Gobblers Getting “Wound Up”

 

This gobbler was wound up Wednesday morning by Postoak!

 

The phrase “wound up” could mean “just about through” or “almost done”. IT could also mean “getting cranked”, “Getting fired up”. For the gobblers in central Alabama, thankfully it means getting started for real and gobbling pretty good. I am hearing from many fellow hunters that they are hearing and a few are taking some Toms for a truck ride home!

I took a couple of days off this past week and finally hit a good morning on Wednesday even though it was a cold 28 degrees when I got out of my truck. The gobblers did not seem to mind however, I heard six different gobblers in response to my owl hoot at dawn so I chose to walk to the closest one. I only had to walk about 150 yards down a small logging trail and when I gave him my first yelp on the red wasp diaphram, He blew back a gobble that was so close that I hurredly found a tree that offered some cover and dove under it, hoping he had not spotted me since he was less than 50 yards away through some open hardwoods near a small green field.

I decided to not call any more until he gobbled again and I didn’t have to wait long for that to happen! He blasted out another gobble from just out of sight down the logging trail so I gave him a couple of loud clucks and he blasted back another gobble! I knew he was going to come on in at that point so I enjoyed his drumming and wing dragging as he strutted to within 20 steps. I decided I better close the deal and almost reluctantly pulled the trigger. It was one of those “wham bam turkey slam” hunts that was over too soon but, I was not going to complain about one being too easy since I have had way too many old hard headed Toms that have been standing out there gobbling from 70 or 80 yards and would not come on in close enough for a shot.

At 7:07 a.m. I looked at my watch as I stood over the bird and filled out my game check form. I shouldered him and made the short walk back to my truck, took a couple of I-photos and then called in for my confirmation number. As I dialed the robo-operator to record the taking of the turkey as now required by law, I thought “what would my grand dad think about this technology? or even my dad, would he be shocked about the changes in our hunting ways and hunting rules? I almost envied them for their not still being here to deal with the ever shrinking world. But, both of them always taught me to “abide in the law” so I always do. But, when a man’s word is no longer sufficient in the eyes of the law, it is a sad time in America in some respects. Oh well, Let me get off my soap box….

 

I had several friends to take gobblers this week so I think the season is more normal this year than the last one. Last spring was as wierd as I have experienced in my 54 years of turkey hunting and many others said the same thing. Gobblers did not gobble much and certainly would not come to a call like they do at some point most springs. Glad to see and hear this spring is shaping up to be all we hope for! And I hope those gobblers are about to get “wound up”!

This morning, I took my grandaughter along for the hunt and she was so excited, I guess you could say she was “wound up”. We got out of the truck at daylight and I was able to get four gobblers to respond to my old hoot owl call which she thought was the neatest thing and we quickly went down the same lane where I had taken the gobbler on wednesday. I brought a hen decoy to help distract the gobbler from her movements and to hopefully bring him on in to our location on the edge of a small green field. He responded to my calls on the diaphram and in just a few minutes I saw his white crown coming as he made his way through the woods to the field’s edge. He walked up on a dirt pile near the edge and stood there for moment but, apparently did not like the decoy and he turned and walked away! Then I heard several hens cackling in the woods behind him and he was gone! He gobbled at my yelps a few times as he faded out of hearing and it was over… Oh well, Thats why they call it turkey hunting!

Until next week!

~postoak~ OUT!

 

Early Season Report – All Henned Up!

 

Dirt Nap -What I like to see a Gobbler do! (courtesy Eric Christian)

 

Eight days in on the 2014 spring turkey season and between the weather and the hens, all I have to show so far is a sore left ankle and several good morning walks trekking around a new turkey property trying to find a gobbler who is callable.

I have had a couple of poor mornings of cold, wet weather, including this morning where I thought the gobbler was going to come on in but, they just stand out among the harem of hens and answer my calls. I think his gobbles translated into something like this ” come on over and joing our party cause I sure ain’t leaving all these hens to come see you!”  And so it has been on my trips to the spring turkey woods so far in 2014! They are HENNED UP! This is not unusual for the early part of spring season but, often I can find an old tom or a young boisterous two year tom who will come check out my “little hen talk” and find some number fours and a dirt nap.

This spring, jakes are the only ones to venture in and while they are funny and sometimes a bother, they are not welcome in front of my benelli. Sometimes if they are an agressive bunch, they will cause a grown gobbler to go the other way. This morning, the same four jakes that ran to my calls yesterday and stopped me from moving up on a good gobbler, were roosted in the same area about 100 yards from where I park and they started cackling and calking at the other gobblers when they sounded off but, I was able to slip past them without bumping them from the roost since I got the jump on them a little early and made it on down to the swamp before daylight and waited at a cross road down in the swamp to listen for the gobblers calling from the roost.

With the cloudy weather only a couple of gobblers sounded off at daylight so I made my way slowy toward the closest one, even though he was over 500 yards on down in the swamp. As so often happens, even though I stayed “put” until 6:50, I had not gome 100 yards before I busted a group of hens out of a tall pine at the last little hill side before the creek bottom and they made so much fuss flying off that the gobbler hushed and I sat for the next two hours waiting for things to calm down.

At ten minutes after nine, a gobbler sounded off out in the swamp so I resumed my slip and eased out toward him, covering 300 yards until the bottom opened up into a wide expanse of nice hardwood swamp and I knew it would not be a good idea to walk out in there and be spotted by any turkey that could be close. I nestled in by a big oak and sat for 10 minutes listening and enjoying the morning. At my first yelp, the gobbler belted back a gobble but, he was still over 300 yards away! I peered across the open woods and caught movement but, quickly determined it was deer, 7 or 8 of them were trotting toward me and to my left so I sat another 15 minutes to let them get out of the way and he gobbled again before I could yelp and he was even farther away! I yelped at him louder and with more urgency and he gobbled right back! Then BOOM!  And the fellow hunting on the property next door had himself a good morning! I got up and walked back to my truck in the rain and headed on home..

Open Swamp Hardwoods, Beautiful to hunt in but, hard to slip on a Gobbler! ~postoak~

Yesterday morning the weather was the best I have had this season for a morning in the turkey woods and I was treated to the beauty of numerous gobblers as I listed from the top of a big ridge but every gobbler I yelped to that responded also caused clucks, cackles and lots of ‘hen-noise” until everything faded into no responses around 10:30. I sat until 1:00 doing some blind calling and called up a couple of hens before calling it a day.

Danny Gillis slipped up on this old "henned up" Tom in Autauga County! Good Job Danny! (courtesy Eric Christian)

My good friend Eric Christian, the Operations Manager at Bass Pro in Prattville had a good hunt yesterday morning. He teamed up with his buddy, Danny Gillis, who took a nice 20 lb, sharp spurred old Tom in Autauga county. Eric said they had found the gobblers up there to be all henned up but, Danny was able to do a masterful stalk and get in position to drop the old gobbler, who was field strutting in front of 8 of his lady friends! Glad somebody had some luck in the turkey woods!

Until next week,

~POSTOAK~

Otha Barham’s “Spring Bekonings” A Great Read Between Hunts

Otha Barham's Turkey Hunting book, A great read in between turkey hunts this spring.

Otha Barham of Meridian Mississippi is afflicted with a desease many of us know all too well. No, it is not Lyme desease. Although it does come from a bite, a bug, atleast a figurative kind of bug, not one of those disgusting little deer ticks that make hunter and animal alike both suffer.

The desease is one that affects the heart and soul of a “gobbler addict.” And yes, it does take one to really know one. It takes one to turn each page of the book he has so masterfully crafted and to enjoy the story as written and yet, many of the chapters strike parallel chords to my own years of turkey hunting memories, stirring the memories of hunts enjoyed with father and grandfather, who are both long gone on. Hunting stories that restoke the fires of my seasonal addiction to harvest another limit of long spurred, hard gobbling, old toms, not the stupid jakes, or the wild eyed two year old toms that gobble at every sound and come running to the call like they are in a race to die.

No, I dream of the gobbler who is “not sold”, the gobbler who is an old skeptic, made wise by the sting of lead from a desperate shooter two years ago. The old gobbler who ran to the call with his three brothers and his was the fate to survive while his brother lay in the field beating their wings in vain after the thunder clapped on a clear spring morning. This old gobbler who has learned to avoid the humans and will stay quiet most mornings, only gobbling when he is convinced he is talking to a real hen, one who is not loud and raucous, but just clucking, purring and patient for him to take his time closing the distance to where he can make a safe entrance and exit.

Otha Barham clearly understands the art of turkey hunting and turkey calling and he entertains the reader with 37 turkey hunting stories that weave across hunts and storiies of different hunters and times that sure brought memories, chuckles and almost a tear a couple of times. For reading in the spring woods, it is a great book to savor in between “fixes” of turkey gobbler addicition!  I highly recommend you get this one! just contact Mr. Barham  obarham@comcast.com.net    The book title is Spring Beckoning, Gobblers call and we must go. IF you are a turkey hunting addict, you know what we mean.

Looking for a great family activity outdoors? look no further than the Alabama Wildlife Federation’s home in Millbrook! Enjoy nature at its best at the 10th Annual Alabama Flora and Fauna Arts Festival at Lanark in Millbrook, Alabama on Saturday, April 12, 2014. This artistic celebration of Alabama’s magnificent plants and wildlife will feature the original nature-themed works of Alabama artists in a variety of mediums and style, to include ready-to hang wildlife and floral paintings, wood, stone and metal sculpted items, fine prints, gourd art, photography and much more! The Alabama Flora and Fauna Arts Festival is a free admission event on Saturday, April 12, 2014 from 8 am to 6 pm.                                 

Festival Day will also include plant presentations with guest speakers, vendors and the Lanark Annual Plant Sale; proceeds benefitting the Lanark Gardens. Master Gardeners from various counties will have information tables, and  there will be activities for the children. Speakers include Jane Mobley, Advanced Master Gardener to speak on Butterfly Gardens and Dan Jones Professor Emeritus from UAB to speak on wildflowers.

After you have been all-inspired at the Festival, stay to hike the trails and enjoy beautiful flowers and nature’s splendor.

The Alabama Wildlife Federation, established by sportsmen in 1935, is the state’s oldest and largest citizens’ conservation organization.  The mission of the AWF, a 501©3 non-profit group supported by membership dues and donations, is to promote conservation and wise use of Alabama’s wildlife and related natural resources as a basis for economic and social prosperity.  To learn more about AWF, including membership details, programs and projects, call 1-800-822-WILD or visit www.alabamawildlife.org.

Until next week, great hunting wishes for that spring gobbler to come your way!

~POSTOAK~

 

 

Paying Forward and Getting Ready..

 

I had a great time putting on a Turkey Calling Seminar yesterday at Bass Pro Shops in Prattville. Mr. Eric Christian of Bass Pro was a great host!

 

This Saturday marked the opening of the spring turkey season, atleast for our youth hunters across the state.

Youth season, a weekend in advance of the opening day, gives our young hunters who are old enough to shoot a shotgun independently, the chance to get a small headstart on the adult hunters. I think it is one of the best programs the folks at the conservation department have created, ever.  It is a fact that many of the folks in my generation and those in the 30′s, 40′s years are just not hunting in the same volume as they participated 20 to 30 years ago. The cost of hunting has dramatically increased, like most other things, and while I believe that is a big factor, a bigger one is that young men are not as outdoors oriented as when I grew up.  More single parent homes where the children live with mom has created a vacuum for male bonding between fathers and sons.

Also, a more affluent, or atleast more urban centered life style has been huge in the decline of hunting, fishing and shooting sports. If a father decides to be a non hunter, then the skill and love of, is not passed to the next generation of boys or girls and is likely lost forever in that family.

The rise and proliferation of team sports draws large numbers of kids to opt for spending time playing baseball, softball, soccer, football, basketball, etc all take big chunks of a familes recreational time and money so hunting is lost as an option.

So, for those of us who love the sport of hunting, fishing, shooting, hiking. we should make it a point to provide for others who are non-hunters but, want to learn how to enjoy the woods like we do. The term we often hear is to “PAY IT FORWARD”. My dad spent countless hours teaching me hunting and fishing skills that I use without so much as a thought, they just come naturally after more than 50 years of enjoying the special places we simply call “the woods!”

Yesterday, I had another opportunity to pay it forward at the Bass Pro Shops, Prattville Store by teaching some folks about turkey calling, hunting tactics and decoy placement and selection. The crowd was small but, we all had a real good time and the questions from the youngsters got me thinking about how much knowledge is required and how much I take for granted that is contained in my old turkey addict noggin!

Enjoyed talkin' turkey with Rocky Mims yesterday at Bass Pro Shops in Prattville ~postoak~

It reaffirmed to me as I answered questions and talked tactics, that helping others is one of the best things any hunter, who has been fortunate as me, can do in appreciation of my good fortune. I have been blessed to have taken more than my share of trophy Toms and trophy Bucks for a long time, and that time is winding down so it I am going to do my part to help others learn about the joys found out in the woods of Alabama, A place I love so much, that not to share them would just be wrong!

On getting ready, “prepartion is a main ingredient of success,” regardless of the type of success you are in pursuit of, and turkey hunting is real heavy on preparation, practice, and planning. I have more than 50 various turkey calls that I may use during any spring although, I use a mouth diaphram call most of the time. This was a topic yesterday during my seminar and I will say that I use a Red Wasp by WoodHaven calls since it is fairly easy to run, makes good raspy yelps, purrs easy and makes some great clucks, cackles and putts. I also really like the “preacher” mouth call by Knight and Hale. It is a smaller frame call and makes great low volume yelps, clucks, feeding purrs and is one of the best for “kee kee” calls that I have found.

This spring will be my 54th trekking through the magic bright green world that our Lord has blessed me to see and to be able to walk through. I plan to take full advantage of that miracle, be sure that you do too! And if you are an experienced hunter, you should consider training others and sharing the magic of THE WOODS!

POST OAK