Monday, April 26, 2010

Second Chance at Turkey

Saturday April 24th, 2010, I had another opportunity to go turkey hunting and was accompanied by another of my grandson's ( Codey Botkin ). We got up at 4:00 a.m., had our morning coffee and loaded up the truck with our gear then headed down the road in the nights darkness to our honey hole. We arrived just as the dawn was breaking across the sky with a severe tornado watch for our area. Although the weather was to be bad we both agreed that a little rain never hurt anybody and that we would give it a try anyway. As we began grabbing our gear we noticed several birds in two adjoining fields. We grabbed out our blind material and headed out across the field to a small group of trees at the edge of the property line and set up underneath the trees where we were able to see the toms strutting in the field to our right with a few hens. I told Codey the birds in the left field would come around the point of the trees just out of range but should come in to our calls without any problems. Just then a weary single young tom came from out of nowhere and just out of gun range then quickly returned to the flock in the left field. We sat there calling to both groups of birds but then noticed the owner standing by his shop watching us and the birds. Figuring the birds had seen the owner and wasn't about to come in any closer, we decided to go over and talk with the owner awhile and figure out our next game plan for the birds. While talking to the owner, a young tom popped out of the brush across the creek bank ambled around the edge of the field then off into the trees and brush as I headed across the creek with a plan to cut him off on the other side of the trees before he got out into the plowed field. There again this plan didn't work either. For some reason the toms just weren't gobbling much at all. I returned back to the shop and noticed the turkeys in the right field were heading for the gap joining the to fields which was where the hens were waiting in the left field. Codey and I decided we would try to sneak along the creek bank to the edge of the property line and wait and call softly to the toms coming into the left field. By the time we had got set up in a sage patch with briar bushes the toms had already joined the hens and began heading down field in our direction. I told Codey not to move any at all as the turkeys could already see us if we moved. The hens feed down field with the toms strutting all the way to within gun range. I told Codey I would take the second tom and he would take which ever tom was closest to him. When I shot the toms scattered with one of them running straight toward Codey which was when he shot and we had two toms on the ground. We retrieved our toms and headed to the shop just as the owner came out to meet us pulling up by the side of his house. He ask if we were giving up for the day and we told him we had already taken our birds and was ready to travel to the check-in station. Codey's bird went home with him and my bird went to the landowner with a great big thank you and a few words of our returning to his farm. Pictures of our birds are above but the landowner's name is still to remain a secret unless you know the man from his photo.

Monday, April 12, 2010

32 Year Quest is Finally Over.

32 Years ago in 1978, I began hunting wild turkey with a great friend of mine ( Ricky Duke ) from Lascassas,Tennessee. Now back then the wild turkey population was just taking hold in Tennessee and there weren't many places you could hunt wild turkey except on Wildlife Management areas. Ricky and I would travel around the state hunting wild turkey for five years before I gave up hunting them thinking I would never be able to take one of the hardest wild game animals I've ever hunted. This year I was looking at the possibility that this could be my last year to hunt or fish, so I told my wife I was going to try hunting turkey again this year if things worked out so I could. Fortunately the closer turkey season got the more excited I became and the more I looked at scheduling my home chores so I could go hunting. Opening weekend however was on April the 3rd and I had to work all weekend long but on April the 6th I was able to go hunting. I spent the night before gathering all my turkey hunting equipment and cleaning my gun so everything was ready come morning to load in the truck for the 1 1/2 hour trip to Rutherford county. 2:45 A.M. the alarm went off and I got up, started the coffee, began getting dressed, gabbed up my gear and checked it one last time as I packed it in my bag, had my coffee then headed out the door and down the road. I arrived at the farm I was going to be hunting on at 5:25 A.M. and had decided since I hadn't seen the owner for thirty years that I would wait till he was up and talk to him just a bit before going hunting. 6:30 A.M. I spoke with the owner and he told me where the birds were at during the day and what his property lines were. 6:45 A.M. I headed out past the shop and seen a group of 6 toms and 14 hens parading in the field next to me. I eased my way to the roadway bank placed my decoy and began calling with my box call and mouth diaphams but the turkeys didn't move. They gobbled every time I called to them but just wouldn't come my way. I eased down the road bank and behind a small grove of trees and bushes in the middle of the field then moved in to the bushes and over to the side the turkey were on. Again I tried calling to them and still no response except gobbling back at me. The hens had the toms pretty well occupied. All of a sudden the toms gathered up their heirm and headed down field away from me. I tried to follow staying out of site till they stopped some 200 yards down field next to the fence. As I approached the fence a rabbit jumped up making a noise in the brush and 4 toms came running over to the fence looking and clucking. As I froze in my tracks and watched with my gun ready, 3 of the toms put their heads in and opening in the brush at just 10 feet from me tring to see what was in the brush. I could have easily killed all 3 toms at that moment but the limit is one bearded turkey per day so I waited for only one turkey. The toms finally figured there was nothing to worry about and rejoined the feeding hens down field and began going out across the open field where I knew I wouldn't get a shot. I left those turkey returned to check a couple more fields then decided to take my decoy back down to the first group and try luring them to the edge of the field with my decoy. As things happened the turkeys were no where to be seen and I figured they had crossed to the next field. I walked down through some trees and brush to the next field and up to the fence row looking for the group but nothing. Then just as I'd thought I was going home without a bird, I spotted 2 toms in the corner to my left. I watched to see where they were going and the toms turned and headed back up the fence row toward me but as they reached a brush pile some 30 yards from me they headed out across the field. As I watched the toms crossing the field I figured it wouldn't hurt to try calling to them to get them back my way so I gave a call on my box call and got a quick response of gobbles from both toms. The toms headed back to the fence row but was still out of clear gun range, so I gave a couple more clucks on my box call and both toms headed in my direction. The toms stopped in an offset of the fence just 20 feet from me but wouldn't come any closer. They just looked into the bushes were I was at then finally one tom stepped through the barbed wire fence and I noticed it was the smaller of the two toms. Letting him pass and waiting on the second tom to come through the fence, as he did, I was waiting on him with my old 12 gauge and let lose a shot that took the bird down and sent the second bird flying off some 60 yards away but still in site. My 32 year quest for a trophy wild turkey had finally come to an end with my bird on the ground. My trophy weighed 25 pounds, had a 10 1/8 inch beard and 1 inch spurs. Now I have the fever of wanting to try to limit out this year before the season closes on May 16th but if I don't I'm still very happy with my first trophy wild turkey. The owner of the farm did not want me to disclose to anyone where I was hunting and told me I was the only one ever allowed to hunt his farm and that was the way he wanted to keep it. My next trip to this farm I'll be hunting a bird for the owner in appreciation for letting me hunt on his farm.