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Blog Entries from the WeHuntSC.com blogging crew

Spooked & Hung Up SC Turkeys!
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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.

Hunt #1
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!

Jason Love on the turkey hunt

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!

The Tom that got away

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.

The 2nd turkey that got away

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.

Coastal SC Turkey Hunt
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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. 

Foggy morning turkey hunting in SC

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.

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.  

Stalk-hunting turkey pic

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!

Justin Brooks and Jason Love with SC Turkey

SC Coastal Turkey

Check out the video of the hunt…

In Summary
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! 

J-Love Jake Smackdown
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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.

J-Love's Turkey Collage

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. 

Jason Love with turkey

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.

Jason Love with turkey

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...

The Wet Turkey Hunt

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.

Patterning Guns and Scouting Turkeys

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.

The Journey to My First Turkey – Blog Series Intro

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.

SC Long Beards

   WeHuntSC.com - Mr. Bruce Puette and his Bow-Tech Tomkat
  Mr. Bruce Puette and his Bow-Tech Tomkat
As I pulled out of the driveway early Friday morning I saw 6 does running across the road.  I thought seeing the deer moving could be a sign of good things to come.  I was headed towards the Pee Dee River in Chesterfield County to hunt with Mr. Bruce Puette again.  If you read these blogs then you know that I go hunting with Mr. Puette whenever I get the opportunity and that usually something good comes from the hunts.
Like any hunter who knows they?re going to a good location, I had been anticipating our hunt all week.  It was Good Friday so I hoped something good would happen in our hunt.  Mr. Puette said we were going to a different place on this excursion and I knew he wouldn?t be going a different direction if he didn?t have a good feeling about it.  We met at 5:30 am and headed out along miles of country road before arriving to our destination.
About 20 minutes later we parked just off a dirt road beside what looked like an old pasture.  Mr. Puette always goes in early and I couldn?t tell too much about our surroundings because it was dark, but I knew we were walking through a field and the snag on my pants reminded me of the barbwire fence I encountered at the gate.  The walk in was easy in comparison to our last hunt where Mr. Puette harvested the ?Swamp Turkey?.  After the short walk through the field we arrived to a ground blind Mr. Puette had previously set up.  He said he?d seen a gobbler strutting in the field just out in front of the ground blind he?d nestled between 3 or 4 trees.  We would be hunting in an ideal location with a good setup.
 WeHuntSC.com - The bow and arrows on the tail gate  
 The bow and arrows on the tail gate  
On this hunt we had 2 objectives.  Mr. Puette had already harvested some turkeys with his gun and we were trying to get a gobbler with his bow.  Yes it would be a tough challenge, but we were up for it.  Mr. Puette shoots a Bow-Tech TomKat and he said we?d have to get the bird in pretty close in order for him to have a chance.  He?d also been practicing shooting his bow a lot and even had ?Gobbler 1? and ?Gobbler 2? written on the fletching of 2 of his arrows.  If we could get a gobbler with a bow and arrow it would make for some great footage also.  I asked Mr. Puette which turkey I should focus the camera on if we had multiple birds and he quickly responded??The one that is the closest!?
The second objective was to set up the Jake Intimidator and see if we could get a big ?ole gobbler to get worked up over it.  We got situated in the blind and I went out to set up the decoys.  To make the Jake Intimidator work you have to push the base of the decoy into the ground and when I pushed the base into the ground I got introduced to something known as a thistle.  Since it was dark, and I wasn?t using a flash-light, I couldn?t see what was causing the pain in my hand, but I could definitely feel it!  I pulled a couple thorns out of my fingers and kicked the plant as hard as I could and then finished putting the decoys out.  When I got back to the blind Mr. Puette informed me of what I just came in contact with.  That was the first lesson I learned that day.
   WeHuntSC.com - The Blind and the Jake Intimidator on the 2nd day's hunt
  The Blind and the Jake Intimidator on the 2nd day's hunt
We finally got situated in the blind and the sun was slowly rising.  We were sitting in a ground blind on a point of a field that had those thistles all over it.  As it became lighter outside we could see more and more of them all over the field and some were so big I even mistook them for turkeys while it was still a little dark.  The field was to the left of another field and the two fields were separated by a creek.  We were sitting about 20 yards to the left of the creek that separated the two. 
It had been really foggy on the way in and I think the overcast weather made the turkeys start gobbling a little later because we didn?t hear much early.  Mr. Puette had his endeared Primos ?Lil Heartbreaker? mahogany box call that he sounded a couple of times early on to see if we could locate any gobblers.  It didn?t take long until we heard a big gobble boom out from way behind us.  Mr. Puette says he likes going with me because I can hear better than he can, but it wasn?t long before we both heard the gobbles coming from behind us? and they were slowly getting closer. The Lil Heartbreaker was singing music to the ears of the gobblers that were behind us.
We had openings in the sides and front of the blind, but had the back shut so as not to get caught moving around.  We knew turkeys were behind us gobbling, but as you would expect, we didn?t know which side they were heading towards. If you?ve turkey hunted in a scenario like this before then you know the feeling I?m talking about when I say that the turkeys were all around us, but we weren?t exactly sure which side they would come from and all we could do was be still in the wait.  Normally in this situation we expect for them to come in quiet and spook us.  It seems like they always gobble from the roost, get on the ground and gobble a few times, and then go silent for a while.  The same scenario happened last year when I went on my first turkey hunt with Mr. Puette. It kind of gets to my nerves a little bit to be in the midst of ?the wait? when you know they?re around you and that it won?t be long.
WeHuntSC.com - Making use of the new Thermacell Swivel Clip    
Making use of the new Thermacell Swivel Clip  
We waited and waited an every now and then we heard a gobble and they started happening from different directions. I was almost breaking my neck looking out the right side of the blind trying to see anything.  I kept scanning the field for any movement because it just felt like it was time for something to happen.  Then I heard something start pinging the top of the blind.  Rain.  It started to rain and the sound and sight of rain made me think the hunt wasn?t going to be good.  I asked Mr. Puette about this and he told me that sometimes rain can drive the turkeys out of the woods and into the fields.
Shortly thereafter the rain slacked back off.  I looked back to my hard right and saw something.  I focused in and saw a red head and a puffed up Tom strutting behind us to the right side of the creek.  Getting a shot with a bow would be impossible across the creek so we?d have to get them over our way. The turkey was about 80 yards from us when I first saw him and I turned to Mr. Puette and said ?Here he comes?.  Mr. Puette got excited and when I turned back around and looked again I saw movement behind the gobbler.  I whispered ?There?s more than one? and I heard Mr. Puette say ?Thank you Lord? on the other side of the blind.  
I turned the camera on and was kind of commentating to Mr. Puette because he couldn?t see the birds as easily as I could. Looking through the small viewfinder in the camera made it difficult to count how many turkeys there were, but I could tell there were several. Before we knew it we had 3 big old gobblers strutting and 2 hens coming with them just to our right. It was a beautiful site to see these birds in action.  The bad part was that they were in the field that was beside us rather than in our field.  We thought they would eventually cross the creek and come our way and all we could do was watch.  
    WeHuntSC.com - The view from inside the blind
  The view from inside the blind
At first I was free-handing the camera, but because I was zoomed in so far it was shaky so I took the monopod stick out of the tripod and used it to steady the camera some.  The footage got better the longer the turkeys stayed in the field and the closer they got to us.  They were working their way closer to us and we felt sure they would come on over.  The Toms were strutting big time and their beards were huge.  At one point they were walking and the beards on them were swinging back and forth like they were baseball bats attached to their chest.  I?d never seen this many male turkeys strutting together.
The turkeys got near a patch of trees and just stayed in that area for a while and were spinning, puffing, walking, and strutting.  The two hens were feeding and didn?t seem too impressed with the Toms showing off their stuff just yards away from them.  Mr. Puette started pulling the string on the Jake Intimidator to try to get their attention.  We felt sure that if one of the males saw it ?puffing up? that they would think they were being challenged and come on over to check out the situation. However, due to the trees being in the way the turkeys couldn?t see the Jake Intimidator?s movement.
We just kept watching these turkeys show off just 50 ? 60 yards away from us through the trees.  We were thankful to have such a great scene happening right before our eyes, yet a little frustrated that they were staying on the other side of the creek.  Mr. Puette let out some clucks and purrs to get their attention and they did hear the calling and even responded with some gobbles, but the end result was that these gobblers weren?t going to leave the two hens they had to come over our way.  We watched these turkeys for probably 25 minutes and it was one of the neatest things I?ve ever seen while hunting.  
After a while the turkeys headed back in the direction they came from and Mr. Puette and I hoped they would circle around.  We called and waited and waited and called, but that was the last glimpse we saw of the turkeys.  We were both pumped about what has just occurred?mainly because were knew we were able to hunt again the next morning!  We waited a good while and then called it a day.  After we got out of the blind we decided to move the blind over across the creek in hopes of the same scene happening the next day.  We got the blind moved and situated it in the perfect place for the next day?s hunt.
I could hardly wait until the next morning and the thought of those Tom?s strutting was on my mind.  Though, we wouldn?t see the same sight the next morning.  We heard a ton of gobbles and the turkeys were there, but on the second day they went a different direction when they came off the roost.  We even went back once more in the afternoon to give it one last final shot, but didn?t see anything then either.  We had given it everything we had and didn?t come away with a turkey, but we did leave with memories and sights of a great hunt and show put on by the gobblers and that was enough for us! The scenes and memories of this hunt will be in my mind for some time.  It was a great day in the woods.

Poulos Sportsman Club Turkey Hunt

As we marched up the old road bed, the anticipation of the morning hunt filled the air.  Brad Crawford spotted a couple longbeards strutting in the meadow the evening before.  With that being said we had a good idea of where the birds were roosting.  We planned on getting up on the ridge above the meadow for the morning hunt.  Brad led the way up the road bed.  Sam Poulos and Tank Johnson both armed and ready followed behind.  I was pulling up the rear armed with my video camera. 

Brad called out an owl hoot with a dead on response from the longbeards.  We sat up on the ridge and got ready for the action.  As Brad sent out a series of yelps there must have been four more birds gobbling off in the distance.  It seemed that we were in prime position.  With another series of calls it seemed that the gobbles echoed a little louder.  Back and forth we went when all of a sudden a soft yelp from a hen could be heard in the distance.  As Brad said later it was as if the hen grabbed the gobbler by the beard and said oh no you don?t.  The gobbles faded into the distance.  We got up and planned our next move.

Crossover Camo!  Can you see me?  

We heard one gobbler move to our left off in the distance so we figured we could get down in the meadow and see if we could draw him back.  As we moved down the ridge, Brad sent out a crow call and was answered by a gobble.  We scurried down the hill and called briefly and realized the bird was coming.  Brad stayed back on the ridge about thirty yards.  Sam sat out on the main field which is where we thought the bird would pop out.  Tank and I sat behind Sam about twenty yards in a little cove.  Tank and Brad both called for a few minutes.  I was in a good position to film Sam and any birds out in the main field but I realized I wasn?t in a good position when I saw Tank ease his gun around to my left and click off the safety.  With Brad and Tank calling the birds split the difference.  When the birds didn?t see anything out in the cove or meadow they got a little weary and all I could hear was a few putts that signaled the show was over.  Tank had a shot but it was a Jake so he didn?t take it.  Up the ridge Brad had a better vantage point and could see the longbeard in the back fanned out.  Too bad he?s tagged out.  Oh so close! 

It was an awesome morning hunt with a lot of gobbling, awesome calling, and tons of heart pounding action at the Poulos Sportsman Club.  I was glad I had some Wildlife Energy shots because I was whooped after a weekend of early morning hunts.  I got a kick out of Brad saying that he doesn?t sleep in April.  That?s about the truth. 

Brad, Sam, and Tank  

Although our hunt ended without filling a tag another hunter, Mark Cody, had better luck.  Mark was able to take his first bird by calling himself.  He was pretty pumped when we got back to the clubhouse.  I was able to snap a few pictures.  18 #, Double Beard 10 ¼ and 4 ¼, ¾ inch spurs. 

Mark Cody - 18#, Double Beard 10 1/4 & 4 1/4, 3/4 in. spurs  

Check out my recap video of the hunt! Turn up the volume and listen to some gobbling action.


SC Swamp Turkey
   WeHuntSC.com - Mr. Puette sitting at the base of the tree
  Mr. Puette sitting at the base of the tree

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.

WeHuntSC.com - The new Thermacell  
The new Thermacell that kept us mosquito free  

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.


WeHuntSC.com - Mr. Puette with the gobbler on the way out

  Mr. Puette on the way out

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.

WeHuntSC.com - Primos Slates used during the hunt   
Primos Slates used during the hunt  
I was sitting on the left side of the tree and Mr. Puette was on the right side.  As I scanned the woods (and I say wood because last time I used the word ?forest? I got criticized?thanks Hoot!) I saw something to my left that looked like a dark stump, but I didn?t remember seeing this stump before so it kind of caught me off guard.  Since I was in a new area, it was kind of ?hazy?, and since I couldn?t focus well I wasn?t sure.  I watched the dark looking stump and then all of a sudden it started moving and the shape turned into a fan-tail.  I was pumped! I tapped Mr. Puette immediately and told him that we had a gobbler about 25 yards to our left.  This turkey had slipped up on us and hadn?t made one sound. Yes, turkeys were gobbling, but they were further away?this one came in silent. 

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. 

     WeHuntSC.com - Turkey in the woods
  I could barely focus on this turkey
As we were watching this turkey strut his stuff in circles we had other gobblers hammering out from other directions.  We didn?t know where to look we had so many birds talking around us, but I kept my eye on the gobbler to the left. I was frustrated at this turkey because he kept spinning and puffing and spinning and puffing and he wouldn?t come out to where I could get a good shot at him with the camera and Mr. Puette was just itching to shoot him, but it would have been a forced shot so he held off.  Another frustrating thing was that the camera kept focusing on the underbrush of the woods rather than the turkey?so the majority of the footage I got is really blurry because we were so low on the ground and because the turkey was staying just behind the brush.  I bet we watched this turkey for about 15-20 minutes at just about 20 ? 25 yards away from us.  Mr. Puette even kicked the brush with his feet simulating the sound of a hen scratching, but nothing we did would entice this turkey to come any closer. Eventually the turkey faded back into the woods where he came from and we lost him. 

WeHuntSC.com - Turkey out front   
The turkey out in front of us  
We sat there a little dejected, but still hopeful talking about it the whole time and couldn?t figure it out.  We sat for another 15 ? 20 minutes and we even talked about moving to a different location.  Mr. Puette called randomly and nothing much responded and the thoughts of our hunt from last year came back to me.  I remembered Mr. Puette saying ?Patience kills turkeys?. We sat there a little while longer and then out of the blue we heard a loud gobble right out in front of us and Mr. Puette instantly grabbed his gun and got in shooting position. I couldn?t see any turkey so I asked him ?Where is he?? and Mr. Puette responded ?I don?t know, but he?s close!?  We sat there on alert scanning the woods.  Then I saw the dark spot moving through some woods out in front of us this time and I zoomed in on him. The turkey was finally moving across the front of our location heading to the right?which means he was getting at a better angle for Mr. Puette to shoot. Mr. Puette had the gun up and I was just trying to follow the bird.  With such dense wood and brush in the swampy area it was tough.  The turkey finally got out to where Mr. Puette could shoot and he didn?t waste any time. I couldn?t see the bird so I just filmed Mr. Puette.  A loud boom rang through the woods and I saw the bird fly up.  Mr. Puette said ?I missed him? and I said ?No you didn?t, he just crashed?.  I had heard the bird go down, but Mr. Puette didn?t.  He got up and walked over to that direction and the turkey jumped up and started running.  He got his gun up and the turkey turned and started running toward him! Mr. Puette rang out 3 shots and on the 3rd shot he stopped the turkey in his tracks and the turkey was only about 10 yards away from him. The footage wasn?t good on that so it isn?t worth posting, but I think he was about to get spurred had he not had that last shot in his gun!  After the hunt ended we took a bunch of pictures and videos.

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.

WeHuntSC.com - The deer cracked acorn shell    WeHuntSC.com - The Twisted Oak
The deer cracked acorn shell   The Twisted Oaks

  WeHuntSC.com - Wildlife Energy & the turkey
  Wildlife Energy Shots & the Gobbler
Five yards from the base of that tree Mr. Puette picked up the top half of an acorn shell and said ?look at that? and I looked at it and said ?Yeah I bet some deer love that huh?.  He responded ?Look closer at it? and I did and when I focused in on it he said ?Look at the shape of the break in the shell? those are deer teeth marks that cracked it? and sure enough you could see the outline of the deer?s teeth. Mr. Puette sure pays attention to detail?especially when he?s walking.  He finds arrowheads and picks up on anything out of the ordinary.  He?s just got that knack.

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.

WeHuntSC.com - Mr. Puette & the turkey

I hope to get in on more hunts with Mr. Puette and next time I?ll try to get better focus on the turkey!



York County Hunter Wins 2010 GearFrenzy Turkey of the Year Competition
   WeHuntSC.com - Steve Black with his prizes
  Steve Black with his prizes

This year we hosted our first Turkey of the Year Competition.  In order to ensure that users wouldn?t submit a picture from years ago, we forced user?s entries to have the date of their kill written somewhere in the picture with them.  As you may imagine, we heard from several individuals who said ?If I had only known, then I would have done it?.  Well? now you know and next year you can do it!  You have to start sometime and this year was our starting point.

For this reason we had a low number of user submissions, but nevertheless we did have some hunter?s that were able to get their information submitted successfully.  Of the submitted entries to the site, Steve ?Brother? Black from York County, SC has emerged as the winner.  Steve is an avid, year-round hunter and is a member of the Mossy Oak Pro Staff.  He hunts deer in the fall, ducks around December and, obviously, turkeys in the spring.  He took a trip to Arkansas this past duck hunting season and had a very successful hunt.  Steve is known as one of the best turkey hunters around York County and the Rock Hill area.  Steve has guided some TV show personalities on hunts and enjoys taking his young son hunting.   

Steve was nice enough to take a minute away from work tell us the story about how he bagged his competition winning turkey along with some information about the calls he uses.


For more information about the calls that Steve uses check out his sponsor?s web sites at:

We?re excited for Steve and glad he entered the contest.  We really enjoy giving back to the hunters of South Carolina!  The days when we deliver the prizes are one of my most favorite things that I get to do being involved with this site.  From winning the competition, Steve received:

Not too bad for a day in the woods!

A big congratulations to Steve and a message to all the turkey hunters for next year? HAVE A PIECE OF PAPER, PEN, AND CAMERA CLOSE BY IF YOU PLAN ON GETTING A TURKEY IN THE CONTEST!

Until next turkey season?



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