Calling 'em Close - Sometimes

Next on the docket was another youth turkey hunt that was just starting back in our home state, so off we went. However, we had a dickens of a time getting turkeys interested in what we had to offer. The turkeys were very wary and the only turkey we called in close in the 2 days of hunting was a single hen. This particular hen actually hung around our decoy spread for over an hour. Her presence gave us high hopes that by having her as a live decoy, a tom just might make its way to us, wrong. Over the course of 2 days we did see several toms but never had one come closer than 120 yards. All the toms were very leery of our calling and/or decoys and continually ended up moving further away.

 hen turkey  tom turkeys wandered off

          Fun to watch this hen work our decoys                     Toms just wandered away time and time again

It seemed that the pressure from the limited entry turkey hunt that had just ended was the reason for the skeptical turkey behavior we observed. So given the unsuccessful tactic of calling in turkeys, we tried to pursue and ambush them on several occasions but never could quite close the distance before getting busted.

Dejected after a couple of disappointing days, it was time to head for home. We were driving down the highway not too far from where we had been hunting when, as luck would have it, we spotted some turkeys in a clearing near the edge of a stand of trees and brush. It wasn’t a quick decision to try another ambush attempt since we had recently failed several times before, but after some debate we decided to give it one more try – it worked! We made a u-turn and pulled off the road out of sight of the turkeys. Our 30 minute sneak allowed us to approach the flock from behind because of a perfectly situated brush hedge. At 25 yards from the flock, Daxton peered up and over the brush, picked out a shooter and blasted an unsuspecting jake! Even though our preference would have been to call a turkey into our decoys, we were more than satisfied to have resorted to the ambush technique in order to get it done.

 Merriam's turkey 

                 Persistence paid off with a nice turkey 

Now that the 3 day youth season had ended, my youngest son was up next. He was determined to get it done even though it meant going at it alone since the rest of our schedules were full. Carson braved some less than ideal conditions. He hunted up high without any luck and finally settled into a place a ways below the snowline.

 turkey hunting in the snow  a couple of mountain goats

      Hunting the high country was a bust                But saw some mountain goats up high

Early one morning of patient calling, he brought a tom into within 20 feet of him! He had heard the tom call 30 minutes earlier but was surprised when the turkey came walking right past him and toward the single hen decoy. Tucked into the brush without a ground blind, Carson was pinned and didn’t dare move. As the turkey moved a little further away Carson slowly raised his 12 gauge, but the sound of the safety clicking off caused the tom to scurry. Carson hurriedly took a shot but only grazed the turkey. However, as the tom took flight Carson downed the bird with his next shot!

 Merriam's turkey 

             Tom came in almost too close, but got it done 

Finally it would be me who’d be last to connect with a bird here in our home state. But none of us ever would have guessed that I’d be treated with a banded turkey! What a surprise since there had been several days where I never saw a single turkey, let alone a banded one. I did have one close incident a couple of days earlier when I called in a gobbler. I was positioned on a relatively steep hillside over looking a clearing below where my decoy stood. Over to my left a tom gobbled in response so I readied for a shot. A couple of minutes later the tom was walking 15 yards directly behind me making his way across the completely open sidehill. From a hunter’s perspective it seems that turkeys often find a way to approach safely and here again there was no way to turn and shoot without losing my footing on the slippery marble-covered hillside. Resisting the temptation to move I waited, but the gobbler slowly slipped away unscathed. But after several days of striking out things finally worked out when I was able to drop my turkey with a 35 yard shot! And much to my surprise this turkey had a band, the first in my 20 year turkey hunting career!

 6 point bull elk antler shed  banded turkey

      My 1st shed of the year, a nice 6 point elk shed            1st year I've heard of a banded turkey & I shot one