Patience and Turkey Hunting (hunting story)


April 21, 2003, 07:52 AM
Got a nice gobbler on Friday.

I deer hunt on a farm in the fall and winter, and this year, I asked the owner if I could hunt turkey there. He was happy to oblige. On Thursday, I called up two hens and heard a lot of gobbling but saw no toms.

On Friday, I crept in near where I heard the hens fly down the previous morning. I spotted a good place to set up, slipped up toward the tree I'd chosen, and promptly spooked the hens off their roost. Once the cacophony of their cackles died down along with my blood pressure, I decided to set up there for a while anyway. After about an hour of occasional calling, I heard gobbling by a creek at the bottom of the property, and so I eased down that way into some pine trees. I set up in a couple of spots down in the thinned pines, but I was kept in indecision about my location because I began to hear gobbles from different angles. Finally, I heard one that I definitively fixed down by the creek, so I moved within about 30 yards of the water. As soon as I set up there, I heard ANOTHER gobble from up the hill. Important note: I now believe this gobble was the last utterance of the bird I ultimately killed.

That spot is also where I heard footsteps and rustling in the leaves and straw behind me. But after a half hour of purring and yelping about every ten minutes, I attributed them to a squirrel, stood up to shift my little portable seat, and promptly scared the horny gobbler (perhaps about to mount me) who was only 30 feet directly behind me. He cackled and flew up into the trees above the creek. Bird number three spooked. Lucky me.

Cursing my stupidity, I moved uphill and set up under a small cedar, the only one out there amidst the pines. Because it was such a good spot as far as cover--nice little scrub pines in front of me and plenty to break up my silhouette behind me--I was determined to stay there a while. I called about every fifteen minutes for about forty-five minutes until I spotted a nice bird slipping in from my left up the slope. He was angling toward an old logging road but taking his time. It was at least fifteen minutes between the time I spotted him and the time I shot him because he went behind a cropse of trees and stalled out in order to torture me. I clucked a couple of times on my mouth call, but he didn't seem all that interested. Finally, he stepped out about 30 yards away just where I'd hoped he would, stuck out his neck, and met his maker.

All told then, it was roughly an hour and a half from the time I heard his last gobble up on the hill and the time I shot him. Lesson here? Patience is king when it comes to turkey hunting. If I'm right, it took that bird about 90 minutes to silently travel around 100 yards. Estimated speed = just over a yard a minute. Some bugs crawl faster.

The gobbler was probably a two-year old. Spurs were 3/4" and 7/8". He had a 10 1/4" and a 6" beard and weighed 19 1/4 lbs. The bonus? My uncle had just given me a box call that he'd made. I used that call to lure in my bird.

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April 21, 2003, 05:42 PM

I cannot agree with you more on patience. Not only during a hunt but day to day as well. I try to drill this into anyone who is just taking up the sport. My last turkey hunt was 2 years ago on my land in Missouri. Sadly I cannot get back every year as I moved away for my job. The first day of the season was miserable. Stormy early in the morning and 40 MPH winds later on. Heard one gobble real early on my neighbor's place but that was it. The next morning I heard him again in the same spot and decided to pursue. I only heard him gobble a couple times and could not pinpoint his location very well. I set up in an old fenceline and gave 3 or 4 soft yelps every 10 minutes or so. After an hour or so, he had answered a few times with a single gobble and then came into view about 80-90 yards off. He had several hens with him and I sat motionless for over 2 hours watching him strut to no avail. He evetually moved off and that was it for the morning. The next morning I decided to go after him again as I knew he was bigger than any I had ever taken. I heard him in the same tree again and set up in the dark only 100 yards or so from him. After a couple vollies of soft yelps with no reply, I seen him fly down with a massive thump. Again he was with 2 hens but not strutting. After about 15 minutes of him just standing there, him and the hens started moving toward me with him staying back about 40-50 yards from the hens. One of the hens walked up 8 feet from me and decided something was not right and gave a few alarm puts. I knew this might be my only chance so I took a shot and knocked him down. I had a single shot and couldn't get off another one as he got up and took off running. I found blood and some feathers and was able to follow for about 100 yards but lost all sign. I looked for him for another hour and went back to where I last seen blood and sat down, very depressed. I heard another gobble so I did some calling to no avail. I kept thinking that that turkey was wounded severely and it was bothering me when I thought of where he might have went. Then it hit me. I had looked for him earlier in the direction of the blood trail. However, I was about 100 yards form a creek and thought he may have gone down the ravine instead of following the ridge to get to some water. I walked up and down the creek for about 200 yards when I had all but given up hope. As I started to walk back to my camper, I jumped him in some weeds and finished him off. He indeed had been wounded pretty bad and I was able to take a 20 yard head shot on him. He was 24 pounds on the button with a very thick, badly worn out beard, only 7" long. Probably the best bird I will ever take. Found about a dozen very large morels on the way back as well.

April 21, 2003, 05:52 PM
Good stories. So far it has been birds that would gobble at my calls, but not come in and getting busted by not having enough cover or moving (just a little bit) at the wrong time.

God, give me patience and I want it NOW!

April 21, 2003, 10:50 PM
NRA4LIFE: Glad you got the bird in the end. That's interesting about the turkey going to water. I've heard that deer will move toward water after being shot, but I never thought about this scenario applying to turkeys.

On the subject of 40 yard shots, my friend took one on Saturday and rolled the bird, but it flew and got away. I may look into some of those new Remington Hevi-Shot loads. Some folks claim they'll give you an extra ten yards of effectiveness.

Got pictures back today. Here's the bird I took last Friday along with the call I used to lure him in.

April 22, 2003, 10:46 AM
Actually, the shot was even a little longer than that, closer to 50 yards. It was still very dim where I was and the bird was across a ravine. I grossly misjudged the distance, something I hope to NEVER do again. Generally when I setup, I pick out spots around me where if a bird is outside those, I will not shoot. I setup in the dark and could not do that. I will try to attach a picture of him (trying that for the first time).

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