Now that the 2013 spring turkey season is in the books I am ready for some relaxation on a nice quiet farm pond reeling in some big copper-nose bream and some of those F-1 tigers. Hopefully I can do that right after my three page “honey-do” list, yard work, and handling my job which always ramps up in the summer.
On second thought, let me reminisce for just a little while about the ”dearly departed” turkey season. It was about the worst season I have had in this my 52nd year of chasing gobblers. The turkeys just did not exhibit typical spring mating behavior except in “spots”, a day or two at the time. Yes, the weather was big part of the trouble in my opinion, but I can’t recall the weather being that big of a factor in previous years where it was too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, etc.
I email lot of folks across the web and on fB since I am an fB junkie like more and more folks, it is better that most of TV these days, so I spend a hour, or two on it many nights looking at turkey photos, deer photos and reading posts or emails from many hunters like me who wonder why it was so bad. If you have any thoughts you want to share with me about why it was bad, or not, if you killed a limit, drop me an email to my gmail account. firstname.lastname@example.org and I would love to hear from you about how you did. I also love turkey photos so send them on as well.
I did wind my season up on a fun turkey hunt in Central Kentucky with a good friend of mine, AL, he is in a very nice hunting club on a beautiful section of rolling hills along the Green River. The property is a private tract owned by a doctor who has had it in a cattle farming operation for many years and it is a magic place with beautiful pastures, hill tops covered in old, pristine hardwoods where you can see 200 yards through the woods in some places and not a pine tree in sight. Huge Oaks, Hickory, Sycamore, Poplar, Ash and Hackberry interspersed with some equally impressive old Red Cedar trees and huge boulders. The woods were in a stage of spring foliage that we had last month in Alabama where they are very lush, new, and that bright Chartreuse green hue. It was gorgeous!
The turkeys in Kentucky are of course “Easterns” same as here but, they have some distinct differences that are very exciting! The average gobbler and hen are approximately 20 % larger than what ours average in size. For the most part, they are about 50% more vocal and 50% less stubborn! We drove up with the plans to hunt four days, five if absolutely necessary but, the weather once again was as bad up there as it has been in Alabama this spring so we only got to hunt two days.
The neat thing up there was that the turkeys are almost as much fun in the afternoons as they are in the mornings! Including Wednesday afternoon when we arrived, we got in five good hunts and both took one nice gobbler apiece. The old gobbler I harvested was a field boss that I had spotted after the Thursday morning hunt as I was coming out of the woods. He was strutting out in a pasture with several hens, two jakes and a few dozen cows. As we ate lunch, I told AL that I want to hunt that gobbler and he agreed it was a good choice.
He dropped me off the farm road around the curve from the field and I slipped up a cow trail along a wooded bottom between two pastures and using cows and a couple of very vocal and curious burros for cover I was able to slip along to a good vantage point just past 900 cow patties and a watering hole full of patty makers, wow! What a smell! I got almost to where I wanted to “set up” and then I saw several turkeys in the field and I could not get across an open spot about 50 feet wide so I decided to just sit and wait for the afternoon to get a little later in hopes they would become more receptive. Since I could not see the old gobbler but, did see several turkeys under a large cedar at the other side of the field, I decided to call and see if he was interested in coming my way. After a couple of yelps he gobbled, but it was over to my right, down under the hill in a strip of wood between two other pastures. He was interested though, VERY interested! and he came up the hill gobbling and gobbler yelping very excitedly and was within 20 to 30 steps in just a few moments!
The only problem was, he was not visible since the pasture had a deep cow trail rut in it where four of the pastures intersected at the gates just to my right. I was in a spot in some briers against a tree and was hidden marginally but, I could not move, so I sat in a contorted position that was HE## on a 58 year old back side and held my gun up in a shooter position for more than 20 minutes while he strutted, wing beat the ground, like I have NEVER heard another turkey do! And, along with his gobbles and excited gobbler yelps, another thing most bama gobblers don’t do, He had me as excited in the turkey woods as I have been in years! As he was doing this strut, gobble, yelp, wing flapping, drumming just out of my view, I thought about just standing up and I was sure I close enough to shoot him if I could just see him over that rise. But a combination of twisted pleasure from listening to “his racket”, and a intense desire to not blow what could be my only opportunity to get a Kentucky gobbler on this trip, I just sat and prayed that I did not cramp up and be forced to move.
Finally, he stopped his thrashing the ground in his “mating dance” and walked back down the hill along with the several other hens and two jakes who had added their cackles, cutts, purrs, and excited yelps while he strutted moments earlier. I waited for about 20 minutes and stood up slowly, As I glassed the field and woods, not seeing anything, he yelped and then gobbled from a distance that assured me I could make a quick move. I left my brier patch hiding spot and quickly crossed over to the spot he had strutted in and found a good place to hide. On his next yelp, gobble combo, I answered him with a light, sweet little Alabama hen yelp and he triple gobbled and came gliding out of the woods across the field in a full strut!
In the glow of the afternoon 6:15 sunshine, with his feathers literally gleaming! and accompanied by an entourage of six hens and two big jakes bringing up the rear, he was absolutely everything I hunt turkeys for! He stopped twice on the way to me to chase the jakes in a circle and I was afraid they would distract him from coming on in. After what seemed like a 20 minute strut across the pasture, punctuated by the loud bray of a burro to which he stopped again and double gobbled, he and his whole gang, finally were standing in front of me at 30 steps in a full strut! I clucked to get him to raise his head for my shot and instead he just gobbled, beat the ground with with wings like he was demanding the hen to show herself!
Instead, I showed him a number four shot!
WOW! Kentucky put a sweet ending to an otherwise bitter disappointment of a season! One thing is sure, I will be hunting back in Kentucky again next spring! (Lord willing)