Turkey Time!

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I have been a big game hunter since I was 12 years old and then about 10 years ago I got introduced into waterfowl hunting and while that was a lot of fun and really passed the slow months in the winter after elk season was over. Nothing has come close to elk hunting except for when I went turkey hunting for the first time 5 years ago. When I went turkey hunting for the first time I was a bit overwhelmed at how hard the animal is to hunt.

I still believe to this day if they could smell they would be almost impossible to get with gun or bow range. To me they are just like hunting a bull elk in the rut, only difference is that they are only 2 feet tall. The first two years that I hunted the thunder chickens I could get them located and put them to bed and I would put myself in a great position in the morning but I just could not close the deal. I had worked up some really nice patterning loads for my mighty 10 gauge. I spent a lot of time patterning the gun and was confident that I could take a turkey down out to about 55 yards, but even with that range I just could not get one close enough.

On my third year we changed areas as we had found a public place with a lot more turkey and even fewer hunters, almost had the place to ourselves. So I was very confident with the lack of pressure on the birds I would be able to get one in gun range. On the opening weekend opening day my buddy's Dad and I had found some birds, put then to bed the night before. We had put ourselves right were they had flown up the night before, only bad thing one it was a bit out in the open, so we came up with a make shift blind that would keep us hidden and still give a good shot at getting close to them and hopefully a slam dunk shot at one. Just like from a movie script the birds flew down just like we wanted and they were headed right for us, all I could think of this was going to be my chance. As fate would have it or just my bad luck at times, they started to work toward us at a bad angle were neither one of would get a shot, so I made a move as I was able to move more without being seen than my partner was able to. I got into a position to were I could shoot but I could no longer see the birds and what they were doing, I could only hear them and I could tell they were close. My partner was pinned down and could not move at all, he was basically face down in the grass with two Toms at about 20 yards. As they cleared our blind I could begin to see the hens and I knew the Toms were close behind them. Now when I position myself for a shot I put myself to were I would be basically using my buddies legs as a rest. Well the birds started to walk away as I started to see them so if I wanted a shot I would have to shoot over my buddies back. Now I shoot a Patternmaster choke tube and we all now how loud they can be. To make this a bit shorter I decided not to shoot for two reasons, one I did not want to ring the ears of my partner and second I was not real comfortable shooting over his back, you just never know what could go wrong and no turkey is worth that. Well as the birds walked out of sight and we just watched them as not to spook them I thought that while I passed on my choice I thought for sure that I had wasted my best chance yet and was I going to be sorry. For safety reason I never have regretted not taking that shot. For the next two days I had some other close encounters but nothing worth writing home about and with that we headed home empty handed.

Two weeks later we were headed back to chase them around the woods again, this time just two of us made the trip, so I was to be on my own when it came to calling and shooting but I was up to the challenge. Just like two weeks before I found some birds and put then to bed, even had a hard time sleeping as we camped close to were I would be hunting in the morning…kind of like sleeping with the elk. While I saw the birds they flew down in a different direction than were my set up was. So for the rest of the day we went on some spot and stalk attempts, which I must say is almost impossible. I say almost, the next year another buddy of mine was able to pull off a successful spot and stalk on a nice Tom. Call it luck but the same birds I had hunted in the morning were in the same spot as the night before and darn flew in the same tree. So my plan was to set up were they flew down this morning. Which was going work better as there a bit more cover for me to hide in but gave me plenty of shooting lanes. I got up extra early the next morning so I could get myself in there and not give them any chances of hearing or seeing me get set up. I choose to go without my blind and use a tree as a backrest and some deadfalls for front cover, also worked well for a gun rest. Just like clock work they flew down and were headed right for me. The hens started to veer off a bit but with a few clucks and purrs on the call the Tom headed right for me. Now with the gun on the rest I did not have to hold the gun up and call so all was going great and I was in a perfect position. He just getting closer and closer and I cannot begin to describe the feeling I was having in my chest, I thought for sure he would hear my heart beat. When he got to twenty yards and was keyed in on the decoy, I figured that was close enough. Well with the sound of the safety clicking off, that stopped him perfectly and as they say the rest is history.

I will tell you I could not have been more excited, unless it was a 6x6 bull bugling in my face. None the less I was so happy all the work had finally paid off. Turkey hunting has become a annual thing for me and I will never forget my first and cannot wait til I can take my little boy along!!  I have also attached a picture of my buddy and I with both our turkeys he ended up getting one the next morning!!


groovy mike's picture

Thanks for sharing your Turkey Time story.

GooseHunter Jr  –

Thanks for sharing your Turkey Time story.    

The narrative of your early hunts reminds me very much of my first few years of turkey hunting.  You beat me to it since I didn’t start hunting anything until I was near 20 but I had nearly the exact same experience that you did once I got started hunting.  First I tried deer hunting and man oh man - I was hooked!  But there was a LONG wait between deer seasons.  So I got into waterfowl hunting and loved it too – mostly because it let me hunt in the off season for a few more weeks in the fall.  Then in an effort to stretch my seasons I tried spring turkey hunting.  I went turkey hunting for the first time and WOW! What a hoot that was.  What a pleasure just being able to hear those gobblers calling and being able to get out with a gun in the field when it was actually WARM out was something entirely new for me.  We have frost or snow for all of deer season here in northern New York State. 

I’ve never hunted with a ten gauge shot gun, but I have considered it.  It seems to me that it would be worth switching over to ten gauge in order to throw a few more pellets than my usual twelve gauge load.  I figure that I need all the help that I can get!  But so far, I have only used the ubiquitous twelve gauge for all my shot-gunning to date.   I find that I am more accurate with 2 ¾ inch shells than 3 inch. For turkeys I seem to have good luck with Remington’s #5 shot loads.

My first year I too had a pair of gobblers with a dozen yards of me but was pinned down and couldn’t move but just being that close to them made me eagerly await the fall season to try again!

You made a good call not taking the shot that you were not one hundred percent sure was safe to take.  Every hunter should always, always, always make safety our number one priority.  You would always regret shooting your friend much more than regretting losing a bird!

Man the first time you get a gobbler is intense.  Not as much as a first deer for me, but plenty enough excitement to make me want to go out and do it again every turkey season that comes around!   And on top of it all you are sharing your hunts with a friend which makes any hunt better.  I brought my son turkey hunting for the first time last year.  Hopefully THIS year he’ll bag his first gobbler!

Those are some nice photographs too.  Thanks for sharing them.  I think it always makes a story better when you add pictures.  Especially for hunting stories when you can add pictures showing success!

  Groovy Mike

arrowflipper's picture

super job

Hey, super job on the tom.  They sure do get into your blood, don't they.  Our season opens here in the next week or so and I'm already driving my wife crazy with my calls.  It's a thrill to call a big old boy in and match your wits with his.  Congratulations on a great hunt and a successful ending.

numbnutz's picture

Congrats on the fine looking

Congrats on the fine looking birds, Thanks for sharing your story. I hope to get a chance at my first turkey this spring. still not sure how this will work out but its worth a shot, I have had cabin fever really bad this winter and need to get into the woods asap before i snap. soon it will be scouting time as well. Again thanks for sharing and look forward to hearing of more of your sucess.

Deer Slayer's picture

Congratulations to you and

Congratulations to you and your friend on two nice looking gobblers. Great story and I enjoyed the photographs. The spring turkey season is a nice fill in for the upcoming deer season. my dad and I aren't into it as much yet, but maybe when one of us nails our first big gobbler our excitement will be piqued. This year I won't be going out because of the surgery I had on my foot. But, my dad will be going out with our taxidermist and he shoots nice big tom's every year so hopefully my dad will be getting his first this year.

jaybe's picture

Thanks for the well-told

Thanks for the well-told story. I was right with you there behind the deadfall, trying to be invisible while the gobbler came closer and closer!

 Nice looking birds there. Congratulations!