OPENING DAY Saturday April 27th
Well this season has been a crazy one to say the least. Opening Day I took my son to a piece of private property that we were supposed to have sole access too. I had Corbin up at 4:15 and out the door before 5. We made the 40 minute trek and got set up what I would consider perfectly. Shortly after sitting down a lone gobbler fires off around 80 yards away. A friend of mine has been sending me photos and such of how they were entering the field and gave us a perfect reference point. I would wait for old boy to hit the ground and Walk right to Corbin's Jake decoy he named Jakey, and the hen decoy.
About 15 minute to when I would expect the turkey to fly down I hear a twig snap to my right. I tell Corbin not to move because if it was a deer we didn't want it to snort and alert the whole woods. I see a guy walking about 35 yards away with a strutter decoy. I whistled to him and waved. He looked right at us and continued to set up his decoy. I gave a few quick cuts on the mouth call to try and ensure he knew that we were there. He payed us no mind. Over the next 5 minutes he and his hunting partner must have made 25 fly down cackles that sounded like the hens were jumping from Giant Sequoia Trees, beating his leg as if he was flapping at the speed of a humming bird. His partner sounded as if his box call had not seen chalk since 1988. I would give a few tree yelps and cuts in between. Corbin asked me "Dad? Why is the turkey only gobbling when you call?" "I dunno bud." I replied. I was hoping this to be a slam dunk hunt to pick Corbin's spirits up from the youth hunt where we had a hunter blow up our hunt, and again he had the same experience. Corb got to watch the gobbler fly down and head to our left. The bird gobbled once when I cut at him, then the other hunters broadcast what could only relate to a Beaver Stadium attendance of hens screaming at the bird. I knew the guy was only trying to ruin our hunt. I told Corbin, that what real turkey hunters do when someone is already set up is leave as quietly as they can, and find another bird. I told him that these guys were only trying to ruin our hunt, and that our best move is to get out of there and be the better hunter. Corbin asks "Dad, why do these goofballs do this stuff?" I replied, "Corbin, They get so hung up on the killing part that they do remember their ethics and morals. Guys like this can be dangerous. Sure I wanted you to get a bird buddy, but we are not going to risk our safety to do so.
He was bummed but was still excited to hear the gobbler, and see one. We then went to another property we had permission to hunt. It was very windy but worth a quick sit. I could tell that Corbin was getting tired so we sat down and I hit my glass call to try and cut through the wind. I was answered by multiple birds together but they were pretty far away on a neighboring property that we did not have access too. I knew that these birds most likely had hens, and being that Corbin was tired I knew that it would be a while before these bird would be what i considered huntable. We made our way back to the car and Corbin found a doe skull in the leaves. He was pretty pumped and it lightened his spirits a little.
We go to the next property and he had fallen asleep in the car. I decided to just let him nap as the birds were most likely with hens. I stood outside listening while he took a nap. I let him sleep for a half hour or so them woke him up. I let him play his Pokemon Go app on my phone as we walked to our next set up. When he is older I won't be allowing him to be playing on electronics, but this app is cool because it works as you walk. Really takes his mind off of the walk when he is trying to catch pokemon. LOL We got set up and after around a half hour I could hear a hen making her way towards us yelping away. I told Corb not to move and keep perfectly still. I told him to get his gun ready in case a gobbler was folling here. She made her way right up to our decoys and then postured and purred at the hen around 20 feet away. Corbin was super still and very excited. No tom was following here but it gave me confidence that he could sit still if one comes in.
After her initial attack on our decoy she hung around for about 45 minutes but no tom's came into my calling. We went home empty handed but Corbin was still excited to be out.
DAY 2 Monday April 29th
I took Monday off and hunted a piece of private land. It was a chilly 29 degrees when I closed the car door. The night before I roosted a tom and was pumped. The tom was on a point and I was hoping to call him in. I set up about 80 yards away from him. He was hammering to my calls. He hit the ground, and went down over the point. He shut up about 6 minutes after flying down. I made a move out to a powerline that was close to the point. I could bring him in to around 80 yards or so but he would not come closer. I believed he was with a hen. I took a quick loop around the upper end of the property but never got an answer. The week before corbin noted about all of the litter lining both sides of a public road that split the property. I decided since the birds were henned up I would do so clean up to help the property owner. I brought some bigger trash bags with me. "THE PLAN" was to kill that bird then clean up, but since I had time and the I'd most likely mess up the birds I decided to clean up and listen for lonesome toms while I picked up trash. Boy did I ever. Here is a youtube clip I put together on the clean up. I put it on Facebook as well and was surprised at how many people share the video and how many views it had. It is up to just about 31,000 views. I think this is great that other share the views that I do. Sure I would rather be hunting, but cleaning up litter on a property you have access too is a great way to pay back the land owner for letting you hunt their property.
I am not a big you tuber kind of guy and mainly upload videos to share with you guys.
Day 3 April 30th
I was greeted with a beautiful sunrise on day 3. I hit up some public ground near my house. Very quiet that morning. I couldn't be positive but I may have heard 1 bird off in the distance. Still better than sleeping in and the sunrise made the trip. I missed that view as it had been nearly a year since I had laid eyes on it.
Day 4 May 1st
I had slept in Day 4 as the weather had said it was going to rain pretty bad. I woke up to no precipitation and only a light mist as I walked to my car to go to work. ARGH! I now learned no matter what to wake up and at least check on the weather before not setting an alarm.
Day 5 May 2nd
I lucked out an did not have to get the kids ready so this meant I could go back to the bird I was after on Monday. I knew the general area he wanted to be in and I would set up on the bench below him. At 5:42 he let out his first gobble. I just waited a while and decided to do a few tree yelps to try and zero him in on my location and let him know a hen was near. He gobbled very excitedly. I did a few more then shut it down. It was getting to be about that time so I did a fly down cackle and smacked my hat against my leg and then the leaves. He hammers and I am thinking it is GAME ONE BABY! When I did that a hen started to do a few yelp to my right. He explodes with like 6 gobbles in a row. I was pumped As I was set up off to the left of her and in my mind he would land in front of me to greet her.
The tom flew down but at a 45 degree angle from his roost about 30 yard straight in front of the hen. He was about 50 yards from me, but in a little bit of thick cover. I tried a few excited cuts to turn him, but he knew where he wanted to go. About 10 seconds after he hit the ground, his hen flew right over to him. She did a few cuts and excited yelps at me but nothing I could do would make here leave her man. OK buddy now I gotcha. I had high hopes for the next days hunt as I had the X where these birds meet.
Day 6 May 3rd
This morning I had it in my head that it was going to be the day. I decided I would go right to the x where the birds met yesterday and set up. I put out a "Jakey" Corbin's Jake decoy on a trail where the two lovebirds met yesterday. It was before light and I was full of confidence. I would only make a few soft yelps to let the bird know I was there, and let mother nature be the reason he would die. I set up under a big pine tree and was confident he would be flopping by 6:15. I had the perfect set up in my mind, and it was going to be a perfect morning.
Well 3 minutes after I sat down I hear " FFtttttttt" Oh no!!!! "FFttttttt....GOBBLE-OBBLE-OBBLE!!!
He was roosted about 25 yards in front of me. DANGIT!!!! I hate when you end up setting up that close. This bird was hot and hammer off about 150 gobbles. Every 30 seconds he would rip. Man the excitement was brewing. He only had to open his wings and fall to be right where he was yesterday. I decided that I would not make a sound. I was watching him on his limb strutting, spitting, and drumming and gobbling like crazy. It was awesome to be that close, but It always ends badly for me. I could tell he was getting ready to fly down, but he turned around on the limb and faced the other way. I was trying to decided if I should do a few tree yelps and try to turn him around or not. I had not heard from his hen all morning. I decided that I would just sit tight.
He flew out and across the ridge that was perpendicular to me onto a bench. I knew then I was in for a tough hunt for the morning. After he gobbled a few times, I did a fly down cackle to try and convince him that his hen was just playing hard to get. He double gobbles. I did some excited cuts and yelps, and he hammers off again. He was coming in and I figured he would be flopping soon. But he hangs up on the edge of that bench at 60 yards or so. I couldn't get him to break the crest and commit so I just shut up. He would come in to around 50 yards but out of my view. He would then walk out to around 80. I would call and he would come back again to 50. I decided to shut up and see what happened. He started desperatly gobbling to bring me to him but he was unsucessful. He would continue this for about 15 minutes. I gobbled at him a few times which really set him off. He came in that time gobbling every other second. I shook as I thought He was going to be toast. NOPE!! I shut up and he worked away. I decided this time since he gobbled farther away I would make a move to get on his level. I snuck out to the tram road to try and sneak up to the same level as him on the ridge. His hen was roosted 5 yards from my Jake decoy and blew out of there. Needless to say the tom went silent.
Man this season has been a wild ride so far, but an amazing amount of fun. Tomorow I am planning on hitting some different ares and letting that tom off the hook for a little while. I will try to get more updates on as they happen but it is awfully tough to find the time. Thanks for the read and Ill keep you posted.