I know, I know... I'm very late getting this started this year!
Why am I so late this year? Simple... I have cut my season trips down to just one out of state trip this year because Amy and I are anxiously awaiting the birth of our first child in May. I felt like my responsibilities were at home this spring, so that's pretty much where I am going to stay. I have some friends coming in to hunt with me and I hope that I can put all of them on birds. My best guess is that it should be a fair season - with the hatches we have had this year and 2 years ago I'm just hoping for the best. We will certainly give it our best!
This season I will be hunting in Tennessee & Virginia. 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 once the season starts. 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!
The gobbling has picked up over the last week and should really take off next week. Flocks should begin breaking up any day now and then the gobbling will intensify until the gobblers have gathered their harems. Then, we get to hunt henned up gobblers! I've already located several gobblers but who knows where they will end up in the next week as the pecking order gets established. I saw some signs of flock break up this AM and look for that to continue for another couple days.
I look forward to sharing this season with you...
headed to TN last weekend to hunt down there a couple days with GN. We headed to
a spot that has been good to us in the past and were very optimistic for the
weekend hunt. The first morning we heard several gobblers but the majority of
them were off the portion of the property that we could hunt and shortly after
flydown all the birds shut-up. We did see a jake walking down the middle of a
road gobbling. About 8:00 we had slipped up to another area and after GN spotted
turkeys in the field twice we setup and were answered by a yelp. Just moments
later some gobblers came in on us 90 degrees to my left. I managed to get my gun
around on them as they were leaving (since they did not see the hen) and shot.
The first shot missed (I shot behind him) but I was able to dispatch him with a
second shot. It was a great gobbler... about 19 lbs, 2 beards- 9" and
6" and 1-3/8" spurs. We were a little surprised at the weight of the
bird as we have killed some really heavy gobblers in there but we were happy!
Here are a couple pics of the beards, spurs, and the unique solid black wing feathers. All the field pictures are on my 35mm.
Then, our optimism slowly turned into foolishness as we hunted REALLY hard and climbed a lot of ridges for the rest of the day and the next 2 mornings only to be completely ignored by the non-gobbling turkeys. We were never really in the game after the first morning kill. We think lots of factors led to this, and wind and cold weather certainly was a big part. We could just not buy a gobble and we were trying hard. We both despise hunting turkeys that won't gobble and decided to call it a trip and I headed home yesterday afternoon. We were fortunate to be able to take one nice gobbler and the rest of the hunt was the toughest I have ever seen on an opening weekend anywhere. We had a great time and some good laughs hunting together and I would like to thank GN again for another great trip to TN!
and I were fortunate to put a couple birds to bed last night and we were setup
on them this AM.
A good friend offered to try and video Amy's hunt where we had setup a blind and been seeing some birds. The birds came out sure enough but would never come close enough for a shot. They got some great footage of a gobbler strutting for several hens but they drifted back in the woods. An interesting note that the strutting bird never gobbled all morning.
I was a couple ridges away where I had roosted a flock of hens and a gobbler. Daylight found me setup above them and it was a textbook hunt. The gobbler flew down and strutted right to my calling and bit the dust at 20 yards. A nice 2 year old gobbler - 9-1/2" beard, 7/8" spurs, and 18 lbs. This bird only gobbled 1 time. They are REALLY henned-up right now and I was fortunate to be in the right place this AM.
is a great story by our good friend Mark Taylor in the Roanoke Times - http://www.roanoke.com/roatimes/news/story165462.html
I'll let GN tell about this AM...
had asked me to come up and hunt with him this am and I drove up in horrible
rain Easter evening. After I arrived we discussed what to do in the likely heavy
rain that was forecast for this morning and Freddy had some ideas. All those
ideas went out the window when Freddy’s brother Robbie called late and said he
had some birds roosted and we should come hunt with him. We got in the woods
early and Robbie positioned us near where he thought the birds were on the limb.
Considering the weather, We did not expect much gobbling but at first light the
rain had subsided to a mist. Robbie and I were he designated shooters and Freddy
was sitting behind us slightly. When it got barely light all of us could see
birds in the trees against the sky. And we were all looking at different birds
as it turned out. We were startled to hear a gobble erupt from a tree 60 yards
to our left. I could clearly see this birds as he proceed to gobble about 15
times and strut back and forth on the limb for 20 minutes. No other birds
responded and we were too tight in there with them to make any calls at all. The
gobbler pitched down to our hard left and slightly uphill from us. None of us
could see him on the ground and we still had birds I n the trees in front of us,
one at 30 yards and near eye level. Five minutes later another gobbler pitched
from in front of us to the ground with the first gobbler. Then we heard a hen in
the tree in front of us call lightly and Freddy chimed in with the softest yelps
and the gobbler let go with a big gobble and I swore he was behind us, but
Robbie said he was now below us in the hollow and to the left…Robbie had him
pegged. In just a minute we see the gobbler on the left, and seconds later a hen
and the other gobbler appear from the same direction at about 35 yards…Robbie
and I had already discussed safety protocol on how we would shoot on a double
chance, and Robbie had also said for me to take a shot if we looked like we
could not double them…just at the time we were lined up to double and counting
the “one, Two “ and before “three” the hen stepped in front of the
smaller gobbler and sort of putted and we thought we better take one, as Robbie
said: “ take what you can get” and on that offer I dropped the bigger bird.
I had nothing to do with this except to pull the trigger as Robbie and Freddy
combined to put the bird in my lap. I was no more a factor than the Ford truck
that took us to the hunt. Many Thanks to them for a great hunt. Here is his
picture with me and Robbie…
and here is the bird posed with a Vaturkey.com hat…
and here are the one inch spurs….
I'll let HODY tell about this AM...
Freddy and I walked up the mountain this am I was thinking about Diablo's latest
story as I gazed at the stars. Thinking about how lucky I was to be out there
not only hunting, but that I would enjoy the day with a true friend. We got set
up and two deer came by us so close I could have hit them with the gun. They
stayed around us for some time and finally left. Thinking that they had spooked
the birds we were set up on we moved to another ridge where we heard a gobbler
gobbling a few times. As we made the trek over there we had to climb up a steep
mountain in a ditch line to stay hidden. We could not crest the hill so we had
to set up below the bird. As Freddy made a few soft calls the bid answered and
was closing the distance. He had a rattle to his gobble and I had an idea it was
a good bird. Before long we heard him spitting and drumming but could not see
him above the rise. This went on for quite a while until I finally saw his head.
I did not have enough for a shot but Freddy gave him a real soft purr and he
took one step and raised his head out of strut and I could see about 6-8"
of his head I let him have it at 16 steps. When we got to the bird I must admit
that I actually felt some sorrow for taking the great creature. When we looked
at his beard and spurs we were amazed at their length. Beard was 12-1/2"
and spurs were 1-3/8". Leroy weighed in at 19-1/2 lbs. That is when Freddy
had a good idea that we had just heard the last show from Leroy. We had quite a
photo session and of course were pretty pumped up. Freddy said "Okay, now
it's your turn to call me in a bird!"
We left the mountain and went to another spot to see if we could get Freddy another bird. As we located a bird we went to him fast and got set up. I gave a few soft yelps on the box and he gobbled 100 yards out. 30 seconds later we saw him at about 75 yards and closing. He stopped at about 35 yards and was wide open for me, but a tree was blocking Freddy's shot. The bird actually ran off and we called it back in again and it circled us gobbling and strutting for another 30 minutes. Freddy had a shot and took it but came up empty. After inspecting the path we found a tree that encompassed most of his shot. I can show you a tree that weighs 2 oz. more than it did this morning! Freddy jokingly says man if we can get another bird to gobble this will be quite a morning. About 200 yard and 10 minutes later we strike one quite a ways off. Freddy says he knows where the bird is so we get to him quick, wading a stream and climbing another hill to get set up. I set up behind him and made a few soft calls and we could hear him in the leaves just below us. In just a moment the bird came over the lip of the ridge in full strut and Freddy let him come to about 20 yards. I did not see him at the shot but after the shot I jumped up and saw his jelly head on the ground just 23 steps in front of Freddy. His bird was 18 lbs., 9" beard, and 1-3/16" spurs and he wrapped his last tag around the gobblers leg and headed off for the long walk back to the truck.
"Awesome" is the only thing that can describe this hunt. The fact that I enjoyed it with a good friend is icing on the cake. One of my most memorable days afield ever. 5 Birds gobbling, 3 called in, and 2 took a ride in the truck. It really doesn't get much better than that.
I'll let Big Bird tell about this morning...
would be a huge understatement to say that after I got off the phone with Freddy
Sunday evening I was pumped! The plan was to get to the Franklin County farm
around 5:45 and stake out a high spot near some known turkey areas to see if we
would be in the game at flydown. We heard the first gobble around 6:10 from a
roost tree not 200 yards from where we were standing. We quietly made an
approach plan and started toward our setup area. About halfway to the bird, we
passed back by Freddy’s truck…
We get to our spot without hearing another gobble. As we are considering which
trees to get up against, Freddy whispers, "He’s gotten awfully quiet. I
would feel a lot better if he would gobble again on his own." He no more
than took another breath when the bird gobbled hard not 75 yards away – still
in his tree. Freddy, now satisfied, sat down on the backside of my setup tree.
He made a few very soft tree yelps that went unanswered. After about 5 minutes
of silence he made a series of a little more intense yelps. The bird double
gobbled. At this point I could see the gobbler silhouetted, strutting and
gobbling on the limb. I actually watched him re-orient himself toward us turning
180 degrees on his limb. I knew this bird had an impressive harem as I had seen
him with at least 15 hens the week before. The dominant hen that was roosted
about 50 yards to our 10:00 position had taken about all she could stand of the
new sweet-talking lady and cranked up. She was soon joined by at least six or
seven others and the woods became absolutely electric. Freddy intensified his
yelps and cutts on his power crystal and began to simultaneously use his mouth
call. The hens got louder and more agitated. After a minute or two of constant
competition with the noisy harem, Freddy pulled out his wing and I got to
witness the legendary McGuire fly down cackle and call. Awesome! Shortly I saw
the gobbler pitch down into the deep hollow below us. The tom gobbled once in
the hollow, then after a minute, he gobbled again – closer! With the hens and
Freddy still calling like mad, I see the big fella strutting over the crest of
the ridge about 40 yards out. He closed quickly wings dragging. He came to about
15 yards and first stopped dead behind a pine, then moved and stopped behind a
stump. I was absolutely in awe and enjoyed every second of his display. When he
stepped into a clear shooting lane, I pulled the trigger and he went down. It
was 6:40. The bird weighed in at 21 lbs, had a 10 inch beard and 1 inch spurs.
This was the first bird I have taken off of this farm since I shot my first
gobbler here 3 seasons ago. With Freddy in control, it's exactly like a riding a
roller coaster. I just sat there, hung on, and enjoyed every second!
I cannot express how much I appreciate and enjoy Freddy’s friendship and unselfish mentoring. I asked him if he has any idea of the value of what he gives away. Not in dollars, but in memories and knowledge. This board is a perfect example. He just shrugs it off as no big deal. It IS a big deal and everyone that gets to know Freddy understands that fact very quickly.
My diary updates have suffered due to work and getting ready for the baby. Things slowed down a lot of the last week and a half or so. I have called in several gobblers for other people but for a multitude of reasons none of them has gotten a ride in the truck. Over the first 18 days of the season I have managed to call in 11 longbeards. Some were killed, some were missed, some were never shot at. It's been a good season so far, a lot better than I anticipated. My biggest concern is the lack of jakes I am hearing a seeing. All day hunting starts today and I plan on taking a few friends and try to get them on a bird or two. We'll see what happens and I'll try to keep everyone posted!
finally happened! I am out here at Freddy's for the hunt I won at last years VA
Turkey cookout. We set up this morning on "Lucky", Freddy's Nemesis.
We were waiting just 40 yards from his roost tree. Lucky gobbled for a half hour
constantly. He finally decided to fly down at 35 yds or 40 yds from us. I
couldn't believe that Lucky was about to be Un-Lucky! Then he hit the ground
below us out of sight and the next time we heard him he was 300 yds away. Oh
Well, Lucky was still Lucky after all.
This evening we were tipped off about a bird just down the road. Freddy and I hopped in the truck and we went in the woods behind where we thought the bird would be. Up went a blind and a decoy on a logging road and we were set in for a long wait. Freddy called on a Power Crystal for a while, then switched to a mouth call. After 55 minutes no sign of a bird. Freddy got up to his knees to scope out the area before we broke camp. That was when I first saw him. He just appeared on the logging road between two trees. I saw that white head then I saw the shape of his tail feathers in full strut. He was about 80 yds away. I said "there he is Freddy, don't move." Freddy caught him out of the corner of his eye and when he could slipped down behind the blind. Our bird that still hadn't made a sound spit a couple of times and came in to under 30 yds. He sort of turned and acted like he wanted to leave Freddy said "take him when you can". I was ready; I had him square in my sights. One trigger pull and it was over! I didn't think so at first. I hadn't seen a hen that was right behind the gobbler, and what I saw was a bird flying off in to the woods. I thought I had clean missed. I said "Man I missed him"! Freddy said, "no you didn't, he’s down in the road". When I stood and took a couple of steps then I saw him kicking, down for the count. He is a beauty! 20 1/2 lbs, 9 3/4" beard (rope!) on spur 1 3/16" one 1 1/4". He will be going to a taxidermist! What an awesome experience! What an awesome guide! Freddy and Amy have been great hosts. If you ever get a chance to hunt with Freddy, jump on it! We have a few digital pictures to post, and later we have a few 35 mm we will upload. We go out in the morning to meet Hody and Robbie, Freddy's brother for a hunt up on the mountain. I can't wait!
This is a closeup picture of the birds wattles... We are not sure what the problem is but we will find out and keep everyone posted. It looks like some kind of injury that had become infected.