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Spring Turkey Season 2015 was a good one for me and a few friends, as well as a few kids…
Turkeys number 1 and 2…
Opening day I was a guide for the TN One Shot Governor’s Turkey Hunt as I have been for a number of years now…I spent a few days prior to
opening day scouting and had patterned a flock of birds. I was able to pull a couple of toms into range on opening morning for myself and the hunter that I was guiding.
We doubled up, and our birds scored well enough to earn us first place at the banquet that night.
Turkeys number 3 and 4…
David Mathews and I got together the second weekend of season and decided to hunt one of his spots. The blind was already set, we just had to show up and convince a
couple of gobblers to come looking for love…I made some soft calls after hearing a few gobbles..We had a single hen come into the field just after fly down, she
walked past us and crossed the field behind us. Suddenly she came running back to where she had come out, and stood there waiting…it wasn’t a few seconds later that
a couple more hens popped out into the field, followed by a single longbeard. I was able to get a camera angle out of a side window while David steadied for a shot.
He killed that tom while it stood there eyeballing our decoys at 41 yards. We grabbed the bird, did some high fives and jumped back into the blind hoping that a few
gobblers we heard earlier might find their way to our set up. It took about 1 hour, and suddenly there was a single tom walking straight in to our decoys. I had
to turn the camera on first, then wait for him to offer me a clean shot as he roughed up our Dave Smith Strutting tom decoy…the 4th bird of the season died at 8:00
that morning, 25 yards from the end of my gun barrel.
My buddy Terry had been hunting this bird for 2 weeks, and had finally put together a plan to just go in there and kill it. He knew it was going to show up, and we
were going to be there when it did. He told me it was going to be a quick hunt if it came together the way he hoped it would. Daybreak found us sitting in a treeline
separating the 2 fields that this old tom had been using with his hens, and his gobbling gave us the confidence that we had picked the right spot for an ambush.
All we had to do was wait him out. At flydown, 3 hens pitched out into the field to our left, and he gobbled hard on the roost above the field to our right.
It wasn’t but a moment after the 3rd hen hit the ground that I noticed his big red head through the treeline about 85 yards to our right. He would have to walk downhill
and around the point of woods that we were sitting in to get to the hens that were feeding to our left. It would be a fatal mistake…after gobbling on the ground
another dozen times trying to get the girls attention, he finally managed to strut in close enough for Terry to close the chapter on a 4 year old tom that had given
him the slip for almost 2 weeks. I always enjoy seeing a turkey hit the ground flopping, and this one was no different!
I had the opportunity to take a new turkey hunter out this year…he had been seeing a big flock of birds behind his house, but had never ever turkey hunted. One of
the best ways for a new hunter to enjoy the hunt is to make them as comfortable as possible, and for us that included a pop up blind and a couple of camp chairs.
On our frst outing I managed to call 2 huge longbeards in to the strutter decoy at about 18 yards…he was never able to even pull the trigger as the 2 birds stayed
too close together to take a shot. He easily would have killed them both, and in Tennessee we are only allowed one per day. Fast forward a week or so and we are at
it again…the birds were gobbling great and the hens were very vocal as well. They all started flying down and soon I could see the group heading our way. There
were 3 mature toms, and at least a dozen hens and jakes. I continued calling, and finally 4 or 5 of the jakes broke away from the main flock. This being his first
season to hunt, he was only focused on killing a legal bird, and these jakes fit the bill. They walked in to our decoys and he was able to kill one at about 15 yards!
I had never tried fanning or crawling on a turkey while holding the fan of another turkey in front of me to hide behind. I really wanted to give it a shot…one Sunday
afternoon I decided I would give it a go on a private farm that held a number of turkeys on it. I took an old jake fan and set out to try my hand at it…after walking
in to try to locate some birds, I pushed a flock out of their little hideaway in the shade close to their roost area where I had intended to set up. Plan B, run and
gun…I started hopping field to field to locate more turkeys, and I would not be disappointed. I managed to find a flock of toms and jakes pushing each other around
like a couple of groups of boys on a playground. I put the fan out in front of me, and started my approach. As I crawled across the field, the herd of cows decided
they didn’t like what I was doing and began running across the field, and of course directly to the group of turkeys. I paused and waited to see what the turkeys would
do, and saw that a few of them slipped off to my left as the rest of them went away from me being pushed by the cows. I was able to get the attention of the 3 birds
by gobbling with my mouth call and working the tail fan like a strutting tom. It got the attention of one of the jakes, and all of a sudden he decided to start running
directly toward me…the only thing that stopped him from getting right in my face was a hog wire fence that he got hung up at…so I covere the distance to about 25
yards while he went crazy trying to figure out how to get to me. He finally found a spot in the fence to get across, and as soon as he did I pulled the trigger killing
bird number 7 for the season.
Number 8 for the season ended up as one of the most memorable and special hunts I hve ever experienced…My 7 year old daughter wanted to kill her first turkey, and I
out this season to make tha happen. After gaining permission to a small tract of land that I had seen birds on regularly, I made a plan for a Saturday morning hunt.
We were able to watch a big tom fly up to roost the night before, and at daybreak we were positioned in the blind with my 14 year old son running camera and as back up
shooter. The bird did exactly what he was supposed to do, flew down, strutted, gobbled and finally broke…heading our way. When he crossed to our side of the creek he
popped into range right at the decoy. Her first shot it him a bit high in the back, and the bird fumbled and then paused…he stood there and allowed for a second shot,
which also hit him just a bit low…she was so nervous! The bird hit the ground and suddenly popped back on his feet, that is when my son grabbed his gun and knocked the bird
down for the count! The moments after the bird went down were some of the best. From tears of excitement to high fives, the emotions were pouring out! This hunt was
ne for the memory banks for certain!
My oldest son was up to bat for this hunt…we managed to get on a few birds early in the morning but just could not seal the deal…while en route to another property
we spotted a strutter in a field with a couple of hens. David knew the landowner, and quickly we were making a plan to get to this bird. A short time later we were making
our stalk through the woods that bordered the field that he was strutting in. We made our way to the edge of the woods that bordered the rise in the field where we had last
seen the tom strutting, and he wasn’t there! Sitting on our knees motionless, we waited just a couple of minutes, all the while scanning for any sign of him or is lady friends.
I saw movement just over the rise, it was a hen…she was coming over the rise, followed by the other hen that was with her. Not a few seconds later I saw the tail fan
as the big tom was coming with the girls in our direction…when he was in full view, he was pushing 45 yards away. As the hens fed slowly to our right my son was starting
to get a bit impatient, and I had to hold him off the trigger a couple of times. I wanted the tom closer, just to take away any chance of a bad hit. I softly purred a couple
of times, and the strutter slowly came closer, and was on high alert looking for the hen in the woods. I gave him the green light when the tom was at 20 yards, and watched as
the old bird pinwheeled backwards, and started digging his feet in to the cattle pasture pushing himself across the field. I jumped up and without thinking jumped through
the strands of high tinsle wire to get to his bird, finding out real fast that the fence was “hot”, and hollered at him not to try to get over. I grabbed his bird up,
legs covered in cattle crap, and threw it over the fence back to Isaiah. I then had to figure out how to get back across the 6 foot high electric fence without getting
another shock treatment, to no avail!! I went back the same way I had gotten there, only this time it hit me in the chest and back at the same time! It was worth it to see
the smile on his face for killing his biggest turkey ever. Number 9 was a shocking experience to say the least!
I took my girlfriends son out last year on his first ever turkey hunt, and he managed to kill a jake while sitting in the blind with his dad and I in Kentucky. He asked me
if I would take him again this year. My buddy David had a spot that birds had been seen in on a regular basis and would be a perfect set up for us. The 3 of us made our way
to the blind, and it wasn’t long before the regular flock of jakes made their appearance in the field. They were a couple hundred yards away and feeding out into the middle
of the field when I happened to look out the back window of the blind and saw 3 more jakes at 40 yards and coming fast! A quick scramble nside the blind and Jackson was
lining up the bead on the first one in the group…BOOM!! He just closed the deal on number 10!
There were 4 days left in the season, and my 11 year old son was next on the list to try to fill a tag. I took him out to my big farm where there were still plenty of
birds…we heard plenty of gobbes early that morning, but realized that we were gonna have to make a move in order for him to have a chance. After driving further back on
the property we spotted a flock of jakes that I had seen on numerous occassions throughout the season. It didn’t take long for us to swing around in front of them and
get him set up for a shot. He held his composure and shot one of the jakes as they spotted movement and started to leave. He was thrilled to have just taken his 2nd turkey
ever, and I was marking another notch on the belt for the 2015 season bringing the tally to 11 with 2 days left.
Two of my buddies were joining me for a morning hunt on the day before season closed, all 3 of us with 1 tag left in our pockets. We worked hard all morning on a couple
different set ups to mo avail…these turkeys were not playing nice anymore, and once again we decided to make a move to try to make something happen. David had decided
that any legal bird was gonna be good enough to fill his last tag, and when we spotted another big flock of jakes he was anxious to pull the trigger. He rounded the bend
in front of the flock just in time to fill his last tag right before the rain came in to wash out the rest of that mornings hunt. We all parted ways for the day, and later
that afternoon his buddy that hunted with us that morning filled his last tag on a hard headed bird that made the mistake of coming out in the field to dry off from the
earlier rain showers.
I would love to say that I was able to fill my last tag this season, but for the first time in many years I focused my efforts on helping so many other friends and family
succeed that I did not punch that 4th tag. It was not for the lack of trying though, I still had one more day left…and that is a story for another day!