My First Turkey Hunt Has Now Given Me A New Obsession
I've got a buddy, Charlie, who is insanely into hunting. This guy lives for it. He suggested to me last year that I try turkey hunting. I thought, "Sure, why not? Sounds fun." I applied for my tag and then pretty much forgot about it. Spring came around and I got my season and tag. Charlie reached out to me and said we need to start scouting and planning our hunt. That's when I really started understanding what wild turkey hunting entails.
I'll be honest. I knew pretty much nothing about turkey hunting going into this. I've hunted mostly white tail deer and that's about it. I've done a little bit of small game hunting, but I'm from way Northern Minnesota where they hasn't been turkeys. So this is all new to me. He told me we needed to get up before the sunrise and scout where the turkeys are roosting. Uff da. Ok, waking up early a few days here and there isn't that hard to do. But, when your daily job for the last 20 years requires you to wake up before 5AM, it's really, really, really hard to convince me to wake up even earlier on a day off. Here's how the conversation happened:
Charlie: "Yeah we'll get up early and do some scouting before the sun comes up and try to find where the birds are."
Ken: "Ugh. I really, really need my sleep on the weekends. Can't we hunt later in the day?
Charlie: "Well the best chance is early in the morning when they fly down from the tree where they are roosting."
Ken: "These things fly?"
Charlie: "Yep, well I'll tell you what. I'll scout, you'll just need to get up early on the days we hunt. Once you hear those turkeys gobble and a tom walks in you'll understand that it's worth it"
Ken: "There is literally nothing in this world that excites me enough to get up early on my day off, but I'll give it a try."
A few weeks went by and my season was here. We went out for an evening to just kind of look around before we set up for the next morning. We found a piece of public land and we walked back and did some crow calls trying to get a tom to gobble. Yep, crow calls is what you can use, or an owl hoot. For some reason, turkey's gobble back at these sounds. That's another weird thing that surprised me. After roughly an hour and a half of hiking and trying different spots, we heard our first gobble.
I was hooked. That's so exciting to hear that in the distance and close in. We spotted the tom and a couple of hens and we set up to try to call them in. Unfortunately they made their way on to private land. But, my first time out and I heard a gobble and saw some turkeys. Maybe getting up at 3:45 the next morning wasn't going to be that bad.
The next morning we were up before the sun, in an area we knew that a turkey was roosting in. He was responding to our calls, and we hoped he would fly down and land in our area. A hen flew down, and the excitement was building. The hope is he would follow that hen and we could call him in to our decoys. Unfortunately, he flew down to the other side of the big pine he was roosting in. We got eyes on him eventually, but he wouldn't come to our hen calls. We figured we would leave him along and come back the next morning and set up in a blind in the direction he went the other day.
So that's what we did. The next morning we were in the blind and we could actually see him in the tree. I had my gun up, ready for him to fly down to the decoys. He flew down and went right around the bend behind some brush about 60 yards away. We couldn't see him. Still, we had hope he would come in with some calls and see our decoys. That never happened, because we found him later with 4 hens following him. He had enough females that he wasn't going out of his way.
One last chance with our schedules was Tuesday night, which was the last day of my season. This tom evaded us again, this time he was much quieter and on the opposite side of the area he had been in the previous days. Shooting hours were over, and so was my season.
In hindsight, it's probably not a bad thing I didn't get my bird the first year out. This kind of hunting takes a lot of patience and strategy, but what I love about it is the frequent excitement. I've gone an entire deer hunting season without the adrenaline rush that can happen with a single turkey gobble. I'm hooked, and I already can't wait for next year. I've got a new obsession.