – we knew all
too well that roosted doesn’t mean roasted.
Monday morning found us set up WELL before daylight along the gobbler’s ridge just over the brow near the point of the ridge. As soon as we sat down, Amy mentioned she could hear a gobbler spitting. Before long we all heard it. We couldn’t see him in the tree, but he was obviously close and he continued spitting almost non-stop for 30 minutes or so before daylight. Distant gobblers started sounding off well before “our” gobbler. Just about the time we were wondering why he hadn’t gobbled, a distant truck hit its air brakes…that loud rattling is a great locator call…our gobbler sounded off no more than 80 yards away. Yes…. we were definitely inside his comfort zone. We never made a sound while he was in the tree, opting instead for him to hit the ground first - then hopefully he’d come looking for us. About 6:15am we heard him fly down… pitching into the hillside directly in front of us. Freddy soft yelped at him a could times and the gobbler shook the trees with a pretty demanding gobble…70 yards out. I heard Freddy turn the video camera on. Another soft call and natural voice purr by Mr. McGuire let the gobbler know he had company but he didn’t gobble. Freddy gave him a “walkin’ yelp” and that yanked a gobble out of the gobbler’s throat. I heard the gobbler spit & drum just over the brow of the hill then in an instant saw him walk up over the ridge top probably 50 yards out. “I got him,” I whispered to Freddy. As soon as he saw our 2 hen decoys, he went into full strut. He glided right over to the decoys in the dim early light looking like a black Volkswagen with a white hood ornament…and a dandy beard hanging from his chest. He cleared the last poplar tree 30 yards out and stepped into a clearing. I enjoyed the show for a moment and started to just let him do his thing in the decoys thinking this would make for some great video footage….NAW this isn’t Hollywood… At 6:29am I ended this great show…by collecting one of the best gobblers I’ve taken in quite some time 24lbs, 11 ½” beard, 1 3/8” spurs. And the best thing about it was, one of my closest friends called it in for me – and he won’t know it until he reads this, but that was the 1st gobbler I’ve ever killed that I didn’t call in myself…glad it was Freddy…and couldn’t think of 2 people I’d rather be with than Freddy & Amy. Great hunt with great friends. We took a lot of pictures (Duhhhhh) then headed to another favored location.
Click Here to Play the
Video from out 4-14 hunt!
We had 2-3 other birds gobbling by 9:15am – one was REALLY fired up but well off the property. The other gobblers were not really in the game much – clearly with hens and rather preoccupied. We packed it in by noon and called it a day.
Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Got in early and close on 2 gobblers on the roost. Freddy could see one gobbler strutting and gobbling on the limb. Gobbler flew down – to a hen. We managed to call the strutting gobbler in to about 55-60 yards and no farther. His hen took him off the mountain to never be heard from again. We trolled our way out and managed to call in a lone hen (juvenile?) and were back at the truck by 8:30am heading to another location. Freddy’s first calls around 9:30am were quickly greeted with a gobble from the next ridge. We began our approach and were thinking about a strategy…we called again and he gobbled (perhaps a bit closer) – then the dreaded occurrence…. a hen yelped excitedly at the gobbler. We could hear her yelping as she quickly closed the distance to the gobbler. With no other cards to play, we eased down the ridge to consider our next options…then we heard turkeys walking in the leaves. All 3 of us dove into the bark of nearby pine trees and waited and hoped. The turkeys never showed themselves and we never heard another peep out of them the remainder of the morning. We gave that set-up a while to work to no avail, then we trolled through some great looking woods thinking that we would hear another gobbler answer one of our calls…. Sometime/anytime. We trolled the ridge top then the bottom – thinking onetime with some certainty that we’d heard our first gobbler answer us – waaaayyyyy off in the distance – who knows for sure? We hunted hard until noon, hearing one last distant gobble just before quitting time– then dragged our hot, tired selves back to the vehicle. End day 2 of my hunt. Another great day – we were in the game most of the day and with just a little luck could have easily scored on 2 more gobblers.
And I'll let Amy tell about the next day...
Talk about a family affair... this is one that I will remember for a long,
My brother-in-law, Robbie, called Tuesday night and told us that he had roosted a turkey and wanted to know if we wanted to share in the "aggravation" with him. So of course, being the turkey nuts that we are, we said "SURE"! Robbie and Freddy talked and talked about the plan for Wednesday morning. Robbie knew where the turkey was and Freddy knew how we needed to get to the set up without spooking this bird.
We all met Wednesday morning and proceeded into the woods to set up on "Mr. Turkey". We got to the place where Freddy decided we needed to be in order to have the best opportunity to call in this gobbler (and there was already a gobbler sounding off about 300 yards down the creek - he was a VERY early riser). Robbie and I were to be the "shooters" so we sat up at a big oak tree along an old fence row. Robbie decided he was going to shoot with the video camera instead of the gun. Freddy set out the decoys in a little road bed that ran along this old fence row. Jeff (aka Diablo) and Freddy sat up about 15 yards behind us. With blinds and dekes out all we had to do was wait and see if "Mr. Turkey" played the game this morning.
Well, "Mr. Turkey" finally sounded off about 80 yards in front & to the left of our setup. Jeff lost count at 75 gobbles in the tree. A hen flew out of the tree near the gobbler and went straight down the hollow about 100 yards. Well we thought that the gobbler had flown out as well and Jeff did a REALLY soft yelp and well I thought the turkey was going to fall off the limb he was trying to gobble SO much at that one little call. He doubled gobbled and about 15 seconds after that he flew down just over the side of the ridge and I could hear him spitting, drumming and of course strutting (I could hear him dragging his wings in the leaves)... boy was I glad I couldn't see him because I would be shaking SO much I wouldn't have been able to get a shot off.
Robbie saw him and since I am not as tall as him, he saw him before I did. A few seconds later when I saw him he was busy making his way to the decoys. All of a sudden he decided that he really didn't like the looks of our decoys so he turned around and was walking the other way. He putted a couple of times but didn't seem to be in a real hurry to get out of dodge. He had gotten behind some thick briars and little trees during this time, so I had to wait a couple of feet for him to get out in the open so I could get a clean shot at him. I shot and the bird went down. I put on my safety, shucked the empty shell out of my gun and proceeded to stand up - when all of a sudden here comes Flash Gordon I and Flash Gordon II running full steam down thru the woods to my turkey. It took me a few seconds to decide what in the world had just happened and when I collected my thoughts, I took off running too! And Robbie had it all on tape!
After talking with Freddy and Jeff, I realized that I almost didn't get a shot at this bird - because they (Flash Gordon I & II) were planning on taking the next clean shot they had because they thought I wasn't going to be able to get my gun around on him. And of course, I just had to let them know that I knew exactly what I was doing the whole entire time. Man, they just need to be patient! (HEHEHE)
"Mr. Turkey" weighed in at 21 pounds; had a 6-inch beard (due to the beard rot fungus) and 1-3/16" spurs. A GREAT turkey was harvested and an AWESOME memory was made.
I want to say a very special thank you to my brother-in-law, Robbie, for roosting this turkey and sharing this bird with me. Thank you to my husband who loves the great outdoors and never seems to tire of having me "tag along"... I LOVE YOU! Jeff - thank you so much for being there and calling this bird in for me. Guys... this very memorable hunt will not soon be forgotten.
THANKS TO ALL OF YOU!!!!
Thursday I had gotten setup tight on a gobbler with hens and got a little too tight... ;o) He was 40 yards in the tree and after spotting his gobbling buddy and harem he flew down across the creek to them. Friday was pretty interesting...
Had my nemesis bird CLOSE this am... 15 feet... really... right over my head as he and a buddy flew down from the roost. I probably could have shot either one of them but chose not to take him that way. I slipped in this AM under the cover of darkness and the drizzle quieted my approach. It was the morning I was waiting for and sure enough 80-90 yards up the mountain "my" gobbler answered a real owl. They gobbled well and I heard a few hens yelping across the creek. I was between the gobblers and hens and feeling pretty good. Finally one gobbler pitched from the limb and I literally thought he was going to land on me but he glided RIGHT over my head and landed on the opposite hillside. Turned back to see where the other gobbler was going and he was right behind the first and came buzzing right over. Never heard a peep out of them after that. Exciting, yet frustrating. I can already see myself burning my season on these 2 guys.
Saturday AM... rainy day gobbler!
I woke up this morning to cool temps and a nasty wet drizzle. I seriously
contemplated staying in the bed, but I’ve always said, “You can’t kill
them if you are not out there and the turkeys have nowhere else to go!”
As I was getting ready I was trying to decide where to go. I thought I should take a break from my nemesis birds and try something else. My plan was set in place and I would go to a spot and listen at daylight, then if nothing gobbled, I would move to a wooded ridge leading out into a field.
I got to my listening post and after about 2 minutes a dog started barking and a turkey gobbled somewhere on the next ridge over. I made my way that direction and after cutting the distance in half he answered my owl hoots and I knew exactly where he was. The lesson of knowing your land was never more important than this AM. I slipped in as close as I could and setup. A few soft tree yelps were answered and the game was on. After several minutes he was gobbling pretty good and I hadn’t heard any hens… yet! After good light I thought it was time to “fly down” and I gave him the wing with a cackle and then just the wing. He literally gobbled himself out of the tree after the first note of the cackle until the end of my sequence. I thought to myself this is going pretty good.
Then it happened... a hen started yelping on the same ridgeline but about 150 yards further down the hollow. Not long after the hens started flying down, with him answering every wing beat, he flew down and headed their direction. Thinking I knew where the hens were headed and where he was at I made a really aggressive move to try and put me in between them. I crossed the hollow and started up the steep bank moving up toward the turkeys. About half way to the top I gave him a yelp and he hammered back just where I was hoping. I kept climbing and needed to go ten more yards to reach the crest of the ridge when he gobbled in my lap. I couldn’t get any closer so I slipped down beside a pine tree and then soon realized I could only see about 10 yards. My only other option was to stand up so I could see the little flat on the top of the ridge where I thought he was headed. I am now a firm believer in leafy-wear after seeing GN use it for the last several years and it definitely helped on this hunt. I eased up, stood beside the pine, and let out a really soft yelp and he gobbled back no more than 50 yards away. I brought my gun up and in just an instant I saw his white head bobbing my way. At 20 yards I let him have it and he went down. As I got to the bird the hens started flushing about 60 yards down the hill. My plan had worked to perfection. You have to love it when a plan comes together!
The gobbler was a nice 2 year old bird... weighing 18 pounds, 9-1/2” beard, and 7/8” ivory spurs. What a great hunt in terrible conditions.
BTW, The white shirt you see under my camo was not there during the hunt. I came home and woke Amy up, put my camo back on over my T-shirt and took the pictures...
I'll let HODY tell about this AM...
"Well this morning Freddy's Brother set us up on a bird that gobbled 125 times. Well I Quit counting at 110. We watched him spit and strut on the limb at 60 yards, and it was a site to remember. There were 2 more gobblers there 1 of which was fairly close also. The plan was to try to double with Rob while Freddy called and videoed. Well they flew down and the one bird came from left to right just over the hill and I waited to see if the other would come so we could double. It cruised just out of site. We were able to get them back up the hill but they came to the left. I was able to swing on the birds but they were in some thick cover. I actually had the bead on the lead bird and told myself ONE MORE STEP when he clears the tree and I will take the shot. Well the next step was back down the hill with the real hens and they carried the birds away. I really kicked myself for not shooting, but I did the right thing as the shot was marginal at best. One more step though and I think I would have had a nice bird. The birds courtesy gobbled a few more times, and then shut up totally. I had a great time and really enjoyed the hunt with friends. It is not always about the kill. I will never forget that bird gobbling that many times and spitting and strutting on the limb."
We all pitched in for this one. Story and comments from each person...
Max - We arrived late at Tom Nansel's ranch after at stressful day of battling the airlines trying to make up for a 6-hour delay. Tom knowing we were going to be way late went out of his way to roost us a bird. Then just to make sure we knew where it was he took time from his busy evening to show us the roost site. For those of you who understand turkey hunters it goes without saying for those you don't let's just say Tom is a first rate host. The next morning found us bright & early under a low-limbed pine tree. As the dark turned to shadows we heard our first Merriams way off in the distance then another suddenly one hammered and he was close right in the area Tom said he would be. Freddy whipped out the power crystal and sent a few very soft tree yelps his way each of which were greeted with a hardly gobble. The bird was on my side of the pine so I got ready. At fly down he started down and away from us his gobbling lessening to silence even under Freddy's best attempts to restart the conversation. I thought to myself these birds are just like at home, how wrong I would be proven. We then decided to check out one of the other 4 birds we had heard at first light. Tim & Freddy took off with me close behind down off one ridgeline then up to another. A few yelps from Freddy's purple heart & a bird answered back sounding way far away. Tim & Freddy decided to setup & I crawled up behind a cedar bush & laid down to listen & learn. Freddy hit the calls & the tom would answer. I kept thinking he's coming. My god he's coming from a ½ mile! I could not see but Freddy & Tim first saw him at 600yds & watched him strut and gobble at rest of the way in. From the beginning each of us wanted to see the other take a bird first but the first one fittingly would go to Freddy. The bird started to go below Freddy and Tim yelped a few times (the first calls Freddy or I ever heard Tim make) while I clucked. The bird turned & marched into a load of shot from Freddy's 870. Then the celebration was on! I got to touch my first Merriam's and share a hunt with two great friends the likes of which I will never forget. Laying there listening to Tim & Freddy whisper back and forth while they watched the bird strut in was so awesome ! We prospected & blind called the rest of the day fighting high winds with only 2 jakes showing up but that is for Freddy & Tim to tell ya about.
Tim - First of all I would like to say that this hunt was not just a hunt but an experience that I will always treasure. I want to thank Tom for a great time. I also want to thank my friends: Freddy and Max (Knight). Also thanks to Amy for taking us to and picking us up at the airport. The trip out was awful and we did not get to the ranch until dark, Tom roosted us a bird that we worked for a while, and then moved on to another bird gobbling. We called to the bird and finally saw it about 600 yards away (yes really) Freddy continued to call and after about 20-30 minutes the bird was in range and he took it. It was truly a celebration and we were all pumped. I have never seen a bird come that far and it was truly amazing. We then took the tour of the ranch and saw a few nice birds, one long beard only 20 yards from the truck with a hen. We prospected that afternoon and called in 2 jakes that came 5 feet from me. Freddy yelled out my name to the birds and they gobbled, it was very funny.
Freddy – These guys have pretty much covered it, but I must say it was the most incredible sight I have ever seen turkey hunting… watching this beautiful longbeard strut, run, walk, and gobble all the way across this field to 35 yards. I was so caught up in the moment I almost forgot to put my binoculars down and pick up my gun. What a memory etched in my mind! These guys were great to hunt with and we had a great time. I had fully intended for one of these guys to shoot first, but the way the cards were played it was me and I was extremely happy but now I had another major mission… not that they needed it, but to help them get their birds. After that I could relax… The jake experience with Tim that afternoon was awesome… when I realized Tim wasn’t going to shoot I started having some fun and we had those birds strutting and gobbling a mere 10-12 feet from Tim before they walked by at close to 5’. The thought to yell Tim’s name to get them to gobble just struck me and it was hilarious. We have the audio for this hunt and I may try to post it. The video was, well, let’s just say we don’t have the video… ;o) As they said before, Tom was a great host and really took time to help us out and make us feel welcome. I hope to take Amy back to try and get her a Merriam someday…
Max - First light found us standing next to the same pine tree again hearing gobbles. This time they were far off in the opposite direction of Freddy's bird the first morning. The wind was still blowing a fair piece but we finally managed to figure out which way to head so away we went. After dropping into & crossing a small wash we topped a ridge & Freddy called. He was answered by two very eager sounding gobblers. Tim slipped in behind a huge fallen pine tree ,I quickly got my face mask on & crawled past Freddy up to a shooting spot. Freddy had the video camera & started calling the birds were coming fast & I mean FAST. A dead run to be exact. Tim, Freddy & I discussed how we were going to pull off the double then Freddy & Tim called some more, finally I saw them .I couldn't keep myself from calling so I cutt at them which made them stop running & hammer back. My heart was in my throat & I had to talk myself in focusing on the shot. The birds walked into range, I flipped the safely off & waited for the prearranged count as I kept the scope on the right-hand side bird . They kept coming I am thinking count Tim count, closer they got then at 15 yds the log I was setting above started to block my view. Freddy at this point figured we decided not to shot these birds & laid some aggressive calling on them hard & fast. They loved it gobbling & the bird big strutting all this as they walked out of view behind the log. I waited. It was Tim's call I knew I would take the jake if I could I just waited to see what was going to happen then the boom of Tim's Remington shook the ranch the big boy was toast. The jake gobbled & flew towards my right about 15yds & hit the ground running. Freddy was saying something about shot him if ya want him but the 835 was already spitting nitros at the jake. The rest is comical and all I will say is that when the dust had settled my 835 was empty & Freddy was standing on Tim's bird & Tim on mine. I was sorta in shock the adrenaline was still flowing as I realized it had happened I had killed my first Merriams the most beautiful to me off all turkeys. What's more was that Tim & I had doubled. A first for us both & to top it off Freddy got it all on video. I am proud & honored to have been with both Freddy & Tim when they took their first Merriams. I am even happier they were there to share the moment of mine with me.
Tim - The next morning was very windy and we did not hear a gobble at first light we were all feeling low and then heard a very faint gobble we moved toward it and owl hooted then called with the box call. Before we knew it we closed the distance and saw the birds at about 400 yards out. They were coming. We called to the birds and they got about a hundred yards out and I saw them coming so I stopped calling. Max let out a call and they stopped and strutted and gave a show. Then the came closer and I thought Max was too far so I waited, then the bird got behind a snag and I could not shoot until he was at 12 yards, I had let the first bird pass by so Max could shoot and when I shot (I forgot to count) the bird was out of his view in front of a huge blow down log, but Max then made a good shot on the bird as it tried to escape. We were then very happy as we had all taken our first Merriams. This was my first double, and Max’s as well. We got the whole thing on video also.
Freddy - This was a fun hunt for me. I got to set back and call and video and tried to help out with coordinating the double… it didn’t work to perfection but they got the job done. Again, to watch these gobblers come from so far so fast was incredible. Once they got in close I started hammering them just to make them strut and gobble. I had a blast and was extremely happy when my two buddies had their birds on the ground. Tim is so fast getting to a bird that we just decided if we had another opportunity we would just shoot up in the air to give the bird a head start and just see if Tim could catch him! ;o) Tim really jelly-headed his bird at about 10-12 yards and Max did awesome job of shooting his bird on the move with a scope. I was a really happy guy! Congrats again guys!
Max - We hunted the next day and ½ having 2 more close but no cigar hunts. We saw about 60 each of mule deer & antelope, a few plus pheasant, one coyote, prairie dogs, some grouse, and Tim & Freddy saw a big (50 lbish) bobcat. We also got another Merriams tom strutting along with a jake on video. Successful trip? YEAP! The Turkey hunt of my lifetime! Thanks guys!!!! Folks if ya want to hunt Merriams in the beautiful open country of Montana, Tom Nansel and the Nansel ranch is the place to be. It was the turkey hunt of my lifetime! I bet it will be yours as well. Well that's my take on the trip as best as I can put it in words & trust me folks I am at a serious loss for them in the above description. God blessed 3 ole VA boys under the wide-open skies. Hit ‘Em Hard folks!
Tim - We then hunted very hard for the next two days and tried to get Max another bird (he bought another tag). We trailed one bird for about 3 miles and another a mile or so in the pouring rain. We set up on one Saturday morning that gobbled good and then shut up when he hit the ground. We saw about 60 Mule deer 50 antelope, a bobcat, coyote, pheasants, grouse, prairie dogs, and several turkeys. The landscape out there is awesome and I cant believe how far you can hear a bird gobble when the wind does not blow 40 mph. It was an incredible experience and I will never forget this trip…
Freddy – These guys summed it up… we saw lots of wildlife and incredible scenery every turn we took. The birds are different and certainly beautiful. If you ever get a chance you need to try it. It was a great trip with great friends, and a wonderful host. Can’t wait until next time!
All three birds with three happy hunters…
If you are interested in a great Merriam’s hunting experience look Tom up… http://www.nanselranch.com
The outfitter picked me up in Amarillo at about noon and we grabbed a bite to
eat and headed out to the ranch (about an hour east) and when we pulled up to
the gate I looked up in the field and there was a nice gobbler in full strut
with several hens. I changed into my camo and we drove around a few minutes so
he could show me part of the place. There were turkeys all over the place! We
saw a bunch of hens, a gaggle of jakes, and several more longbeards. He then
dropped me off and told me where to go to setup in the area we had seen a few
gobblers and some jakes. I had no more than sat down and had the jakes come in.
6 of them in all, but no longbeards. After a while there I eased up the hill to
another spot and put out a decoy and just blind called with no luck. I was
glassing this hillside quite a ways away and spotted a big gobbler with 4 hens
working down the hill. I tried to move on them but the country was so open I got
to about 200 yards and no closer. Watched him strut in this little clearing for
an hour or more and they finally went back into the brush. I thought that little
clearing would be a good place to setup the next AM and so did Richard (the
outfitter). Setup in another area later that afternoon and called in several
hens and had a couple birds gobbling but they went to roost below me. On the way
out we stopped at the gate and I owl hooted and about 20 turkeys gobbled in this
little creek bottom... about 200 yards from where I was to setup the next AM.
I got setup before daylight and put out 2 hen dekes in the little clearing and then the gobbling commenced. They were gobbling great in the tree but when they hit the ground it was over. Soon after flydown I spotted 3 hens coming my way and then here comes 5 more running to my decoys. They fed in and around the dekes and the other 3 joined them and then 3 more hens and 2 jakes came in. They started working there way to my right and I looked back to my left expecting to see a gobbler soon and sure enough there he was. I called and he blew up into strut and started marching my way. He was about 300 yards out and I got to watch him come to 25 yards. I was going to enjoy the show and I heard a vehicle coming down the ranch road about 150 yards from my setup so I putted, he dropped out of strut, and I shot. Nice 2 year old bird... 17 lbs., 8" beard, and about 3/4" spurs.
Richard then took me to another spot and wanted me to take some buckshot in case I saw some pigs. He only had 1 left and gave it to me. I hadn't gone 50 yards across the creek when I walked right up on them. I had to change shells and when I raised up to shoot one at 25 yards another pig busted me and starting running and they went everywhere. I got a shot off at one about 40 yards but must have missed. I marked 2 places where he passed by and couldn't find any signs of a hit. I was out of buckshot and, of course, walked up on them twice more. ARGH! I worked a bird later on that setup but he sounded henned-up so we called it a morning and went to lunch.
That afternoon Richard asked if I wanted to go back in where I hunted the first afternoon and after seeing the sign and all the hens in there the evening before I said sure. When I mentioned working some birds the evening before he told me about a little meadow they were probably in. So, I slipped down to this little meadow and it was just screaming turkey. It was about 1:30 and it doesn't get dark until almost 9:00 so I found a nice spot beside a big cottonwood tree and built me a "nest". I put out 2 hens and a jake deke and started taking some naps. Waking up to do some calling and then dosing back off. After 1 calling sequence and laying back down in my blind I heard some aggresive purrs and sure enough a hen was all in my dekes. I videoed her for a few minutes and over the course of the afternoon I called in several hens. I was just being patient because I knew there had to be a gobbler close by. Finally, about 7:00 I look up into the brush and see a big snowball head coming my way. He gets to about 40 yards and I see 4-5 more snowballs coming! All longbeards and they are coming in behind the boss. The lead bird gets right in the dekes and I'm letting him do his thing when one of the other birds putted and the show was over... I let him have it. At the shot the other birds just stood there and I was hoping they would come on in and I could video them, but they eased back off into the woods. It was a beautiful gobbler with some of the prettiest colors I have ever seen on a turkey... 18 lbs., 9-1/2" beard, and 7/8" spurs. WOW! What a day!
Here is my setup...
Here is the view from my blind...
The next morning I was just out there to enjoy the sites and sounds... I went back into the same general area and heard lots of roost gobbling and saw a pile of hens and jakes. I was only going to kill another longbeard if I could video him and shoot him too. That opportunity never materialized and about 11:00 I headed out and Richard took me to the airport. I made it home about 12:30 last night after an incredible Texas adventure!
If you are looking for a Rio turkey hunt I know just the place... Contact Richard Smith with Panhandle PoorBoy Outfitters - http://www.vaturkey.com/ppo
Well... another season has come and gone. I had another great year. Hunts in SC, TN, VA, MT, & TX were all successes. My home state was the hardest to hunt this year and my nemesis birds really took it to me. Of the 22 days I hunted in VA I chased either
"Leroy and Rufus" or "Lucky" 14 of those days. I had each of my nemesis birds in range at least once but could never close the deal. Most troubling thing I saw this season was a lack of jakes here in VA. We will see what happens next year. I managed to take 3/4 of the Slam this year, only missing out on the Osceola. If I had it to do all over again guess I should have planned a hunt in FL. I'm looking into that for next year!
I had a great time with friends and family. Many special times and special memories. I was involved with a lot of great hunts... from a gentleman's first turkey in the Low Country of SC to a great couple days in TN with a great friend, to sharing with my wife and another great friend Amy's SC longbeard. Then to several classic early season hunts here in VA with Diablo, Amy, and my Brother. Then on to a wonderful Merriam's hunt in beautiful MT with 2 great friends, to a great late season TX hunt. Along the way we made new friends and saw new places. I was a part of 14 kills and a miss this year and everyone of them is forever etched in my mind. The sights and smells of so many different places and faces are what this season was all about.
I want to thank everyone I shared a hunting camp with this year and I want to especially thank my wife Amy for putting up with me for over 2 months of turkey hunting this year. She got to hunt some but I left her behind on a couple hunts that I wish she could have been with me on. I'm already looking forward to next year and the new places and faces that I will get to share this obsession with.
A very special thanks to everyone on the board... you folks are the greatest! Congrats to everyone that scored and to those who didn't hang in there... there's always next year! Thanks for all the great stories and information that was shared and for all the great posts!
Look forward to sharing next season with you!
End of Diary
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