Archive for the ‘Fall Turkey Hunting’ Category

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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DSC_0005The second week of Pennsylvania’s fall turkey season has concluded. My step-father, Bob and I managed to get out a few hours on a couple of occasions. Unfortunately, we failed to locate the meandering flocks.



Notice the rear quarters raise as the deer froze in position.

Notice the rear quarters raise as the deer froze in position.

We separated to try to hear birds on the roost. When that strategy failed I began a walk of the area with hopes of walking into a flock of birds or to receive an answer. All my walking failed as well. However, I did see a number of deer including some bucks.

Bear claw marks.

Bear claw marks.

We decided to try at an area near my homestead for an hour or so prior to going to the house for some grub. At this site I saw only deer.    Our second time out during this last week was a mid morning gathering. We entered and area where Bob harvested a young gobbler a few years ago. Turkey sign was sparse everywhere I ventured on these hills. Again, I saw a lot of deer including a couple of bucks. The first buck I saw was discovered as I eased over a ridgeline seeking turkeys. I immediately spotted this buck. he raised his rear legs up in the early stage of bolting. However, the deer stopped this motion when he discovered I was gazing into his eyes. his first reaction was to freeze.                                                                DSC_0010 DSC_0009   Later into the hunt I spotted another buck with a wide spread in antler width. the seven-point allowed a few photos, but brush and movement didn’t permit the best shots.                                                               DSC_0017 Some interesting sites of these two days were: Watched a squirrel gathering leaves for a nest; bear claw marks on beech trees; great-horned owl and a beech tree with a carving of JESUS SAVES. This was in a hollow I had not been in a quite a few years, at least that far. DSC_0001  My next hunting ventures will be sneaking around looking for a bear.

Wild grapes

Wild grapes

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Wednesday morning found Bob and I going separate ways again with hopes of hearing turkeys on the roost. We both failed! I began a call and walk approach to try to locate birds. The winds were not as bad, but enough of noise was present to make hearing far away birds impossible.

Notice the strong white bars on the tail feathers.

Notice the strong white bars on the tail feathers.

I slowly approached a crest on a hill to observe the back side and was disappointed to not see any turkeys. I then walked downslope  and walked below the hill’s rim and, later, as I came back up over I quickly noticed a turkey’s head drop and I immediately began to charge towards it. Five turkeys were in a mad dash up the slope as I hollered. I managed to get a slight break. Three birds went to my right and two went straight ahead. I couldn’t be positive of their gender, but, at least several appeared to be big birds.                        DSC_0032

I walked around looking for a good spot to set and call from. Tree tops littered the forest floor. No matter where I set I would only be able to see  in a few directions. I waited and later began calling loudly to overshadow the noise the best I could.

Forty-five minutes later I heard the loud “woody-like” putt of a gobbler. The turkey, you guessed it, came in  directly behind one of those tree tops. He was only about 15 yards from me and I just couldn’t get a shot. I decided to raised up and try to connect. The gobbler wouldn’t have anything of that blob against the tree (ME!) and soared off down the hill.

I remained another forty minutes or so calling. I began to get chilled from inactivity and the wind. Also, I wondered about Bob and decided to hit the brush and find him and, also, get warmed up.

I stood up and when I walked behind  to go over a slight rise in the terrain….you guessed it!  A second long beard took off. Neither bird uttered any sounds as is typical of older birds. They sneak in and watch. This bird was around 35 to 40 yards at most from where I had been calling from!!!!!!

I located Bob and we decided to go to another place for a short time before going home for leaf mulching. We saw another turkey fly across the trail. I saw deer and squirrels.

This morning I elected to hunt close to my homestead. I intended to make our family tradition of having breakfast with my mother, step father, Bob and my sister Ruthie. I hunted to after 8:00 while being blasted with rain. I saw a number of deer and squirrels and an owl, but I didn’t hear or see any turkeys.

After breakfast and my clothes in the dryer, I just couldn’t stand setting and off I went again to see if I could locate a nice bird. I returned to where I had hunted the day earlier and began a walk and call strategy.

DSC_0034 About an hour into the hunt I came upon some fresh turkey scratchings. I walked some more and peered into a field and saw ten deer feeding.  A short distance further I saw turkey heads moving out in an area with pines and multiflora rose. I started into this mess to break them up and had to stop. I noticed several birds within range beginning to run and I had my 2014 fall gobbler. The tom was a gobbler of the year with a short beard.

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DSC_0008    Saturday, November 1, was the first day of Pennsylvania’s fall turkey season and I quit around noon! Memories of last year’s leg issue plagued me so I opted to not push too hard until I realized if any concerns might be present. (I spoke of the issues last year in various entries.)

Those beautiful beech in autumn glory!

Those beautiful beech in autumn glory!

My step father, Bob ad I failed to locate any turkeys on the roost. We, also, failed to find any throughout the morning’s walks. However, I did see plenty of deer, including several bucks. The rut is definitely on as they chased their girlfriends around! Monday, the second day started off very different. I told Bob to walk a gradual ascending gas well road and watch the tree-line for roosted turkeys. This would be easier for him since he is eighty years old!  I went elsewhere to do the same.

DSC_0017    Time hadn’t moved along much when Bob contacted me of 5-6 turkeys flying from the trees across the road and hollow. I hurried over and saw two birds fly off. I suspected two of the original birds landed again.

DSC_0016 We set up and tried calling. I wasn’t feeling very confident since the birds all flew in the same direction. One needs a good break of the flock to call them back. We did hear some yelps across the road. I would later chase the bird from the tree. We eventually gave up and began hunting around searching for these birds or others. I saw plenty of deer again with some bucks as well. I, also, saw a grouse and porcupine. DSC_0011

Shortly before noon, I approached a crest on the hollow and spotted a turkey . Surprisingly, the bird, at about fifty yards, didn’t see me. The sun was directly behind me and in it’s eyes. I eased to behind a tree. I removed my orange vest and hat and placed orange behind me a few feet back. As I peered through the V of the tree trunks, I noticed about four birds preening. The hazel made seeing them difficult.

I tried a few very soft calls, but they were busy settling their feathers. I continued watching when the turkeys started feeding. Other birds became visible. I called again and clucks and yelps resulted. I could, now, see ten to twelve turkeys feeding and occasionally moving towards me. I debated to charge and break them up, but thoughts of falling on the decline entered my mind. I waited.

DSC_0001 DSC_0026  Birds were at my range of about 38 to 40 yards at various times, but vegetation removed any chances. I felt my shot would come! Suddenly, mom moved straight up the hill and birds followed. Her head came up and that dreaded sound of an alarm putt was heard. She began moving away. I could not shoot at anytime because I would have taken multiple turkeys! She had seen the orange for 95% of me was behind the tree and I was motionless! I tried to break them up and most flew away together. However, once Bob reached me a lone hen came past us, but his shotgun wasn’t in position and mine was on the ground since I was trying to get him a shot. We saw another turkey fly out of a tree.

Later, I spotted a buck bedded down. I tried to get into a position for a great camera shot, but he wouldn’t have it. I did get a pic once he was up. We quit around two o’clock.

Tuesday, November 4th, found me , once again, trying to spot roosted birds along the eastern horizon. the winds and noise made hearing any roosted birds nearly impossible unless one was close. I hiked all around, but never saw a turkey. Where did they go? I spotted a buck standing and after a time, he bedded down, I back-stepped to avoid scaring him. I saw other deer as well. I went south and parked to hunt another area.

I walked and called along  the way. The wind made hearing almost impossible. I walked around an edge and spotted a mature gobbler about sixty yards away. We stared each other down when he and four other long bearded birds began to walk away. I instinctively moved a s quick as I dare and attempt breaking them up. They went over the side and when I came over I was only about 35 yards from them. they flew across the hollow together. I failed another breakup.                 DSC_0007 DSC_0025

The temps were up and I was tired and hot so I quit about 2:50.

Beautiful Pennsylvania!

Beautiful Pennsylvania!

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A Good Day

I had resigned myself that the 2013 fall turkey season would probably be a turkey less year. The leg issue, luckily, has been healing well. I had not hunted much at all this season!

Note remnants of an old stone fence.

Note remnants of an old stone fence.

The Pennsylvania bear season was over and the last few days of the fall turkey season began on Thanksgiving Day. This morning, I was entering the woods hoping to find some turkeys to hunt. I walked up along a hill and found where two turkeys had walked across a gas line yesterday. I left  their tracks and quickly moved towards an area where the birds sometimes like to roost.

The early horizon.

The early horizon.

In minutes I could see a turkey in a tree silhouetted against the pre-morning eastern horizon. I imagined more birds were scattered nearby so I closed in for a break. This is my preferred method of hunting turkeys. Scatter them, if possible, then call one back in. One lone bird flew from the tree. After a short break to listen I elected calling to see if the turkey might answer me. Nothing happened so off I went searching, and hoping, for a flock of gobblers I had seen a couple of times in October..

I called periodically as I walked along across the ice-crystal, laden snow cover. I wondered how hard it might be to walk up on turkeys. Suddenly, I received an answer and I set up to try to call the bird in.

Turkey scratchings

Turkey scratchings

I watched and called and as the yelps came closer the turkey sounds abruptly stopped. I pondered what could have happened when I saw the large dark animal move through the woodlands. I was seeing a fisher! I would see plenty of tracks as I walked along.

I circled around to close the distance where I had heard the turkey. Gobbler tracks were easily viewed. I approached the crest of a round top when the undeniable sound of nervously moving turkeys was heard just over the crest of this hill. I moved as fast as I dared and began hollering as I watched six to eight turkeys running and taking to the air. I could tell, at least, some were gobblers.

Fisher tracks

Fisher tracks

I walked through the break-up attempt zone and moved about a third of the way downslope on a steep hill-side. I called home to tell my step-father, Bob what had happened and if interested get here as quick as possible. He arrived about one and a half hours later.

IMG_1598  I began calling loudly using gobbler yelping. A full hour elapsed when I first saw the turkey downslope and to my right. The bird began walking up the steep hill and became lost to my view due to the terrain. However, I could hear him walking.

I spotted the gobbler and could see a beard dangling from the breast. His eyes went behind a tree allowing the Remington 870 sight to lineup. The tom walked from behind the tree and the 40 yard shot was true and a fine gobbler was down. My rule of thumb is to try to limit my range to about 35 yards, but details of the hunt wouldn’t allow any further chance due to tree tops on the ground.

The gobbler sported an eight inch beard and two 5/8 inch spurs.            IMG_1604

Other sightings were a handful of deer and some squirrels.

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DSC_0029    Those who know me can relate my love for the outdoors at this time of the year. They’ll, also, relate to my love for hunting fall turkeys. This year due to leg pain issues my hunts are few and short.                                                                      DSC_0036

I utilized crutches for four days recently. I had leg pain so extreme I couldn’t walk and a specialist told me that he expected I had a blood clot. he sent me to the emergency room where ultra sound and X-rays proved I had an acute led sprain. I have been taking physical therapy.

Pileated woodpecker

Pileated woodpecker

The therapist told me hunting and hiking would not be the best thing I could do, but he didn’t say I couldn’t just don’t over do the excursions.                                      DSC_0039

The third day of the fall turkey season found me hunting for a couple of hours. I did see eight turkeys in a field and later I walked into them. I hollered with an attempt for a good break but failed. I could have harvested any of 4-5 turkeys at that time, but I prefer to call them in.

The following morning, my step-father, Bob Miller and I went out for several hours. We, both heard roosting turkeys. I decided to try my luck at long-range calling instead of hurrying across the hollow for a break. The birds went off feeding. Bob, later saw 10-12 birds in a field near to the roost.

DSC_0047  I had a hen flush in front of me, but I failed to try for a shot. That kind of turkey hunting isn’t the way I hunt, but maybe I should have taken her due to my experiences.

Two morning later I failed to hear roosting birds. the high winds effectively lessened any chance to hear far birds. However, I walked onto a bird on the roost. I debated taking the shot, but elected to wait.

All of these hunts were only a few hours at a time at the most. This is difficult for me, but the pains dictate how much effort I can do in my pursuit of a wild turkey.                               DSC_0043

I have seen beautiful autumn scenery. I have seen many deer including  a number of buck. I have seen lots of gray squirrels and a few fox squirrels. I even saw a cottontail. I had the pleasure of listening to a great horned owl serenading the early minutes prior to sunrise.

I will try to hunt, again, after a few days and challenge myself for a successful hunt.

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The family Thanksgiving day and meal proved to be a great day. Laurie, Bob and I hiked about 2 1/2 miles along the road. We saw a great blue heron along the creek. Afterwards we set down for a traditional thanksgiving meal and later set around  wishing we could “wallow in the mud.”

Bob and I made plans to hunt for turkeys for a few hours.

This morning, I placed Bob about one-third of the way  up the hill. While hunting bear I had heard turkeys on the roost along this steep hollow and later saw the flock directly across on the other side of the hollow. I had hoped this might be a favored roosting site.

Red in the morning……..

The very early morning sky was red and orange. The western sky had clouds coming in fast! the breeze soon turned into noisy gusts.

I circled up and over and I couldn’t hear any roost talk. I continued moving about to no avail. The birds just were not in this area this morning. I did see two deer and heard two owls.

I picked Bob up on my descent and we drove up the road to where we would hunting deer. Here I tried to locate some birds. Eventually, I closed in on a large patch of brush and briars where I have kicked turkeys out on past woodland adventures.  I walked along and saw a turkey within range feeding. I moved in fast trying for a break up. You guessed it I tripped in the briars thus losing the momentum. I did see a few birds running and flying. (Yes Randy, I fell again!)

I wasn’t sure of how well I did with the break, but I located Bob and we returned to spend over an hour calling to no avail. The winds were strong, the rains were noisy on the dry leaves and the road noise was bad despite being the day after a holiday.  We quit about 11:00  and headed home.

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The lands of my youth!

I was able to hunt only a few hours this morning with my step-father, Bob. After a breakfast with my mother the two of us headed to an area to chase turkeys near my homestead. We drove about half-a-mile when I spotted 6-7 turkeys along a field’s edge at the base of a steep pine woodland. I didn’t stop, but continued to drive  to the top of the hill as we had planned. Bob walked along a field on the back-side of the same pines and settled in. My attack plan was to go back the road and circle towards the birds hoping for a break towards Bob’s position.

Swamp milkweed seeds waiting for wind.

I reached the field and the birds had vanished. I walked to where I had seen them and proceeded through the pines and towards the field where Bob just walked along. As I reached the top two turkeys flew out. Bob saw one! I watched one bird fly across the township road to another hill near Route 422. On no I thought,…noise again!

We set up at the site of the flush hoping more birds had been  there, but not viewed.  We failed to hear or see any turkeys, however, a buck walked below us and bedded down. I managed a few photos when the surrounding brush allowed for them.

Note antler at buck’s bedding site.

Eventually, we went across to the other hill, in case other turkeys had flushed across.  I circled down low and back upslope a deep hollow and suddenly 10-12 birds took flight. I hollered, but I didn’t run after them. (Remembering the first Saturday of turkey season and my bad fall!)

I located Bob. he saw one or two birds in the brush ahead of him. We set up for an hour and saw nothing. Upon hindsight, I believed the birds he saw were birds of the right-side of the flush. The main flock had went up and over into a field and because of the road noise the birds regrouped out of our hearing range and crossed the road again.

One of many buck rubs!

Unfortunately with the time at 12:30, we had to leave. I needed to get home, organized and play music in Kittanning by 3:00. Just below the homestead I saw a flock of turkeys while heading home. Turkeys are like that!                  

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   I became  a little disgusted when I hadn’t heard any turkeys on the roost, possibly, due to the elevated truck noise. The clear, cold skies allowed for extra volume this morning. I heard something running in the leaves as I slowly approached the listening point. I first thought the turkeys may have been down  on the ground early, but, I heard something easily known to my ears. I heard the grunt of a buck chasing his “doe.”I could hear the rustling work along the side of the hill just out of my sight.

Frosty morning doe

I started a slow tour of calling and listening until I decided, once again, to exit to a quieter woods. Since, I didn’t need to worry about Bob this day, I elected to head a mile farther south along Cherry Run. One needs to go about a mile and a half to begin finding peace from the noise.

I started the ascension up the hill and began a walk and call hunt. While walking I spotted a red fox in a field. I was seeing a lot of deer here and there too. I didn’t see many squirrels this morning. The twenty degree temperature may have kept the little critters in the nest longer.

Red Fox

I was working a flat when I thought I heard a distant cluck in response to my turkey calling. I hesitated and called again and I, once again, heard that sound. Yes, the sound was definitely a turkey!

Those beautiful hills!

I quickly set up and began working the call only to hear the turkey become more vocal. After a few minutes I could tell the bird was moving in towards the calls I was making. Five minutes elapsed when I could see a turkey here approaching me. the briars and fallen tree limbs made seeing the bird difficult at times.

Little buck

The turkey walked into range, but not offering any chance of a shot due to the problems mentioned earlier. I could see the bird for a second or two before loosing sight for a second or two.

Adult hen

The turkey worked to my left and I followed it with the shotgun when safe to move the barrel. the bird stopped and I sensed it was become slightly nervous because she couldn’t see the turkey that had been making the calls. I waited and clucked and the bird turned some allowing for a shot through an opening between two trees. The thirty-five yard shot was accurate!

Cherry Run

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Praying Mantis egg case

I was placed deep into the woods and along a ridge hoping to hear some active roost talk.  All I heard was a great-horned owl and later squirrel activity. A pileated woodpecker raised a raucous too. The woods were void of any audible turkey talk. I say audible because of the breeze and distant truck traffic on Route 422 made hearing any  far off replies to my turkey calling strained. I could hear birds a couple of hundred yards at best unless I was on the lee side of a hill.


Gray squirrel

I began a walk and call plan checking favored feeding areas from past hunts. I did see a number of deer and a load of squirrels.  However, the negative aspects alluded to a decision. I needed to see some new acreage. Bob wasn’t out today so I headed for some turkey hunting grounds near my homestead.

Need the orange powder and this Cheesy will be ready for consumpation

I checked a great area for turkey habitat first. This side of the hill produced earlier sign from a day or so. Unfortunately, this side of the hill borders Route 422 too. You can imagine the truck traffic noise. I exited this side and began a trek through some difficult vegetation on the opposite side of the hill. I find it amazing how a few hundred yards can muff the sounds so well.

At this site, I saw more deer and watched a grouse fly out and land ahead. I found no turkey sign through this area.

Wild Grapes

I worked upslope to check a field for activity. Again, I saw deer! I walked across the field to call down and over a mature pine site. My mother had seen a small flock of turkeys below these pines on Saturday afternoon. I went to the top and changed course leaving a few hundred yards of pines unchecked.

I walked about a half mile or so over and across an old reclaimed strip mine. I remembered times of my youth hunting this mine when the trees were mature and filled with squirrels. Today, the area has various tree growth, high grasses and goldenrods. I was, pleasantly surprised to flush a woodcock. Crows and ravens were active father into the strip. I wondered what had their attention.

Don’t grab it! The Devil’s Walking Stick

Eventually, I turned back towards the earlier mentioned field and pines. I was heading towards my car and home. I had some errands to do later.

I could see my car from the field’s edge when I turned to enter the pines again at an area choked with vines and briars. I heard some steps! TURKEYS I THOUGHT!

Four birds exited the back side of this steep slope. I watched them cross a township road and soar off to the same area I was at when I first arrived to this hunting spot. I hurried back to the car and crossed the road and went towards where I thought the birds may have landed.

Stink Finger Fungus

I slowly walked down around looking for a set up site. The truck traffic was loud as before. I set up along a mowed- cut through the woods and began calling loudly. I could see a house several hundred yards out. This house was along Route 422.

Suddenly, I heard a dog bark and voices from the house. I began wondering if he could hear my calling. I elected to withdraw farther from the cut. Good move! Soon a figure of a man could be seen. He saw some orange and I waved at him prior to talking. He apologized for messing up my hunt. he had seen turkeys landing, but a red fox was, also viewed. He told me he was hoping to find the fox.                                                                                                                                                                

Anyway, after all of this, I chose to head to the car and home. I was feeling rather well, as far as, pains from the Saturday fall.

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