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.
I’ve got a friend who lives in the Myrtle Beach area named Justin Brooks. Justin is part of the WeHuntSC.com crew and he’s been telling us he had some turkeys down there and we’ve been promising to go down and hunt with him for a while. Well this past weekend we finally made it happen.
Jason Love and I traveled to the coast last Friday evening. We made a road trip and told hunting stories the whole way. We were excited about the upcoming weekend hunts and we both looked forward to catching up with Justin.
After reconnecting Friday night we went to bed early so as to be able to go hard on Saturday. We left our around 4:45 because we had to drive a little while to get to the hunting lease. Justin had been scouting and seeing birds in several areas and we set up overlooking a wheat field for the first set of the day.
Unfortunately it was very foggy on Saturday morning and we didn’t have much action right as the sun was rising. We stayed in this area until around 9am at which point we decided to move to a different field. However, as we drove off we saw 2 hens and a small tom on the edge of an adjacent field. We knew the turkeys were starting to move.
Move to the Big Field
Justin’s lease is segmented off into quadrants of logging roads, rows of trees, and fields. This makes moving around more feasible than in the area where we typically hunt. So we drove around the edge of the property and walked through the woods to a large field. When we got there we saw the field was full of turkeys. It was a beautiful sight. The only problem was that the turkeys were out in the middle of this huge field and there were Toms, Jakes, and Hens there so not much responded to our calling.
While we sat on the edge of the pines overlooking the field we noticed a water snake in the creek right beside us. It was interesting to be just feet away from the snake.
pic.twitter.com/aIL845pHO4— Clint Patterson (@CBPSC) April 30, 2016
The Frustrated Tom & Frustrated Hunters
We watched these turkeys feed for a long time. They moved all around the field feeding. We had 4 turkeys (2 hens and 2 jakes) that kind of stayed near us… just to our right. We really wanted to shoot a nice tom since there were some nice ones out there. Though the Toms were running back and forth across the ditch trying to run some other jakes off. It was indeed frustrating to have them move closer to us then to have them turn right back around and run across the field.
At one point one of the nice toms started working his way down the field on our side. We thought this was going to be it, but after closing over 150 yards the tom crossed the ditch heading to our right. He was too far out to shoot (even though in the video he looks really close because I was zoomed in). So the toms were frustrated by the presence of the jakes and we were frustrated that we couldn’t get any closer to the toms.
Retreating to the Point
After we had sat there for a while watching these turkeys Justin said he thought we could move and be closer to where some of the turkeys were heading. So we went back to the truck and rode down the old logging road through the woods toward the area where at least one big tom was headed. When we got there we parked the truck and started walking the logging road.
Justin grabbed one of his decoys that he called “Tommy” and kept it in front of him the whole time. Jason and I had not experienced this style of hunting before and usually when we try to chase birds we don’t have much success. However, Justin has obviously hunted that area and in that style way more than we had. He told us about how he went down to Georgetown and used the same technique and was successful with it there too. Jason and I were up for anything and we followed Justin’s lead.
Once we got closer to the field Justin brought up his binoculars and said he saw a tom out in the field heading toward the tree line. So we made a hard right into the woods in order to center ourselves in the tree line on the edge of the field. We just had to go through the woods in order to get there without bumping the tom. So we made our way through the woods (and caught red bugs along the way, an occurrence we would later not be pleased with) and started working toward the edge of the field where the planted pines stopped.
When we got to the edge Justin crawled up and quietly put the Tommy decoy on the edge. Since we were stalk hunting this turkey I did not try to move into the optimal videoing location because that could have potentially ruined the hunt. So I had to video from behind the guys and we needed to leave a little brush in front of us to camouflage us.
Sure enough the tom in the field started working his way toward the decoy. I couldn’t get him really clear in the camera, but when we went full-screen later on you could barely see him moving between the leaves. Onces the turkey got within shooting distance Jason dropped the hammer on him. The decoy and the trees both moved forward and backward with the repercussion of the shot. The turkey flopped to the ground and Justin instantly popped up and started running out there. I’m not sure why he did that, but Jason followed suit and I picked up the camera and headed out too. When Justin got near the bird the turkey jumped up and started flying off. Both Justin and Jason then stopped and went into battle mode and unleased the fury on the turkey. It seemed almost like a pheasant hunt because they were trying to down the bird as he flew off. I think on shot #3 or #4 one of them finally connected with the turkey and got him on the ground. And I got it all on camera too!
After the shot we all continued walking out to the bird, got some post game pics and video quotes and then tagged him and headed out. We were a happy crew!
Check out the video of the hunt…
The Saturday morning hunt was one I won’t be soon forgetting… especially as long as these red bugs keep me itching! It was really neat to see all the turkeys out in the field just strutting and feeding. It was a beautiful sight and we enjoyed spending time with each other in God’s creation and observing nature. We also learned a thing or two about stalk hunting from Justin. We may have to give it a shot at some point and see what we can do. All in all it was a great day in the woods with a very interesting end to the hunt!
My friend Jason Love and I hunt together often and we’ve been chasing some turkeys in our area for about 3 weeks. Up until earlier today the turkeys had been winning. It has been somewhat frustrating trying to get everything to line up.
Thus far this season it has seemed that the turkeys are not nearly as vocal as they have been in the past seasons. My theory has been that they are silent because of the coyotes (as demonstrated in the “Tech-Turkey Brings in Coyotes” blog video. This season we’ve been turkey hunting twice and seen 6 coyotes, shot 2, and killed 1. I was hoping the trend wouldn’t continue. Fortunately today we had a much different and better experience.
We got there early and set up near a point that overlooks a field. Behind us was a fresh cutover. We were louder on the way in that we wanted to be, but we made it to our spot. We’d scouted birds and seen them in the area for the past few weekends. We were not hearing them, but rather were just seeing them. Though, this morning we had turkeys gobbling from all directions, which was a nice change of pace.
As the sun rose we listened to nature wake up. We heard several turkeys start gobbling. Jason started giving the turkeys the “pillow talk” and we had one that was going absolutely crazy, but he was far off. However, he was seemingly getting closer with each gobble. It was an awesome morning in the woods. It was cool enough that mosquitoes weren’t out and we weren’t covered in sweat by the time we got to our location. The turkeys were really hammering from the trees and it was good to finally hear them in the area again.
We anticipated the turkeys entering into the field, but as often happens when turkey hunting, the unanticipated occurred. We had 3 jakes come in really silent behind us from the direction of the cutover. When they got about 60 yards from us they gobbled and liked to scared us half to death. At that point Jason turned and got his body in position to shoot in that direction. He saw the birds and said “Hey they’re close sit still, don’t move”. So I knew that they were getting within shooting range. I didn’t move because I didn’t want to mess up the hunt.
As I sat there looking the wrong way it dawned on me that the camera’s screen was reversible. So I turned the camera around backwards and aimed it over my shoulder. Then I flipped the viewfinder screen so that I could see in the viewfinder. It was really difficult to video in reverse over my back, but I did the best I could. It took me a while to find the turkeys, but when they got really close I was able to video them. One thing I could easily see though was Jason’s facial expressions and reactions. He was very focused and as they got closer you could tell it from his body language because things got more intense.
When the turkeys got about 20 yards away from us I was able to find them in the viewfinder. They worked their way closer. The turkeys were feeding just about 15 yards from us when they went behind some stumps. They stayed there momentarily, though it seemed liked forever. Then they started moving across our face to our left. Jason whispered “You ready?” and I said “Yes” and the turkey stepped into the perfect window, but he didn’t shoot. He had a tree in his way. I said “Wait!” and zoomed out. Then a few seconds later I said “Yes” and Jason instantly pulled the trigger and the bird dropped to the ground. The other 2 took off running and the rest was history.
Now to help you visualize that story, check out the below video...
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.
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.
Early this turkey season I got a nice gobbler on a very wet day. The wetness made the turkey's feathers look like paint brushes. I self-filmed the hunt and Clint has helped me post it below.
Click the video to play it.
As you are most likely aware Turkey season is upon us. Everyone will be hitting the woods soon chasing thunder chickens, but there are still a couple things that need to be done before getting after that gobbler! I had yet to pattern my gun, scout for turkeys and get my gear, calls, and decoys together. These are all things that should be done before the season and if you’re like me you’re scrambling looking for time to get it all done.
The first task was to get comfortable with my gun and to do some shooting to test out the best shot and choke combination. When it comes to pattering a gun I think it’s best to first select your shell and choke tube combination as your starting point and then do some testing. When Blakely patterned her Winchester sx3 she used the Primos jelly head choke tube. She shot Kent, Remington, and Hevi-shot magnum blend. After shooting each shell 30 yards it was clear the Hevi- shot magnum blend is the shell for her gun. I shoot a Beretta A391 Urika. I'm using a pure gold choke tube shooting Hevi-shot premium blend also. I don’t think there is a right or wrong combination necessarily, but you just have to find what works best for you.
Once we felt good about our guns and ammo then came time to do some scouting. Recently I have been working a lot of overtime so haven't had as much time to scout as I would like. Blakely has been checking her hunting property and it show good signs. The areas that I have had time to check have all showed signs of turkeys as well. When we scouted we saw signs of turkey tracks, scratching, and droppings. So we’ll keep our fingers crossed and keep working on our calling.
So get your gear, gun, and turkey tags ready. Come April 1st I hope to see a lot of turkey pictures on here on the site! Good luck everyone and stay safe! Hopefully it won’t be too much longer til I get my first gobbler.
Turkey season is right around the corner. With Clint’s encouragement I’m going to do a, hopefully short, blog series on the journey to getting my first turkey. I hope that you will follow along as I learn more about turkey hunting and hopefully get my first turkey.
To begin I should tell you why I haven't really gotten a turkey up until this point in my life. I've previously been close to getting a turkey, but haven't ever sealed the deal. I've only been into hunting turkeys for past 3 years and my first year was trial and error. The second year I almost got a nice tom, but of all things to happen the hunt got messed up by a deer. My third turkey hunting season one of my friends Daryl Hodge took me. I helped him scout and we located the birds. They came in and we got into position. I was shaking like a leaf. Daryl worked his magic, the birds came into range. I gently squeezed the trigger and click. I didn't know what to do. I watched the turkeys walk away. Daryl came over to me and asked me what happened. I knew I had a shell in the chamber so I kicked the shell out and the primer had a dent in it. It didn't fire. I was sick to my stomach. I probably could have shot 2 of the 3 toms in front of me. It was a good and definitely a memorable hunt as well. So I’m 0 for 2 so far and after that hunt I never got to hunt anymore last season after that due to work. This season I hope to change my luck!
Here's me turkey hunting in previous seasons
Another reason I'm excited this year is because I have a new hunting partner. If you are active online and in the outdoors in SC then you may already know her. Her name is Blakely Byrd and she is a pro staff member for several different companies including Banded. She owns the Sportsman’s Consignment shop in Columbia called “Catch and Release” which is also where we had this past year’s Predator Challenge Check-in. I met her at a Ducks Unlimited meeting and we have been friends since. I was recently telling her of myself never killing a turkey and she told me she could help me with that. She has some land down in Columbia that has been burned off and has several food plots and is a turkey paradise. It has produced several nice toms for her every year.
Blakely has definitely gotten her share of turkeys before
We will start scouting next week locating birds. With the new growth from the burning the turkeys will be in looking for insects and new tender growth to eat. There will be a lot of walking but I'm up for the challenge. So there is a lot to be done before April 1st, but I’m looking forward to it.
Thanks for reading and I hope that this series will be helpful to you in some way. I’d also like to thank this blog series sponsor
HeyBo Southern Apparel and Catch and Release Sportsman's Consignment for sponsoring this journey with me.
Dad and I have been turkey hunting all season. We’ve been successful, but there was one gobbler that had dodged both of us each time we hunted this one specific property. We had both previously worked this same bird and each time he had left out gobbling with two hens going in the same direction. So we came up with a game plan to hunt the bird together. Unfortunately for me, when the day we planned to hunt this bird came, I got called in to work so I couldn’t go. On my way in to work we discussed the pre-hunt while my dad was in route to woods.
Dad came in from a total different direction and located the “Boss Tom” with an owl hoot and then he made his way to our previously planned location in the dark. Once he got to the set up location he hooted again and the Tom sounded off twice. He was very active while still on the roost, which was a good sign.
At daybreak the woods came to life, the two hens gave a fly down cackle and pitched out in the pines. Shortly after the Boss Tom pitched out and automatically fell into a strut. The hens started into dad's direction, but then turned and quartered away. We had previously been calling softly so dad started cutting aggressively and got one of the hens fired up! Within minutes both hens were 10 yards away from dad and the strutting tom was just 30 yards behind. Once the hens started to move out of the way, dad cut real hard and the tom gobbled and stretched his neck out for a clean shot.
Even though I wasn't there with him on the hunt, it still made me feel good that my dad @ 75 years old, was still in the woods "wrecking em"! Truly a blessing!!
Tale of the tape: 20.4 lbs, 10" beard & 6" beard and 1" spurs.
Good Hunting ~ Daryl
Coming in first place was Jimmy Bradley of Pageland, SC with a nice 4-bearded gobbler
2nd place went to Bruce Puett of Marlboro County
And 3rd place went to Tony Pope of Kershaw County
If you were a winner please contact me here through the site and we'll get you your prizes shortly!
Thanks again everyone..