Turkey Hunting is Improving with the Weather

Brandon Parker with a nice gobbler!

Brandon and a big Gobbler !

Looks like we will finally have some warmer temperatures and maybe even a little glimpse of the sun! What a difference that will be! This cold, cloudy spring has hampered my hunting and my desire to go hunting. I have already rescheduled four days of vacation and we have not even made it out of March!

I guess the biggest difference is that the last few springs have been warm, dry and the birds started playing their “mating games” early in February. This year, they may not really “get going” on the propagation of their species until April!  This has caused me and several other turkey hunters I hunt with to cancel plans for vacation days, reschedule out of state hunts and try to figure out what to do as we plot out strategies to shoot a few gobblers. Is the last two weeks of spring going to be the best? will the first two weeks of April be the time to take off? I don’t know but, I plan to keep taking some single days of vacation in an attempt to judge the level of Gobbling action that might indicate what my chances could be in the turkey woods. So, tomorrow I am off again to Dallas county for some wood walking and turkey calling to see if I can find a Tom who is looking for a hen. Who knows, maybe my luck will Improve.

Evan Edwards First Gobbler!
Evan Edwards shows us his First Gobbler! Way to go Evan!

 

Swingin Tom

This old Tom found himself "swingin" after some sweet calling by Mark Edwards.

 

I am receiving reports and photos from a good many hunters who have found that gobbler who was lonely and  “looking for love in all the wrong places”. “Looking for love and got shot at 30 paces”. “Looking for love and got shot in their faces”.. (turkey hunter humor). I will post some for your viewing pleasure! Get after them and send me a photo to post on the site! Just email me postoakman@gmail.com  and I will be glad to show off your gobbler for you! Write a little about the hunt and I will post that too!

Post Oak – Gettin outdoors tomorrow for Good Friday!

 

First week of Turkey Season as Mixed as The Weather!!

Dr Joe with a nice Sumter County Gobbler

As I sit in my office at home listening to the rain outside my window, I am reminded that the weather is always a big part of our spring and especially the turkey hunting success or failure.  Last weekend was a sterling example of that fact.

Friday 3-15 saw the season open to a mixed cloudy daybreak and the gobbles were “mixed to cloudy” in their passion and number. The five gobblers I got in close enough for a look were not real “hot” for any activity, “of any kind” and they just “puffed up” and hung around with a look of only mild interest in my sweet hen calls and they appeared truly intimidated by the decoys I opted to use that morning.

Saturday morning was a bit colder, cloudy and the woods were “dead” I did not hear a single gobble or hen yelp and none of the other 5 hunters on the lease heard a yelp, cluck, gobble, or peep! What was really weird, I got reports from Tuscaloosa county, Greene County, Lowndes, and Sumter that their birds were totally silent as well. Of course, there were some turkeys gobbling around the state since I saw a number of gobblers posted on AL.Deer.com and on several face book friend pages. But, for many of us turkey chasers, Saturday was a poor day.

Sunday morning I watched a very nice daybreak from the top of a ridge deep in the hardwoods that made the whole getting out bed and driving an hour thing worth every minute of it. Then, the gobblers started calling from their roosting trees at six different spots within earshot and I headed to the closest one.  I walked about a quarter mile down to the end of a long ridge and made my first setup overlooking a very lush little clover patch surrounded by old hardwoods and after I sat there for a moment listening to the gobbler about 150 yards off in the bottom, I again said a prayer of thanks to the Lord and smiled about how lucky a man I was to be hearing that old gobbler serenade me with his calls to “come on down”. Once he started gobbling, he could not stop! I would only answer him sparsely, playing “hard to get” like the best girls used to when I was in the dating game, AND it was working!

He got all worked up and was slowly, but clearly, closing the distance to me! Then I was treated to the sight of his white crown, red and blue wattles and shiny, iridescent black feathers as he stepped from the woods and stood in the sunlight about 60 yards out! He was a MAGNUM! Long rope beard with a big old apple head and an altogether regal appearance!

I watched as he gobbled repeatedly, strutted, drummed loudly and generally expressed his frustration that the shy hen who was calling could not be seen! Then I heard the sound of trouble! A couple of those “low-class” “easy girl” hens came waltzing down the hill from behind my location, yelping, clucking, and  “yakking” like two Jr high girls on a cell phone conversation and they walked right by me! When I saw my chance as the gobbler was in a strut with his tail toward me, I threw a stick at one of the hens trying to run them off! She just cackled, and ran a little circle around me and kept on going to him! What a trollop!

Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, another gobbler came strutting in to the far end of the clover patch and the old big gobbler in the field took off after him and ran him back down the road he came in on! Well, I sat there feeling “jilted” for about 45 minutes and with him still answering my every yelp from down off in the bottom, I decided to cut the distance and try again. I slipped down the hill with a quietness and stealth that would have impressed Geronimo!  I slipped right up on three does in another, even smaller, clover patch in the hardwood bottom. I was close enough that I could see glimpses of the gobbler and his entourage of lady friends as he bred several and they mingled around scratching in the leaves and feeding. After I felt comfortable, I sent out a light yelp with my red wasp mouth call and he thundered a gobble right back, but he was not making any move toward me, he was quite happy to stay put in his “strut zone” and keeping some nice company. He would strut, turn and strut some more, he produced some strong drumming “ftttt- hmmms”  and his life was good. Mine, not so much! But I had to admit after they walked away across the woods and I got up and made my way back toward my truck that it was almost noon and the morning had passed like a pleasant dream. That  to me, is the definition  of a fantastic turkey hunt!  

And I will be back in the woods again in the morning unless the rain keeps me away! I believe the weather will get better next week, or the next and I will find myself another gobbler minus those “cheap girls”..

Post Oak.. Out…doors..

 

 

Spring Turkey Season Started Today! How did you do?

I did not get to get a gobbler to take a "dirt nap" today like this one from last year, but the season just started today! Postoak

This old tom was "dirt napped" by me last spring and I am dreaming of others like him! Postoak.

I made it into a beautiful, remote and quiet section of Dallas County hardwoods well before daylight this morning and got all my camo cover, my turkey vest, my calls and other gear together and stood outside my truck to watch a marvelous spring daybreak.

 Not long after that, I heard it, that single gobble that is just far enough away that you ask yourself, was that a gobbler or wishful thinking? Then after what seems an eternity, there it is again, that unmistakable sound that still makes me get excited more than 50 years after my first turkey season. The gobbler was not “tearing it up” as we like to describe a gobbler that is screaming out gobbles at the top of his lungs so loud and fast that you can hear him run out of breath at times when the gobbles just stumble out of this throat.

No, this gobbler was using a very measured pace in his broadcast and I could tell he was probably turning on the roost limb and sending gobbles out different directions. Some gobbles would sound like his location was 400 yards and the next one would be so faint as to cause you to believe it was two different gobblers. No, he was the same one doing both. I could tell by his voice, It has been my experience that many gobblers have a distinct gobble that you can “pick out”.  IF they gobble enough or you have interactions with them on enough trips to that location trying to talk him into a ride home with you.

I heard three other hunters “owling” at various locations around my hunting spot but, he seemed to pay them no attention as did any other gobblers in the vicinity since none of them gobbled at the “fake owls”. I have an owl call, a pretty good one, since my fake owl is not too realistic. I guess some of my fellow hunters have not figured that out yet, or they have had success in the past walking through the early morning woods screaming HOO WHO HOO HOO!!

I would rather be patient and let the gobbler have some time to sound off on his own and then silently as possible make my way towards him. That was the case this morning. After he gobbled several times I felt like I could set up in a small food plot that was only 200 to 250 yards from where I parked my truck and it was accessible by a small dirt road that made for a silent and easy walk.  I got about a hundred yards from the truck and then decided to do something I rarely do on daybreak hunts. I walked back to my truck and got my decoy bag out and hauled them down to the plot and set them out.

I just bought a new Benelli Super Vinci and   wanted to  have a clear shot for my first hunt since I was unsure of the front sights visibility in the woods and the few times I shot it to check the pattern I was in a field so I wanted to duplicate that level of light.  I picked out a good wide tree to hide at the base and in good cover with the sun to my back and my gobbler and hen decoy set up for an easy shot. I have used this plan successfully many times before, with and without decoys since I normally don’t like to use them except on an afternoon field hunt or when a gobbler has proven himself “uncallable”.

After about 20 minutes of silence I heard the gobbler sound off and I sent him back a sweet mild yelp. GOOBBBBLLLEEE was his reply so I just hushed and waited… In about 10 minutes I heard the leaves crunching and could tell two birds were coming up out of the woods. My first thought was “probably jakes” since the birds were coming in fast.

Then I saw them at the worst spot possible, they had circled around the food plot and were standing over my right shoulder at less than 20 steps in the area where I could not move around to get in a shot taking position. I thought “no problem” they will come on out to my decoys, and they slowly started to do just that. But, when they appeared in the plot, they were at 77 yards and looking toward my decoys. Too far to shoot, I just waited and thought they would come on in to the decoys who were set at 30 yards. For 20 minutes these two grown, long bearded gobblers just stood in a full strut and looked tuff. I figured they were working their courage up to come down and double team my old B-mobile gobbler decoy and steal his hen. but, they must have lost their nerve because they just turned and slowly strutted out ot sight. After another 20 minutes, a sharp cutt and yelp on my Red Wasp mouth call brought another loud gobble from down in the woods where they disappeared but, I knew they were not coming back.

Without other gobblers to go to since none were sounding off in the area. I decided to just hold tight and call “low key” style. After a couple of call sequences, I saw turkeys walking toward me through the woods and three gobblers came into the field from a different direction and two of them broke into a strut when they saw my decoys. They slowly strutted toward me but they stayed a little more than 70 yards away strutting and drumming for 10 to 15 minutes before they walked out of the field and were gone..

Oh well, some mornings in the turkey woods are like that! But, I had a great opening morning of my 52nd spring gobbler season and that alone is reason enough to consider this morning a successful hunt that was really enjoyable! and Lord willing, I will be right back there tomorrow morning before daylight to enjoy another spring morning in the Alabama turkey woods!!

Hope you get a chance to hunt some spring gobblers! It is truly exciting!!

Post Oak out.. in the spring woods..

Special “Youth Only” Turkey Hunting This Weekend!

I have carried many gobblers out of the woods slung over my shoulder, how about you? Post Oak

Alabama’s spring turkey season officially starts on Friday the 15th of March, but this weekend is a special “youth only” season so the youngsters can get a jump on us oldsters and I think that is absolutely great! I plan to be in the woods at daylight in the morning with my granddaughter trying to sweet talk an old Dallas county Tom into taking a ride in my Ford truck.

My granddaughter is as excited as any young guy would be to get out to the spring woods and chase a gobbler with her “pop-pop”.. I have been talking with her about it since deer season and she is confident that if that turkey comes in that she can shoot him with her 20 gauge. She has a nice old Winchester model 37 and I have bought her some #4 turkey loads that I hope we get to use one of in the morning! Last spring, she and I hunted on the Youth weekend and although we walked several miles trying to find a gobbler who would answer my calls, it was too cold and too windy to expect a response so we were not too disappointed when that was the outcome.

This past deer season she made a great shot on her second buck in as many tries, dropping a nice 8 pointer at over 250 yards so she is brimming with confidence in her ability to shoot a turkey at 20 to 30 yards. I sure hope we get the chance and she has the aim she has displayed in the past two deer seasons.

I know today is Friday and it might be a bit late for some of you to plan a hunting trip. But, if you can dig out your camo clothes, boots, shotgun and ammo, A TURKEY CALLER that is easy to use such as a push button style call, then you and your youth hunting partner can have a great experience hunting the most fascinating creature in the spring woods, the wild turkey gobbler! Other items that you will find useful to make the hunt more pleasant, a good mosquito spray, head net, some bottled water and pocket snacks. Take several breaks and use those as teaching opportunities to show the young hunter some of the special features of the spring woods,  buds, blooms, tree types, identify birds by sounds and sight as many as possible. Use an OWL call to mimic the calls of an old Bard owl and the ever present crows can be fooled to coming right to your setup if you can make some angry crow calls that make them just have to come see what the “fuss” is all about!

Don’t forget to be in compliance by having a Mandatory Turkey Harvest record form on you and fill it out immediately BEFORE the bird is moved. If you don’t, you are breaking the law! Don’t do that! Here is the link to print you a form so do it and take it with you plus a pen or pencil!!  http://www.eregulations.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/2012-2013-Harvest-Record.pdf

For us hopeless “turkey addicts” this is the absolute best time of the entire year and I am ready for next Friday to get an opportunity to start using my Harvest record form to start my March Madness markdown! (of long spurred, bushy bearded gobblers)

Throw some gear together and take a youngster turkey hunting this weekend! Both of you will be glad you did, even if you don’t bag a bird. a walk in the Alabama Spring woods is great!  A walk back to the truck with a “long beard” is even sweeter! Remember to hunt safely and if you are toting a bird out of the woods slung over your shoulder, put on a blaze orange cap so another hunter won’t shoot, thinking he sees a moon-walking tom!

YOUTH HUNTING WEEKEND IS A GREAT EVENT ! THANKS “ALDCNR”

Next Week, Spring Turkey Season starts on Friday!! You know where I will be..

Post Oak