Hunting Spring Gobblers Includes Shooting SAFETY!

2012 gobbler

This old gobbler is taking a "dirt nap" after an early morning "run in" with some number fours! ~postoak~

Several years ago, two younger turkey hunters I know over in west Alabama were out for an exciting morning of turkey hunting and they got more than they wanted in terms of excitement, the bad kind of excitement.

They got out of the truck at daylight and after a short “listening and locating session” they located what sounded like a pair of gobblers just “tearin it up” down in the hardwoods of a Tombigbee river swamp bottom. They struck out toward the gobbling birds and when they got close enough, they found a couple of big oak trees side by side to sit under and call to the gobblers. The first yelp brought back a thunderous response from what they described as a “whole drove” of gobblers! They had already made plans to try and “double up” and both shoot a gobbler at the right moment. When the ”toms” came in there was five or six of them, all long beards and all excited!

The two young “twenty-something” hunters, who were already veterans of many successful spring turkey kills, got ready for another great moment but, then the gobblers had a different plan. The gobblers came in from left to right and when they were just right for a double shot, the two hunters fired in unison. However, only one bird started flopping and the rest exploded in to full escape mode! Some running and others flying away! The hunter on the right swung his gun in pursuit of the fleeing gobbler, who was retreating the way he came in from the left and when he fired, he heard his buddy on the left scream! That is never a good thing to hear anytime, much less when you are out in the woods miles from medical attention!

He jumped up and ran to his wounded friend screaming an apology and asking desperately, “where are you hit?!?” In response, his buddy, who was laying over on his back, thrusts a bloody camouflage glove hand into the air and the blood is literally spurting out of it! Both of them go into a momentary panic but, they quickly recover their wits and after some first aid including a tourniquet from a belt and a tee shirt wrapped around it to stem the flow, they begin the arduous walk back up hill to the truck nearly a half mile away.

After a ”hundred yard stagger” toward the truck, the injured hunter passes out and his buddy literally drags him the rest of the way to the truck. At the truck he tries the cell phone but, has no coverage, so he fires up the truck and heads for the nearest hospital in east Mississippi. The wound, which cost the young man some of the functionality of his left hand, could have been much worse!  In fact, the forearm of his shotgun took the brunt of the load since he too was aiming at the fleeing gobbler and the shot tore into the foream of the gun and his left hand as he held it. If not for the gun, the shot would have possibly taken his hand off!

That load of number four shot in a 3.5 inch turkey load shell coming out of a tightly choked 12 gauge shot gun would have probably killed the young man if the other fellow had swung a little more to the left before squeezing off the shot at the fleeing gobbler. They both estimated another two or three inches would have put the round in the right side of his skull from about 4 feet away!  I heard their story about two weeks after it happened and while they tried to make light of it. I could tell that both of them were still shaken by the errant shot and the young man with the cast on his hand was still feeling the pain of the wound and the external fixator rods that were sticking out of the cast reminded him of the event every time he accidentally bumped his hand.

It brought to mind an event where my oldest son nearly shot me in the side of the head on a dove shoot when he was just a young boy. I was enjoying our hunt and paying close attention to keep him shooting safely and not allowing him to shoot unless there was a high degree of safety and also a high degree of probable success since I wanted him to gain confidence in his shooting ability. We were doing fine until a friend, who was one of the land owners where we were shooting, drove up on a four wheeler and offered us a cold bottle of water. My son, Hunter,  was standing to my left as Jim and I chatted about the hunt conditions and how well people were shooting. Just then, a dove flew over and as Hunter swung after it to the right, his gun barrel hit the left side of my head about the time he pulled the trigger!

I would have sworn my ear drum had busted! I fell to the ground and grabbed my ear, hunter threw his gun down and started crying, scared he had killed me, and our dove shoot for the day was over! I was lucky though, had I been standing another 8 to 10 inches away, the barrel would have swung behind my head and likely I would have been a “goner”. As it is, just my left ear’s hearing ability is a “goner” and I get to “enjoy” the sound of tinnitus, a high pitched ringing noise, that I have heard ever since that day over 30 years ago.

Be careful when you are swinging your shotgun barrel at a moving target, you just might hit what you are NOT aiming for! Get out and practice a few rounds with your shotgun to get ready for the gobblers! But, watch out for your fellow hunters!

Until next week, Shoot straight and Shoot safe!

~postoak~

Another Kind of “March Madness”

Two Toms, hangin out

These two old Toms found themselves hanging out after being tricked by a "bad old hen" named postoak!

A different  kind of “March Madness”  affects many of us outdoor sportsmen that has nothing to do with a basketball playoff. Our madness is concerned with the prize  we pursue every March, the spring turkey season that “officially” begins on the 15th of March.

But the season is already well underway in terms of preparation. There are many items to settle before the sun rises on March 15th for the dedicated turkey hunter. I will be in the woods the last weekend of February scouting and listening for gobbling at daylight. Later, I will take the time to pattern my new shotgun and determine which choke provides the best shot patterns with different shell configurations. And of course, away from the woods, there will be much attention paid to calling practice. Call tuning, sanding of my friction style calls,  sanding & chalking my “paddle box” callers so they mimic several different sounding hens that could be used to gain the gobbler’s attention from his roost on opening morning.

In the natural order of a turkey’s breeding habits a male turkey, the gobbler, simply announces his location from his roost limb with a booming GOBBLEGOBBBLEGOBBLE! The area female turkey, called hens, are expected to yelp a response if they like what they hear and they often emit excited cackles, yelps, clucks and purrs as they fly down off the limb to make their way to the gobbler. The gobbler then flies down to his favorite “strutting zone”, often a small field, logging road or just an open area in the woods on a ridge top or even in a hardwood bottom. There he struts and drums to display his “top bird” status as the most dominant male in the area and the hens walk to him, where they will often run in to him and squat down to signal they are ready to breed.

This is where the challenge comes in for a turkey hunter. It is our game plan to mimic a hen. A hen that sounds so seductive,so sweet, so alluring, the gobbler will leave his strut zone and come over to seek out that sweet sounding hen but, he finds a hunter instead, with a waiting dose of lead!  Talk about a fatal attraction!

Other gobblers who want to challenge him will gobble and also come to his location and often a fight of epic proportions will ensue. Gobblers fight by spurring as their main weapon. They kick and spur each other in the chest, with the older, sharpest spurred Toms inflicting the most damage, enough to “run off” the other gobbler.

The subordinate gobbler will sometimes leave the area or if he stays around, he will not gobble to attract hens since he is risking another “whipping” by the “boss gobbler”.  The gobblers beat each other with their powerful wings, peck each other with their beaks and “neck wrestle” where they will twist their necks around each other and viciously peck, slap spur and kick until one of them  gives up the fight. I have witnessed some fantastic gobbler fights through the years and used that event  on more than one hunt to sneak up close enough to shoot one of the combatants. It is one of my favorite spectacles in the March Madness of the spring turkey woods.

The first weekend in March will provide me a second scouting weekend and if needed, time to pattern my new shotgun, a Bennelli “Super Vinci” 3.5 inch 12 gauge in “Mossy Oak Bottomland” camo pattern, it is an exciting new “tool” for me to enjoy.

The second weekend in March will allow those under 16 years of age to get the first shot, literally, by way of the Alabama youth turkey season.  I plan to take my granddaughter hunting for her first turkey and she is already so impatient and ready to go hunting that it helps me get to a more enthusiastic point in my pre-season prep.

She and I went last year on youth weekend and one other trip later in the year but, did not find a gobbling bird to work. I hope this spring she will get to enjoy the magic of March when a love sick gobbler is interested in my hen calls and walks to my setup from a long way off gobbling dozens of times on the way in! If he comes in close enough I hope she will also get to hear the distinct “pfffft hmmmpp” sound of a drumming gobbler that many adult turkey hunters tell me they have never heard!  I love that sound as much or more than the gobbling! That is a couple of sounds and  some extreme excitement that no hunter can forget for the rest of their life! I hope I can get a gobbler to show off like that for her so she will be a lifelong turkey hunter like her “pop-pop”.

In related events, this Thursday night, February 28th, the Elmore County Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation will hold their annual Hunting Heritage Banquet that includes a charity auction, both live and silent, raffles, door prizes, a great time of fellowship with other local turkey hunters and will be one of the best NWTF banquets iin the entire state if it follows past history!  If anyone would like to attend, I have tickets for sale! This is a recognized 501c3 tax deductable charity event and you’re bound to have a good time, eat some great St.Louis style ribs or BBQ chicken If you come out to support the NWTF. Just give me a call 334-850-9526 or email me, postoakman@gmail.com and I will be glad to get your tickets to you!

Turkey season, March Madness that goes all the way through April 30th, will be here soon!

Get out and enjoy our great Central Alabama Outdoors!

Until next week ,

~Postoak ~ 

 

 

Scouting, Feeding, and Calling Practice for Spring Gobblers!

 

I took this old Boss Tom last year! Look at them hooks!

This old bird had monster spurs and a double beard. Callin in a bird like this is the reason I love Spring turkey Season! ~Postoak~

Every year I have a love-hate relationship with February. It is the longest “short month” of the year, it is cold, generally too wet, and too gloomy and did I mention too long? I also have a birthday in February and at my age those fail  to excite me other than the fact that I am still walking around on God’s great creation when more and more of my old friend and classmates have already “struck out”. God has been good to me..

Another thing about February is that since I have been living in the Montgomery area, there is a “bloom” of some type of mold spores around mid February that give me a big time case of sinusitis that winds up in bronchitis and is a pain in the “derrieritis!” I have to take allergy tablets through May and then it all clears up. Seems like it is my punishment for being a “turkeyholic” but, long as I can hunt without coughing at those critical moments, I can deal with the sniffling, choking, hacking, and coughing since they do herald in another marvelous Alabama spring turkey season!!

Turkey season starts on March 15th, which is a Friday this year so it will great to kick off a long weekend chasing gobblers in Dallas or Greene county. I have a turkey lease with four other guys in Greene county that is 1800 acres of red clay hills and plantation pines is various stages. There are some mature woods and some big SMZs with open hardwoods and plenty of hard headed Toms to test your patience and woodsmanship. I have thought of dropping out of the lease a few times but, the small group gets along very well, none of us over hunt it and I generally take a couple of boss gobblers of it each year. Last year I took a very nice old long spurred Tom that I now have in my den to remind me of that “sweet” memory. The other place I am hunting this year is a hunting club tract in Dallas county that I joined to deer hunt but, only went twice so I am hoping to have some good turkey hunting mornings to make up for not deer hunting it that much.

February is preparation, feeding and scouting time it you want to get a jump on the competition and “be in the know about where to go” on opening morning. Please be sure to visit the conservation dept’s website for rules regarding off-season feeding for turkey. Just click on http://www.outdooralabama.com/images/file/2013-13%20WFF/2012-13%20Complete%20Reg%20Book%20-12-5-12%20web.pdf  One thing that lots of folks keep forgetting is to have in your possession, a turkey harvest form! It must be completed in the field and if you get caught without it you are going to make a nice donation to the guys in green!

In terms of turkey call practice, there is no such thing as too much! Your wife, your kids, your dog, and even your neighbor may try to convince you of that by telling you how good you sound and that you have been practice for 3 hours or 3 days or 3 weeks! But, that is never enough in the weeks before spring season! I am sitting here with a caller in my mouth and I can tell I really need  to break in this new mouth call!  I also got a new shotgun I need to pattern and I tell you the truth, between work, my wife and her “honey do” list something is just going to be left undone!

A man has got to set his priorities properly! and an improperly prepared turkey hunter is not going to be a description of old POSTOAK!

Good Friday Gobbler

I took this gobbler on "Good Friday" last spring. At least it was good for me! ~postoak~

I am “practicing” doing some calling at Bass Pro in Prattville tomorrow starting at 1p.m. so come on by and tell me how much practice I need and we can “talk turkey” awhile!

Until next week, get on that prep work and call, call, call!

Post Oak cluckin’ on out!

Hunting Season is NOT OVER! Just different..

Trail cam evidence, another fawn gone due to a coyote

My deer hunting buddies are all lamenting the fact that another deer season has ended and they did not kill “the big one” or they did not kill one at all!

But, us spring turkey hunters are getting our caller out and checking out our gear and smiling with each passing day that the spring season only 5 weeks away.  There is however, another group of hunters who think February is a great month for hunting!

I am talking about the small game hunters who can run their beagles after rabbits without interference from deer hunters. The squirrel hunters who can find a limit of “Alabama limb chickens” and have a great time doing it while introducing youngsters to the thrill of trying to knock a squirrel out with a 410 or a 22. Laughing and missing your shots as the little bushy tail varmints make you look silly trying to deliver a dose of lead poison from 70 feet below while he bounds from tree to tree with acrobatic moves that rival the best leaps of a spider monkey. I have enjoyed many wonderful squirrel hunts where we would just go for an extended walk through the woods, pulling vines and shaking limbs to get the squirrels to panic and take off careening through the tree tops with us in hot pursuit. Other hunts were more traditional, doing a spot and stalk or just still hunting under the canopy of live oaks and water oaks down in the river swamp.Each one can be a great adventure with a tasty reward of some fine squirrel dumpling, squirrel stew or my favorite, fried squirrel and gravy with biscuits! YUM!

Many hunters have now found a different type of February hunting quarry that offers more challenge and also provides a great service to all of us who try to help our game species populations thrive. I am talking about the guys who have discovered predator hunting for coyotes, bobcats and fox.

The coyote in particular has grown so much in population and range, that they are a real threat to the deer population in Alabama. White tail fawns are falling victim to coyotes in an increasing rate with some estimates of up to 50% predation.  I am for a zero rate of predation on the fawns since one of them could grow up to be a future wall hanger but, instead it just made into a dinner for a litter of coyote pups.

With the increase in game cameras operating year round on many properties, the evidence is captured for all to see and it is sad to see so many coyotes walking by with a fawn dangling from their jaws. I hope all the coyote hunters have a lot of success and take down all the coyotes that come running in to that squealing rabbit call. If you like action, Coyotes can bring it and you are doing all your fellow hunters a favor by doing in some of the “devil dogs”.

Hogs, like coyotes are on the rise in population in dramatic fashion all across our state. A sow hog can have several litters of pigs a year and at a dozen per litter you do the math on how many of the little rooters are made each year.

Hogs are prolific breeders and prolific feeders. They will eat up, root up, tear up your food plots, farmers’ row crops, bird and turkey nests and even eat the eggs! They will eat anything they can chew from a snake to an ear of corn and love them both. Hogs love acorns, shrubs, berries, grasses clovers. Chufas patches don’t stand a chance if a herd of hogs find them. They kill trees and saplings through their rooting around and digging up bulbs, mushrooms and the roots of various plants.

Hogs travel long distances, mostly at night in search of food and the can show up on your property  and create some major damage. There are a number of hunters who have taken hog hunting hunting to a whole new level and in the process created opportunities to assist land owners with Hog control while providing hunting opportunities for fellow hunters to go hog hunting without all the leg work.

One such hunting service is right here in the river region, Alabama Hog Control offers hog hunts on various properties around the region where the land owner gets the benefit of hog removal, the hunters get the benefit of some great hunting action and the owners of Alabama Hog Control handles the coordination of the event to the benefit of all parties. If you would like to try out some hog hunting action, give Barry or Bart Estes a call and they can get you in on some “hoggin”. Barry’s number is 334-301-0179 and Bart’s is 334-303-4599. Or you can look them up on the web http://alabamahogcontrol.com/

Coyotes are killing too many Alabama Fawns

Hunting season is far from over, all you got to do is get out there and try some of the fantastic February hunting opportunities in our great central Alabama Outdoors.

POSTOAK ….. outdoors.