What a long frustrating season but we officially saved the year! On Saturday I talked to dad to make our final day’s plan. We both knew where we needed to be and we both knew it could be a long day. Our plan is probably what our plan should have been all along. We decided we would sit at a pinch point in the field and after scouting a couple weeks ago we knew if we sat dead center in the middle that it would be a 6o yd shot to anything that came thru this pinch point, at most. We knew there were no birds roosting close to this spot and we would have to wait for them to arrive but still we arrived early to make sure we didn’t spook anything. Well, was this a bad sign. As I’m leading thru the darkness I am running my headlamp in red mode and I catch eyes looking at me in the grass ahead. I stop and switch to white light only to then realize that less than 10 yds away is a skunk! I stop dad and we both laugh. Seems fitting the way our season has been going that we would run into a skunk and probably get sprayed. Apparently, our laughter was loud enough that the skunk knew something was up and took off in the same direction we were heading. Luckily for us this was the only time we saw Mr. Le Pew. Now setup in our spot it was a waiting game.
As the sun rose we hear zero gobbles. However, shortly after 6 am we get a text photo from my buddy Joe who is hunting with his son in Southern Iowa, of a tom strutting about 100 yds out. With an encouraging reply back it wasn’t 15 mins and we receive a picture of a dead tom! Excitement for us even though it wasn’t our success it was till a good friend dropping the hammer on a tough season!
As the morning progresses we finally see life around 7:30 and it’s a coyote. If we weren’t already carrying enough gear i’d really suggest we add a rifle to the mix for situations just like this. I let out a couple yelps and here this bugger came in. At 90 yds something felt off to him and he broke off into the timber like he was stuck by lightning. Funny to watch but sad we didn’t get a shot at him. Shortly after 8 am I glance up and spot 3 turkeys in the neighbors food plot. Right away I thought it was 3 Jakes but as the camera zooms in there is a lone tom in the group of 3! Awesome. I make a yelp and they look and slowly start heading to the fence. As they are feeding our way they suddenly stop, crouch and turn to head the opposite direction! WHAT IN THE WORLD SPOOKED THEM. That’s when we spot em! Our group of Jakes coming over the hill directly at us. Clearly these boys have been an issue for the Tom and 2 Jakes. As they snuck off in the opposite direction the Jakes continued their path towards us we got ready. Dad looked at me and said we are shooting two of these guys. As they are working in prepared for my shot. Dad was preparing for his. At 37 yds the group stopped and broke up enough that dad and I could coordinate a bird to each shoot. 1, 2, 3 BOOM. At the same time we shot and 2 birds drop like they were hit with hammers! We had successfully saved our season! sure they are only Jakes but wow… you can’t imagine how happy both of us were at that moment! You would have thought we had shot world records! We went from zero’s to heroes on the last day of the season. Okay that’s not very accurate but still, filling 1/2 our tags for the year was definitely huge!
Thanks for following the blog this year and hopefully you got a good laugh or even better if you learned something from our mistakes
I am beside myself, still, with how this turkey season is going! This weekend was a seek and destroy mission and I failed. We went to the in-laws this weekend and I’m lucky enough that they let me turkey hunt on their land. They have a pretty large track where the two neighbors (one to the North and one to the East) have the roost trees and two separate flocks of birds that use them. This usually allows me to setup on two different sets of birds through the morning and I’ve been pretty successful over the years. That being said here is how the weekend went
Saturday morning – I woke to the alarm at 4:30 am only to hear the wind howling and rain moving in. I turned the alarm off and figured i’d just have a late start and let the storm blow by and see if I could find something late morning when the sun was supposed to be out. At 8 am I headed out and as I was walking and yelping I got a bird to answer! He was right where I thought they would be at this time. Problem is he was still on the neighbors and a Creek separated us. No biggie I’ve killed multiple birds that crossed this creek without any issues in the past. HA. Well I called he answered he came all the way to the edge of the creek and no more would he come. 1.5 hrs later he gave up on me since I would not come any further to him. Note the other side of the creek is the neighbors and thus nothing I can do, even though at his closest, he was maybe 50 yards. For sure gun range. But this bird was the first one to play the game with me this year! Excited for tomorrow morning!
Sunday morning – out the door by 4:30 am to make sure I got in place for the tom that shamed me yesterday. Found a good hiding spot on my side of the creek with an opening on the opposite and on my side so that he could see my decoys and had a place to fly across without any issue. He gobbled on the neighbors and I gave his a sweet tree call and he hammered back. No more calling from me until I heard him fly down… at that point I poured it on. He answered everything, if not cutting me off and on his way he came! He came all the way to the creek and he was joined by a 2nd tom too! Both of them you could hear strutting and drumming across the creek. NOT MORE THAN 30 yards!!! For 30 mins they kept spitting and drumming and gobbling at me. My heart was about to explode from excitement! I knew at any minute they wouldn’t be able to take it and fly across only to be met with my 3.5″ no 5 shot! Finally I heard the wings of a turkey fly across! Was it one of the toms? NOPE. It was a Hen and she walked into my spread and then started to feed off to the North. As I held as still as possible listening and waiting for the next sounds of wings flapping I finally heard the sound… a hen yelping and walking away from me on the other side… Heart sinks… As they followed this hen I knew I’d have to wait them out and try them again later. Off I headed to the North for a 1.5 mile walk. I setup to the North for a couple hours figuring around 9 am I’d head back the 1.5 mile walk and see if my morning toms where in a more playful mood. Little happened to the north other than calling a coyote in and because of my bad luck I was unable to get a shot on him at 30 yards… apparently I’m in a hunting slump. So at 8:45 back I head. As I get back to my morning setup spot I hit the slate to see if anyone is around and listening and BAM! Gobble returned. Awesome. Knowing my first spot didn’t work out I thought I’d pretend to be a walking hen and see if he will follows until I find a suitable spot for him to see my decoys and want to cross. This turned into the longest 3 hrs of my turkey hunting life. For 3 hrs I worked the same 200 yard stretch of creek acting as if I was a hen that couldn’t cross. Moving back and forth. Three times this bird came to under 50 yards and would hang at the creek. Finally after 3 hrs of this stale mate I made a last ditch effort of moving away hoping he would think I was giving up and he’d finally commit. As I moved away I was completely quiet for a 1/2 hr. Finally I gave a yelp and he answered and seemed to make a beeline for my newest location! Ready for what should have been the ticket turned into yet another creak hold up. This was his last straw as well. He stayed at the creek for what was maybe 5 mins and then he turned and walked away gobbling his frustration as he went. Maybe I should have stayed longer but I was done. I packed up beaten and defeated. At least I had lots of action for the day. I was really “playing” games with a bird pretty much the whole morning. Not sure what I could have done to get him to cross like many other birds have in years past. But I guess when they don’t want it bad enough they aren’t going to cross that barrier not matter what it is. Whether it be a creek, fence or even blow down. Fun weekend but still very, very frustrating.
I am beside myself on how this turkey season has been going. I’m going to blame the weather. I have yet to have a turkey truly answer anyone of my calls. So maybe it’s me and not the weather. Maybe my rhythm is just way out of whack this year but this past Saturday I took a completely different approach and did not call! Birds were very quiet in the stormy weather but just before fly down we had a couple gobble on the roost to let us know there were where we wanted. At fly down we had 2 hens almost fly right into our setup. As they made their approach a tom popped out into the field about 200yds out. We only had a two hen setup in front of us. But instead of making his way directly towards us or the hens, he went to the edge of the field and started following it around. He would cover 10-20yds and pop into strut but he just had that look about him he was not coming in. He passed by our setup at 77yds and continued to follow the two hens. Around 7:30 a tom started gobbling a couple hundred yards and was gobbling at every crow and every goose that made a sound. We spotted our group of 6-7 Jake group and they headed off to the same direction as the Tom and 2 hens. After 30 mins of trying to get the second tome to answer me (which he didn’t do) I decided we could make a move on the Jakes and the tom from earlier. It was now 8:30 and things have been quiet. I assumed the birds had gone into the timber to escape the windy field and thought we could hug the timber ourselves and try and re-position on them and they would come back the way they came thinking more hens were coming to them. Well I was wrong… they never made it to the timber and were still in the field and probably had been there since 7am. As we popped over the hill I spotted the hen and we crouched only to have the group of Jakes walk over the same hill right at us. BUSTED! Game over. Everything split. So we walked the area and believe this is our next location… turns out its a bit of a funnel that we have hunted in the past but from what we have seen this year the birds all head this direction. So our new plan is to avoid the roost setups altogether for now and try and hit them in the first strut zones which probably should be our thoughts all the time but it’s so hard not sneaking in close in hopes that they will just pitch right into the setup. Slow learners
Katelyn’s first morning hunt!
Katelyn has been talking about turkey hunting for months! She enjoyed our evening hunt before and this time wanted to get up early with Papa and I. So I thought I had a strut zone figured out that was nice and close to the road where we wouldn’t have to walk far and from my experience it seemed like the birds were hitting this spot by 8am at the latest. The only fear I had was if a bird was roosting in the group of trees right by the road. So the night before I tucked her into bed with the plans of waking her up at 5am and then picking up Papa by 5:30am. This is a full hour later than we had been getting setup but I wanted her to hear the birds on the roost but not get her up so early that she couldn’t function. We arrived at our spot and Birds were roosted all over the place and unfortunately, there was a bird in the trees by the road. Knowing we were probably gonna spook this bird I had hoped it wasn’t the one(s) that were hitting the spot I wanted us to sit. Well, as soon as the birds hit the ground SILENCE. Katelyn did really good playing with the video camera, eating every snack that I had brought and even worked on drawing her letters on the iPad. The only animal we saw was was a rooster pheasant that came out to feed. Katelyn got a kick at how fast he was as he ran from corn cob to corn cob across the field. Even as we started to realize our hunt was over I turned Katelyn loose on her slate call. Sounds even better than me! I think next time I give her freedom to call at those pesky birds on the roost. To test her calling as we dropped dad off we snuck over to our turkeys and she got them all worked up. She got a kick out of them answering her calling! Sure wish a wild tom had come in… Always next time!
First season has come and gone. We snuck out yesterday afternoon for an evening hunt. We know where the birds roost almost every night and so we figured maybe we could get one to make a quick stop for some decoy love before flying up for the night. Well, like happens almost every time on this property the birds are always on the opposite side of the point from where we setup. There are two places that the birds will cross and we did have a tom come thru and as soon as he spotted the decoys he stared them down. Now I don’t believe he saw us but he certainly did not like the DSD Jake. After was seemed like a 5 minute stare down he tucked his wings and wandered off away from the roost trees. Shortly after that the woods came alive! Toms, Jakes and Hens came out into the field on the opposite side of the finger and just played tag and fed out in the open. It was quite a sight to see that many birds in the one area. It proves we have plenty of birds to hunt but at the same time frustrating because they weren’t coming to the calls and there wasn’t enough foliage to make a move. There is a group of 7 Jakes that were hanging out and I have suspicion that they may have just beat up the Tom that came thru and that’s may be some of the reason he shied away from the decoys. But after last evenings hunt I would say we are still early in the breeding season and the birds are still grouped up and are still establishing their pecking order. Next hunt planned is tomorrow morning and Katelyn will be joining us as Caller and Camera girl! Wish us luck
Close but no cigar
Today was a seek and destroy mission. We setup where all the birds seemed to gather after fly down yesterday. We got in clean! We had 5 hens and a Jake roosted with 20 yards behind us! All but one of these birds pitched down right into the decoy set at 15 yards from us. The boss hen went about and strutted in and purred and clucked and pecked at my DSD for a good 15 mins before the group decided the statue girls were not a threat to them. Even with at least 5 gobblers ( couple jakes for sure) were roosted within 100 yards they did not come to investigate the racket these hens were making with my decoys. Just as we are about to move one of the hens came back and tried to make friends with the DSD. For over an hour she spent time purring and trying to make friends with the decoys. We finally had enough and spooked her off. We made a move to where we saw birds strutting yesterday but the skies unloaded and we headed for the truck.
On the drive around the property we spotted a Strutter following a hen out in the middle of the field. They were on a mission to get to the timber. So we made a plan to try and catch up to them. We made it to 100 yards and got a visual on the tom again. But he made it farther than we thought. So we had to circle around to try and get in front of him. WE DID! As we popped out of the ravine we spotted him again and he was still strutting and was about 70 yards. Here is where we screwed up. I thought we could pop the decoy up over the hill and then make some sweet calls and he’d scurry right in… WRONG. Apparently, either me popping the decoy up or more likely my come love me yelps were all wrong. He didn’t answer and he gave us the slip. I thought maybe he got spooked and just ducked in to some bushes so we tried to rabbit hunt him but he was either held too tight or totally buggered on us. We hard another gobble and made a move on it. Again all the calls I threw at this bird, he made no attempt to answer. We sat for 30 mins and he never showed. Back to the truck in the rain.
As we drove around again to head for home we spooked a Tom just to the side of the road. I thought there was potential to call at this bird as there is a berm from our parking spot where the bird was at that would shield our approach. Well, once again, got to a good spot to call. AGAIN, all the calls and the bird never answered. Now this bird was spooked so I’m not totally shocked he didn’t answer but still… always try to be optimistic. Good news is that as we were walking back to the truck I found a pretty solid shed antler. So we didn’t leave the woods completely empty handed.
That is the best way to describe the Opener of Iowa’s 2017 Turkey Season 1. Was a beautiful morning, however it was super quiet! No wind at all. You could hear birds jumping from limb to limb. This kept us a little more cautious than normal as we figured we couldn’t get to where we exactly wanted because it was so quiet. As the woods awoke we heard LOTS of gobbling! Jakes and Toms were easily to identify and as soon as fly down occurred the woods were quiet. At around 7:30 we heard some putts behind us. Turned out to be two curious Jakes investigating my calling. They circled around us and ended up coming to about 20 yards of the decoys ( Jake and two hens) when they decided something was wrong. As I drew my bow dad ran the camera and raised his range finder. As I asked what the distance was, as they were moving away, all he said was, “shoot the back one”. Again asking the yardage while the range finder was up he responded, “shoot”. Well, I took a guess and boy was I wrong… they had moved much farther distance than I thought. Arrow went completely too low. Seems like I’ll have to investing in some better Hearing Muffs for dad. Walkers Game Ear Quads aren’t cutting it. We at least had an opportunity and one of the Jakes would not have left had dad wanted to shoot one with the gun.