Monday, May 18, 2009

Mid-Day Turkey Hunt

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to get after some gobblers. Traditionally, most turkey hunters get into the woods before daylight and try to hunt turkeys as they fly down from their roost. I'm a bit of a non-traditionalist and believe you can be just as effective during the middle part of the day, if you adjust your tactics. There are a couple of techniques that you can use during this time, run and gun or sit and wait. Running and gunning is when you try to locate a tom using yelps or calls such as a crow or woodpecker. Sit and wait is when you set up in an area you know turkeys frequent and call, hoping to draw a bird in or intercept one in travel. I was fortunate enough to have a top notch caller with me on the hunting excursion, Bucko. Bucko is 14 and has already taken a pair of toms and participated in turkey calling competitions, which makes him more experienced than me right now. Needless to say, I felt a whole lot better about his calling ability than my own right now.

We headed out behind his house to try the run and gun technique out around mid morning. Bucko was hitting his woodpecker and crow calls to try to see if we could get a tom to shock gobble at us. We thought we might have heard a few gobbles from a nearby tract of timber. There was a grassy field that had a pocket of young trees in it close to the timber, so we set up a hen decoy and crawled into the stands of young trees. Bucko hit some yelps and clucks, however no tom showed up. Because of the lack of activity, we decided to try another piece of property that we knew turkeys frequented.

At the second property, we decided to employ a sit and wait technique. We set up on a ridge that was bordered by a swamp, a corn field, and a grassy hay field. There was a massive stump, about 3 feet high and at least 4 foot around with a 6 foot section of log laying next to it, and it looked like the perfect spot to set up and conceal ourselves. Bucko placed the decoy out in front of us at 15 yards, and the hunt was on. Not fifteen minutes after we sat down, Bucko had a hen yelping at us. The next hour was pretty exciting, as the hen kept answering Bucko's calls and seemed to be closing the distance. The wind was fairly gusty that day, so it was difficult to judge where and how far the hen was from us. Between gusts, we were able to concur that she was approaching from the edge of the swamp, along a ridgeline. One of our goals was to try to entice a boss hen, because often they will challenge other hens in the area and have a silent tom in tote. Well, it appeared we had found a boss hen, because she was getting all fired up and laid down a gauntlet of calls. She would yelp-yelp, cut-cut-cut, yelp, yelp , yelp. This bird had no qualms about mixing it up. I was really impressed with Bucko's calling skills, as he mimicked her every sound for a solid hour with perfection. After about an hour of turkey talking, we thought we heard a couple clucks within 50 yards, from the direction the hen would have approached from. That was the last we heard of the bird, as she promptly fell silent. What caused her to hang up all of a sudden? Did she catch a glimpse of small movement from us? Was she uncomfortable with something? Looking back, I believe she may have gotten cold feet. Our decoy was set up in a spot, where from her approach it was not visible. I think she was looking for a visual confirmation and there was a cluster of trees blocking the decoy from her. Regardless, I was just as fired up as the ole boss hen was. Once she grew silent, I thought any minute she would pop her head over the hill with a Birdzilla Tom in tote. The anticipation gets the adrenaline flowing, especially when you have have a bird answering you for an hour.

As we walking back to the truck, we saw a huge tom crossing a field across the road, as if he was taunting'll never get this, you'll never get this..lalalala. Well, he may have been right on this particular afternoon, but I have a feeling redemption will be had shortly. To make matters worse, I saw about a dozen turkey's in various spots on the drive home. I honestly can say I now have turkey fever, and the only cure is to skewer a nice Tom. With two more weeks to go in the season, I remain optimistic that I will have a chance to let the Hoyt makes things right. I really enjoyed having Bucko out there in the woods with me, that kid can flat out call. His season ended a few weeks back, but I think he would like to see one go down for his own redemption. He was taunted by turkeys just out of range for a week straight, but he hunted them hard and gave it 110%. Even though the day ended without a bird slung over my shoulder, the time spent in the woods made it a success. Also, by getting our youth active and involved in the outdoors, ensures that we will keep the sport going strong for generations to come.

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