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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Missouri is one of those places that makes tagging out a little tough:

- The 2-bird Spring season only runs from April 15 - May 5

- You can only shoot 1 bearded bird daily

- The hunting day ends at 1PM

- If you kill a bird the first week of the season, you can't shoot your second until the second week of the season

BUT...owning land there is a definite advantage and allowed for planning around a tough situation.

Today, at 6:04 AM, I shot my second Missouri gobbler, ending my 2019 season there with one bird down on opening day and a second on closing day. It also officially makes this the best turkey season I've ever had with 6 total birds in the freezer across 4 different states.

The Friday before this hunt, I took my 7 year-old son to hunt with me. We roosted birds and stayed in our camper to set up for a morning hunt. However, things got complicated when the birds decided to roost in a tree just over 100 yards from my blind. Worse, my boy got his foot stuck in mud, and in his panic to free himself, he pulled his foot out of the boot and took a spill into said mud.

With his warm clothes now all soaked and filthy, and the birds simply too close to the blind to access with a small kid, I decided to just open the camper window and set up decoys right outside of it so he could stay in his sleeping bag in the morning...and it *almost* worked out. We had a pair of gobblers get within 44 yards, but I wanted them inside of 40 to feel good about the shot with hens hanging nearby, too close for comfort. It made no sense to risk an inadvertent hen kill, but it also cost us the only chance of the day.

While my son had fun seeing birds come in close, the early wake-up tuckered him out. So, I went out solo for closing day and roosted birds the night prior. AGAIN, the birds roosted in a tree just 110 yards from the blind. The large cottonwood to the left of my blind is where they were perched overnight - getting in there undetected was a tall task:



However, we had a new moon and a pitch black night. I made the call to sneak out all of my gear and decoys with no headlamp and set up everything up exactly as needed in the blind the night prior. If I spooked the birds at all, they would have hours to settle down. It also cut the noise this morning down drastically.

It felt like a perfect, silent approach to the blind in the morning dark, but the proof as to whether the birds' senses were eluded would be in where they flew down. With the birds that close, I did no calling before their flight, opting to let the decoys do the work. When they did come down, just 15 minutes into legal shooting time, the hens and Toms flew *directly* at my blind and landed just before the decoys at 28 yards! Now it was just a matter of picking a gobbler and placing a shot. I got on the heaviest bearded bird and let loose when he strutted right into my crosshairs. The Benelli SBE3 loaded with #6 Winchester Long Beard XR 3.5" shells hammered him and he was down for the count.

The Tom ended up have a 9.5" double beard and the longer spur measured 1+1/4" (shorter was 1+1/8"). I uploaded the hunt footage for your viewing pleasure:






I wondered why his beard looked so thick. Well, it turns out that he had two of them.



Not a bad way to close out the season. I still have one more tag in Nebraska, but I'm not sure if I have the energy to go for a 7th bird. Regardless, this has been one heck of a fine season.
 

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Congrats and thanks for sharing all of your hunts with us!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Congrats and thanks for sharing all of your hunts with us!
Thank you, dpms, and no sweat! Sharing with you guys makes my home stomping grounds in Eastern PA seem not so distant. In the end, we're all chasing the same stuff and I love reading everyone's hunts on here in kind.
 

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Congrats!!
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Nice story. Thanks for sharing. Your having a great season!

As are you, buddy! Great second bird you bagged in PA. I was in the camper when you posted your hunt report but just saw it. Very nice job!

I have to see if I'm going to go back out for another Nebraska bird or not, but part of me just wants to call it good. Even though these hunts have been pretty fast, I'm getting older and can't find the energy the way I used to.
 

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Best of luck out there, Born2Hunt! Get it done. Some of the biggest Easterns I’ve ever seen were in eastern OH. Do you have some birds scouted?
Been there 4 days already Took a break to get my 2 PA gobblers. I just go to the same place every year for many years. A 2 mile walk back in. It is going to be timbered this Summer and I will be 74 next year and looking for a place with a shorter walk as the terrian is becoming more challenging.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Been there 4 days already Took a break to get my 2 PA gobblers. I just go to the same place every year for many years. A 2 mile walk back in. It is going to be timbered this Summer and I will be 74 next year and looking for a place with a shorter walk as the terrian is becoming more challenging.
Two miles is definitely a significant trudge, even with just a gun and some calls in your vest. Totally worth it to get to a prime spot, but as you note: it only gets harder with age.
 

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Have to get there at least an hour before first light to get my key parking spot on public land and make the 50 minute walk back in to my prime spot. I have been the first in that lot for several years with my same hunting Jeep making the spot and I think every one has left it to me as I have seen no one hunting back in my area for several years. However, there seem to be less turkeys every year. Perhaps the occasional coyote and/or the bobcat that came into my decoys this AM has silenced them somewhat.

A different area of the public land, but the same is true during archery season. A long steep walk there also, probably my last year for that also.

Started hunting grouse there in 1973 when the non resident license went from $20 to $30. Now it is $181 plus $77 for a Non Resident deer and $24 for each Turkey tag....Did get a very nice in OH last year thought.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I hear ya there. I pay a fairly stiff price to hunt my own land as a non-resident in Missouri ($190 for 2x Spring turkey tags and $225 for a Fall Archer's Permit that allows for 2x deer and 2x turkeys), but the quality of the experience is worth it. Honestly, I think that about all non-resident hunts when the experience is simply worth the price, public or private land. You seem to have the same mindset and enjoy the travelling hunts in the same way.
 

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All the years I hunted OH one would think I could qualify for a life time license. Hunted the state of IN for many years until I lost my good hunting buddy there.

I am invited to MO to spring gobbler hunt as several of my buddies still hunt there every spring, but just not enough time to do all things I would like to do. Got a very nice buck in KY last year, but that will probably be my last KY hunt.

How did you come to get the spot in MO?
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
The place in MO I now hunt is a small farm that my wife and I bought back in January. It was the culmination of a years-long search for an affordable, quality hunting property that could have some costs offset by renting the tillable land out for agriculture. I finally found this 52.6 acre parcel in Holt County that fit the bill and, with the wife's blessing, pulled the trigger on buying it.

It's a mix of agricultural fields, mature timber, and thick bedding areas with cedar, grasses and smaller hardwoods. There's a creek, two ponds that hold ducks, a bunch of deer and turkeys, and many other animals around the place (doves, barred owls, bald eagles, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, cottontails, squirrels, racoons, opossums, etc). Best of all, it sits just 7 minutes south of the Loess Bluffs National Wildlife Refuge, which brings huge numbers of transient waterfowl through in the Fall.

As for income/cost offset, 22 of the acres are tillable fields that we lease to a farmer/rancher while we still retain the hunting rights. It's a win-win, as he's put those fields into alfalfa to make hay for his cattle while simultaneously providing me with a sizeable food source for the game animals and some rental income to boot. We bought a 17' travel trailer and set it out there so we can sleep there the night prior and don't have to drive in super early every time we want to hunt it (typically a 1.5 hour drive from home). For what is considered a rather small chunk of land by Midwest standards, the place has been a wildlife bonanza in the very short time that we've owned it.
 

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Nice work and great pics. This was my 27th year hunting the Mark Twain. We ended up killing 4 the first day, and then worked out rear ends off to fill the rest of our tags. More and more hunters every year...
We were able to find prob 200 mushrooms this year tho.
 

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Six-Gun: Sounds like you had and executed a great plan.....

Did you and Fullfan have a lot of rain days on your MO hunts?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 · (Edited)
Nice work and great pics. This was my 27th year hunting the Mark Twain. We ended up killing 4 the first day, and then worked out rear ends off to fill the rest of our tags. More and more hunters every year...
We were able to find prob 200 mushrooms this year tho.
That Mark Twain area looks amazing and I’ll have to make it a point to check it out when I go over to that side of the state. Congrats on getting it done despite the increasing pressure. Where I live in Nebraska is seeing the same trend on a lot of the public areas.

Six-Gun: Sounds like you had and executed a great plan.....

Did you and Fullfan have a lot of rain days on your MO hunts?
Thanks! It took a lot of patience and passing on many otherwise nice properties that just weren’t quite what we were after. You never want that sensation that you settled when it comes to a big purchase like this, so you have to be willing to wait and make sure that it’s just right.

As for rain, it was pretty much dry for most of the season and the days that I hunted. That said, aside from one scouting day, I only hunted 3 days total for both birds, so the sample size is small. There was just a hint of rain the morning of this hunt, but it proved to be beneficial in silencing my footsteps without being so heavy as to turn the field into slop.
 

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We has cold days, windy days and two days it rained all day. Also had two clear and no wind mornings..


See that Missouri Fish and Game just posted up the kill#'s 38k lowest in the past 17 years..
 
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