While standing behind an old fence row, a series of yelps triggered a gobble from a distance. After a few minutes contemplating our next move we hit him with another series of calls. This time his gobble was closer. He was coming. We scrambled back and decided to set up on the tree line along the fence.
April 15th, 2011 is a day that I won?t forget and neither will my cousin JD. I am a novice turkey hunter and am thrilled anytime I get to go, but this day was special for another reason. This was JD?s first turkey hunt. A couple friends, Robert Abell and Rick Currence, invited us to tag along and attempt to get JD his first bird. Robert and Rick are seasoned turkey hunters so the thought of tagging along with them had us fired up. We meet them at 6:00 a.m. and the action was heart pounding from that point forward. Now back to the story.
As we scrambled to get set up we spotted three birds truckin? it across the field. It was three jakes to be exact. Rick was attempting to get a decoy out when he realized he was stuck. Robert and JD were able to get set up on a tree but I was stuck somewhat out in the middle of this tree line. Knowing that these birds were moving in fast we all sat tight. The birds moved into the tree line at about 70 or 80 yards out. I thought these birds were going to come right up the fence line so with me stuck out in the middle I was really going to be putting my Crossover Camo to the test. It did its job and the birds moved out into the field, but they seemed to get hung up just outside of gun range. They moved on and we regrouped. My heart was pounding and I know JD was pumped. Robert chuckled and said that when those birds were coming JD?s gun was just a shaking. He told JD ?alright buddy you gonna have to calm down? with a laugh. JD was worried about missing and said, ?If I miss you we?re gonna go again!? No doubt he is hooked. That?s what it?s all about right there!
We moved down the tree line and got set up on the back field that the birds exited. With the decoy out and everyone set, Rick assumed the calling. Within minutes the three Jakes stormed out of the opposite tree line like a freight train. JD clicked off the safety and got ready. They were headed straight at us. We thought this would be quick, but as the birds topped the little knoll they seemed to hang up again. They were gobbling like crazy but seemed to be weary of the decoy. As they moved around just outside of gun range boy did they give us a show. As we sat there I thought to myself that there isn?t a whole lot that beats listening to a turkey hammer out a gobble over and over. These birds were definitely not shy about stretching their necks. The birds finally moved out of the field. Check out the video below.
Although JD didn?t get his first turkey that morning I could see the fire in his eyes when we headed home. There was so much to soak in about that hunt that I know I will never forget and I?m 100% sure JD won?t either. Being able to listening to Robert pound out the meanest owl hoot in Chester County without the assistance of a manufactured call was pretty neat. Being able to listen to the reactions of the jakes to Rick?s yelps and purrs was also awesome to witness. Thanks to Robert and Rick for the invite and awesome calling. I had an absolute blast! JD hasn?t quit talking about it so I know he?s hooked. This should be fun!
As we marched up the old road bed, the anticipation of the morning hunt filled the air. Brad Crawford spotted a couple longbeards strutting in the meadow the evening before. With that being said we had a good idea of where the birds were roosting. We planned on getting up on the ridge above the meadow for the morning hunt. Brad led the way up the road bed. Sam Poulos and Tank Johnson both armed and ready followed behind. I was pulling up the rear armed with my video camera.
Brad called out an owl hoot with a dead on response from the longbeards. We sat up on the ridge and got ready for the action. As Brad sent out a series of yelps there must have been four more birds gobbling off in the distance. It seemed that we were in prime position. With another series of calls it seemed that the gobbles echoed a little louder. Back and forth we went when all of a sudden a soft yelp from a hen could be heard in the distance. As Brad said later it was as if the hen grabbed the gobbler by the beard and said oh no you don?t. The gobbles faded into the distance. We got up and planned our next move.
We heard one gobbler move to our left off in the distance so we figured we could get down in the meadow and see if we could draw him back. As we moved down the ridge, Brad sent out a crow call and was answered by a gobble. We scurried down the hill and called briefly and realized the bird was coming. Brad stayed back on the ridge about thirty yards. Sam sat out on the main field which is where we thought the bird would pop out. Tank and I sat behind Sam about twenty yards in a little cove. Tank and Brad both called for a few minutes. I was in a good position to film Sam and any birds out in the main field but I realized I wasn?t in a good position when I saw Tank ease his gun around to my left and click off the safety. With Brad and Tank calling the birds split the difference. When the birds didn?t see anything out in the cove or meadow they got a little weary and all I could hear was a few putts that signaled the show was over. Tank had a shot but it was a Jake so he didn?t take it. Up the ridge Brad had a better vantage point and could see the longbeard in the back fanned out. Too bad he?s tagged out. Oh so close!
It was an awesome morning hunt with a lot of gobbling, awesome calling, and tons of heart pounding action at the Poulos Sportsman Club. I was glad I had some Wildlife Energy shots because I was whooped after a weekend of early morning hunts. I got a kick out of Brad saying that he doesn?t sleep in April. That?s about the truth.
Although our hunt ended without filling a tag another hunter, Mark Cody, had better luck. Mark was able to take his first bird by calling himself. He was pretty pumped when we got back to the clubhouse. I was able to snap a few pictures. 18 #, Double Beard 10 ¼ and 4 ¼, ¾ inch spurs.
Check out my recap video of the hunt! Turn up the volume and listen to some gobbling action.
This season has been full of ?first? birds. I have taken 4 new hunters with me and some have taken their first spring gobblers. Going on these hunts is really enjoyable anytime someone gets their ?first? of any wild game.
Since we?re in the low-country of SC, turkey seasoned opened March 15th for our club. The night before the season opener a good friend of mine named Sam ("The coon hunting guy") and I decided to stay the night at the club house in order to get a good spot the next morning. We arrived at the club house around 10:30 to the sight of a large fire burning and three guys sitting around it trying to stay warm. We got out of the truck and Sam Introduced me to the other members of the club. By the end of the night it felt like I had known them my entire life. We all sat around the fire telling stories of different hunts that we have partaken in; everything from ducks to deer to turkey hunts. After an hour or two we took our gear into the bunk room and got setup for bed. We set the alarms for 4:00am. The next morning everyone sleeping in the house woke up at 4:00 o?clock to the sounds of five different alarms going off simultaneously. After a quick breakfast snack we arrived in a spot we had roosted two gobblers a few days before. When day light broke the horizon I hit the owl call, but didn?t get an answer back. This happened for about 15 minutes. Sam and I were stunned that the birds would not answer. We decided to just sit down and do a little bit of calling. Just after putting out a hen decoy and sitting down at the base of a tree, I started to call softly with my slate call. Sam turned and asked if I heard a gobble in the distance. I responded "No I was calling and couldn?t hear anything." Sam was sure that he heard a bird so we got up and started to make our way in that direction. After walking about 300 yards we heard a hen yelping right on top of us. Before we knew it we had to drop to the ground in the middle of the road because we had a bird right on top of us. A jake came out to the edge of the road and I told Sam to take a shot. Sam shot one time and missed and finished the bird with a second round as it was running down the road. I don?t think that the jake we shot was the bird that gobbled earlier that morning. Even though the hunt didn?t turn out the way we planned, with us setup to film the bird coming in Sam still got his first bird on the ground. If everything happened according to plan they wouldn?t call it hunting. ###
My father?s good buddy Danny also got to harvest his first turkey on the opening weekend of turkey season. It was early Sunday morning and we made our way to a different piece of property. We all got out of the truck and walked down a little dirt road. By the time we got to the half way there was enough light to hit the owl call. We had three different birds answer us! We rushed down the remainder of the curved road and got to a little hard wood bottom where we expected the turkeys to come to. Well once again it didn?t happen as I had planned. As soon as we got set up we heard hens start yelping in the same area where the gobbles came from. I thought to myself these birds are probably already ?henned up? and wouldn?t leave the hens. After about an hour of listening to the birds gobble on that cool spring morning, they finally shut up. They wouldn?t gobble to any type of call we tried. I didn?t have time to stay there and hunt. I headed out to worship service back in Charleston. About 11:00 am I got a picture message from my dad of a bird. I called him and he explained that they setup of a food plot that was still growing from deer season. After an hour and a half of sitting patiently the birds emerged from the bottom making their way to the food source. Three gobblers came strutting into the decoys. Danny slowly rose up his gun and set his sights on one of the gobblers. He took one shot and it was a solid hit! Danny had never been in a turkey hunt before. He told us that "it was the most exciting hunt he has ever been on." Danny said it was a big adrenaline rush watching the gobblers strut 25 yards in front of them, and he couldn?t wait for the bird he wanted to clear the decoys for a shot. The bird weighed 19 pounds had 1 inch spurs and a 10.75 inch beard. The key to that successful hunt was patience because If they would have tried to get closer to the birds after they stopped gobbling, the turkeys may of spooked and the hunt would of been over. Instead they knew the turkeys? patterns and cut them off while they were going to feed. ###
This past Saturday Kyle Dyson and I had the opportunity to take Ryan Parson hunting with us. Ryan has never killed a turkey and was excited to give it a shot! Friday night Kyle and Ryan stayed the night at my house in order to get an early start the next morning. Not being able to decide where to hunt, we flipped a coin between the Wee Tee reserve and the ?Hell Hole?, both of which are government associated. The coin landed heads so the next morning we took our Wildlife Energy Shots and headed out to Wee Tee. At only 2 Fl ounces the energy shots blow the competition out of the water, they kept us wide awake and alert all morning! I had only been to the area we hunted once before during this past deer season. Because we were unfamiliar with the area, we left earlier than normal to get there on time. When we arrived at the gate there were two guys that were riding into the darkness on bikes. We all chuckled at the sight of the two guys riding bikes to hunt, but we soon found out they were smarter than we were. We started walking down the road at 5:00 am and didn?t stop until 6:15. Part of the reason it took us so long was because the property had changed so much from deer season. Everything was green and there was water everywhere we walked. We had to weave our way through the dry patches of the swamp to find areas we could walk across without getting wet. While we were walking the three of us crunched leaves and sticks with every step, we kept spooking birds out of there roost. We scared at least 10 different birds out of the trees on the way in. I knew that wasn?t a good thing but at least we knew that there were turkeys nearby. When we finally stopped walking we hit the owl call and heard 2 gobblers within 200 yards (at least we thought it was about 200 yards) from us. We walked a little further and hit the call. It sounded like they were across the flooded part of the swamp. We all decided to get closer in hopes of having the gobblers fly down on our side on the water. By this time the sunlight shining through the trees was good and revealed the beautiful bottom we were standing in. Kyle and Ryan sat down on trees adjacent to each other. I went to put out a decoy about 25 yards in front of our setup. As soon as I pulled the decoy out of my vest, we heard a loud Swoosh! The bird spotted me and flew away. It turns out the bird wasn?t 200 yards across the water. It was more like 100 yards and he was on our side of the flooded area. I felt terrible for ruining the hunt especially after walking as far as we did to get to the spot. We didn?t hear another bird that morning.
Knowing where the birds were roosted, we decided to go back to the same location on our next hunt. This time is was very different. We learned from our mistakes and decided to not get so close and let the birds move to us instead of us moving to the birds. When daylight broke we heard 5 different birds sounding off to the sounds of my owl call. We finally got setup and started calling. I began using the slate call and had the birds gobbling for about 30 minutes. Ryan does a vocal hen call using only his natural voice with no help of calls. We told him to give it a try to see if the birds would gobble to it. It turns out they gobbled to his vocals better than they did to the box or slate calls! I was amazed at the sounds he could produce without any calls. I set my calls aside and let him work the birds. After a few more minutes the bird came into sight. The long beard was strutting to the sound of Ryan?s call. He was about 80 yards away when we first saw him gobble. I told Ryan to use a soft cadence to try and lure the bird in and every time he did the bird would answer back with a loud gobble triggering the other 5 birds to gobble as well! It turns out the bird got hung on a flooded part of swamp bottom and wouldn?t cross the slough. Even though we didn?t kill him, it was still a great hunt!
This season I have learned to call less and listen a little more. On top of that I have learned patience is the key to hunting a smart long-beard that may be call shy or spooked easily. Another key to my success this year has been then use of the new CrossOver Camo pattern. The pattern is different from other patterns in that, compared to say mossey oak obsession, CrossOver has a variety of lighter colors. Most camo have the basic greens and browns, but cross over incorporates shades of white and different tans which helps me blend into many different backgrounds. I can stay hidden in pine trees, and swamp bottoms all with one pattern. There is not a camouflage out there that will keep you hidden if you can?t sit still. Without the help of my Thermacell to keep the bugs away I would probably scare off every bird that came into range by swatting bugs away from my face. I?m not sure I could hunt without one after being spoiled with its ability to keep my hunting area bug free.
Sams First Turkey
Ryans First Turkey
This turkey season has been a great one and I?m looking forward to a few more good hunts before the season ends.
After a successful first weekend of turkey season hunting with Mr. Puette I was looking forward to, and hopeful about, the next weekend I would be able to turkey hunt. The weather had been tricky a little lately, but it turned out to be a nice day on Saturday. I would be venturing out with Jason Love and Mark Turner trying to track down some gobblers. And after seeing the pic of JDHeatmag?s snake that struck at him, I went and got me some snake proof boots so I was ready to roll.
We met and headed out to the hunting land. We got there a little later than when I had arrived the week before. We parked near the entrance and headed out. We walked in along some really white looking sand which made our journey in really stealth. We were listening as we walked in hoping to hear a gobble from afar. We made it in near to the area we would be hunting and we stopped and listened for a bit. We gave the turkeys plenty of time to call if they were going to call. We held up at the edge of the woods in hopes of not spooking the birds by walking in early. The crows were calling and owls were hooting, but we hadn?t heard any turkeys. Jason made some louder calls with his crow call and still nothing responded. The initial thought was that the turkeys were deeper in the woods.
We walked further into the woods and set up. Mark put two hen decoys out while Jason put a short blind around the area where I would be sitting. We all sat at the base of 3 different pine trees. Jason was to my right and Mark was to my left. Mark had a better angle on the decoys and better vision. Both Jason and Mark brought their guns just in case the turkeys came from either direction, but Mark was the ?shooter? as he was kind of out on a point overlooking the cleared out area of the woods.
As we sat down we listened for a while and Jason randomly called. We still heard no gobbles anywhere. Even though I don?t know a lot about turkey calling, Jason?s calling was sounding really good to my ears. Our senses were on high alert as we listened for any sound and scanned the floor of the woods looking for movement. About 15 minutes after we had been sitting there all of a sudden a loud sound came from behind us and to the right. The area behind us and to our right was thicker and difficult to see through, but the sound we heard was a great sound to hear! We heard the wings of a bird flapping as the bird came out of the tree. A turkey had flown down to the ground and he was close enough for us to hear his wings, but yet we couldn?t see him and he had never gobbled. I say ?he? because I?m assuming/hoping it was a big ol? gobbler. When we heard this it got us fired up, but still we couldn?t figure out why we hadn?t heard anything. I looked at Jason?s and Mark?s faces and I could tell they were paying close attention trying to figure out what was going on. They both knew we had a bird somewhere near us that was on the ground and that wasn?t making a sound.
We continued to sit patiently and waited on anything to clue us into where the bird was. He had to have heard our calling if we were able to hear his wings fly down to the ground. After a while both Jason and Mark started calling?some overlapping each other and sometimes right after each other. It sounded really good and sounded like multiple turkeys in the woods calling out. They didn?t over do it, but made enough sound to entice any big boy to come on over.
A couple of minutes later we heard a stick pop really close behind us. At first thought this was kind of a jolt that makes you cringe because you know something is there and you really can?t move to see what it was. It didn?t take long to figure out though. We heard a dog growling! Two dogs had run through the woods and when they saw the decoys they started growling at them. Jason saw them first and when we heard the growl we all turned around to see what was happening because they sounded mad and in a hurry! When we quickly turned around and made commotion the dogs got scared and high-tailed it out of there. And that was pretty much the gist of our hunt. We left shortly thereafter.
After talking about the situation we think the dogs are in that area and are bothering the birds. This may be why the bird never gobbled? because he had been chased by a dog before! Who knows, but it was a frustrating end to a good hunt! I had some really good footage of the guys calling and the setup and I was just waiting on the turkey to get in the picture too, but it never happened.
We started walking back out to the trucks. On the way out we saw some turkey tracks in that same white sand that we had walked in on earlier. Jason even noticed a turkey track that had stepped in Mark?s boot track. This meant that a turkey had crossed the same path that we walked in on and had done it after we went in the woods. The turkeys were in the area?and so were two punk dogs!
Mark headed home and as Jason and I rode back we figured we give another area a shot. We drove down the road and saw 3 different turkeys out in random fields as we drove. The turkeys were moving and we hoped for better luck and a hunt without dogs interfering! We arrived to a new location and walked down the edge of the woods alongside a dirt road. There was a field up ahead to our left that where we believed some gobblers were out strutting. So we set up in the edge of the woods hoping to call the turkeys our way instead of going out in the open and spooking them.
Me wearing CrossOver Camo on the 2nd Hunt
We sat down in some white oaks that were really near a creek bed. Jason sat to my right again and we both leaned on two oaks that were side by side. This time we had the Jake Intimidator set up hoping to cause a reaction by showing movement simulating a tom puffing up. We had him lying beside a hen decoy. We sat there and Jason started calling. We listened and listened and never heard any gobble. We were waiting patiently to hear a turkey when out of our left we saw a flicker. The flicker ended up being the movement of a doe just across the dirt road. I instantly turned the camera on and moved it to film the deer. This doe was the first of 5 deer that were heading our way.
I knew that we would have to be extremely still because the deer were coming our way. It was nearly 9:30 in the morning and the sun was out and it was shining right in there faces. The wind was blowing across our faces which meant the deer would have a tough time smelling us because they weren?t down-wind of us. The bad part was that I had my arm extended all the way out to my camera and the deer weren?t in a hurry. These deer slowly walked across the dirt road and came up the embankment where we were. It seemed to be 3 does with 2 yearlings. They walked closer and closer as they browsed the ground for stuff to eat. When they got closer one of the does saw the decoys and she didn?t like it. She started stomping the ground and got all tensed up. If you?re a deer hunter then you?re familiar with this site. I still couldn?t believe the deer got this close to us without detecting us yet.
Jason and I were whispering to each other this whole time. He said that he was going to start calling the turkey call just to see what would happen. Surprisingly when he started calling the turkey calls it didn't instantly scare the deer off. I think it may have calmed them some, but they were still in question of the decoys, but it seemed to relax the one just a bit. This whole time I was getting some great footage of these deer?and my shoulder and arm were shaking and burning about kill me!
A few minutes later I think the deer knew something wasn?t right and they bounded off back across the road. It was difficult to keep them all focused in the camera the whole time they were there. Just looking at the video you would think it should be easy, but when you?re sitting in the woods having to look in the small screen finder that was at a terrible angle for viewing since the camera was turned hard and to the left, it kind of made it difficult. Also, I?m normally able to smoothly move the camera head around when pivoting, but the I didn?t want any extra movement so the pivots are kind of jumpy because I didn?t want to spook the deer off.
So you?ll see more deer than turkeys in the video below, but nevertheless ? it was a good time in the outdoors and that?s what it?s all about!
Turkey season starts on April 1st in my county because I?m located in the upper part of SC. I?ve been looking forward to it and have been counting down the weekends until turkey season got here. This past weekend was the opening weekend and on Saturday morning I went turkey hunting again with Mr. Bruce Puette in Marlboro County. I had been looking forward to our trip and it turned out to be one of the most memorable turkey hunts I?ve been on.
We met really early at the entrance gate to the hunting land. Mr. Puette?s brother, sister, and nephew would also be hunting in other areas of the land as well. We all set out going our different ways and Mr. Puette and I were heading to the back of the property where a swampy area backed in to the Pee Dee River. And we went deep in the swamp. Mr. Puette said that the turkeys hadn?t been working in the fields like they normally do by this time of the year so we were going to try something different. I was interested to see how the new CrossOver Camo would do in the swampy environment of the Pee Dee River area and it blended in very nicely.
We walked in by the moonlight and as we began walking we stopped and looked at the stars and Mr. Puette pointed out the Big Dipper. He said you can always find whichever direction North is by looking at the stars from the Big Dipper. Even though we probably walked a mile until we finally got to our location it didn?t bother me much because it was a chance to get some blood flowing and warm up. It was cold early that morning?34 degrees to be exact. It was chilly and I didn?t have enough layers on and walking helped me warm up some.
We ended up walking through fields, 4-wheeler paths, old logging roads, even jumping trees, and yes?water higher than my ankles! The wet socks countered the new warmth that I had just gained from walking. I also found a pretty deep stump hole on the way in too. My right foot ended up wetter than the left because I only found that stump hole with my right foot. Once we got back pretty deep in the woods we heard an owl hoot. We stopped and every time another owl hooted we stopped to see if any turkeys responded. At one point Mr. Puette said that he was going to do an owl call to see if we could locate any birds. I anticipated that he would dig in his pocket and get out a call, but Mr. Puette just held his hand to his mouth and yelled ?Hoo, Hoo, Ho, Hoooo? and amazingly an owl responded about 50 yards away. To be honest, I was pretty impressed with how accurate Mr. Puette?s owl call sounded. Mr. Puette fired back with a ?WOOOOOoooo? that ended with a lot of bass in the sound. The owl fired right back. It was neat that he was able to get several owls calling to each other with just his natural voice. The downside was that no turkeys gobbled back at us. We kept on walking.
We finally reached the furthest point that we could walk and we stopped again. This time Mr. Puette pulled out a crow call and it made a loud shriek as he blew it. We waited, and a couple of seconds later, a turkey, that sounded about 70 ? 100 yards away, hammered back at us. Mr. Puette pumped his fist like a golfer does after sinking a putt and we headed toward the sound looking to make a setup. We walked about 40 yards down an old logging road and Mr. Puette said we ought to set up on a tree that was about 5 yards off the path.
Mr. Puette had been carrying his gun as well as a home-made blind that he created and a small stool. He had given me a stool that I carried in too. The home-made blind was some camo, burlap-like material that wrapped around 4 wooden sticks. He told me that 4 sticks and some burlap was a lot cheaper than most blinds you find in stores! He set this up just in front of us as I started getting the video stuff set up.
I had all of the stuff I needed to video setup and had got two Thermacells out and fired them both up because deep in the swamp mosquitoes are thick and even though it was cold? I wasn?t taking any chances. I put the new Thermacell in front of us and put last year?s model Thermacell to my left. Needless to say we didn?t get bothered by any bugs or mosquitoes during this hunt.
We were finally situated and the sun was slowly starting to shine through the woods. Mr. Puette did some calling early to see if anything would respond and we had turkeys gobbling to our right, middle, and to our left. We were definitely in a good location, but we were worried that the turkeys would come off the roost and go a different direction. Randomly Mr. Puette would call and the turkeys arbitrarily responded. We had to wait and to keep our eyes peeled.
There were so many trees and brush in front of us that it was not only difficult to see the turkey, but it was even more difficult to film the turkey. In retrospect I should have turned the auto-focus mechanism off, but I wasn?t chancing any extra movements while he was that close to us. Because Mr. Puette was behind me (in the line of sight for the bird) he couldn?t see it. The bird was standing behind a big tree and was stepping to the right, puffing up, spinning, and stepping back to the left, puffing and spinning and did this on repeat. It was very odd, but he was staying in one spot. The whole time Mr. Puette couldn?t see the bird and he kept asking me ?Are you sure??, ?How far out??, and ?Where is he?? Finally the turkey stepped out far enough to where Mr. Puette could see it. At this point at least he knew I wasn?t lying about a bird being that close.
As I was taking pictures Mr. Puette said ?Did you see that tree?? and I said ?What tree?? I had seen a thousand trees that were in the way of me filming the turkey, but obviously he was referring to one in particular. He pointed and said ?Look at the ?Twisted Oak??. We walked over and saw something that was pretty rare in my opinion. Two white oak trees were side by side and one had fallen into the other and over time they had grown together. It was a unique site. I took some pics and videos of it as well. I know that I?ve never seen anything like that before?and those trees were huge.
After a couple of more pictures we headed back to base camp. It was a long walk back to the entrance and I was definitely glad I had some Wildlife Energy drink with me on this occasion. As we walked back over the path we came in on Mr. Puette was looking around every corner to see if any turkeys were strutting in the roads. He?d already told me that if we saw another one that we would be stopping and setting up again!
Below is the raw footage of the hunt if you want to see it without effects
I always enjoy going hunting with Mr. Puette because there?s usually some action involved and I also always learn something. Mr. Puette says I bring him good luck, but I don?t know about that. Most of the time whenever you take a camera in the woods it means that you?re definitely not going to see anything, but so far he and I are 2 for 2 with turkeys and videos.
I hope to get in on more hunts with Mr. Puette and next time I?ll try to get better focus on the turkey!