Every year at the end of the year we kinda turn the waterfowl reports into turkey reports so I'll keep that tradition going today. Dad and I got out for an archery hunt this morning for the first time this season. Got in and got set up without them knowing we were around. I couldn't get them to gobble while trying to locate them so we went in blind hoping they wouldn't be roosted close. Got lucky and they were down a few hundred yards. Dad was shooting a crossbow as his shoulder has been giving him fits, so I asked if I could shoot first knowing I would need them inside 20 yards to feel comfortable. Inside 10 is more comfortable for me haha. Right off the roost a single tom starts heading our way but making what appeared to a wide angle that was going to put him past us. Sure enough he was at a 90 degree angle straight left of the blind and maybe 100 yards out, about ready to keep on walking by when three hens and another tom head right our way without hesitation. By the time we saw them and by the time they were in our decoys was probably 90 seconds. As soon as the other tom saw them coming in he ran right over to join them. I had already drawn back for the first tom but he would not sit still long enough to give me a shot and that gave the other one enough time to come right in and I shot him facing me at 8 yards. For some reason the other tom spooked off but the hens stayed and my dad could not get a shot off. Not long after six jakes came in and hung around for about 30 minutes. We hiked up into the hills and chased birds a couple hours and did get one lonely tom to commit, but he circled around us and came in behind me and I was behind my dad calling, he was only about 25 yards. Awesome morning spending time with my dad, just wish he could have shot one too!
I took my second oldest out this morning to try and get his first bird. First property we started at birds were roosted on the neighbors. I've never seen or heard them roost over there. Had to completely move our setup closer to the property boundary, but luckily it was still dark enough. Got set up and they talked for a solid 30 minutes and then shut up and never gobbled or yelped any more. The fog moved in heavy, but I'm pretty sure they worked away from us, we just couldn't see them. That first property was a cottonwood bottom, but the next property we tried was pine covered hills. We were working within a pretty small area that we could actually hunt and once again birds were on the neighbors I'm guessing 300 yards in. It sounded like one closer tom with a hen and a few distant toms several hundred yards away. I worked them for probably 30 minutes and could tell they weren't coming any closer so I told my son that we're heading home. On the way out I called about every 100 yards and when we about walked out of the timber I heard a gobble not very far away. I'm guessing he thought I was going away so he was following my hen yelps. We didn't have a lot of options on where to sit but I chose a tree with a hill crest right in front of us 15 yards. I figured if he came to the sound he would pop over that hill and be right there. It took a while for him to work towards us and while he was coming the rest of those toms started coming too. I could hear him laughing every time that bird gobbled. I had my son between my legs so his back was against me and I could help hold the forearm with one hand because I knew he wouldn't be able to hold the gun up that long. I saw the toms fan first and then his head popped up and I told him to shoot it but he said he couldn't see it. It never occurred to me that he wouldn't be able to see the bird because he is so much shorter than me lol. Luckily the bird didn't spook and went back in to strut for a short time before really sticking his head up higher. I kept telling him you have to shoot, you have to shoot as the bird just stood there. That barrel was moving all over the place, I'm guessing that gun was getting pretty heavy by then even with me helping hold it up, but he finally pulled the trigger and missed cleanly. Admittedly I was pretty bummed right when he missed, but he was so excited to even have that bird coming in and gobbling that he literally didn't even care that he missed. I couldn't believe how excited he was, he just kept going on and on haha, I couldn't imagine had he actually got one. I think he is hooked for life now! We found an elk shed on the drive back to the county road to cap off a great morning!
Two buddies and I left yesterday on what was supposed to be a two and a half day turkey hunting trip. We got to our spot around 9:30 and storms were already building off to our west so we set up camp very quickly so we could get some hunting in before the rain and predicted winds came. We heard a single gobble while setting up off to our northwest so we headed that direction as soon as camp was set. We only went 200 yards and called at the top of a clearing and got a response, so we headed straight down the clearing looking for a spot to set up. I was planning on hanging back and calling while one buddy shot and the other buddy tried filming, hoping I could draw him through the clearing right to them. As soon as they got sat down I called again and that tom was within a 100 yards. He was hot and responded to every call I made. Unfortunately for my buddy, he didn't come through the clearing and came up a ravine to his right and was coming right at me instead. Realizing my buddy wasn't going to get a shot, I gladly shot him and we had a bird down right away! It was probably less than two minutes from the time we sat down to the time I shot him and probably less than five minutes from the time I struck him up at the top of the clearing. While taking some pictures we heard another group of turkeys pretty close by. The approaching storms were giving their location away as they would gobble every time it thundered, but we knew our time was limited with the storm coming in. We got set up behind a little rise about 80 yards from the group. It sounded like two toms and some hens right in front of us and another tom down off to our right on the edge of a ravine. We worked those birds for about ten minutes and we could finally tell they were moving our way. They popped up over the rise and just like that we had three birds down in a matter of 45 minutes. It was one of the most incredible hunts of my life! Within minutes the rain started falling so we hiked back to camp, which was only 700 yards as the crow flies. We ended up sitting in the pickup for three hours while it down-poured. After it was done, myself and one of my buddies still had a tag so we thought we'd give it a go. The wind had really picked up by now but we found a tom and some hens and played cat and mouse with them forever it seemed until we couldn't find them anymore. After dinner we decided to just pack up camp since the overnight windchills were supposed to be 15 degrees with gusts to 60 mph and another quarter inch of rain. The gusts were probably only 35 mph at the time and it was shaking the tent pretty bad. The other reason we decided to pickup was, it was going to be nearly impossible to roost birds that evening or hear any birds on the roost the next morning and finding them in the predicted 60 mph winds all day the next day was going to be tough. We were thankful for what we had so we packed up and headed home after one day. We saw a herd of 13 elk on the drive out to cap off a memorable trip!
What a morning I had on Saturday! I wanted to try and shoot a bird up in the hills on the property I hunt versus down on the creek bottom, even though I knew more birds roosted down in the bottom. I was running a little behind and didn't have time to go find the bird or two I could hear up in the hills so I split the difference and sat kind of up out of the creek bottom. I probably should have just set up in the bottom because half the birds pitched down and fed right past where I would have sat. Could not call them up so I decided to go hike and look for the other birds. I got up on a high spot and glassed and could see all the birds feeding that were roosted in the bottom and one gobbler was heading my way. He was a ways off yet, but was answering every call I made and was walking at a brisk pace. He got about 150 yards away and abruptly took a turn and headed quartering away. My heart was pounding as I thought for sure he was coming the whole way. I tried getting in front of him but he went back in to the bottom to join some other hens. I struck up a pair of gobblers in the timber ahead of me and once again tried getting in front of them to no avail as they were feeding quickly away when I finally spotted them. Feeling a little defeated I thought I'd look for sheds and make a big loop back around to the big group of birds and try and call one out of them. Where I was walking I've never seen any turkeys and I hadn't been seeing any turkey sign at all, so to my surprise when I heard a gobble right in front of me at what sounded less than 80 yards. I thought maybe I spooked it, as I got him to respond to a call, but I could tell he was going away. Once again I tried getting in front of him and was slowly working along a fence line when I thought I heard drumming. I looked to my right and in a clearing there was a tom strutting. Luckily I was in the shadows and I didn't spook him so I was able to get on him and shot him at 43 yards. I don't know if this was the same bird I thought I had just spooked or a different bird, but it didn't matter. This bird felt like a gift as I totally wasn't expecting it right then and there, but am so thankful. He was a beautiful gobbler in some beautiful country!
This is probably my last report of the season unless I take my kids out for an afternoon/evening hunt one last time. Took my second oldest out again to try and get a bird this morning. Birds didn't start talking until about 5-10 minutes until legal time and then right at legal time they flew down. I only had one gobbler close and he was with two hens and went straight for the hills. We came in behind them working up a draw but never could get the tom interested. Another tom was calling up the drainage this bird was heading and soon they were together in a wide open pasture, but with good hills. As soon as they were on the back side of a knob we went straight at them. We got near the crest and I peaked over and could see one tom and two hens about 25 yards out, close enough for me but the angle would have been tough for a six year old on his knees. I called but he didn't come over, but immediately heard drumming close. Instantly the other tom pops over the crest of the knob about 7 yards away. I had to physically swing my son over to the other bird but just as fast he went back on the other side. We crept up a little closer and the first gobbler was still standing there so I told him to shoot that one. I don't know if he was nervous or what but he really struggled trying to shoulder the gun and aim at the bird and in the commotion the hens walked off with the tom following slowly behind. I called again and the other tom peeked over the crest again at about 10 yards or so. I feel terrible because I was rushing him to get him to shoot, but he just couldn't get on the bird. He felt I was disappointed in him so we had to have a chat right there about how it was just hunting and there will be plenty of other birds and that dad just got caught up in the moment because they were so close. Having my oldest son shoot a bird 10 minutes into his first hunt ever has really made it tough too because he wants to compare himself to his older brother. Anyway, I asked if he wanted to go home and he said he wanted to keep hunting so we went after a group we could hear. Turned out it was a group of three jakes, one tom, and three hens. We almost called the jakes in but as they were coming the sun rose above the tree that was shading us and I think it lit us up so they went way wide around us. The hens and tom went the opposite direction so once again we tried getting in front of them and it worked out perfect. I peeked over a hill and I could see three hens maybe 40 yards away, but no tom. I called and within 10 seconds I could hear drumming close and he popped his head up at 10 yards. He was on his knees again and I told him he was going to have to stand and shoot. By the time he got on the bird it was walking away and was maybe 25 yards by the time he shot. He missed cleanly and honestly he was just so happy to have got a shot off, and I was happy that he was happy so we decided to just head home. I intentionally walked past a deer shed on the way to the vehicle so he could find it himself. He was very excited to say the least! Now that the season is done, I'm not sure he was ready for turkey hunting this season, he just isn't as strong as his older brother was at six years old as far as holding the gun up .Thanks for letting me share my turkey hunting stories with you all this spring! Telling my stories on forums is a good way for me to be able to remember all the details of the hunt several years down the road.