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.
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.
A while back someone on twitter saw a link to our site and checked it out. Their response tweet was that they liked the design of the site and that it fired them up and made them "want to go kill something?" Obviously this individual doesn''t have a clear understanding of what hunting is all about as his words were a window into his personal view of hunting ...or should I say his trouble distinguishing the difference between hunting and killing.
I often meet people who are non-hunters and sometimes over the course of conversation we end up talking about hunting. Inevitably the conversation trends towards the hunting vs. killing debate. It usually surfaces in the form of "How can you shoot those helpless little creatures?" or "You try to kill Bambi?" This statement is typically a strong indicator that the person asking the question has never hunted.
I'd like to take a look into the hunting vs. killing debate from a hunter's perspective. Let's use a critical lens to analyze and deconstruct the meaning of hunting and also killing. What are the differences between hunting and killing? Where do the differences lie? What are the signs of both a "hunter" and a "killer"? Let's start the investigation by looking at hunters.
Hunters, first and foremost, have totally different motivations, thought processes, and core values than a "killer" does. The fundamental values of a hunter affect the way he/she views the sport. A hunter's beliefs and values prompt actions that are direct indicators that the individual is a true hunter. Over time these fundamental differences are outwardly manifested in the activities in which hunters engage. For this reason, you will find hunters involved in activities in which you will never see "killers" involved. These belief-motivated actions can be noticed both in-season as well as during the off-season.
In the off-season a hunter still enjoys many aspects of hunting. This is because being a hunter doesn't come for a season and then leave, its not seasonal, it's a way of life. Some examples of these off-season activities are those such as "shed" hunting where finding a deer's shed antlers is the goal, or with training any hunting dogs that a hunter may have, doing off-season scouting, competing in target shooting competitions and/or calling competitions, attending trade shows, moving deer stands, building duck blinds, practicing calling techniques, researching, planting and maintaining food plots to help with the health and nutritional diet of the deer, turkeys, ducks or other game in the hunter's area, or even watching hunting TV shows.
During the season a hunter doesn't merely look to harvest anything that walks through the woods, but rather is selective about the game that he or she does choose to harvest. A hunter won't shoot more meat than he or she needs in his freezer. Hunters also help less fortunate people by donating deer meat to them. It's common to find hunting clubs or deer processors working with local organizations supporting the needy. A hunter takes pride in being able to watch an animal mature over time and is challenged to hold the game in their area. A hunter also has a true appreciation for nature and the patterns found within nature denoting intelligent design from above. Hunters grow to appreciate the stillness of being in the middle of the woods, field, swamps, etc where one can momentarily elude the business and noise of everyday life. Sitting on the ground, in a stand, or in a blind offers one the time and place to ponder the wonders of the universe or anything else that may come to mind. The serenity hunters find out in nature can't be found in too many other locations and gives some hunters a natural high. This tranquil and peaceful place is where the hunter remains until he/she either encounters the game or the end of the hunt. Sure, a hunter wants to harvest an animal, yet he/she still enjoys the hunt whether an animal was harvested or not. When the game does arrive, whether it is a duck, boar, turkey, deer, etc hunters enjoy the instant rush that comes over us. The instant rush of adrenaline, rather than the kill, is what gets hunters hooked.
A hunter also has the discipline to watch their game for hours and never pull the trigger. When a hunter does pull the trigger, it is a calculated moment that has been in the making for some time rather than being a moment that randomly happens by chance. Harvesting an animal is the culmination of many factors some of which are: off-season scouting, scent control, successful hunting tactics, food plot, land/game management, successful calling, well trained dogs, and yes, an accurate shot. All of these factors coming together at once is not an easy feat to pull off. Therefore, when an animal is harvested it's the intersection of preparation, patience, and nature.
Hunters usually have hunting partners with whom they go hunting and spend time. Having a hunting partner is a good safety measure, it helps when any work needs to be done, and offers a chance for fellowship while participating in an activity that both individuals enjoy. It's commonplace to find fathers and sons hunting together. You see hunters also care about passing the tradition on to younger hunters. Because of the burden to share the sport and experiences in the outdoors, hunters strongly support activities which promote and educate hunting to youth. Fathers also appreciate the opportunity that hunting gives them to spend time with their children.
To see what happens when a non-hunting, father-son, duo goes hunting and realizes the rush of the hunt and the experience that they'd just had together see the below video
Hunters also get involved with organizations that support their sport and focus on the conservation of the sport so that everyone can continue to enjoy the outdoors. Organizations like Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA), Ducks Unlimited (DU), National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), and the National Rifle Association (NRA) are ones that you'll see true hunters get involved with. These organizations bring a wealth of research, information, and synergy to their respective sport of hunting and work for the greater good of the hunting community as a whole. Hunters get involved with these organizations because the core principles and values of the organizations align with the core principles and values of the hunter.
The last thing I'll mention is that, due to the strong differences between hunters and killers, you'll seldom find hunters associating with killers, the two just don't mesh. Sure they may bump into each other at a processing plant every now and then, but you won't see them together much other than that. The old saying goes "You are what you hang around" and because of this notion, hunters are careful about the company they keep. Take a look at the people around you who hunt and think about who they do and don't hang around to see if it holds true.
We all have different perspectives, but the above is my perception on what makes a hunter and how you can identify and distinguish a hunter from a killer. Since I've elaborated on what I believe comprises a hunter, now let's look at the other side of the fence. Let's look at characteristics that I believe make up a "killer".
A "killer" is essentially the opposite of all the characteristics mentioned above that encompass a hunter. In my opinion, killers give hunters a bad reputation. In the same way that you'll see a hunter involved in specific activities and carrying out certain behaviors, you'll see killers not taking part in certain activities and also engaging in contrasting behaviors. Most of the time a killer's behaviors are in stark contrast to those of a hunter.
In contrast to a hunter, a killer does not appreciate the hunt because the hunt is what stands between them and a kill. Killers don't genuinely appreciate the wait, the silence, and the necessary time in a stand/blind that most hunters love because a killer doesn't really enjoy the peacefulness of nature, but rather is in a hurry to pull the trigger.
Killers don't respect the land they hunt on or animals they harvest. They don't mind littering or damaging the land they hunt on because the environment and conservation is not of their concern. Killers are also what we like to call "trigger-happy" and will shoot the first deer, turkey, duck etc. that they see. In the deer hunting world killers live by the motto "If it's brown it's down" because they're not concerned with game management or limits. I remember an instance related to this topic that happened when I was a kid that still sticks out to me.
In the mid 90's we were at one of our locals processing plants and everyone was talking about deer hunting while the guys were cleaning deer. The environment was the normal, upbeat, good-humored, environment that you've probably experienced before at a processing plant. We had been there about 20 minutes when some guys came up and bought in a very young doe. The deer was so small that it looked like it had just got rid of its spots. At the time I didn't really know what was going on because I was so young, but I distinctly remember the old man that was processing the deer's reaction to the situation. The guys drug the small deer up and immediately the whole processing plant went silent. Tension was in the air and it was thick. I vividly remember the awkwardness of the moment. The guy who shot the deer said he wanted some "tender meat" and that did not go over well at all with the processor. He gave the guy a death-stare and then shook his head in disappointment to let him know that what he had done was wrong. After that the whole place remained quiet until the individuals who brought the deer in left. Being young, I didn't exactly understand what had just taken place, but my dad explained it to me on the way home. In retrospect, I now respect the processor even more because even he didn't want to make money cleaning a deer that was so young because he respected the game and disliked doing business with a killer.
Another sign to look for that denotes a killer is what they do in the off-season. Killers rarely participate in, and do not enjoy, the off-season work that hunters love because its actual work and it doesn't involve or even come close a kill. Hunters know that working in the off-season can help their game and also keeps the hunter's flame burning year round. Killers on the other hand may do some off-season work, but from what I can tell, they don't seem to be too motivated about it.
After a killer does harvest a deer, they commonly boast about the kill as if it builds social status whether their animal was a trophy animal or not. Of course a hunter may brag about a nice deer, duck, turkey, etc they've harvested, but they won't go to the extent of self-promotion that a killer will. A true hunter doesn't need any self-promotion and doesn't thrive on his reputation because to a hunter it's not a competition, but to a killer, it is.
Killers aren't interested in taking others hunting because it only lessens their chances of making a kill. Sure everyone hunts by themselves at some point in time, but (if okay with the hunting club and/or land-owner) a hunter is always open to taking another person hunting, especially a kid because a hunter wants to share the enjoyment of the sport. A killer's viewpoint on that matter is the opposite because he/she isn't interested in sharing the sport as much.
Killers aren't concerned with adhering to the state/county regulations on game and don't mind breaking the rules because they don't respect the game, land, or sport as much as a hunter does. Due to this lack of adherence to rules & regulations killers will do things such as spotlighting deer at night, shooting before legal shooting time, hunting on land that isn't theirs, harvesting more animals than they are legally supposed to, etc. For whatever reason, a killer seems to feel above the law.
In the above paragraphs I've used a critical lens to compare, contrast, and note my view on the characteristics of both the "hunter" and the "killer". Looking deeper into the debate and deconstructing the meaning from a hunter's perspective provides unique insight with which you have the right to agree or disagree.
The term "Epistemology" refers to one's "way of knowing" and really forces one to ask the question "How do I know what I know to be truth?" Knowledge is derived from the merging of what we know to be true (truths) and what we believe (beliefs). This is demonstrated by the graph on the right.
Given an epistemological viewpoint, one can be more informed about hunters from understanding a hunter's core values and beliefs. One must know the truths about hunters and understand the sport from a hunter's perspective in order to be knowledgeable and informed in the debate. Looking at hunting from the vantage point of a hunter offers valuable insight for non-hunters and those who are critical of hunters.
Determining whether an outdoorsman is a hunter or a killer is a judgment that can only be made on an individual basis. Stereotyping hunters as blood hungry killers is unfair because many times that is simply not the case. I'm not denying that there are some killers out there. I'm just saying that you can't call us all killers until you get to know us and understand us a little.
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.
This past weekend we were excited to hunt because we had our video guy down with the HD camera rig and we hoped to get some good footage to post here on the site. The Solunar Forecast said that the whole weekend would be ?average? hunting and it was about right.
On Friday morning we sat in a ground blind near a creek which is situated in a low, flat area of the woods. The creek and the valley surrounding it kind of makes a natural funnel for deer to come through. This is the location where many of the game camera pictures that we have posted on the site came from. At about 6:45 a deer either smelled us or saw us because it bolted down the hill to the right of the ground blind blowing at us from about 50 yards away. I only saw it for 1 second because the ground blind is situated behind a big tree and the tree obstructed my view. So I knew the deer were moving, but yet something alerted this deer that something was wrong and thus no camera action for this one. I believe it was a doe because I did not see any antlers.
We sat and sat and at about 8:40 we were ready to leave. As we unzipped the back corner of the ground blind a big white tail bounding away was all we could see. A doe was literally about 10 yards behind us and if we had sat in the blind for 10 ? 15 more minutes, we would have had the closest HD footage ever, but of course unzipping the blind spooked this deer. So hunt #1 was unsuccessful.
Since I?m assistant coach at the high school we were unable to hunt on Friday night. Saturday morning we went out to the soybean field and watched it as the sun rose. In this field you can literally see from as far right as you can see to as far left as you can see and it?s nothing but soybeans. The wind was blowing pretty well as a new front was coming in. The breeze was nice and those little black birds kept circling the field and making a lot of noise. After sitting for around 2 hours, we had seen nothing and headed out. Walking over and around soybeans is a good workout for your hip-flexor muscles. Since our stand is under a tree in the dead middle of the field, my hip flexors were burning by the time we made it back to the truck!
We left Pageland and headed to Columbia to watch the USC vs Kentucky game. It was a good game and USC prevailed in the end. We?ve got a former player playing there and he started so it was good to see him in the game. The game was a TV game which made it a long one and we headed out of Columbia around 4:15. The stadium traffic wasn?t too bad. We got home at 5:30, changed, and went straight into the woods. As we walked quietly through the woods we began to approach the deer stand. Three white tails bounded off the corn pile and back down into the woods. There were already 3 does eating the corn before we got there! Murphy?s Law here again. Jason took the camera rig up in the stand and I sat on the ground. Still, nothing to write home about. After the hunt I was exhausted and had to go to sleep early as I had burned the candle at both ends and was worn out! Too much fun for one day and I went to sleep.
Sunday morning Jason went with Will back to the ground blind and I went to the ?buddy stand?. Perfect weather conditions and Will said they saw 6 eating acorns in the middle of the old road on the way in. Though on the hunt we, again, saw nothing on either the buddy stand or ground blind.
Sunday afternoon came and we traveled to Kershaw County to a different plot of land over near Lynches River. There are coyotes out on this land and we hoped to see one of them as well. We had 2 different people in 2 different stands. Will was in a climbing stand in some planted pines and Jason was sitting in a tree-house stand watching over some planted peas. Weather seemed perfect and the scene was just like it ought to be, but nothing moving again. A lot of hunting without any good video footage or anything to write home about.
So all in all, the weekend was good, but we were not able to capture any good video to post to the site. We hunted in 4 ? 5 different stands in different types of terrain and either went in too late or left too early. Maybe I should change the name of the site to ?WeSpookDeerInSC.com? to give a more accurate representation of our hunting so far!
We?ll get the HD camera back out there soon enough and maybe we?ll get lucky. Until next weekend?
Here's an I-Phone pic of the HD camera in the ground blind
A shot from the outside
A shot from the last hunt in Kershaw County
What if the deer would've come out 10 yards further down the plot? What if I would've just had my gun already propped on the shooting rail? What if the deer would've kept walking toward the decoy? What if my gun barrel didn't get caught in the burlap? These were the questions running through my mind moments after blowing a perfect chance to harvest a nice 9 pt. Let's rewind?
This past weekend, I had the privilege to sit in the deer stand a few times. Saturday morning didn't offer any luck even though I felt like I was in the perfect setup. I called Clint to see if he wanted to film me hunting over the Tecomate Seed Food Plot on the power line Saturday afternoon. We decided were going to setup a buck decoy and use a rut smoking stick by Tink's. I placed the decoy and smoke stick about 60 yards down the plot. About halfway between the decoy and the stand, there was a fresh scrape on the edge of the food plot. The wind was blowing in our face at an angle, which was good considering the deer should be coming out in front of us. The deer we have been seeing have been coming out close to the scrape or at the very bottom of the plot. It was around 3:30 pm when we finally got situated in the tower stand. Clint and I were whispering what we hoped would happen and just texting people on our phones, trying to kill time until the ?golden hour? arrived.
Since there hasn?t been much rain, the squirrels were making a ridiculous amount of noise in the leaves to our left and right. Around 4:40 pm, the sporadic scampering from the squirrels had ceased and a rhythmic pattern of steps started resonating from the hardwoods to our right. I instantly looked at Clint and said ?That?s a deer!? Adrenaline suddenly rushed through my body and heightened my senses. I could hear every twig snap and every leaf crackle as the deer approached. He was walking right towards our stand! As the deer approached the food plot, he was so close that we couldn?t even see him. At this point, Clint and I were so excited that we literally felt like puking. Finally, Clint saw some antlers moving below us. Since I was in the right corner of the stand, I didn?t see the deer until he was a step away from entering the food plot. First thing I spotted was antlers. So I started taping Clint on the leg for him to let me know if it was a shooter. Clint gave me a thumbs up!!! It was game time! The deer was so close we had to be extremely quiet in our movements. I gently sat my binoculars on the floor and started to get my gun raised. By this time, the deer had spotted the decoy and had taken a few steps toward it. Perfect! I was thinking the deer was going to head straight for the decoy and Clint was going to capture the magic. The deer suddenly got spooked. He paused, turning his ears in every direction trying to pick up the slightest noise. I was frozen! I still hadn?t gotten my gun raised. The deer started walking toward the woods instead of the decoy. It?s was now or never! I quietly, but frantically tried to get my gun positioned on the shooting rail. The deer was just a few steps from disappearing into the woods when my gun barrel got tangled in the burlap on the top railing. As I untangled the barrel and clicked the safety off, the deer darted for the woods. BANG!!! ?Did you get him!?!? Clint whispers. My heart sank. I just had the greatest opportunity to take a nice buck and failed. I?m pretty sure in my rushed state of mind; I shot over the deer?s back at 15yds! We sat until dark and then got down to make sure I didn?t hit the deer. We didn?t find any sign of the deer being hit. This was the greatest hunt, with the worst outcome, in my life.
The image of the buck spotting the decoy & getting all stiff-legged
Even though I missed the deer, I had to show my family this awesome hunt. So when I got home, I played the footage for my dad, mom, sisters, and brother-in-law. As soon as the buck came into the screen, my sister was like I can?t believe you missed that nice buck. Great! Here we go, time for the clowning to commence. Then my dad chimes in, ?That deer about licked your barrel!? Now I?m trying to defend myself by describing what is happening behind the camera. My dad said he was going to get in that same stand in the morning. I said that was cool because I could just film him. He said that I wouldn?t have to worry about that deer again if he came out on him because he would ?put him to sleep?. So Sunday morning we headed back out to the tower stand. After getting in the stand, my dad couldn?t be still. His back was bothering him and he was on a bucket seat that didn?t have any back support. He kept squirming around and occasionally stood up. By this point I thought there was no way we are going to see a deer. So I just started playing on my phone and started texting people. Suddenly dad whispered ?Don?t move! A doe just stepped out.? By the time I get the camera turned on and zoomed down the plot, two more does stepped out. None of these does where on high alert like a buck was with them, so I immediately tell dad to pick one out and shoot. Before he can put the binoculars down and grab his gun, there were six does in the food plot. Three of these does are at least 120 lbs. Dad got his gun on the shooting rail and we pick out which doe he is going to shoot. ?Ready?? he whispered. BANG!!! ?Haha? I chuckled. The deer bounded off. Dad asks ?Did I hit her?? Then you hear me kind of laugh and say ?I don?t know?. I started picking on him because that is the first deer I?ve ever seen or heard of my dad missing. For some reason, he placed the cross hairs on top of the does back and shot over the top of her. I was like why would you do that, she was only 140 yards out. Then I realized that was the first deer my dad had ever attempted to shoot with a rifle. We decided to get down and check for blood just to make sure. As I waited for my turn to climb down the stand, I glanced back down the food plot and another deer had just walked out after all the commotion. I started whispering to dad to hand me the gun, but obviously he didn?t hear me. By the time he finally handed me the gun, the deer had run off. Now it was time for dad to get clowned by the family. Luckily for him, it was only mom there. So all he got was, ?I can?t believe ya?ll missed those deer.?
Even though pops and I were 0 for 2, those were two of the best hunts I?ve experienced in my life. I have to give special thanks to Mckenzie Scent Fan Duffle Bag, Atsko Scent Elimination Products, True Timber Camo and Tecomate Seed. Without the Mckenzie Scent Fan Duffle Bag and Atsko?s Scent elimination products, I don?t think Clint and I would?ve ever been able to get that close to the 9 pt. To be in a stand that is about 12 feet high and get within 5 yards of a buck like that speaks volumes for these two products. True Timber has great camo patterns for our area and the material is quiet. I will be purchasing more from them soon! Tecomate Seed just keeps bringing these deer in. We haven?t hunted that stand much, but now we have seen 3 or 4 bucks on it and a lot of does. So I highly recommend you guys try these products.
Below is the video of my first hunt
Below is the video of my dad?s hunt
These are 2 hunts I'll never forget!