A Memorable Turkey Hunt from 2008
With less than 5 weeks to go until Ohio Turkey Season opens up on April 18th, today I opened up the cabinet where I keep my turkey calls. It’s time for me to start practicing. I work from home, so I can practice calling just about any time of the day I want to. My wife works outside the home and doesn’t get home till about 6:30 in the evenings, but she never objects if I decide to practice in the evening. She likes to hear the yelps, clucks, and purrs. She has always been very supportive of me hunting and spending time in the outdoors. Now our two dogs, Bullet and Saint…they tend to get somewhat animated when they hear yelps, clucks, and purrs coming out of my mouth, so outside they go. They don’t need to be barking in my face as I’m practicing.
I began to hunt turkeys seriously in the spring of 2008. I had gone turkey hunting several times in previous years, but didn’t put much effort into it. I didn’t call very good because I didn’t practice; didn’t realize how good turkeys could see; was too fidgety; didn’t know anything about decoy placement; and etc. No wonder I never shot a turkey.
In January of 2008, I made the commitment to read up on turkey hunting; watched some videos; practiced my calling; learned strategies for placing decoys and it all paid off. My nephew Todd had just purchased some land the previous year in Indiana, so we decided to hunt his property. We also had permission to hunt part of his neighbor’s farm. After that first morning, I knew I was hooked and would be hunting turkeys until the day I was no longer physically able to do so. My only tiny regret was that I didn’t start hunting turkeys seriously years ago.
On opening day of the 2008 Indiana Turkey Season I was doing the calling and Todd was the shooter. We had a mature tom come in to about 30 yards on an old logging road when he decided to circle around us. Todd never got a shot, but we chased after that bird for two hours; each time getting his attention but never able to get him close enough for a shot. But each time we heard the sounds of gobbles, it certainly provided a steady stream of adrenaline.
We continued to hunt for the next few days with me doing the calling. I called in two more toms during that time, but the birds were never in the right place for Todd to get a shot. On about the 5th day, we headed out in the afternoon to set up on the edge of Todd’s neighbor’s field where we had found a “dust bowl.” We set out our decoys, two hens and a jake, on a knoll and set up just inside the woods. I was set up on Todd’s left about 15 yards away and would be doing the calling. After about a half hour, I had a gobbler responding to my calls. He was slowly working his way towards us from our right. Finally, I saw him. He was about 10 – 15 yards from the edge of the woods and was going to walk right in front of Todd. I watched as the bird crossed in front of Todd and waited for the shot. No shot. I kept waiting and waiting, but no shot. Because of the amount of cover surrounding Todd, I couldn’t tell why he hadn’t shot. But I could see the bird was getting nervous. Finally, Todd’s gun goes off and I see the bird running back in the direction he had come from. I couldn’t believe it...so close. I saw the bird enter a small patch of woods and go into the next field.
I crawled over to Todd to talk to him. Here is where the story gets interesting. Todd was using an old single shot H & R 20 gauge shot gun. The gun originally belonged to my dad, then my brother, then me, and now Todd. He had placed a camo wrap on the gun. As the bird was almost within range, he eased the hammer back. When the bird was in front of him at about 15 yards, he squeezed the trigger but the gun did not fire. He eased the hammer back again; pulled the trigger and again the gun did not fire. The bird by this time was past him to his left near the decoys and acting nervous. Todd discovered why the gun had not fired either time. The camo material had gotten wedged down between the hammer and the firing pin. Todd was able to get the material out, pulled the hammer back for a 3rd time but hurried the shot and missed.
I told Todd the bird was about 150 yards off on the other side of the strip of woods to our right. I suggested he stay put and I would attempt to call the bird back. For an hour I worked on calling the bird. He gradually moved back through the strip of woods into the field where we had our decoys set up. He hung up though, about 70 yards away. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I started calling aggressively. After about 5 minutes of aggressive calling, he started to move away from us but appeared to be circling towards the decoys. I was hoping he was going to come over the backside of the knoll. After another 5 minutes or so, sure enough, there he was. I could see his head and he was moving towards the decoys. The turkey was directly in front of me about 20 yards away and off to the left of Todd. Then BAM! I heard Todd’s gun go off and saw the turkey drop. What an incredible hunt! We had spent just over 2 hours working on this bird; had shot at it and missed it the first time; and was able to call it back for a second shot. What a first bird for Todd. The spurs were 1 1/8 inches; the bird weighed in at 23 pounds; and had a double beard…one ten inches and the other 6 inches.
Neither Todd nor I have matched the weight of that bird, or got another double bearded tom, but every year now we both look forward to the anticipation of hearing a tom respond to our calls and then seeing him up close.
You need to be logged in to comment