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A dirt nap for Tom...

bowhunter1023

Administrator
Staff member
44,744
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Appalachia
My turkey hunting career is short and rather undistinguished; best defined by my ability to nap in the spring woods. And that’s when I actually get out of bed in the mornings! I’ve often said that I turkey hunt, I’m not a turkey hunter. I started turkey hunting about five years ago and to date, I can count on one hand the total number of hunts I’ve been on. I hate getting up early if it’s not November, and I could have cared less about killing a turkey prior to yesterday. After the events that unfolded yesterday morning, I might have to reconsider that philosophy and come to grips with discovering yet another addiction!

This hunt started on Sunday night while checking trail cameras, yet another addiction of mine! After checking cams and doing some quick scouting for treestand locations, Tracie and I stopped at the barn to visit with my parents for a little bit. While we were standing around, the neighbors began playing an owl call over a set of loud speakers in an attempt to roost turkeys. The first few calls were quickly dismissed as an actual owl, then I realized what was going on when I heard a long beard sound off on the ridge about 600 yards away. That single gobble hit a primal nerve inside that sent me in to hunt mode. Minutes later, I was standing on the point just off our back hay field listening to two different birds hammer away while readying to roost for the night. Despite my limited knowledge of turkey hunting, I felt the closest bird had roosted in a location that would make a killer set up the following morning. On the way back to the barn, all I could think about was what happened to my lost decoys. “Damn. I’m gonna have to run into town and pick up some decoys!” was all that came to mind. So at 9PM on Easter Sunday, I was Wal-Mart bound to pick up some dekes. The hunt was on!!!

The alarm sounded at 5AM the following morning and one look outside sent me back to bed. There was no way I was going out in that torrential down pour! When the alarm sounded again at 7AM, I woke up to a bright, beautiful morning and thought to myself: “I wasted another opportunity at killing my first bird.” It didn’t take me long to shake it off because after all, I’m not a turkey hunter right?!? Later that afternoon while mowing the yard, I glanced towards the vacant field next to our house and saw a lone hen feeding around as content as could be. “I should head out in the morning before I take off for the courthouse…” That same thought was running through my mind all night as I tossed and turned, unable to sleep. For some reason, it felt like the night before a big deer hunt and as it often does on those occasions, sleep eluded me. The alarm sounded at 5:15AM and something strange happened, I got out of bed, gathered my hunting gear, and hopped in the Jeep! “Huh. I must want to kill a turkey or something!” I thought to myself as a pulled out of the driveway and headed towards our farm. “Maybe today will be the day…”

“First things first, head for the point and throw out some hoot owl calls and see what responds…” I thought as I cut through the hay field in the breaking dawn. I made a few calls that seemed to fall on deaf ears. “What now?” I wondered. Not having a bird roosted and no real knowledge of how turkeys use our farm in the spring, I decided I would head for the location I had in mind Sunday evening after hearing those birds hit the roost. The set up would be in the middle of a 200’ x 750’ bottom field that is situated between two east/west ridges. The plan was to sit the decoys on a hump in the middle of the field and face the ridge to the north where the birds had roosted Sunday night. I broke out the She-Mobile decoy and picked a spot about 15 yards in front of a bush I panned to use as cover, and stuck her in the ground. As if on cue, a long beard hammered from his roost near one of my food plots on the ridge north of me. I was 150 yards south, and 200 yards west of his location, so I knew I needed to make an adjustment. I figured I was better off facing north since he would enter the field from the north, so I decided to stay tight to the hillside on the south edge of the bottom. I grabbed the hen deke and hustled down the bottom about 150 yards before finding a large elm tree with a briar bush behind it to nestle in next to. I set the dekes up about 20 yards in front of my set up and settled in to see what would happen.

Within a few seconds of sitting down, he gobbled again. I broke out the Primos A-Frame Double Bat Cut diaphragm and threw out a few soft tree yelps. He sounded off again. “Sweet! He knows I’m here!” One more gobble prompted another set of tree yelps from me. Thinking back to the advice Joe gave me, I was coaxing him to gobble in order to make me call, not calling in order to make him gobble. I decided it was time to heed his other advice, so I played the silent game for a few minutes. After was seemed like an eternity, he gobbled again from the roost. I busted out the Primos Jackpot and cut a few times before rolling over into a few sharp yelps. A few silent minutes went by and all of a sudden, three loud gobbles in rapid succession. He was on the ground and had cut the distance big time! I decided to throw a few more yelps his direction with the A-Frame in an effort to help him pinpoint my location, and then I hit the mute button again. A minute or two later, I finally saw him moving through the woods directly across from me. He was 50 yards east of my decoys in full strut and he was headed our way! It was at this point, I really began to feel the rush and noticed something I’m familiar with, buck fever! But now it was long beard fever!!!

He was strutting all over the hillside, but he was working east and getting further away from my set up. I waited for him to turn towards the dekes, and then I threw out three light clucks under my breath. He instantly came out of strut, stretched his neck out and pin pointed the dekes. After almost five minutes of watching him strut on that hillside, it was like I hit the right button and he started to come in on a string! He worked to within 75 yards of the dekes, dropped off the hill, flopped across the creek, and pitched up into the field a mere 60 yards out. The instant he hit field, he went into full strut mode. He’d work right to left, and then come straight at me a few steps. Then right to left, and then straight towards me. Not having a turkey choke in the Benelli, I needed him 35 yards or closer before I could shoot. He had worked himself into the middle of the dekes and was 30 yards out when he turned to face me one last time. The Benelli lit up the quiet spring morning and folded that old tom where he stood! I came unglued!!! I was fist pumping, hollering, laughing, and enjoying the hell out of myself while he put all he had left into his death flops. Finally! I killed a stinking long beard!!! And the entire hunt lasted 25 minutes! Not bad for the first hunt of the year!!!

After a few phone calls and some text messages, I said to a buddy of mine: “You know, I’ve always said I turkey hunt, I’m not a turkey hunter. But that just changed! I see what all the hype is about now!!!” The last thing I needed was another addiction, but damn if that was not exciting! It’s not bowhunting whitetails, but now I know how I want to spend my free mornings in late April, early May!!!

Final measurements were 1" and 7/8” on the spurs; 11" beard and he weighed in at 21 pounds on the dot.



 

Huckleberry Finn

Senior Member
15,973
114
Nice first bird and as always a great writeup Jesse. You really know how to put us against the tree next to us and experience the hunt with you. Thanks, and congrats!
 

Jackalope

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HAHAHA Awesome Dude! You called me a little after 7 and I was still in bed.... Most times i would not have answered.. But for Jesse to be calling me this early outside November something must be wrong... I answered the phone and jesse was going a mile a minute! He sounded like he just finished running from every 5-O in Washington county. lmao.... Awesome hunt dude. Sounds like you pulled him off his normal routine that morning. Way to get it done..
 

aholdren

Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
4,892
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South East Ohio
Great story and welcome to the club. You never thought that your heart could beat so damn hard in your chest from a turkey did you? The great thing is you got to see the SHOW.... and you did it by yourself...... Congrats buddy.
 

Gern186

Senior Member
Supporting Member
8,349
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NW Ohio Tundra
Good story, felt like I was right there with you. I'm glad you got to see the full display of behavior that a gobbler can provide. You got the full effect....that's an experience you will never forget and one that will have you hooked on turkey hunting.
 

RedCloud

Super Moderator
Super Mod
16,823
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Somewhere OHIO
Great story buddy. I can hear the excitement in those words and that is great.

Congrats on a very nice bird and a successful hunt. Another one to add to the ol memory banks :D.
 

hickslawns

Dignitary Member
Supporting Member
35,253
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NW Ohio
Congrats Jesse! I need to quit reading about this turkey hunting crap. I don't need another hobby. It sounds addicting.
 

TripleA88

*Supporting Member*
Finally! Awesome story and pictures.

"I was coaxing him to gobble in order to make me call, not calling in order to make him gobble."
I think this is the best piece of advice for hunting a long beard. You got to make them work for it and if it works, it'll drive them bat shit crazy.

Congrats :)
 

Jackalope

Dignitary Member
Staff member
33,415
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Finally! Awesome story and pictures.

"I was coaxing him to gobble in order to make me call, not calling in order to make him gobble."

I think this is the best piece of advice for hunting a long beard. You got to make them work for it and if it works, it'll drive them bat shit crazy.

Congrats :)


Just learned that last Friday... Some turkey junky from Catawba showed me that. ;)
 

bowhunter1023

Administrator
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Appalachia
Thanks fellas!

It was definitely a rush. Like I said, it's not bowhunting whitetails, but it is definitely the kind of rush I love to experience. When I saw him commit to crossing the creek, it was like: "Holy shit, this is going to happen!" My reaction was priceless when the shot went off and he folded! LOL! Sadly, no one was there to witness it. If it had made TV/video it would have been one of those Stan Potts, over-the-top reactions that would have had everyone saying: "Ninja please!" :smiley_crocodile: