I'm learning and I got too excited!


May 14, 2013, 03:51 PM
My 14 year old and I went on our second turkey hunt. (The first ended with us hearing lots of birds but not being able to call one in. Still we had a great time.)

This time we set up in one spot and called. It seemed like we were surrounded with obviously close clucks, purrs and even a couple of gobbles but we couldn't get one to show itself.

After a couple of hours we decided to move a couple of hundred yards south. This put us on the other side of a wood from which a lot of the calls seemed to be coming. Of course, for the first 30 minutes or so after the move we couldn't get any response.

We took a break from calling and ate a little. We decided to call another 15 minutes and then call it a day. This time we started getting some cluck responses. Unlike before these were distant.

After 20 minutes we discussed calling it a day but then my boy excitedly whispered "Wait! There are three on the other side of the fence!" Now that fence was over 200 yards away. My 57 year old eyes were struggling to see what he was seeing.

I asked about the two black spots on our side of the fence. (They were about 180 and 200 yards away.) He said they were old tree stumps. I was struggling to see the three he was talking about and finally called again. One of them flapped its wings.

Cool!, I thought. Now if I can only call them in. Here I was having visions of what it might be like on one of those hunting shows where they go out, find the bird, shoot it and are back home in half an hour. :D

I called again. Again a couple of faint responses. And then I noticed the far black spot was moving at an angle. I pointed out the movement to my boy and called again. He said "It is a turkey. The other one is too but it isn't moving." Then I realized that the near one was moving, only straight at us.
We discussed the movement and I called again. It kept coming. I kept calling and it kept coming.

It got to about 100 yards. We were both getting excited. It disappeared into a small swale. We were both really excited, anticipating it would appear again about only 50 yards away.

And then the excitement got to me. I was gripping the box call too tightly and couldn't get a sound out of it. After a few trys my boy grabbed it, but he was too excited also. We spent the next 15 minutes trying to get a sound out of that box. My 14 year grabbed my iPhone and started playing the calls we had downloaded. That didn't work. (Although it made me feel better that they obviously responded to the box call. The old man has some skill left. Take that techies! :neener:)

The far bird disappeared into the woods on our right. We didn't know where the closer bird had gone. We had totally forgotten about the three far birds. We had no idea where they were. They could have come down the other side of the clearing and been 10 yards away for all we knew. We totally forgot about them.

We were thrilled to have gotten that far. As it was Mother's Day we decided to head home. Season ends on May 31 in Kansas. We'll try again this weekend. Geez, hunting is fun! :D

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May 14, 2013, 03:57 PM
Me's jealous!

May 14, 2013, 04:04 PM
get a bird or not, a day spent with your kid is always a win

Thanks for the write up, that excitement is HARD to curb :)

May 14, 2013, 06:23 PM
Next time don't call so much. If you get a response just shut up and wait at least 20 min. 40 is better. Gobblers become 'call shy' if you keep at it. Definitely quit calling if they come your way. Be alert to the areas all around you. They can show up anywhere.
It helps to have the caller back in the woods about 30 yards behind the shooter. Since your son is new at this (and you too), don't leave his side but maybe recruit someone else to do the calling from behind you. Gobblers typically 'hang up' short of the caller to search for the hen. If decoys are legal, use a hen decoy. This will help.

This advice is from a mediocre turkey hunter who has been only partially successful because I don't have the patience to wait them out any more than about 45 min.

May 14, 2013, 07:47 PM
One reason I always recommend a push button call for new turkey hunters. Altho their calls are limited, it's hard to screw up a yelp with them, even when you're excited. You said you used recorded calls on your phone....are electronic calls legal for turkeys in Kansas? Patocazador was right.....many times once you know a bird is coming, you don't need to call anymore, unless it gets hung up or is distracted by other birds. If you are in a standoff with hens, sometimes you need to call your azz off in order to pizz them off enough to come check you out. I've seen toms respond to a single call three farms over and while it takes them a while to get there, they will come to the exact spot that single call came from even if it was a hour before. Without knowing what the birds were, you may have gotten excited for no reason. Males are the only bird legal in Kansas in the spring, correct? Hens will flap their wings in response to calls to let other turkeys know they're a bird. Toms would probably have fanned at that distance so you could see them and gobbled, not clucked. Their heads would also appear white. They generally only cluck during the spring when spooked or when very close and expect to see a hen. Their cluck is much different than a hen cluck. Jakes may have fanned and may have gobbled. If not, many times, their distinguishing trait when excited, is their bright red head in contrast to their dark body. Their clucks when coming in to calls, many times are accompanied by purrs, know as putt-purrs. Later on in the day, often the hens leave the Tom to feed and lay their egg for the day. Sometimes the tom will follow them, sometimes he stays where he's at or moves to a different strut zone where he meets other hens. The hens many times are very talkative at this time and being social animals will come to a hen call. Many times calling in the hens is the only way to get the tom to come. Experience will teach you a lot. Every day in the field is a learning experience. BTW.......a pair of binoculars does wonders for old eyes, and young eyes too.

May 14, 2013, 11:55 PM
Hi Guys,

Thanks for the comments and suggestions. I wondered if we were calling too much and it looks like we are. The birds must wonder where we get the caffeine. :D

Non-live decoys are legal in Kansas and we are using one hen decoy. We set up about 20 yards from it. I'm still trying to figure out where it is best put. It has been in the open but about 10 yards from the tree line. Basically the line of sight could have been better for longer distances. The last try was best but it would have been better at the top of that swale. Still we are having a good time.

Checking the rules tonight, I learned that electronic calls are not legal in Kansas. I'm surprised I missed that at the first reading. We won't do that again. (We initially downloaded the calls because we didn't know what turkeys sound like and were trying to learn to use the box call.)

The online rules don't clearly state jakes only in the spring season. I'll call Kansas Dpt of Wildlife tomorrow and verify the spring requirement.

Thanks for the reminder on the binos. We're having so much fun we hadn't thought of that. Even if we don't get a bird, we're having a blast and seeing wildlife I didn't know existed. I was shocked by how blue one small songbird was. Next time we'll have the camera ready for that one. And there is one shrill call that occasionally responds to our calls. It sounds like it is coming from high up but it doesn't sound like any turkey sound I have found so far.

Looking forward to this weekend. :D

May 15, 2013, 08:15 AM
The call from up high might be an eagle or a hawk. Be cool to call one in with a turkey caller. Might be a Big surprise for all concerned!

May 15, 2013, 04:34 PM
I don't think there are any states that limit Spring turkey hunting to "jakes". Almost all of them do restrict it to male or bearded turkeys. A jake is just a one-year-old male and some hens have beards but they're usually thin and short.

May 20, 2013, 03:40 PM
My boy and I were back in the field this weekend. We "relocated" about 50 yards to the west, at the top of the rise. We were setup and in the blind shortly before sunrise.

The first surprise was that we set the blind up next to a nest with chicks. They were quiet when we got there but after five minutes of us being quiet in the blind they started hollering for food. :) My boy and I just glanced at each other and smiled. Seemed like they were on the ground but I wasn't going to risk going outside or opening the back panels.

We were trying hard not to overcall. Last week we were calling about once a minute. We tried to go once every 20 but anxiousness got the better of us. We wound up calling about once every five minutes.

Again we were surrounded by hen calls. There had to be at least five different birds clucking and purring. Three were in the woods on our side of the field, two to are right and one to the left. Two were in the woods on the other side of the field, one to the right and one about straight across.

It was interesting listening to them. They were all calling about once every five minutes, almost like they were taking turns. Interestingly each seemed to have their own call. The one across from us liked to purr. Two to our right liked to cluck and purr. The far right and the far left liked to cluck. So we just kind of slipped into their pattern, adopting a cluck and purr (or at least our attempt to cluck and purr:)).

But nary a gobble for the first hour and a half. About 7:30, a bird showed itself to our left. It was on the other side of the fence, about 150 yards away. We brought binoculars this time and were checking it out. It was a tom but I didn't recognize it at first. No strutting or gobbling at all. I finally realized it had a blue head and red wattle. It didn't seem interested in our calls and calmly slipped through the fence. It followed the same track as the birds we lost last week. It crossed at an angle and disappeared into the woods across from us.

Then another tom showed up on the other side of the fence. This one strutted and fanned its tail and gobbled. With the binoculars I could see its beard when it turned sideways. It spent 15 minutes going up and down the far side of the fence. It seemed almost confused by all the hens calling. It was something to watch and hear. Finally it passed through the fence. It was still about 120 to 130 yards out. It noticed our decoy and just stared in our direction for several minutes. We were in the blind but moved very little. We called once. The real hens kept up their pattern. About once a minute there was a call.

I don't know if he finally decided our blind was out of place or if he just lost interest in our decoy but he finally pulled his feathers in. He ambled off in the direction of the first tom.

Once he disappeared into the woods, my boy wanted to go after him. So off we went. We were a few feet into the woods trying to guess which way to go when we heard a gobble from near the pond. We walked quietly to the pond but never saw him again.

Back in the blind we tried calling again. The hens returned to their clucks and purrs. We didn't see another turkey, but about an hour later two does came from the west and headed towards the pond. If that happens in December, one of them isn't going to get to the pond. :D

Next week, we'll set up by the path to the pond. I'll go down the night before and clear a small spot in the woods so we can really tuck the blind into the woods. I may even cut several small scrub trees so we can lay them up against the blind and disguise ourselves better. I think we'll also buy a couple of camo face masks and hats. (We have been wearing black hoods. Maybe that tom did make us, even at 120 yards?)

Still, we had a great time and are looking forward to trying again. Thanks for the suggestions and encouragement.

May 21, 2013, 02:38 PM
He sees better than you do, so you may have been made.

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