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Archive for the ‘Fall Turkey Hunting’ Category

Got ‘Er Done!

 

I actually pondered about hunting this morning. It was windy and I do not prefer to hunt on such days, but I always seem to end up going out to pursue those bronzed-back beauties. I guess it is an obsession of mine.

The temperatures were in the twenties this morning. A hint of snow covered the forest floor. I crossed a flat and dropped down the slope and began calling as I walked.  I had went about half a mile when I saw turkeys out ahead at approximately sixty yards or so. The race was on as I moved as fast as I could to bust the flock up.  I saw birds moving in three directions. I continued through and hiked two birds from the trees. The hunt was on!

  I set up and called periodically any time the wind subsided a little. A half an hour later I was getting cold, but I was determined to wait these birds out. I estimated ten to twelve birds but in the commotion I couldn’t get an accurate count.

I heard rapid yelping behind me and I readjusted my setting position. I continued calling and I heard a second bird to my left. Soon I could see the darkened body moving among the brush and Mountain Laurel. At twenty-two steps the Remington talked in a loud voice and a young gobbler was down. I uttered some thankful words of prayer.

The next phase is to clean the turkey. Any takers on this job? I didn’t think so!

 

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Turkeys Galore!

Notice the steep sides. Charging downhill in these conditions may end up with bone breakage for me.

Early on the second morning of the 2019 fall turkey season I heard an answer to my calls. Unfortunately, the answer was clear across a steep hollow. I knew I needed to get over to the side as quick as possible. However, I don’t do as well as I used to with going down hills and especially steep ones. I circled below and worked up the hill towards where the answering turkey came from.  As I moved along I could see turkeys feeding in a field. I eased back and set up hoping they may follow the field’s edge presenting a shot.

Things seldom go as one hopes with turkey season.  The flock exited the field back into the open woods to my left. They began answering my calls and I could hear them walking in the leaves! The bad luck factor was present. Between the birds and myself was a thick small gulley chocked with alders, spicebush, briars and vines. There would be one area where a shot could be had and the birds would stop at the brush’s edge and eventually walked away.

Buck rub

I moved into the field and started into the woods for a bust up only to find NO TURKEYS.  I moved around and didn’t find a single bird. Later I went up the hollow and moved low. I had answers ro my calls. The turkeys were either in the steepest part of the hollow and just up a little on the opposite side. WE carried on communications for fifteen or so minutes. I stopped calling and shortly, thereafter, the birds quit, too. About forty minutes later I found them about a hundred or so yards farther down this hollow. Again, we talked for a time and all would go silent. Both of these times the birds were not all that far, but they refused to move to my calling. And, unfortunately, the steepness of these slopes thwarted any attempts for me to charge down a hill to break them up.

I circled around to their side and the turkeys were gone. Eventually I went up and over onto the flats. I saw the flock of 12-18 birds about a hundred and twenty yards away. I moved as fast as I could only to watch them stay together and quickly move into posted property. I felt defeated. All of the above happened during a four hour time zone. I worked around and left the woods by two o’clock, tired and knees a hurting’.

This morning was a wet hunt. (November 5) I went to another area where I had seen turkeys and sign recently. The rain and wind made hearing very difficult.

I eased out to a cornfield’s edge and could see some turkeys in the corn. (The corn wasn’t high.) I circled around to try to call them. I saw some turkeys moving away from my right side. they didn’t seem to care about my calling. Perhaps they had seen me.

I circled again with some vegetation in my favor and soon saw them ahead at about a hundred yards. I believe there were, at least, fifteen birds in this flock.  I moved as quick as I could and hollered a couple of times, but the birds seemed to stay together. I decided to set and call loudly in case a couple of stragglers were close by. All I got was soaked even more and the shivers. Forty-five minutes later I was cold and wet and decided to head towards the jeep.

Later, I spotted a gobbler’s head at about 35 yards. I charged figuring a flock was on the back side of this terrain. Only one gobbler was present and I watched him move away.

Time to regroup for another time. I was very wet and cold and needed to get warmed-up quick.

I saw, these last two hunts, a lot of deer including a very nice buck. I saw a lot of squirrels, both gray and fox squirrels.

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Young Bedded Doe

The cold frosty early morning felt great as I trekked up the slope towards a listening point for turkeys. I had not scouted for turkeys so I was going to a vantage point hoping to hear some roosted birds. This first day of the 20191 fall turkey season in Pennsylvania would be a short one. My step-father’s brother and family were to be at my homestead to visit around ten o’clock. I needed to quit by ten and move on to be part of the family get together. They were coming in from Virginia.

I was almost to the crest of the hill when I heard the hooting of a Barred Owl in the distance. I stopped and listened until the bird went to bed. Later I would see a barred owl flying from a tree. Interestingly, while I listened to the owl I could hear something walking in the frost-laden leaves. Soon I could see the form of a deer coming towards me. Although the morning was still rather dark I could see a sizable rack at times. the buck stopped approximately eighteen yards from me before sensing my presence. I saw a few unidentified deer and another buck with, maybe, two inch spikes.

Around nine o’clock after calling and moving about fifty yards I heard the sounds of a turkey. Real bird? Another hunter? I searched for a position and quickly settled in against a White Pine tree. Another dead snag was about three feet from the tree. I called and decided I should move for this snag could be an issue. However, before I had taken that move an adult gobbler was spotted out ahead. The gobbler stepped behind a tree and I placed the shotgun onto a limb from that snag. the gobbler was moving perfect and was soon within my range. I couldn’t get a shot for the bird always seemed to be blocked with tree trunks. T

Then it happened the gobbler turned left. (My right) I couldn’t get the gun into position and the gobbler was wide open at about twenty yards. The gobbler began to be suspicious. His actions told me he was nervous. I did something at that time I never do. Why? I tried to slowly move the gun out of that snag. the gobbler started moving away and I removed the Remington and tried to align for a shot while being in an awkward position. I can still see the gun NOT being on target when the boom occurred. The gobbler was out of effective range by this time anyway and I was frustrated at my stupidity. I think in all my years of hunting I have only messed up on three or four turkeys. This shot should not have happened.

I returned to the jeep close to ten and changed my pants and shoes and enjoyed time at home with my family and Bob’s family. This afternoon we all got together for a meal at a lock restaurant. It was sad to see the four begin to head off back to Virginia soon.

A frost along the edge of this oak leaf.

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A Bearded Hen

The bearded hen

On a recent post here I mentioned the old adage. The old saying often heard is the “third time’s the charm.” That third time for this fall’s turkey season came true this morning as I pursed the big birds.

  I walked to a listening point early this morning to hopefully hear some roosted birds. That plan failed so I began a walk and call style hunt.  I did not

Milkweed seeds

find any turkeys so I went a couple of hills over to repeat. Again I didn’t find any turkeys. This fall season has been exceptionally difficult for me. Sure, I had two chances that I left slide by believing a better shot would be the result. Neither opportunity resulted in any shots. Other birds were seen in leased land so I couldn’t go after them. Mostly I was simply having a rough time finding birds. I put on many miles trying to locate and break up a flock of turkeys in order to call one back in.

The third area I was searching found a change in luck for me.  I was walking along calling. At one point I called and heard nothing. I walked about ten feet more and I heard it! I heard yelps and not at any great distance. I hurried set up between two big oaks and the calling began.

About fifteen minutes later I first saw the turkey. I leveled the shotgun once an opportunity to do so presented itself.  A few minutes more the turkey moved into an open position and the shot was fired. The twenty yard shot was true and I had a turkey. Those many windy and rainy days with lots of miles walked and, suddenly, and in a short time I received an answer and had a turkey. That is the way the hunts happen at times.

I was surprised to realize the adult turkey had a five inch beard. I was surprised she was alone, too.

I took some various photos before heading home. It was a good day with a bagged turkey and a lot of deer sightings. One buck I saw had close to a twenty-inch spread.

 

 

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The old adage, “The third time is the charm”  may apply if only I could find that third one.  I came very close on two occasions on bagging a turkey last Wednesday, November 7. In fact I had the shotgun leveled with the safety off both times, but failed to shoot.

Christmas briars

Wednesday morning seemed like a great day for hunting considering the winds and rain this season has had daily. However, at daybreak the winds  began to increase, as well. I do not like hunting turkeys in windy conditions because of the inability to hear well. I can’t hear them as readily and they can’t hear my calling as readily either. Also, a flock of birds can be heard scratching leaves for some distances on calm days. With that in mind my hunting strategy is to cover ground searching for a flock to break up and set up on. Then I can call them back in. I tramped miles this season and haven’t walked onto a flock of turkeys. This is hard to believe.

Anyway, I was disappointed when the winds began at daybreak. I knew hearing roosted birds could be difficult unless I was within a couple of hundred yards. I did enjoy the soft hooting of a Screech Owl for a few moments before circling the point calling and listening.  I reached the point and crossed over the top. I called periodically. Soon, I peered down into a woods and saw a turkey. The bird walked behind a big tree and I dropped. I began calling  and suddenly to my right I heard turkey talk and could even hear the bird walking in the leaves. The turkey was close. All I could do was play the cards dealt.

The Remington 870 was leveled when the bird appeared. Unfortunately for me the turkey came into an area where landowners had dozed ground to level years ago. So mounds of dirt and limbs were present along with grasses and pokeberry stalks. I was in the open and the turkey was in open woods. Unfortunately, this mound and vegetation was between the two of us. However, there was an opening for a chance. The turkey was visible and all the bird needed to do was take a step to be in a clear shot zone. The turkey spotted the orange and darted across that opening and ran down the hill.  I wasn’t prepared for that. I could have shot through the pokeberry stalks, but I was certain the shot would happen.  Oh well some excitement for only a few moments. I hunted all around the area searching for a flock.

  I moved north to hunt an area where I have had much success over the years. I walked up a gas line and peered over an abrupt roll on the terrain and spotted a gobbler scratching for food. The bird was about 45 yards. I backed away immediately.  I moved to my right and set up where I could see seventy yards to where the turkey was. The windy conditions kept the bird from hearing my approach. I began calling.  The bird came in silent, but to my left. The gobbler stepped behind some trees at around twenty yards and the shotgun was ready for a shot. I was sure the shot was to happen, but the bird became suspicious and walked over that knoll directly behind the tree. I called and his head and neck reappeared.

Not a good photo of a Bald Eagle.

A limb between the turkey and myself was directly across the visible head and neck.  A shot would have been successful I am sure, but I held off for the bird only needed to move a couple of inches to expose a great shot. IT DIDN’T HAPPEN! The turkey alarmed putted and dropped over that knoll. I called an had answers for a moment then silence ruled the woods. I tramped around until about 1:00 and quit for the day. I am getting old ya know!

Thursday, November 8, was looking great as well, but again the winds did pick up at daybreak.  I walked and zigzagged a finger ridge and failed to see any turkeys. I quit about noon. These last two afternoons I needed to work with mulching leaves.

When one spends time in the autumn woods amazement occurs as to how rapid the colors of the leaves turn. Also, how the trees can be loaded with their foliage and a few days later the woods can be barren of canopy leaves.

I did see a lot of deer and squirrels while out and about. I watched a Bald eagle for several minutes circling over the Cherry Run Watershed. I have been hearing and seeing Ravens often.

 

 

Morning shadow line

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes this fall turkey season has been one with some weather not agreeable to hunting those birds. Rains have been common. Winds have been unyielding. However, this day was rain free and the winds were tolerable. Rains and winds make hearing difficult and the ability to hear is important for turkey hunting.

  I arrived about fifteen minutes later than I wanted because the early morning time had some rain falling. I monitored the radar and could see  the rains were about to cease in my area. Off I went!

I was disappointed while slowly touring the ridgeline straining my ears to hear birds on the roost or to receive an answer to my calling. Nothing.  Approximately two hours into the morning I elected to travel a couple of miles farther south to hear better. The road noises were strong this morning.

I drove a short distance and saw a turkey in a tree about a hundred yards or so from the road. I stopped and watched the bird fly down. Unfortunately the bird was in lease land for hunters from Ohio. I drove just a short distant more and saw several white heads. Yes I could see gobblers among the vegetation. I looked out ahead and could see around eight young birds feeding along. They were all within that same land. I snapped about ten photos and moved on.

 

 

 

 

Deer search…

I began walking up the long steep grade at the planned hunting area. I was about five-hundred feet from the top and I heard a turkey responding to my calling.  I quickly set up, but within a few minutes I became very concerned. The calls did not feel right and I elected to leave the area. My hunch was proved accurate when I saw a pick up parked along a farming/ gas road. I would later see the man and we chatted for about twenty minutes. he was the one calling.

I made a long sweep into promising areas and saw or heard no turkeys. Plenty of deer and squirrels were about the woodlands. Bear sign was found.

I retraced some of my walking and called often. I swept an entire point of this long ridge and repeated the same scenario. No turkeys!

  The time was about 1:30 and I decided to stop in and see my mother and stepfather for a little while.  Tomorrow rain and winds are in the forecast again.

 

Golden Beech

 

Claw marks

 

 

Mmmm..semi-sweet chocolate

 

 

 

 

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The turkeys have been remaining hidden thus far.  Weather is been a key to my lack of success, as well as, some bad fate.

  The first day of this year’s season found fairly heavy and steady rain. I donned my camo rain coat, but didn’t bother with my rain pants. A big mistake for me. By mid-morning my pants were so soaked that through wicking actions I was wet to my beltline. I became so wet that the cash in my wallet was soaked. Now that is a lot of rain. I had on the required orange hat and once the hat became saturated the water soaked my hair and the water dripped down my neck. Rain wicked

Beech

around my collar and up my sleeves. Yes I was very wet.

The sounds of rain cancelled any chances of hearing turkeys on the roost.  Add breezy conditions and I found myself at the jeep by around 10:20. Of course I didn’t chance carrying a camera in such conditions.

The second day of the season found high winds and some rain. Another day preventing me to hear roosted birds or hearing them answering my calls. I failed to walk up onto any flocks. Where did they go? I tamped about six hours trying to find a flock.

The following day was the best day for hunting and hearing turkeys , but even with the conditions I failed to locate any turkeys.  The wind wasn’t bad, however a dense fog lasted until ten. I searched for almost seven hours this day.

Wednesday of the first week found my high on a hill at daybreak. I had a hollow on both sides of me, so I increased my chances of hearing roosted birds or so I thought.  Around the time turkeys often begin talking from the trees found an increase in the wind. In short order the winds became fairly strong since rain was scheduled to arrive around noon.

 

October 31st morning

I began a slow trek around the hill’s slope to locates birds.  A small bit of luck occurred about 10:00 in the morning. I walked towards a posted property line. I was going to call and hopefully get an answer and lure birds towards me. With the wind my approach was quiet as I called approximately forty yards outside the signs. A n abrupt slope quickly formed a steep hollow.  My call was immediately answered by that dreaded “alarm putt.” I never saw the bird for it must have been feeding on that slope and my call caused it to raise to see the vocal turkey…me. I never saw the bird. I never heard it running of flying, but the game was over for me. If there would have been a flock I would have seen something to indicate that.

I hunted by walking and calling until noon. I saw a raven, squirrels, many deer including some buck. I, also, found some bear sign. This morning I had  breakfast with the family so I didn’t get out to hunt. I think a break might do me well. I do my Bible Study class later today, too. Tomorrow, November 2, I am scheduled to play music at two different homes. If I decide to hunt my time will be limited.

 

 

 

 

 

Mmmmm…dark chocolate!

 

 

Buck in fog

 

 

 

 

Red Salamander

 

Our native American Chestnut

 

Downy Rattlesnake Plantain

 

Big old tree

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  My step father, Bob and I met at the predetermined place. Bob came to the window and said he wasn’t dressed well enough to hunt this morning and was going to bow out. The temperature was in the thirty degree area and the winds were howling. I told him I was going to check around here and see what may happen.

Another hunter had parked nearby and was already in the pre-dawn woods. I didn’t want to interfere with him so I went in another direction. I walked a gas line and notice far off across a big-basin hollow a flashlight moving down the slope in the woods. I returned to the jeep debating to drive to another place.

I decided to walk back a ridge and listen and call. The woods stayed gloomy as 7:30 appeared on my watch. Ten minutes later I gave out some yelping calls and was immediately answered by a turkey not fifty yards away. I moved to set up better. The turkey talk continued off and on between the two of us.

Just prior to eight o’clock I saw several birds fly down and begin moving about. The 870 Remington was up prepared to shoot. In minutes one bird was close. Brush and dead limbs made finding an opening tough. Finally, the moment came and the eighteen yard shot was complete. At the shot a number of birds took to the air.

Later I saw some bedded deer and managed a few photos.

Notice the second deer.

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dsc_0009 This fall turkey season has been interrupted by a number of issues here at home. These issues had caused  dsc_0003me to miss time afield. The first day of the turkey season, October 29, found me waiting at the house for my car mechanic to stop in to look at my lawn tractor. He arrived around noon and I left for a few hours of hunting close to two in the afternoon. The weather was warm and I found out later that evening the highs reached to the mid-seventies! No wonder I was sweating so much.

dsc_0001

 

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture

The following Monday, my step father and I hunted all morning. Around ten in the morning I walked   dsc_0016around a bend and saw turkey heads out front. I moved as quickly as I could and the turkeys busted into a fan shaped escape. Bob and I sat for two hours and never saw a bird return. We did hear one way over the hill. I would later walk through the area trying to find the birds. No luck!

Tuesday, November 1, My cousin, Donnie, Bob and I searched for a few hours at another area. We failed to hear any birds on the roost and, also, failed to see any while walking. Actually the morning proved to be a “pick on Bob’ day. I had to be home early this day for a lawn mower specialist was to come and look the mower over. (Unfortunately, a pump in the transmission was ruled to be the culprit. I am taking donations for a new one.)                                                     dsc_0014

This morning, November 2 found me at a listening point. I heard a little turkey talk down over. I moved toward the area of the light yelps. In a short time, I located the sound. I was about fifty yards from the turkey, however, I began wondering about this hunt. Could those sounds have been from a hunter? I only heard one turkey. Usually, the birds of the flock all sounding off while on the roost. I decided to take some caution just in case.

dsc_0010  I set up and called a little. I heard one bird fly down. I waited and never saw or heard any turkeys. I wondered if the bird may have seen my movements while setting up. Remember, the turkey was rather close.                                          dsc_0015

Eventually, I began to formulate a plan. I eased up over the hill and worked around behind where I had heard the bird. I was trying to see a flock of birds if that was an option. I made a big circle around the area only to have a bird answer my call about three hundred yards from where the turkey was initially. I set up to call.

A few minutes had elapsed when I saw the turkey coming in the distance.  The shot was twenty-nine yards. The shot became reality at 8:40!

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DSC_0002  Today was a bittersweet day. My cousin Lois passed away at her home and was discovered on Thursday. Funeral begins on Sunday, November 1. I silently debated on going hunting or not. Her dad, like my dad, were hunters, and I realized she would expect me to hunt today.

My step-father, Bob, and I walked through the pre-dawn forest to listen for roosting turkeys. We failed to hear any from the trees so the walk, call, and listen approach was to be the type of hunting for us.                             DSC_0018

We met up around 10:00 to compare notes. neither of us had seen, or heard any turkeys. We walked within site to check a ridge. Nothing to show for our efforts.

We planned another strategy. He was to walk an old logging road while I paralleled him through the side of the hill where numerous briars, and vines were located. However, within minutes this plan would become altered. I started down a slope, and immediately backed away. TURKEYS!

 

A small spike buck.

A small spike buck.

I whistled to Bob, and motioned him to come to me. I told him what I had just viewed, and devised a plan. I was to circle and try for a breakup of the turkeys. I feared attempting to go down over on a run with the knee surgery. Bob was to set up slightly on the ridge and wait the results.

Barberry

Barberry

I eased below where I had seen the birds before noticing them going diagonally up, and over where I had just came from. I did the same hoping to go, up and over, right into them, and bust them up!

Box Turtle shell

Box Turtle shell

I reached the area and no birds. I quickly climbed higher, and as I began coming over this ridge top I could see the turkeys in my shotgun range.  I ran, and yelled with turkeys flying in a hundred and eighty degree arc. I moved to my right , and picked up Bob telling him what had happened.  They went past his position, probably, within 60 yards.

Free to a good home!

Free to a good home!

We set up about ten yards apart. I started to call after about twenty minutes since seeing the turkeys. I could hear turkeys downslope in short order. Two birds came up, and over, but worked along the ridge away from us. Soon more birds were talking loudly behind me. Bob messed up by moving on birds that were almost on his position.

Minutes later another turkey was loudly “chirping”. This bird walked within ten yards of Bob, but behind him, and he sat tight. I could see he wasn’t going to be able to get a shot. The turkey went behind a tree allowing me to move. The bird kept coming along the slope. I leveled the Remington 870. The turkey reappeared from behind another tree and BOOM! I had a gobbler.                 DSC_0016

I told Bob to set still, and I sat down beside him. In a few minutes we were hearing more turkeys, and seeing four more. These birds remained out of range as they got together with their mother. Eventually, I tried to relocate them, but missed them along the way. Bob was ready to call it a day.

We saw a number of deer, and squirrels.

My cousin’s funeral is Monday. Bob, and I, will try again  next week.

 

 

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