Last year was the first year I ever tried hunting turkeys. So I am pretty new to this sport, and after three days of hunting in the pouring rain I only had a hen come in within shooting range.
I knew it was going to be a good year as I saw turkeys every day for 4 days before turkey season.
Morning of Day One
We have a few good public land areas around camp, but since I’m the newbie at camp and had only hunting one of the areas we decided to hit one of the spots that I had been the year before so I could setup in an area that I was familiar with for our morning hunt. I got to my spot before sunrise and starting listening for gobbles. It didn’t take long and soon after sunrise there where a few gobbles coming from deep in the woods.
After a half hour of listening to occasional gobbles I looked over and saw a turkey head bobbing its head through the weeds 80 yards off to my side. Once it got closer I could tell it was only a hen. She slowly walked towards me then veered off behind me to get a drink of water from a pond that was 30 yards behind me. After she was done she came back in from of me and was right of the edge of the trees that were leading right to me. The whole time she was walking out she was purring very lightly. She walked out to me decoy and around to the other side of me.
Trying not to replicate my hunt from last year I decided not to overcall the birds. Instead of being aggressive, I decided to play hard to get. Listening to that hen was extremely helpful as I was able to use my box call to replicate the hen’s purrs to try to and get the gobbler to come in.
A few soft purrs later and I was getting the gobbler in the woods fired up. Every time I heard his muffled gobbles from the woods it sounded like he was getting closer and closer until eventually his gobbles echoed from being out in the open field. I glanced over and saw him tail fan up, and strutting right towards me. He could see my decoy and was on his way in. This was it. I was picturing his fan and beard hanging up on my wall and what the best way to cook him should be. Roasted whole on the grill? Maybe breast him out and put him in the crock pot. I was excited, but new if I just stayed calm and still he would be mine.
Then, out of nowhere I hear what sounds like wings flapping. I look forward and there are two jakes flying directly over my decoy and heading straight for the tom that is on his in. They fly right over the tom, one landing on the edge of the woods and the other landing in a tree directly behind the tom. I give a few light purrs to try and gain his attention back, but it’s too late. The big tom looses his focus, slowly he turned around and made his way back into the woods where he had come from and the two jakes had landed. I couldn’t believe it. My sure thing was slowly getting away from me.
The blue dot is where I was set up and the green dot was where I placed my decoy. I wanted it out far enough so that if a turkey came out into either end of the field it would be able to see my decoy. They red line shows where the turkey had come out of the woods only to get turned around by two jakes that decided to ruin my chances.
After another hour of sitting still hoping he would come back and trying to understand what had just happened. If those jakes could have waited just another 10 minutes I would have had that tom.
Once I got my mind back in focus I started calling again and he starting responding just like he did earlier, but this time he was not getting any closer. My playing hard to get was not going to work any longer. I needed to make a move.
I quietly got up and starting working my way back into the woods. Occasionally calling I snuck up and placed my decoy. It was very brushy back in the woods and I found one spot that I could see my decoy, but it was slightly downhill of the decoy. After getting setup and settled in I got my box call out and started making some light purrs. The tom had turned and started heading right back for me. I saw his fan through a gap in the trees and then he went behind a dip and came out just behind some brush. He was 25 yards from me and less than 10 yards from my decoy. There was a gap in the brush between him and my decoy. Only a few more steps and I would have a clear shot. I was thinking how cool it was to have a second chance at the gobbler that had gotten away earlier that morning. With my gun up and pointing to the gap I needed the turkey to walk through I heard three quick putts, then silence. I waited another minute then made a quite purr. Nothing. I waited a few more minutes and stood up. Like a ghost the bird was gone. I don’t know what had happened or what I did wrong, but that was the second time the same bird had given me the slip in one morning. I was defeated.
Evening of Day One
After getting back to camp I was the only one out of the three of us to get any action. Both Larry and Dick were jealous that I had action, but I was pretty disappointed I had gotten so close but couldn’t seal the deal.
We went out again that evening, I saw a few birds, but was not very focused and my sloppy hunting scared a few birds away.
We got back to camp and were waiting for Dick to get back. The sun had set and we were just starting to get worried, when a truck pulls into camp. He made it back, and he wasn’t alone. He had gotten a really nice gobbler. Because it had been raining in the middle of the day the turkeys really seemed to be out in the fields trying to dry off and look for worms coming out of the ground. Dick had snuck through the woods and just peaked through the branches into a field. There were two big toms 45 yards away in the field. He didn’t call, put out a decoy or even sit down, he just raised his gun and dropped his bird. It was a really nice tom with an 11 inch beard and 3/4 inch spurs.
Morning of Day Two
We decided to head back to the same area as the first day so I could try my luck at the tom that got away. I heard gobbling just as I had the morning before but this morning they were not interested in coming in. After sitting for a few hours I got up to try a different area. After walking around and foolishly jumping a few birds I saw Larry walking a few hundred yards away from me. I walked over to him and we were just going to call it a day, but since we were already dressed and in the field we decided to hunt for one more hour before heading to the truck.
Larry head off to a field that he had only hunted one other time and never seen a turkey in. I went back to the area I was in the morning to see if anything had come out of the woods. After hearing a few gobbles, but not having enough time to go after anything I decided to go back to the truck a little early. I was halfway to the truck and BOOM, I heard a shot. Shortly after I see Larry coming back to the truck with his bird.
He had set up on the corner of two fields so he could glass both fields looking for turkeys. After a half hour of sitting in the cold he was going to head back to the truck early as well, but soon after he picked up his decoy he saw a turkey walking the edge of the field. Not sure if he wanted to set up a decoy or start to call he just hid behind some brush on the edge of the field. The turkey was walking towards the woods, but there was a chance he would make a 90 degree turn and follow the edge of the field right toward Larry. That’s exactly what the bird did. He came right up and only got 15 yards away when Larry took the shot.
Two birds down, one to go.
Evening of Day Two
We decided to try a new spot for the evening. The same spot that Dick had gotten his bird.
I tried his tactic of walking through the edge of the woods and trying to catch a bird off guard eating worms from the freshly soaked field. After an hour of walking through super thick brush and the only birds I saw were three that jumped from behind me in the woods I decided to set up on the edge of the field.
I had been told about a Hmong blind on the edge of that field that Larry had shot a jake out of just two years ago. So I went straight to that and got all set up. Pretty soon I saw a hen come out of the woods and make her way around the edge of the plowed field and alfa alfa. Soon after another hen followed out on the same path, then a tom and hen made their way over the top of the field and they all walked around pecking at the ground, shacking the rain off their feathers and at one point they all tucked their heads under their wings and took a quick nap. They roamed from 150 yards away to just 90 yards, but didn’t get any closer. I started calling to get their attention, but that tom wasn’t about to leave his three hens for a single lady 100 yards away.
I looked over to my right and saw a jake walking across the field. I thought for sure he would come by to check out my decoy, but he decided to walk on the other side of the hill in front of me on his way to meet up with the tom and hens.
It was beginning to rain a little harder and starting to get dark. The group of birds was slowly working their way back into the woods and I knew I wasn’t going to have a shot at them.
I was about to pick up and head back when I saw a hen walking down the field away from me. I got out my binoculars to see if she was from the group of turkeys I had been watching for the past three hours, or a new one. When I started counting the hens something flashed in front of my binoculars. It was a jake! Right in front of me! I dropped my binoculars and grabbed my gun. I was luckily hidden well enough in the blind that I could get set up without scaring the jake away. I tried to stick the barrel of the gun through a gap in the blind, but he was on the move and bobbing his head too much for me to get a good clear shot. I took the gun and lightly rested it on the top of the blind and got my sight lined up with the jakes bobbing head. By the time I was done trying to get ready for a shot the jake had gotten to where the plowed field met the alfa alfa (about 45 yards away). I slowly pulled the trigger and BOOM the bird dropped. My first Turkey!
You can see my decoy on the edge of the alfa alfa. My bird is laying just 15 yards to the left of my decoy.
The blue dot is where I was set up and the green dot was where I placed my decoy. The orange lines show where the group of hens and tom had walked out and mocked me for three hours on the edge of the field. The red line shows where the jake had come out of the woods.