In June of 2010 I wrote a blog titled “The Convergence of Technology & Hunting” that elaborated on the emergence of technology in the hunting industry and discussed how technology can give hunters advantages. A lot has happened in the technology world since I posted that blog and the evolution of technology continues to advance. Though, the one thing I didn’t anticipate is that I would be participating in the evolution in a way related to physical products.
The “Tech-Turkey” is a project I’ve been working on for a little while now. If you’ve noticed that it’s been kind of quiet around WeHuntSC.com lately, a large part of that is due to me investing so much time learning and building what you see in this blog post, an automated, internet controlled turkey decoy. The process has been both fun and challenging!
This decoy system gives you the ability to control your decoy from your cell phone, tablet, computer, or anything connected to the internet. This project is a work in progress and currently in prototype phase as I continue to enhance the solution. The roadmap for the project has some slick enhancements already lined up as well.
You may be reading this and wonder “Why would I want to control my decoy from a cell phone?” Well there are a few advantages to having your decoy be controlled through the internet ie: your smart phone:
To best communicate what the turkey can do, check out this video that we made of the decoy in action
I am excited about this project and am indeed looking for a few field testers for the upcoming spring. I want to get the technology out in the field on some live hunts and get feedback from actual hunting scenarios. I definitely won’t be able to give everyone a decoy to test with, but I would like to work with a few of you to get your thoughts and opinions of the decoy. It is definitely helpful if you can provide me with a YouTube link of some of your hunting videos as I will want to get some quality footage of the decoy in action in live hunting scenarios.
If you’re interested in field testing the Tech-Turkey just submit the form on the “Tech Turkey” page.
This year turkey season came in on a cool and windy Sunday morning. A cold front came in that brought some really strong wind with it and conditions were not the best for turkey hunting. On top of that we couldn’t hunt too long as we needed to head to the early church service too, Palm Sunday. Nevertheless we still wanted to give it a shot.
As most of you are aware I’ve been working on the Tech-Turkey this off-season and was ready to give it a test run. My friend Will List picked me up early and we headed to the woods. We’ve got some turkeys on the land we hunt that consistently come out in the field in the mornings.
When we parked the wind was really gusting and pollen was in the air. I didn’t know if we would be able to have any success with the wind blowing so hard. On the way into the field we found a nice shed rack which I always enjoy finding. I was hoping it would be a sign of good luck.
We set up on an island of woods that overlooks a field. I went and put the decoy out about 35 yards away from us. Once set up I logged into WeHuntSC.com on my phone and tested connectivity and movement. The turkey was moving around just as it should. We were good to go and the sun was rising.
As it became lighter in the sky we were able to see the trees swaying back and forth in the wind. We hadn’t heard a gobble in the distance and really couldn’t hear much other than the wind. Usually by this time we would have heard some gobbles in the distance. We stayed and waited it out hoping for some gobblers to come around.
Will wanted to video the turkey from his phone and he asked me to make it move. So I made the turkey move and he videoed it. We were both looking down at our phones and I looked up to see 2 coyotes coming straight for the decoy. We didn’t hear a howl or have sign of coyotes coming, they came in silent and were focused in on the decoy. The wind that had been blowing so strongly was directionally blowing across our face so the coyotes couldn’t smell us. I couldn’t believe how close in they came.
Since Will was looking down at his phone I said “Will” and I turned the camera on. Will grabbed his gun and I was videoing. The coyotes came within 35 – 40 yards of us and like 10 yards from the decoy. Will debated letting them get even closer, but if he waited we may have been leaving with a mangled up decoy. In the video you can see the coyote pause for a second and that was the moment that Will pulled his gun up. Then seconds later he shot twice and hit the coyote both times. The coyote was flat getting out of there, but Will’s 20 gauge, 5-shot wasn’t enough to bring him down. It was definitely an interesting hunt. I think the coyotes will think twice before rolling up on a turkey again though!
So as you can imagine this wasn’t the hunt we had hoped for and it’s definitely not a good sign to have coyotes aiming for turkey decoys and our turkeys in general. Though, for the part of the Tech-Turkey decoy it is a good sign that the coyotes came to it because it was realistic to them. Usually coyotes are very keen on things and it’s a positive sign that they came in.
Hopefully next time we’ll be able to get some turkeys to come in.
With turkey season opening up this past week I had been looking to go turkey hunting with someone because I?d never been before. I?ve got a friend who?s big into turkey hunting in York, some friends who turkey hunt in Chesterfield, and some in Pageland, but for whatever reason I couldn?t get anything lined up. I called up fellow Central High Football Coach Craig Hatcher and told him to put feelers out with some of his hunting buddies and see if he could line anything up. Craig called me back a day later and said that he?d searched high and low and that it turned out that he could get me a turkey hunt with one of the best hunters around. Bruce Puette is a great outdoorsmen and is also a teacher in Pageland. He?s also taught in Cheraw and I?ve always heard stories about how good of an all around hunter he is. My dad has told me on several occasions that Bruce knows his stuff when it comes to hunting?and after my first turkey hunt with Bruce, I have to agree.
I called Mr. Puette on Good Friday and we lined everything up for the hunt. I asked him when and where he wanted me to meet him. He told me to meet him at the Exxon gas station in Wallace, SC at 5:00 am! If you?re not from South Carolina or if you?re from different areas of South Carolina, it takes about 40 minutes to drive to Wallace from Pageland. Wallace is right across the county line and is located in Marlboro County. The Pee Dee River (where we caught those catfish last weekend) is the county line. Once you cross the bridge you have left Chesterfield County and are in the city of Wallace. Anyway, to arrive at the Exxon station at 5:00 am, I would have to get up at 4:00 am. When I talked to Mr. Puette on the phone I was just excited about lining the trip up and wasn?t really thinking about the timing. After we hung up, I thought to myself that I would have to wake up at 4:00 am just to get there. Bruce said he liked to get out there early which meant that I wasn?t going to get much sleep. For some reason I just can?t go to sleep until late. I usually end up online doing something and can?t get free until late. I tried to go to bed early, but still couldn?t. I went to sleep around 11:45 and rolled out at 4. It wasn?t that bad initially.
I drove down to Wallace in the truck and met Mr. Puette at the Exxon station. We pulled up at the same time and got some drinks and then headed out. We drove a few miles and ended up at one of his hunting locations. I thought that it was a good sign that we saw 2 deer cross the road in front of us as we were driving to our hunting location. We dropped our trucks off not too far from the gate and then started walking. We walked in by the moonlight and Mr. Puette was telling me about his hunting land as we walked in. It was a pretty long walk to our final destination. Mr. Puette had come out the night before and watched where the turkeys went to roost and they had gone to roost behind where the ground-blind was set up.
The area we were hunting backed into a swamp and he said that the turkey?s like to roost near the water because no bobcats or anything will mess with them when they?re over the water. As I got situated in the blind, Mr. Pruette put out 2 decoys about 15 yards ahead of us to our right. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Puette came back in and we got situated in the blind. I backed my chair up into a corner of the blind. We were there really early and it was still dark outside. We just sat in the ground blind and talked for a while. Mr. Puette was telling me that he had gotten up early that morning and read Jeremiah 33:3 which reads ?Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.? We talked briefly about this verse and we talked about all kind of stuff. It seems Mr. Puette woke up at 4:00 am too and was reading the bible while I was on my way.
As the sun started to come up we could see 3 deer way out in the field. I tried to get them on camera, but the lighting was so bad that I couldn?t get them in focus + they were way out there. As we talked in the ground blind, Mr. Puette told me that patience is what kills turkeys, not turkey calling. He said ?Patience kills turkeys, not great calling?put that in your blog.? He said that you don?t have to be a great caller to get turkeys to come in; you just have to be patient. He said that his patience while hunting turkeys has made him more successful than his ability to call them in. Though, from sitting in the blind with him, I?d say that he?s not too bad of a caller either. Throughout our turkey hunt he used a slate call and a diaphragm call.
The light was starting to slowly shine through the trees and Mr. Puette started calling with the slate call. Off in the distance we could hear turkeys responding back to his calls. He would call a little, listen a little, call a little, and listen a little. I would say that about 70% of the times he called there was some kind of response. Slowly but surely, the sounds of the responding turkeys was getting closer and closer. We initially heard these turkeys responding back to us around 7:30 am. In time, the sounds got louder and closer and finally we spotted the first turkey that entered the field. It came out to our right about 50 yards down the edge of the field and was headed straight to the middle of the field. It was a hen and it seemed as if the decoys spooked it because it started a quick trot out to the field after it cleared the edge. (In the video I say it was a Jake, but I was wrong?the first turkey was a hen) We couldn?t really understand why the decoys may have spooked the turkey, but we were still hearing more turkeys behind us on both sides. Randomly we would hear gobbles coming from the right and the left.
As we were situated in the blind, we were looking out of mainly 2 windows. I had a window right beside me to my left and then there was one straight ahead of me that I could see out of. There was also a window behind me, but I was backed into the corner and couldn?t really see out of it without turning completely around. Though, Mr. Puette could see out of it easily.
We kept hearing calls and then 3 more turkeys entered the field from the same direction as the first one had. This group was a group of Jakes (young males). They did the same thing as the first turkey did?they kind of ran out to the middle of the field. This was puzzling us. Soon thereafter another Jake darted into the field following the first three. We had 4 turkeys out in front of us and then we saw 2 more coming from way out down the left side of the field as well. The sun was up by now and we could see well. The mixed group of hens and jakes was out in the middle of the field, but no big gobblers had come yet. At first glance we thought some of those Jakes were big ones, but after seeing them out in the open we could tell that they weren?t mature birds. Mr. Pruette even had his gun up on one of them, but then took it back down when he saw the bird wasn?t big enough. They were close enough to shoot, but that wasn?t what we were looking for.
We sat there and whispered to each other about the locations of the turkeys. Mr. Puette had been saying that the big boys won?t be too long behind the hens and Jakes. The group of turkeys had been out in the field for about 20 minutes now and Mr. Puette told me that this was the time-frame when most turkey hunters mess up. He said that there was always this time in between when the hens get out and when the big gobblers arrive. He told me that most people don?t see any big beards on the males and so they ?overcall? or start calling too much. This is where his lesson on patience was tying back in to our actual hunt. So we sat and watched the turkeys out in the field for a while.
The majority of the turkeys that were in the group out in the field entered from our right side. So we kept looking out the right window just waiting on a big gobbler to arrive from the same direction. Well, we never saw or heard any more turkeys from our right. Matter of fact, we hadn?t heard anything gobble for some time now. I was beginning to think that we wouldn?t see a good turkey. It had been a good while since we heard any kind of turkey sound at this point. Then Mr. Pruette leaned over in the ground blind to grab something. I don?t know if he was grabbing for crackers or for a different kind of turkey call because he had a few different types of calls in his bag. As he leaned over, I heard something moving in the woods behind us. Since I had never been turkey hunting before, I didn?t have an idea of what a turkey sounded like walking through the brush. Mr.Puette leaning down gave me the space to swivel and look out of the window behind me. When I turned around all I could see was feathers about 15 yards behind us. I got excited and started tapping Mr. Pruette really hard. I didn?t want to talk because I didn?t want to scare off the birds because I knew at least one of them was big. So I was tapping him and pointing behind me while trying to be quiet. He looked out of the window and saw the bird and his eyes got real big. I grabbed the camera and turned it on. As he grabbed his gun, I stuck the camera out of the blind and was literally just pointing it behind us in hopes of getting the bird on video. I wasn?t satisfied with ?hoping? to get the shot on video so at the last second, I brought the camera back in the blind and videoed Mr. Pruette taking the shot. You?ll see it in the video below. He said ?Big Beard, Got?em?. We sat for a second and made our way out of the blind. Mr.Puette made the shot somewhere around 8:00 am.
Sure enough, Mr.Puette had dropped him in his tracks about 15 yards away from us. It was a nice turkey, but what surprised me was how this turkey got in on us and wasn?t gobbling at all. He was just walking through the woods quietly. Mr. Pruette told me that there were 3 birds in this last group and Mr. Pruette took the biggest one. We got out of the blind and the big group of turkeys was still in the field. They didn?t really scatter until we started walking out beyond the edge and then I saw how fast a turkey can really run. We walked up to the bird and took some pictures and continued rolling the video. The beard was a nice one and the spurs were about 1 inch or so. Mr.Puette said the beard was a nice one and that it was so big that it looked like a paint brush. After looking at the bird, we got the decoys up and headed back towards the trucks. As we walked back to the trucks we saw all kind of turkey and deer tracks and we even saw more turkeys down some old logging roads. We literally had birds all around us.
Let me deviate for a moment and say that had it not been for the Thermacell we had in the ground blind, I don?t know if we could have made it. I didn?t realize this until we got out to go and look at the bird. We turned it on about 10 minutes after we got there and I was glad that we did. Those things really work! I was getting eat up by bugs as soon as we got out of the blind.
I was really glad that Mr.Puette had allowed me to go turkey hunting with him. I would say that we had a pretty good time, especially for my first turkey hunt ever! I learned a lot about how to turkey hunt from Mr. Puette and it was a trip that I?ll never forget.
I guess all the stories I?d previously heard about Mr. Pruette being a great outdoorsman were true.
If you want to see the birds, it?s best if you watch this video in the HD format (720 p) and blow it up full screen. These controls are in the bottom of the player.... you'll probably need to give this one some time to load though.
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!
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!
After the showing we had yesterday, we all felt like we couldn?t do any worse if we went back out again today. Though, after we hunted yesterday, Adam went and bought a new slate and a diaphragm call. He was pumped up about practicing calling birds in and I think he even went hunting yesterday afternoon just to see if he could get one to talk back to him. Adam is pretty driven and when he gets something in his mind to do, then he usually works at it until he gets it done. I have no doubt that he?ll be a good turkey caller before too long and his efforts today yielded some pretty impressive results. Keep in mind that this was his first time turkey calling without a deer antler.
We all met early again over at my place and headed out. We didn?t drop the striker for the slate on the way in this time so already it was a success in comparison to yesterday?s hunt. This morning we didn?t hear many turkeys gobbling from the trees in the dark like we did yesterday. We got set up and had our two decoys out in front of us. We sat and waited and could hear one turkey gobbling way off in the distance to our left. He was very talkative, but remained at a distance and didn?t seem to get any closer as a response to Adam?s calling.
In time, the sun had risen and was up really high and we still hadn?t seen a turkey. We were a little frustrated at the lack of action, especially since we actually brought the slate striker today! We talked a little in between ourselves and even thought about leaving. Then Adam looked at us and said ?Hey, patience kills turkeys? (referencing to a quote that Mr. Puette told me only a week earlier). I said, yep ? you?re right and we decided to stay in another hour just to see what would happen.
We sat and sat and the temperature started to warm up some. Due to their positioning, Will and Adam couldn?t see as well as I could. I had a better perspective so I was constantly scanning the tree line looking for any movement. After a while, I saw something directly across the field from us that looked like the shape of a turkey, but it was so far away that I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me much like they do when deer hunting. I ?whisper-yelled? at the guys and said ?Throw me the binoculars? and they reached to get the binoculars, but before they could grab them I saw the turkey move. I repeated ?there he is, there he is, can you see him?? and they immediately perked up. I could clearly see the turkey, but it took a few minutes before he came into Adam and Will?s view. Adam was randomly hitting the slate call and I told him to talk to the bird. He started slowly ?purring? at the bird and instantly the turkey puffed his feathers up. I whisper-yelled again ?Can you see him? and by this time they had him clearly in their line of sight. We were all excited and the bird was headed our way.
Adam kept lightly striking the slate call ever so often as the gobbler slowly strutted his stuff across the field. It was awesome. He would walk for a bit, then puff his feathers up and walk some, then like deflate and then puff up again. It was like a cycle that he went through and he did this 3 ? 4 times within the minutes that he strutted across the field. There was no doubt that this turkey was hearing what Adam was doing and responding to it. Even once the turkey stopped and gobbled real loudly in response (and you can hear it on the video if you turn the volume up). We were all glued to our seats as this big boy was strutting in the field like he owned it. The bird was coming closer and closer.
As the turkey got closer I noticed that I started getting some shakes going on ? the same kind of rush you get when a big buck walks out in front of you. My heart began to beat more as the turkey responded and kept drawing in closer to us. It was neat to watch this bird come out from about 200 yards away and come directly towards us. I really thought that we were going to get some great footage of a kill shot.
Finally, the turkey got close enough to us and he stopped and perked his head up. He saw our decoys and when he saw the decoys his whole demeanor changed. The turkey came up from the other side of a small hill. It wasn?t until he topped the crest of the hill that he could see the decoys. As soon as he saw the decoys he started walking differently. He seemed to be more in a hurry and then he went hard to the left and was seemingly pacing back and forth for a minute or so. He did this twice and then made a b-line for the trees. As rookie hunters we really have no clue why the turkey did this, but our current theory is that when this turkey saw the decoys he felt that the male decoy was larger than him and got intimidated and immediately fled the scene. The turkey we were calling had a beard, but it wasn?t a huge one. This is what makes us believe this notion.
After the turkey went back into the woods we were all just sitting there deconstructing what had just taken place before us. We were all pumped and excited and we all felt that same rush. It was a pretty intense few minutes for some novice turkey hunters. Again, we sat for a little while and then two more birds came from the corner. I spotted them and then we went back into stealth mode in the woods. Though, these two birds were just feeding and were hens. They came out in the field and worked their way past us. This was fine with us and we tried to give them time to leave, but we were ready to go. We got up and I interviewed Adam and during the interview Will saw the hens working back down. We paused the video to try to get closer and call them in, but had no luck.
All in all I think it was a much better hunt than yesterdays. To see the turkey blow his feathers up like that and come across the crest of that hill was a neat scene for me and one I won?t forget. I hope to see that again in my life! We headed back to the truck and yet again to Bojangles. I don?t know if it?s a good thing to tell the wife-to-be, but I think I may have caught turkey fever!
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This past weekend we had a great time in the woods even though we didn’t come away with a turkey. The area we hunt in has been logged and “clear-cut” by timber companies since last season. This caused a lot of changes in how animals (both deer and turkey) move and where they roost, strut, gobble etc. We have been adapting our game plans just as the game has adapted its patterns.
On opening weekend we were out and on the move. We definitely heard turkeys gobbling, but they were a little bit further away from where we were. In the weekends since we’ve been closing ground on them and getting closer to the right spot. This past Saturday we had a few different locations lined up and our first setup was right on the money.
We entered the woods where we anticipated the gobbler being based off what he’d taught us on earlier hunts. As we walked in he was gobbling from the roost and it was still dark out. We continued in and he kept gobbling We set up on the top of a ridge in some oaks near a creek. We had 2 decoys (a jake and a hen) out just 20 yards in front of us. We could tell he was close. He was hammering back at nearly all our calls. With each gobble, he was getting closer and our hearts started beating a little faster.
The sun wasn’t even up really good before this bird was on the ground and he was closing distance fast. On one of his last gobbles Jason said “He’s close, be still”. However, we couldn’t see him. From his gobbles, it was clear that he was out in front of us and to our right a little bit. He was working up the ridge coming up the hill that we were sitting on. I was sitting on a tree on the left and Jason was on a tree right beside of me to my right. We had a pop-up blind in an arc in front of us. It was fixing to be on!
I had the camera pointed in the direction the turkey seemingly came from. All of a sudden I saw his white head coming through the woods. He was a big turkey! Oh, man it was awesome. As the turkey came up the hill he was behind several trees. What I didn’t realize was that Jason had a clear and direct shot at the turkey and could have shot him several times. However, he was waiting on the turkey to come out into the clearing so we could get good video. After all the turkey was closing ground quickly and was only 3 steps from being out in the clearing.
When the turkey got up on the hill pretty good he was hesitating and spinning behind some trees. I caught him on camera as he went from the right to the left behind the tree. It was a textbook hunt. I felt as soon as he saw the jake decoy he would come up and spur it and we would have some epic footage! However, if you’ve turkey hunted before then you already know the story, it doesn’t always work out as you envision.
The turkey was headed to the lane for prime-time video and a kill shot. Then suddenly, he freaked out and started running and making the “putting” sound. Something about the setup spooked him. We weren’t making any noise, nobody was moving, something just set him off. Perhaps it was when he saw the decoys or maybe he saw unusual objects on the ground near him. Whatever it was he got out of there in no time flat!
It was unsuccessful as far as getting a turkey on the ground, but it was successful in the sense that we were exactly where we were supposed to be and had an awesome bird come in with 20 yards of us. It was a story we’ll be telling for years to come.
The 2nd Turkey
Jason and I sure did walk a lot that morning as we tried to get to different turkeys from different angles. I easily hit my daily “step count” and was sore the next day from walking around and up and down so many hills. We went to several different locations looking for birds and hunted most of the day. It wasn’t until mid-afternoon when we got on another turkey. We were, as they say, “Running and Gunning”.
It was much warmer by this time of the day and we were getting tired. We pulled up to a spot and started calling. A few seconds later a turkey hammered very close to us. Jason and I jumped up and were heading to sit down very quickly as if a bomb had just gone off. It was pretty funny. We sat down on a tree on the edge of the cutover and Jason started calling. The turkey hammered repeatedly and was getting closer. We hoped it was just a matter of time and that our persistence would be pay off!
One distraction we had at this point was that a huge fox-squirrel perched on a tree right beside us and was hissing repeatedly at us. He stayed there for about 15 to 20 minutes doing this. It was aggravating.
It didn’t take long before we saw the turkey come down the hill out of some small pines. He was not as big as the turkey from the morning hunt, but he was not bad at all. He was gobbling and puffing up and twirling as he came. We were, again, getting ready for prime-time footage.
The turkey was heading down the hill when he stopped behind some cedar trees. He had paused previously so at first it wasn’t a big deal. However, he stayed in this one spot and would not move. We called to him, he gobbled back. He puffed up and spun around and showed off, but would not come closer. They say that in the turkey world the female is supposed to go to the male and that at a certain point the male Tom will draw the line and not move any closer. If that is the case that is exactly what this Tom was doing. He simply would not advance. We sat there for 45 minutes watching this bird do the same thing over and over. It was both a beautiful sight and a frustrating experience at the same time.
We did everything we could think of to get him to come closer, but in the end, he would not come forward any more than he already had. Eventually he turned around and went back into the woods and continued to gobble at us and then we quietly slipped out of the woods and headed back in.
Focusing On the Positives
In situations like this you just have to find the positives… and for us there are several. We are very blessed to be able to simply get out and hunt. Everyone doesn’t have that privilege. Beyond that we are fortunate to have a few spots with turkeys on it and we are learning more about their general area and patterns with each hunt. It’s just a matter of time I believe! Ultimately though, getting a bird on the ground is not all it’s about. Being able to get out there with friends and see these sights up close in a great experience. We won’t soon forget any of these memories and hopefully they are just a chapter in the story of when we get the big Tom on the ground! Until then we’ll stay after it.