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Featured 2017 Spring Turkey: Part 1 – A Double and a Limbhanger

Discussion in 'BlueDogs Blog' started by bluedog, Apr 8, 2018.

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    Who writes a spring turkey hunting story in November (and posts it the following April)? That would be me. This is called catching up after a busy busy summer on the farm.

    The 2017 spring turkey season brought a bit of a change of pace. This was the first year of the staggered start of spring turkey season in the state of Ohio. My farm is located in the newly created northeast zone where spring turkey season would open one week later than the rest of the state and also close one week later. I am a HUGE fan of this change and this made my anticipation for the 2017 season even greater.

    A couple weeks before opening day I spent several hours fixing the homemade ground blind that sits along the back edge of our main crop field. The blind is basically a wall of downed limbs that encompasses the area around a few trees at the field edge. It is big enough for two hunters to share. The blind had been neglected for a couple years but this year I really made sure to spend time and build the walls back up to a respectable height that would conceal two hunters if two hunters chose to hunt together.

    As chance would have it, my husband and I both had opening day free. As daylight was breaking on the 1st of May, we found ourselves sitting in the ground blind together and listening to the woods come alive. Since I am writing this down several months later some of the details of the hunt are a bit foggy. I know we set out 2 or 3 decoys, something we rarely do. I believe it was a jake and 2 hens. The weather was drizzly and gray. We took turns calling but there was not a whole lot of turkey talking going on. An hour after sunrise the fun started. Turkeys in the field! I knew that at some point turkeys would show up but that first glimpse always startles me. The group came from my neighbor’s field to our left and entered our field about 50 yards out. 6 hens and 3 jakes were followed by 3 mature gobblers strutting along at the back end of the line of 12 turkeys. This never gets old. Never. Ever. The birds gave a passing glance to our decoys but they were on a mission to cross the field and never came in gun range. About 100 yards from us on the other side of the field they set up a mingling area. Why those turkeys wanted to mingle over there and not closer to where we were sitting, well, only the turkeys know the answer to that one. I do know we enjoyed the show they were putting on immensely.

    Prior to the hunt we had discussed how much fun it would be to double. In turkey hunting this means two hunters each shooting a turkey at or close to the same time. We had never doubled before. We also had discussed that we would not shoot jakes on opening day. 15 minutes after the main flock of turkeys had set up in their mingling area, 3 jakes walked right past our decoys and 15 yards from the ground blind. They didn’t stay long and we didn’t even think about shooting them. The jakes walked over yonder and started mingling with the others.

    15 minutes after that, 3 more jakes appeared and walked into our decoys. This group was different. They really liked our decoys. They circled them. They talked to them. One of the jakes strutted for them. The minutes went by and those jakes would not leave. My husband and I were about 5 feet apart on opposite sides of the blind so precise communication was impossible. It turns out that our minds were working in synch which is something that happens often when a couple has been together a long time. The mind games went something like this: Nope not going to shoot a jake on opening day. But we’ve never doubled and that would be so cool. Nope not going to shoot a jake on opening day. But we’ve never doubled and that would be so cool. Nope not going to shoot a jake on opening day……..

    The jakes stayed in our decoys for at least 15 minutes maybe closer to 20 minutes. The show they were putting on was spectacular. And then from the corner of my eye I saw my husband slowly raise his gun. I smiled. He wanted to double. So did I. Between the mingling group and the turkeys in front of us, there were 9 jakes in the field. The previous spring had been a good hatching season. The time was right. BOOM! My husband’s gun roared and one of the jakes dropped to the ground. As usual the others were confused. I couldn’t shoot immediately because my view was obstructed by some brush. Then I did something stupid. I knew it was stupid but in true human form I did it anyway. One of the jakes moved just a bit toward the clear area but it wasn’t totally in the clear. There was still a bit of brush in my way but the brush was a bit thinner. Surely I could shoot a turkey through that brush and so I shot which really just pissed off the jake I was aiming at causing him to run around in circles. That led to me emptying my gun at the running turkey. Well it wasn’t neat and pretty like you see on TV but I did get that turkey. My husband was thrilled at our first double. For myself I was a bit too angered by my own stupidity to be quite as happy as he was. In any case our first double makes for a good memory.

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    Both of us had to work the rest of the week but one week later, there we were together sitting in the ground blind and listening to the woods wake up. The details of the morning are really lacking in my mind except for the events directly involved with turkeys showing up in the field. I know I had set out one jake and one hen decoy. I know we both were calling intermittently trying to get a turkey to answer. I also know that the birds did not show up until about an hour later than they did on opening day and the group was much smaller in number. My husband was on the left side of the blind and I was 5 feet away on the right. Two jakes appeared in the field suddenly to the left and only 40 yards away. I knew my husband had been snoozing but I was prepared. I had strategically placed a small thin dead branch on the ground between the two of us. I called this the poking stick. I reached my hand down, picked up the poking stick and lightly jabbed my husband in his side. Afterwards he said he thinks he woke up and saw the turkeys at the same time that I poked him. Either way the sight of the two jakes had us fully awake. The jakes heads shot up, they put on the brakes and started putting loudly. They turned and walked into the woods to our far left side and disappeared. When they were out of view, my husband and I moved closer together to talk. Did they spook at the decoys? Or did they see us moving in the blind? My husband thought he had seen some other birds with them in the woods that I could not see from my angle.

    Whatever the case was, I really had to pee and since those turkeys were obviously spooked and left, this seemed a good time. I also thought I would walk out in the field and take down the jake decoy in case that was the problem. When I stepped out of the blind, my husband frantically started shushing me to get down. He could see turkeys moving through the woods behind our blind. We both froze for a couple minutes and didn’t see anything more. We went back to the business of emptying our bladders and then I walked into the field and took down the jake decoy but left the hen. Then the two of us settled back into our respective spots in the ground blind.

    5 maybe 10 minutes top bazingo! There were those turkeys back in the field to our left in the exact spot they showed up before. No frickin way! It was crazy but it was true. This time they walked right into the field with no hesitation. The two jakes in the lead, then two hens and a strutting mature gobbler bringing up the rear. They marched across the field from left to right. I knew it was too far for my 20 gauge but I was thinking that my husband’s 12 gauge should be able to handled the distance with no problem. Besides the turkeys would be in his shooting lane first and that shooter always has the first shot if the turkey is in range. Just like the week before from the corner of my eye I could see my husband raise his gun. He shot and the gobbler at the back of the line dropped. It wasn’t until we got up and made our way to the turkey that we realized what a prize this gobbler was. He was a true limbhanger with curved spurs nearly an inch and a half long. It takes at least 4 years for a turkey to grow spurs this long and 4 year old turkeys are not very common in the wild. I was so excited for him and so excited that we got to share the hunt together especially the craziness of the turkeys showing up, leaving and then coming back minutes after we had been up and moving around. I shouldn’t really be surprised though as craziness and turkey hunting go hand and hand.

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    With my husband tagged out, he was free to get to the business of farming. I on the other hand spent nearly three weeks chasing after a turkey to fill my second tag. Part 2 next.
     
    PeteM, rack addict, Sgt Fury and 3 others like this.
  2. Bryan six

    Bryan six Staff Member Super Mod Mod

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    That's was definately worth the wait blue!! Glad the choice was made to save them till now, the first part had my heart racing, can't wait to read part two!!

    :yeahthat:
     
    bluedog likes this.

  3. Great story blue. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
     
    bluedog likes this.
  4. Nice job Blue. Way to get everyone excited for the upcoming season.
     
    bluedog likes this.
  5. Great read! Congrats!!
     
    bluedog likes this.
  6. Part 2 is written. I'll post hopefully this weekend when I have time.
     
    ya13ya03 and Bryan six like this.