Well, not your typical season thats for sure. Weather all jacked up, havent been able to scout in a couple of weeks because of work. So, being down to 1 week in my hunt with virtually no current patterns to go by, i drew on my knowledge of the land available to me and the areas on it that turkeys have used and ive been succsessful in, in the past.
I started my 2011 turkey season hunting a small 40 acre farm thats been good to me over the years. I dont know what it is about that woodlot, but its a turkey factory most years. So, with full confidence i headed for the field edge and to the ol faithful "killin tree", where i placed a hen and pretty boy in the field before settling in. Not ten minutes into the hunt some hens start filing outta the woods...4 in all, one of which was a gorgeous smokey gray and another had a short beard. I watched them for a good 30 minutes and have about 25 minutes of video on it broke into 2 12 min+ vids. Ill post the second of the two. Just a few mins are good though as the brush between myself and the birds was catching the attention of the cameras focus. Once beyond it it cleared right up. When i get the video up, skip to around the 6:50 mark and you should have clear viewing of the birds. What you missed was a the birds dusting and preening and the smokey gray even fanned out. You can see it on the vid, but its slightly outta focus. When it gets loaded, ill post it up....seen 20 deer, a couple canada geese and a half dozen wood ducks on my hunt...no toms.
So, not having seen or heard a tom from the small section i moved on to a large 160 acre woods i have accesss too thats part of a good 300 acre block if i had to guess. Always lots of turkeys in there, one of my favorite spots to hunt.Unfortunately Ma Nature had some plans of her own and brought on some rain showers along with lots of wind. Made locating birds nearly impossible. I never heard a turkey gobble in any of my sets and only seen one lone hen. So, late morning i decide to hang it up and devote a bit of time into scouting the land on my way back through. Unfortunately for me, i didnt find much turkey sign on the ridges despite theyre being a ton of acorns for them to forage on. I dont believe the massive flooding thats spilled beyond the low lying lands has helped the cause either. Basically runs down the center and cuts off one half of the woods from the other. Very wide. So, i headed down the ridge back to the road. As i stepped in the bottom of the ditch a turkey gobbled acrossed the street about 200 yards in on the neighbors wood lot. Having shot 2 toms in recent years right in that area, i just tucked back in the woods and set up hoping to call him acrossed. He gobbled three or four times and that was it. With the winds gusting to 30 mph i think my calling efforts fell on deaf ears. After giving it another hour i headed for the farm and back to the camper for breakfast.
Went to the same woods and started on the south end and worked my way through the flooded woods and up into some nice beech nut groves where ive had some great hunts. Sat all the way till dark hoping to see or hear something that would give me some confidence, but nothing other than deer and a ton of wood ducks that are nesting in the expanded flooding. Seen one hen in a hollowed out tree. Wish i coulda got a pic of that. Seen a couple of bucks with antlers up a couple inches as well.
So, the next morning i decided to head back to the small farm and give it a go for the morning set. Winds were calm, temps mild, a great morning for turkey hunting. Got there, hit the owl call and the woods acrossed the road erupts with gobbles. Id say a good 5 birds...But, heres my dilemna. I can hunt that side of the road as well, but where the turkeys are is at the back end of a farm field within a high fenced hunting operation. That said, ive killed turkeys at the back of the field near the fence before. So, having not gotten any response from the woods i wanted to hunt, i opted to take my chances and headed down the ditch line and basically hunt the farm field and try and coax them over the fence...A tall order for sure, but hey, they got in there, they can get out right!!! Got over and crawled out into the corn stubble and set up my hen and strutting decoy. The whole time he is already on the ground and gobbling quite frequently. I leaned up against the tree and got on the calls doing some aggressive cutting and yelping on both my mouth diaphragm and my slate call as i figured it would take the "sound of a flock" to get em to come. Before i knew it the hens were fired up and heading my way with gobbler in tow. About 30 yards from the fence all three hens flew single file one after another over the fence. I couldnt believe it. I had the benelli up and at the ready as the tom was sure to follow...or so i thought. Instead, he walked up to the fence and paced back and forth strutting and gobbling. Meanwhile the hens were in the dekes and feeding in the corn stubble and down the field they went to the woods acrossed the road. For a solid hour and a half the tom would go up and down the fence displaying and gobbling his head off before heading back up the sand ridge into the pines. Sat another hour and seen the smokey gray hen again going into a small woodlot about a half mile to the east of where i seen her Friday afternoon. Stuck out like a sore thumb walking acrossed that bright green wheat.
Being the nicest day in awhile i had Dad drop me off at the big woods around 1 pm. Meandered my way in the main road and as i rounded a bend about 500 yds in interupted a hen that was dusting in the sandy trail. So, being at least a sign of some turkeys and being midday, i figured the trail would be a great place to set up. Catch a tom cruising there or coming to dust himself. So, i just got off the road around 25 yds and sat for an hour, calling every 20 minutes or so and keeping an eye peeled....Nothing. Moved back out to the trail and took a logging road off the main trail over the oak ridge and down into the beech groves again. Did allot of glassing and a few calls before venturing down. Didnt hear/see anything and slipped my way in. I set up in an area that has several intersecting logging roads. Figured a tom would be crusing down them looking for a hen this time of day. So, i just sat and called ever so often. After about an hour i did one more calling sequence and waited about 20 minutes before moving on. I walked about 100 yds and a gobble erupted right from the area i was just sitting! I quickly plopped down against the closest tree and gave out a call. Within a couple minutes he gobbled again about 75 yds to the left and directly north of me. A called a coulpe more times but no response. Having seen this before on midday hunts i had a hunch they were on there way silently. Sure enough about 100 yds out i seen the top of a fan pass between two trees heading my way. I lost him through the tangled tree tops from the massive logging over the years and at about 65 yds i spotted not one, but three birds heading at me on a string. One long beard and two jakes. What a beautiful sight to see that big tom displaying. They stopped about 45-50 yds in front of me. A quick survey of the land and obstructions lead me to believe they were going to alter course and go to the right from there, which were not great shot opportunities for me. Id have rather got him much closer, but having a clear view and knowing the capabilities of my gun i felt completely comfortable with the shot presented. So, ever so slowly i raised the gun the few inches needed, put a bead on him and laid the hammer down. It was 3:45 pm and i was one happy hunter standing over my bird. I called Dad to come pick me up at the trail head. I love hunting these things. It was allot tougher hunting than normal and i logged about as many hours as one can over a 2 1/2 day period. It was all worth it.
Some action shots when i was messing around with the Joby Flex Pod