Old Club Foot - Fall Turkey

Another fall turkey season is in the books! My grandson and I were able to go out chasing these mostly ground dwelling birds a couple of times. We really enjoy seeing these big wild birds out in nature just as much as we do at the dinner table. It seems like I rarely get enough pictures of the turkeys in their natural habitat since we are often more focused on attempting to bag them for table fare.

 i went hunting turkeys fall hunt  i went hunting turkeys flock

    Hiking in attempt to locate turkeys                          Found the flock through the spotting scope

In our experience calling for turkeys during the fall season doesn’t seem to be as productive as calling to them during the spring. But on our first fall turkey outing, the situation worked out pretty darn well. We spent our first day hiking all over the nearby mountains and valleys trying to locate turkeys but struggled to find any trace of them. It wasn’t until very late in the day that we finally spotted a flock feeding about a half mile away near the edge of some oak brush. Since there wasn’t enough time to reach them before dark, we planned to arrive early the next morning before first light and then try to call them close.

 i went hunting turkeys club foot  i went hunting turkeys injured foot

                        Very unique injury                                              Curious as to how foot injury occurred

We were up early and hiked in the dark until we believed to be close to where we had seen the flock the night before. Our strategy was to lie down flat in the open with a camouflaged burlap layer covering all but our heads; which were propped up slightly so that we could see the surrounding area. This way we’d have the best chance for a shot depending on whether the turkeys chose to fly straight from the roost into the open clearing or if they happened to feed out from the oak brush edge. Just as dawn broke we heard hens calling from their roost, along with a couple of gobbles. While we couldn’t see any roosting trees, we knew they had to be down off the embankment some 80 to 90 yards ahead. We waited in silence. At last it seemed as if the fly-down was about to happen, so in the hopes of arousing curiosity I began to yelp using my mouth call. Instantly we had the attention of the turkeys, hens began to yelp while toms gobbled! Our breaths became shallow, our heartbeats rapid – hopefully we had convinced the turkeys to come join the festivities we had in store.

 i went hunting turkeys with club foot  i went hunting turkeys 10.5 inch beard

            Daxton retrieving club foot                        Never would’ve guessed a 10 ½ in. bearded tom would show

Thirty minutes passed and we still hadn’t spotted a single turkey. Daxton asked if we should leave to go pursue the turkeys that we had heard earlier. My gut feel was to hang tight, so we did. Only minutes later Daxton whispered that he could hear soft clucks and rustling just ahead in the scrub oak, I heard nothing. Intently we continuously scanned the edge of the brush looking for any type of movement. Suddenly two bright red heads popped into view! The curious turkeys obviously noticed our movement as we rose into position for a shot, but their confused hesitation was all that was needed!

 i went hunting turkey tailfan  i went hunting turkey packing out

           With my fall tom turkey                                              Carrying one back to camp

Our next outing was a bit more challenging yet we were ultimately successful. We found a roosting tree and set up the next morning about an hour before daylight and lay shivering until a little past daybreak. The two of us employed the same strategy as our last hunt by lying flat on the ground under burlap. We successfully called the turkeys straight down from the roost to the point where they just about landed right on top of us, literally. But this time instead of being successful, we totally missed our shots at the birds. Our later assessment (or excuse) was that the turkeys were just too close when we popped up to shoot. At one point the turkeys were within 6 feet of us, but had moved off to about 20 feet when we shot. Surely the pure adrenaline rush and excitement played a part during our bungled attempt, but we still never ever should have missed.

 i went hunting turkeys roosted 

                                                   Found them roosted...

It was barely light on the very next morning when we luckily spotted turkeys roosting in a tree hundreds of yards away so the stalk began. But as we closed the distance all the turkeys flew down well before we got close. Sneaking on turkeys is almost impossible, however, there was a little depression (maybe 18 to 20 inches at most) between us and the flock so with few other options we attempted to army crawl close. Let’s be honest, I never thought we’d get to within shotgun range because we had a good 150 yards or more left to cover. Boy was I wrong. As we came to the end of the depression we popped up completely undetected. At just 20 yards from the flock, shots rang out…we had our limit of birds!

 i went hunting turkey limit 

                       2 bird limit each after a long but successful army crawl