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Archive for the ‘Fall Turkey Hunting’ Category


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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DSC_0011   Thanksgiving evening as we set around holding our bellies, my step father, Bob and I anxiously watched the weather. We were planning to hunt turkeys the following morning so we hoped for a good coating of snow.

Small buck

Small buck

The forecast was the snow was to be flurries only. I was hopeful tomorrow we would find tracks and the birds easily. There was an hour and a half of evening time when the snow was sparse. I was grateful we had that time frame for turkeys to move around prior to going to the roost. They can make a lot of tracks within that time.

Deer bed

Deer bed

The plan was to start a diagonal cut across the woodlands with me maneuvering with zigzags to cover a lot of territory and find those tracks. However, the plans were to be changed for the expected flurries overnight had become enough to cancel out any evening tracks. the plan, now, was to do the same, but my zigs were going to need to cover much more land than my zags.                                                                                                             DSC_0015

Everywhere I walked deer were present. Bob saw some too. I kept him on the flatter ground as much as possible as I watched for birds or tracks. We met up occasionally to alter plans as needed. He was to stay high and return towards a certain area as I walked around over the sides.

DSC_0004  I turned to make a change in direction and there were turkeys and close. I hollered and moved as fast as I dared. Some turkeys flew and others ran. I knew I had not the best of breaks, but I located Bob, and the eighty year old, had to, quickly, walk down over the hill’s side now.        DSC_0013

We set up and after a bit of time elapsed I began calling. We, later, heard the yelps to our left. The bird answered a couple of times. we waited. I had great concerns of the contrast of Bob and I against the white snow. I had  white camo, but Bob didn’t so we sat up among some fallen tree tops. The hen came in and began to sharply putt… her alarm call! We sat for over an hour and I failed to have anymore turkeys respond. Maybe if we could have waited longer??? We froze out and started the trek up and over and to the vehicle.

We had been in the woods for almost four hours. I saw a flock of turkeys; lots of deer and a great-horned owl. It was a good morning! (more…)

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