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SOMETIMES EASY, SOMETIMES NOT
We have all been there in the turkey woods. Sometimes the Tom turkeys just run into your set up the first time you set up, ie, easy-peasy, but then, and most often, the hunt is just not that easy and you have to put in more time and effort. And the more time and effort you spend unsuccessful, you start asking your self, "will it ever happen", in the time allocated and what might I be doing wrong? Gee, I am using the same tactics as I was last season and hunting the same area, when I was successful. Maybe I need to be more observant and let the turkeys educate me more.
I realized a long time ago, Tom turkeys are not produced in a "cookie cutter" fashion; meaning that they are not exactly identical and they don't do the same as all of the other Toms in the woods, in habitat and time. What one Tom did last week or last year, or even yesterday, can change with another Tom's reaction to the area, his age, other Toms, the hens, where they might roost, the weather, and how they react to your calling and decoy set up. A Tom that is two years old vs.. a three year old Tom, can be a game changer to your success. And then there is the "turkey rut", when many of the Toms are running around with their brains in their pants. But wait, this does not mean they throw "caution to the wind". So there are days that go all wrong, and then there are days in the turkey woods that go, well perfect. On my recent hunting trip back to Nebraska to fill my second license, I had and felt the highs and lows of turkey hunting with the bow in hand. Here are a couple to examples of highs and lows on this second trip.
In trying to get a bird in front of my wife, these past couple of days have been in the “SOMETIMES NOT” column, Paul. The 30-40mph winds sure haven’t helped. Hopefully, the pendulum will swing the other direction in the next couple of days for her.
Super cool pics, BTW!
Congratulations Paul! You da man!
So six days ago, I return to the same area that the Old Man and the Boy (story) were hunting two weeks ago when the Neb. season opened. It took me a day or two of setting up and resetting up, to close the gap where I was seeing turkey activity.. The wind was gusting up to 30 mph so that kept the turkeys in the creek bottoms and among the Cottonwood trees and cover, vs. traveling out into the open adjacent rolling grassy uplands. And while the turkeys were very active, they was also very alert. It seems that not an hour would go by that I did not hear or see a turkey. Hens running here and here with a Tom or two on their trial. I was in the blind and would call, but they did not seem to pay the calling any attention, even when I had eyes on them 100 yards away. I can not remember a more active day and it seems the wind had them isolated to the bottoms and the wind just made them more active because of their numbers. There was no doubt, I was in a hot spot but I was having doubts I could pull a Tom into within bow range.
Then at 4 pm, I hear hens and Tom activity to my right but could not see them because to the thicker under growth. I call loudly on my box call. Again I call and then look out of the right window. Here he comes at 20 yards so I take his picture. I have always wanted to take a picture of a Tom attacking the decoy, so I waited for that and as soon at the attack was over, I would take the Tom with a sharp arrow. Well the Tom did not read the script. He came racing in, attacked the decoys, beat the decoy with his wings and feet, nocked the Jake decoy off the stand, kicked the hen decoy a foot away. Did he stay around for the sharp arrow? Hell no. Matter of fact, I was so engrossed with his attack and it happened so quickly, I never was able to take the picture. But the picture of that attack will be imprinted in my mind.
What a difference a day makes. The wind decrease. The turkey bailed out of the roost trees early and headed for the adjacent grassy highlands leaving me behind. Now I do not mind setting in a blind for up to 6 hrs. I can take a nap, read a book, repack my backpack, trim my nails, take a few camera pictures of wildlife, and just putts around some. Time, sometimes just flies by. Well, not really! If it was not for some reading material and a nap, it would be like being in solidary confinement. Time to move to a different area. A good thing about truck camping is that I am mobile and being there early and late on location, allows me to hear what is going on in the woods. Another great item is that most western states allow sun rise to sun set turkey hunting and knowing that, one can hunt near the roost area in the late PM and even in the AM. I picked two spots on the forth day within hiking distance from the truck camp and one I would hunt in the AM, and that morning found me within 100 yards of a single Tom high in the Cottonwood tree, but at fly down time, he flew down all right but in a different direction. Scratch that morning hunt. Two hours later I was setting up the blind a half mile away where I had heard turkeys the morning before. A good location by the number of turkey scratching in the leaves but a hour before last light, a few hens came into the area and 15 minutes later a Tom show up at sixty yards, gobbles once, did not come to my decoys, acknowledged my calling, but then, and takes his girls away with him. Another low for sure. Time is ticking by.
Some years ago I had an invite to a spot where there was a loud gobbler. Figured out where he was heading, got in early. Crossed an old cart road and got up into the thick stuff. Sat down, settled in and let out a couple soft calls. Gobba-lobba-lobba!!! He's close! He called for about 30 minutes practically non-stop, flew down, and went right down that cart road, out of my sight. Gobbling and trotting past before I could think of a 'plan B'. That nice little bench I was on was a great spot, if I was hunting deer, but turkeys don't care about cover. And the moral of this story is, deer hunting can make you stupid ;-)
This Tom and his girls cross the creek and 15 minutes later, as the sun dips below the horizon, I hear them fly up 200 yards away. I know where I will be in the morning but the problem is that now I have to drive five miles around, cross the bridge, to get on the other side of the creek and to where the turkeys are. The next morning I arrive in the dark and tried to estimate where the roost tree is and then how to get there undetected. I can not set up the tent blind so I will use the Ultimate Predator turkey decoy that attaches to the bow. The darkness is fading and there is no need for the flashlight but I have to be quite. It is very dry and the leaves of last year and many hidden dry limb crunch under foot. I get closer and closer. Yea, the first gobble, and then more and more. There seems to be 3-4 Toms and at least a dozen or more hens. I was only expecting one Tom, so where did the others come from so late last night?
I am close, just 100 yards away. The turkey start to bail out of the trees with a lot of excitement as they hit the ground. A few Toms in strut; many hens start to run around. After a long night in the tree, the party is starting. I hold the decoy in front of me as I edged past a large Cottonwood tree, trying to get noticed by an aggressive Tom. But I get unnoticed and many of the turkeys move out of sight and go in a variety of directions away from me. I keep up the hen yelping for the next ten minutes. We have all heard of saying, "turkey roosted are not turkey roasted", and that was the case at this moment. Wait movement, an interested lone Tom in full strut coming my way and he moves to within 50 yards straining to locate the hen making all of the commotion. I can feel my fingers tightening on the string release. Just a few more yards!
Love the challenge! Keep after them!
looking for hens
looking for hens
Oh, oh, he sees something he does not like. Maybe this Tom is a lover and not a fighter. He turns and is gone in a second. Damn again, another low point in this hunt but at least I am closing in on a good area. A little later I check out the area for a good blind location and then hike back to the truck. I thought about leaving the area and then I would come back in mid afternoon, set up the blind and decoys and wait for the turkeys to return. We have all been in the situation when the turkeys did not return. Worth the gamble but then this thought hit me, "what if when I return later to set up and some of the turkeys or a least one Tom had come back and are nearby? I will just return and set up now and then return later." I gathered up, left the bow behind, and headed back. Crossing the field and entering the wood, I had only gone 100 ft into, I hear a loud gobble coming from the roost area. I stand my ground and see the Tom coming my way as he seems to be looking to hens.. In full strut and gobbling even few minutes, he comes closer but then turns and drifts back the way he had come from and minutes later he was out of sight. Wow, that was a lucky break!. What if I had not come back when I did? I returned to the truck, packed a lunch as it was now only 8 am, picked up the bow, gathered up the blind and decoys and headed for the roost area to be set up by 8:30.
Right on time, back in the blind. Will this be another all day set? I hope not. As usual I used the box call to sent out a few hen cackles and then follow up with a series of hen yelps. Nothing, no response. Fifteen minutes later, the same calling sequence; no response. I pull out my James Patterson book and start to read when a very loud gobble shakes the blind. I slide off the camp chair and onto my knees, position the bow and look in the direction out front, I had thought the Tom had retreated to an hour before.
Without a sound, the Tom appears from behind the blind, comes around the right side and advances towards the Jake decoy only 12 yards distance. He then stands 6 yards away looking at the decoy with suspicion. This Tom is not charging the Jake decoy. Standing full erect, this Tom seems to be ten feet tall! A Texas Heart shot? I had cleared the leaves from the floor of the blind but he was so close, I just knew he was going to hear me preparing for the shot. I drew back and picked a spot, tension on the release trigger, wait, wait, breath, Release!
The large Tom only made it 15 yards before collapsing, the arrow had passed full length of the body, fletching shown at rear, and Mech BH out front. A Texas Heart shot for sure and a grand Tom, also for sure.
Congrats on bird #2 Paul. Always enjoy your hunt stories.
Congrats Paul on another fine gobbler!
Well, it just goes to shows you that if you listen to what the turkeys are showing and telling you, examine the intel, adjust your hunt, use your past experiences, and then keep your fingers crossed, grab a hand full of luck from the lucky bag, a trophy Tom just might appear within your bow range., as happened this morning. Gee, 9 am and now I can go home! PS, Yep, sometimes easy and sometime not so easy.
Atta boy, Paul! No doubt turkeys can be easy peasy and "drive a guy to drink" frustrating! It sure is fun when it all comes together...
Way to go Paul! He's a beauty!
I knew you would win, Paul !
Thank You for sharing another great adventure.
Congrats Paul great bird and great story thanks for sharing plus you mentioned one of my favorite reads The Old Man and the Boy I have the sequel to that I’m getting ready to start on.Good luck Lewis
Outstanding, way to go Paul!
Thanks for the great pics, write ups and taking us along!
Congratulations Paul... way to make it happen. Nice gobbler.
Do you rent out that “lucky bag” out?! It must be pretty big, because you always seem to be consistently lucky! ;-)
Great story, as usual, Paul! Congrats on your second bird as well. Thanks for taking us along.
Troy, Ha! Very, very, large bag. Then I have another bag, full of "preparation". I hope your wife finds some luck. I know she will with you in tow.
Another great recap Paul! Congrats on bird #2!
Great job on another beautiful tom, Paul!
Very nice and still my hero!!! Hunt
Beautiful bird, and awesome write up Paul! Congrats!
Congrats Paul! Great story.
Doesn’t an expandable mess up a lot of meat on a turkey, especially when penetrating the full length?
ready for the pot.
ready for the pot.
Mark, I have killed over 50 turkeys and 100 geese using the same Mech BH, no issue with loss of meat, broadside or full length. This time the arrow hit just rt of the tail attachment, travel up the cavity and came out just to the left of the neck. Pictured is the BH I have used for years which has less than 2 inch cutting width.. Thanks for the question.
Congratulations to Birdman of Bowsite.
Somebody already said it but, you are a legend. Thanks for sharing all your adventures.
Another great adventure and bird Paul, enjoy the "fruits"!
Great job Paul! Enjoyed the story as usual!
Thanks for sharing Paul! How far are you packing your blind?
Hey Dean, how far to pack the 15# blind? For this hunt, 500 yards. For the first hunt in Neb. --1/3 mile. Farthest ever for the T-2 blind--- 1.5 mile. I also carry a backpack, 4 decoys, a folding seat and bow. All total weight==40 lbs OH, then add a 20 lb Tom on the way back :)
Paul! So fun and so rewarding! Thx for sharing!
Thanks Paul you did it again! You make me smile at work! Congrats
Good stuff, Paul. Old Man in Mississippi once told me, "God's three greatest gifts to a man are - fine sipping whiskey, beautiful women and two-year-old turkeys."
Birds we're hunting in eastern Kansas have gotten much more shy of jake decoys, the past two seasons.
Way to go Paul ! Your making us look bad !
What is your preferred way to cook your turkey’s. Any good recipes?
Paul congrats and great recap as always.
Great story and pics, thanks. I’ve arrowed 35 or so and for first time last week, tried a Texas heart shot on a Tom last weekend, with a Magnus Serazor. Wow, was that effective! I had always tried a broadside shot, not a anymore.
Michael, I have to agree with the old man from Mississippi but being from Colorado I will add, bugling elk to that list. Thanks for the reply.
Kelly, I have yet to smoke one or deep roast one in a turkey cooker so. we usually use the dark meat from the legs and thighs, in the crockpot with cream of mushroom soup. Cook it down remove the few bones and ligaments, and then add baby reds, and other vegs. Place over rice or noodles. We bake the breast separately for sandwich meat or if done properly, a dinner meal with a light gravy and potatoes. I have baked a few whole but being wild, they seem to come out too dry even after basting and with bacon strips.
Dale06 This was the very first Texas heart shot I was presented and took, but as you observed is sure puts them down quickly, almost as fast as a spine shot. This ten foot tall Tom at 6 yards was almost unnerving. Almost too close.
Great stuff as usual ! Love it ! Where to next ? ;)
TP, "what is next?" Some Honey Do's, some fishing, and then Pronghorn hunt in Mid August in NW Colorado. Then elk in Colorado, Deer in Nebraska. Unlikely but maybe a moose or Desert Sheep tag here in Colorado, ie, VERY UNLIKELY. Did I say, VERY UNLIKELY. Had a successful Coues deer hunt, in AZ in January, and that is an every other year hunt, and if AZ goes Limited Draw, that might be the end to my AZ hunts.
"you only go around once in life, so grab up all of the gusto you can this time around."
The word “LEGEND” has been used a couple times here, I concur. A legendary Bowsite Archer that still hunts out of his legendary DB blind. Hint.......it ain’t the blind :-)
Nice going Paul. We open in two weeks.
Hey Don, that legendary DB blind was the original and was purchased here in Ft. Collins in the late 1990s when they were being build in Minnesota and one of the local reps showed them at the CBA Banquet. I purchased one and had it shipped to North Platte Neb as I would be turkey hunting there in a week. It arrived but the new UPS driver placed the container on the front porch steps instead of the garage, and some one took it. I contacted UPS and the BD company and they shipped me a new one to a small town in Missouri, my second turkey stop in a few weeks.
Over the years, I have repainted it a few times as the original camo faded, darkened the interior with black fabric paint, replaced both hubs, replaced at least two rods, added another center window on one end, repaired all the rod pockets, repaired the original carry sack. The blind just keeps on giving. I can not shoot my recurve out of it so I purchased a Dark Horse Blind for that. Yep, the Legendary DB Blind is still alive and well. Glad you noticed that. my best , Paul
I have one like it Paul, the first pop up I ever bought. It’s still in pretty dang good shape too, but I haven’t used it in years. I killed my first archery turkey out of that blind !
Looks like your having another great season I agree with the quote unfortunately most of the areas I hunt I can't get to for another season ! So I'll have to hunt through you again this year so scrap that honey do and get back out there lol
Hey TP, (timbrhuntr) Tricia just stated, "if I wanted to purchase a 3rd turkey tag for Nebraska, go ahead" What is a guy suppose to do? All I said was, "YES MA'AM!" (with a slight grin) Maybe a Trifecta in the near future.
Very Nice Paul!! Always enjoy your hunts! Shawn
Oh man that is awesome ! Way to go Tricia !!!!
Prey with feathers, don't stand a chance with Paul...Great job buddy!!!
Life is short kill em all more than anything I hope we get to meet some day Good luck and stay safe Lewis
Congrats Paul and great thread as always. Truly enjoyed it:)