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Blog Entries from the WeHuntSC.com blogging crew

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!



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