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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.

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