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Author Topic: Some of My most memorable over 45+ years  (Read 367 times)

Offline eggshell

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Some of My most memorable over 45+ years
« on: September 27, 2020, 10:46:51 AM »
Since I been bored I thought I would start telling some turkey stories.

I will start in my early years when I first started.

It was a spring day and I rode up on the hilltop with dad to hunt morel mushrooms. When we came to what we called the old orchard pond dad exclaimed, "look at that". I looked to where he was pointing and there stood a big ole gobbler with a long beard. I had never seen a wild turkey before and dad told us he had heard the state was releasing them. This was around 1968 give or take a year. I was just entering my teenage years and we hunted mostly rabbits and squirrels, but I was starting to hunt Ruffed grouse or "woods Pheasants" as grandpaw called them. Occasionally we would go up to my cousins for a ringneck hunt. Well over the next two to three years I would go along with the "city guys" that came to our farm to grouse hunt and I became a pretty dang good grouse shot. One of them city guys actually bought several hundred acres next to us and wanted to manage it for quail and grouse. He engaged us to farm it and help with managing his woods. Now the only grouse guns I had were a single shot .410 or my dads single shot H&R 20 ga. So one day this guy ask my dad if he can give me a gun to grouse hunt with. He said if I was going to be a grouse hunter I had to have a better gun, dad said yes if I could work it off on his farm. So he brought me a Remington model 17 pump 20 gauge.  i spent weekends helping him on the farm. I will unabashedly say I became deadly with that 20 ga and it was a bad day for grouse when I got in the woods. I loved grouse hunting and it became more and more frequent to see wild turkeys while grouse hunting. One day an old timer I was hunting with asked me if I ever thought about hunting them and that he'd tried it the year before. I had no idea how to do it, but over the winter he told me more and more and I found a guy who had hunted turkeys in Virginia.

I learned that you had to call them in, but I had no clue as to how. This guy gave me an old snuff box and striker call. It was a Rhodes box call. I attended a seminar the DNR put on and then applied for the drawing for a tag. The season only lasted 3 days and they would only draw 500 tags for the entire state. This was 1972. I was drawn and I was allowed to take a buddy on my tag. So I invited the guy who gave me the remington model 17. I scouted the farm and heard one gobbler. I bought a tape on calling(Ben Rodgers Lee) and practiced with my box call. Opening morning found us hidden in the brush above where I had heard the one gobbler on the farm. At daylight he gobbled and I immediately stroked the striker across the box lip. I think it sounded something like a chicken being strangled, but he answered. Then he gobbled closer and I was so shaky I couldn't even get a sound out of the box. I had let my buddy sit in front of me and suddenly he turns and mouths something to me and I can't tell what he's trying to say. Then He points and a big red head is sticking up and beady eyeballs are looking right at us. Finally he says out loud is that a gobbler and I answer, "I'm not sure, but I think so". Well of course that ole bird took off fast. We never got another chance at him but I was absolutely hooked.

The next two years were exercises in frustration as I was drew a tag every year and every year in my three day quest for greatest, would learn one more hard lesson of what not to do. Heck, I didn't even own camouflage clothes, I just wore woodsy colors. Finally I bought some army surplus camo and was practically a pro.

Finally in my third year I sat down on an opening morning and stated calling to a big ole gobbler. I still sounded bad, but I was at least better. Finally he came down the hill and set up strutting in front of me. I was so nervous it took me multiple tries to get my safety off and hold steady enough to fire off a shot. I learned instantly a huge lesson in turkey hunting....know your range. I knocked that old gobbler down, but he jumped up and took off with me in pursuit. I ran that old bird for a half mile up that hill and across the ridge, but never caught him. I went home hanging my head and promptly got an  chewing from dad for just crippling an animal. We took our beagle to try and recover the bird to no avail. I really got an  chewing after that. So my next morning adventure I sat up on a bird and started the game over. Finally I see him coming then I see three more and another. This time I was determined to not screw up. So I let that bunch of jakes come and come, I swear it took them 10 years to get close. Finally I knew there was no chance they weren't close enough and I picked out one by himself and cut him down. I was as proud as a conquering king at that moment and I had my first of many gobblers in hand. There was a total of 48 gobblers killed in the state that year and I was one of the lucky ones.

Next story is my first quest of a legend : Old softball head

Offline eggshell

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Re: Some of My most memorable over 45+ years
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2020, 04:41:31 PM »
Old Softball Head

It was sometime in the mid 70s that I first noticed an abnormally large gobbler track in a logging road on the family farm. I was so impressed with the track that I pulled out my pocket knife and laid it flat on it's side within the middle toe. I still was very new at this turkey hunting and had only shot 2-3 gobblers, but with limited knowledge I still knew this was a huge track and thus a huge bird. I often heard a bird on that ridge and I often called to him, but never laid eyes on him.

Success was limited in those days as our seasons were still very short (typically a week or less). Our population was not very wide spread or robust densities yet. A typical season was find one or two active gobblers and stay on them. I could not afford a long protracted pursuit of a bird I could never get to come. Jakes and two year olds were a treasure too easily found to waste a season on the mother load. For 2-3 years I regularly saw this huge track.

My first glimpse of old softball head was on an opening morning in 1977. I had set up on a bird off the roost on his ridge, but shortly after fly-down the woods went silent. After sitting tight for a while I began to move slowly around a bowl and suddenly a gobbler rang out from above me. I sat down by a tree on a bank and made a scratchy call on my old snuff box. A booming gobble came back from my right. I slowly peaked that way and saw two bodies moving my way. They disappeared over a hump and I adjusted. Then there they were and I could see two gobblers. One had a nice long beard and I was sure was a mature gobbler, and then there he was! The second bird stepped into the open and I was flabbergasted with his size. He stood markedly taller than the other bird and I instantly noticed his head was huge. They were maybe 35-40 yards and I was ready to shoot, but I still carried a 20 ga. shooting 2 3/4" shells. I thought to myself, "I have to get this monster close or I'll never kill him clean". So I risked a soft call and yup I was instantly pegged. If I had more experience I wouldn't have tried it. So I sat and watched him walk away, sick at my stomach and pissed off at the same time.

O.S.H. kept a regular routine that season, but I didn't figure it out until the last couple days of season. He would gobble on the roost then go to this point and then hit a log road and go along it gobbling at a pace you couldn't keep up with. If he found a hen he'd shut up. The days I saw him he would be with a hen either in that road or in a field. I never really got a good set up on him. The last morning came and I enlisted two buddies in a plan to cover all his routes and ambush him, surely one of us would score this dinosaur. Well mid morning the sky opened up and we retreated to the trucks. We sat in the trucks demonstrating our turkey calls and waiting on the rain to end. Suddenly there was a loud boom, but it wasn't thunder its was the old monster gobblers himself, who had come to our calling (we had a window half down). We looked and he walked out from behind the barn at maybe 25 yards. It was a mad scramble for guns, but all the commotion had given us away and he was leaving fast. Well we tried to strike him up again, but to no avail and the season ended with a vow to get hum next year.

Well, the winter of 1977-78 was to be a historic year weather wise and the mid west was hammered by an ice storm and blizzard in January. We had rain change to freezing rain to ice to massive snowfall. This year proved to be an apocalypse for wildlife and especially so for quail and pheasants, they would never fully recover. Turkeys were not excluded. We had 30 inches of snow on the ground, but I was determined to do what I could for my beloved turkeys. Every other day I would strap a back pack of 25 lbs of corn on and walk almost a mile up hill to gobbler ridge and put out corn for the wildlife. I would look every day for that big monster track in the snow, but sadly it never appeared. Spring finally came and when April hit I was on the ridge and listening for O.S.H., but the ridge was silent. If you could ever be heartbroken over a turkey I was. Season came and seemed almost a disappointment and sad. There were not many gobbles that spring and my tag went unfilled. I heard reports of carcasses found around trees where turkeys never even made it off the roost.

One day I stopped at an old cabin at the base of a ridge and struck up a conversation with the old guy who lived there. I asked if he had seen or heard any gobblers on the ridge. He knew I was a turkey hunter and he said he had something to show me. He went in and came out with a massive turkey beard. I never measured it, but I bet is was 15" long and as big as my wrist. He proceeded to tell me that one day after the blizzard he looked out and his dog had caught a turkey in the woods behind his house. He went out and took it way from the dog thinking he'd eat it. He said it was huge, but was so emaciated that he didn't think it was good to eat. One of his comments was, "Man what head was on that old bird, it looked like a softball"! I was crushed. I finally got to see part of the old monarch up close, but not how I wanted. I still feel sad writing this.

Every spring I hope that his genes show up on the ridge and a great great great great grandson unleashes a thunderous Gobble and I'll know the Old monarch's heritage is alive! I have killed many birds off this ridge and actually filled both of my tags within 100 yards of my first encounter with O.S.H. this spring. Maybe before I die I will again see that pterodactyl track in the mud again....here's to hope.

Offline eggshell

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Re: Some of My most memorable over 45+ years
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2020, 07:03:55 AM »
so, let me know if you want more stories. I hope this has helped fill the slow days without turkey hunting

Offline Happy

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Re: Some of My most memorable over 45+ years
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2020, 08:53:25 AM »
I like em, keep them coming please.

Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk


Offline eggshell

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Re: Some of My most memorable over 45+ years
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2020, 08:25:43 AM »
Old Horse tale and a friends disappointment

This story isn't much of a spectacular hunt as it is just one of my memorable stories. This was probably 25 years ago, but I still remember it.

For years I had hunted a place and always heard turkeys across the valley. The landowner told me repeated times, not to cross the fence, because the adjoining landowner was a jerk. I never would have without permission, but he just wanted to be sure. It frustrated me to no end as that is where the turkeys always were. There was also a piece of paper company land adjoining that was public use and I would get close to the line there, but birds would never cross.

One day a dump truck pulled into the lot at work and it obviously had a flat tire. When I approached the driver he was obviously aggravated and told me he only hauled for himself and the old dump truck had sat a while. He really didn't want to pay a lot for a service call on the road. I told him to pull it up to our garage that we could let him use our tools ( we ran several trucks and had a regular shop)  to get the tire off and I would run him down to a local tire shop for a fix. Soon he was ready to get back on the road, but during our conversations I had asked where his farm was. I learned he was the landowner I was told to avoid by the other landowner. I also found out he wasn't a jerk, but they had disputed a property line. So of course I asked if he'd allow me to turkey hunt, he said absolutely it was ok, but he only let one other guy hunt and he got first choice. So, I called him the day before season opened to see when I could hunt. He said the other guy was hunting at daylight, but would only stay for an hour or two and I could come later. I didn't want to do that, but he said the other guy had told him he had other better spots and wouldn't be back for over a week and didn't care if I hunted the first week. I still thought I would wait a day.

Opening morning found me at another spot on public land, but it was silence. I hunted 2-3 hrs and headed to work. On the way I passed this property and I thought heck I'll just stop and take a short hunt out to the point. So I did. About half way to the point I threw a call and boom a bird gobbled back. I started looking for a set up and he gobbled again, closer. So I sat down quick at a stump. In about 30 seconds I seen this old bird, beard swinging, practically running in. I finally shot him at 20 yards and when I picked him up I was impressed with the beard thickness and then I noticed it was a double beard. The main beard was really full and 11" and the second almost as full and 9.5", together they looked like a horse tale on a bird. The gobbler weighed 21.5 pounds and had 1 3/8 spurs. I took him to work and checked him in, as we ran the check station, and after field dressing put him in our walk in feed cooler. That evening I stopped at my mother-in-law's to show her my bird. Yeah, my M.I.L was an old hillbilly gal and like seeing what I got hunting. She was a jewel and we were close. While there her brother pulled in and he also was a turkey hunter. Of course he looked over my bird and stated he had been after a big ole bird himself that morning. He asked were I got this one and I told him. He got a funny look on his face, as he also hunted the property I first mentioned. He instantly said, B.S. no body is allowed on that farm. He then said he had sat right on the line and toyed with a big old bird that would not come off the posted farm. I replied, "right there he is" and he again called B.S. So I told him go hunt your old bird tomorrow and see if he's there. The next day I called him and asked how he had done. He said, "I didn't hear a dadblame thing, but the landowner told him someone shot up on the ridge the morning before around 9:00 AM. He mumbled some unpleasantries  and admitted I was telling the truth. It puzzled him for years how I got permission to hunt. he even went up and asked the guy himself and was told no he already had two guys hunting. It remained something I teased him about for years and he did learn to laugh over it. I never intended to cause him any grief,  I just took advantage of an opportunity. To this day that bird remains one I am proud of.     

Next story is You can't keep an old turkey hunter out of the woods

Offline eggshell

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Re: Some of My most memorable over 45+ years
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2020, 12:58:46 PM »
You can't keep an old turkey hunter out of the woods

2009 was a crazy year for me in the turkey woods and one I will never forget. I don't even remember how the spring went, but the fall seasons will be burned into my memory until I die.

For years I had hunted Kentucky gun seasons, but had always toyed with hunting the early crossbow season for a couple extra tags. In October 2009 my buddy and I decided we would give it a go try our luck with crossbows. Sunday October 4th was my 29th wedding anniversary and so we waited until MOnday October 5th to go down. The first spot of the morning was a dry hole, but about 10:30 I heard birds calling across the lake. So we went down and took the boat across to the area they were in and started our efforts to locate them. Finally we got an answer and they were in a bowl below us. I decided to move around to the other side of the bowl and my buddy would stay right where he was. So I slowly began to sneak around the bowl and when I was on the other side I threw a call and birds answered right below me. I decided to move a little further down. Suddenly I felt something hit my leg really hard and at the same moment I heard a sound I was familiar with ( a crossbow being shot ), fllowed by the sound of something skipping out through the woods. I looked down and  there was a perfect star shape hole in my camo pants just below my groin in my left thigh and a big swelling red spot. I knew instantly I had been shot!. I yelled for my buddy and soon heard him coming through the woods. By that time I had dropped my pants to see blood running out of my leg like someone had installed a faucet in my thigh. I used to volunteer as a EMT and knew instantly this was really really bad. My buddy asked how bad it was and I said it's really bad and I need help fast (I am not going into details of the shooter and such because of legal agreements). We packed the entrance and exit wounds with whatever clothe or paper towels we had and tied a tourniquet on my leg. My buddy went to get the boat as I sat on the forest floor wondering if this was the day I died. I even asked God that very thing, "Lord am I going to die alone here on this forest floor". I thought of my wife and my daughters and everything I would miss and how my death would impact them. I would never walk them down the Isle, I would never see them embark on careers and I would never know grandchildren, my spirit was as crushed as a man can get. Suddenly, I felt like I could try and get out to the water's edge and I stood up and struggled for every step, but making headway. Finally I heard the boat and it was right below me. I yelled and my buddy heard me and came to shore. We made it the 3/4 across the lake to the truck and I told him, screw the boat leave it, just get me to a hospital. There was a guy camping near by and my buddy yelled for help, but the guy wouldn't help. Still my buddy insisted on loading the Jon boat. He then tried to dial 911, but I told him we don't have time and he loaded me in the truck and took off on the 17 mile drive to the hospital. We arrived at the ER and he went in for help. ER staff were on  me like ducks on a June bug and soon they had transfusions and IVs going and working on stopping the bleeding. About 10 minutes after arrival I crashed with from blood loss. I woke up with them preparing to load me in a med flight to a major trauma center. Well I made it and was home in a few days, but terribly weak.

About 2 weeks after I was home my buddy came by and asked if I wanted to take a ride. I hadn't been off the coach in two weeks except to wash and dress my wounds or go to the doctor. I had a nurse come every day to check my wounds. I asked if I could go and I was told yes. I told my buddy to get my shotgun and maybe we could find some turkeys out in a field over at a friends farm. He thought I was nuts but he got my gun. We drove over to my friends farm and he was pulling out of the drive. We stopped and he was glad to see me out, he had been visiting me at home regularly, and he said hey there's a flock of birds back in the pasture. So we drove back there and we saw them and my buddy drove me up to a bulldozer pile of stumps and sat me on a log. He then took his turkey dog a circled the birds and he turned the dog loose on them and sure enough one came right by me and I killed it, A 20 pound gobbler. I couldn't even get up to get it. My buddy retrieved it for me though. I called my wife and told her what I done and her reply was, "I am married to an idiot" and hung up. Heck I was proud of that bird as all get out.

Well, I continued to heal over the next couple months and the December segment of Kentucky's season came around. So you guessed it we decided to drive down. I could only walk with a cane and was limited to flat fields, but I was gonna hunt. We took a boat ride over to the accident scene and I was amazed at how full of multiflora rose bushes the area was that I had walked through, I don't remember even seeing any thorns or scratches on me. Surely the Lord had prepared my path, I just sat and wept. Back to turkey hunting, another buddy down in Ky had asked a friend if I could go hunt a farm field he hunted and they said yes. When we pulled in there was a group of 7 gobblers in the field. We got positioned as best I could and began to call and they came and I put one in the dirt. That was the second gobbler of the fall after my accident. I would never have dreamed I would be so blessed with such great kindness by all.

Fast forward to the fall of 2010 and the first week of September. I had healed to the point I rarely used a cane anymore, but I still was weak at times. One Saturday morning my daughter and I were running our labs and one of them clipped my bad leg. I couldn't keep my balance and I fell, instinctively I stuck out my right arm to catch myself, but it took too much force and the elbow fractured and my triceps muscle was torn off the bone with a piece of bone attached to the tendon (an evulsion fracture). So, I had to have surgery to repair that and spent 13 weeks with my right arm immobilized in either a cast or brace. Of course fall turkey season came in during that period. My doctor said no way I could shoot with a gun against my right shoulder or I could undo the whole repair. So I got some low brass shells and a shooting stick and started to try and learn to shoot left handed off a shooting stick....yeah I wasn't very good at that. Still I went hunting. To speed this up I missed three turkeys and was about to give up when finally I got into a flock and I got a jake to stand still at 25 yards and I put him down. I got to him and started the attempt at filling out a tag one handed, when all of a sudden he jumps up and starts to run off, Me in pursuit. He finally got tangled up in some greenbriars and I got hold of him and dispatched him with a stick. It would have made a great video. After this fiasco my wife was totally convinced she had married an idiot, but I was rather proud of my lunacy, again.
p
So, my moral is: never ever give up on getting your turkey,  crippled or crazy go for it

Offline GobbleNut

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Re: Some of My most memorable over 45+ years
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2020, 09:10:19 AM »
Great stories, Dana!

Offline eggshell

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Re: Some of My most memorable over 45+ years
« Reply #7 on: October 09, 2020, 04:34:17 PM »
Gobblers, Hens, jakes and Morels; Oh MY

Two of my closest hunting buddies and I where on one of our annual out-of-state trips before our season opened in Ohio. The area we hunted was the head waters of a lake and along a river, so we always took a Jon Boat. That morning the we decided two of us would cross the river and one hunt the road side. Myself and Joe went across the river. At daylight we heard a bird out the ridge and one across the valley. The gobbler across the valley would be difficult to get to, as it meant going down a steep hill, crossing a feeder creek and climbing an equally steep slope on the other side. I had hunted that side many times and I decided to go across while Joe went on out the ridge. When I got to the bottom of the hill there was a flat along the stream before Ii crossed and as I crossed it I spotted a few nice big morel mushrooms. I made note of them and kept going. I soon spotted a few more morels and made not of them. I climbed the hill to the main bench and headed towards the last gobble.

As I approached my desired set up spot I realized the gobbler was already in the spot and I knew it was a strutt zone. My confidence waned as I often had birds hang up in this spot. I kept inching forward and calling softly, but finally could go no further without getting busted. So I sat and waited as I certainly did not want to make the trek back across the valley so soon. Finally I realized the gobbler had faded off over the bank and I had a chance to move more into the strutt zone. So I hugged the bank and moved up. Soon I heard him gobble and he was around 75 yards just over the lip of the bench. I got situated and made a series of calls  hoping he'd come right back to his strut zone. What I got was a ruckus scolding from a boss hen. Here she come up over that bank ready to kick some hussy arse for making lewd suggestions to her gobbler. She was purring and all fluffed up for a smack down. Well, she never found the hussy but she did spot me and promptly putted and flew off the hillside and two other turkeys with her. So i got up kicked the dirt and said shucks (yeah it might of been a bit more colorful than  that). Then I walked over to the edge and something caught my attention just before I broke over....the sound of turkeys walking in the leaves. I dropped to a knee and got ready and the first thing that popped up was a Jake and of course he spooked. I instantly knew every bird that was left would soon be leaving, so I raised up and to my amazement there were turkeys all across the hill below me. There were hens and jakes and yup one big ole long beard in full strut. None of them were spooked astonishingly. So I inched over to a tree and raised back up and made a really soft call and some of the birds started moving up hill, including the long beard. Saddly the hens and jakes were coming first. Finally at 10 yards one hen stops and puts. I am zeroed in on old long beard and my yardage guess is 45 yards. I decide I can kill him and I needed to do it now as he is fixing to leave. So I drop the hammer on him and he tumbles and goes rolling down the hill  and suddenly stops, but I can see he still has life left in him and he scoots into a tree top. So I slip and slide down to his level and realize he is in this tree top and about 20 feet from a sheer cliff off into the river. I did not want him flopping off into the river, so I decide to finish him off with a second shot and I did. So I retieved him and filled out my tag and put him in my vest and started to find my way along the cliff top to where I coulld get down to the flat.

As I moved along my radio buzzed and it was Joe. He had heard me shoot and wanted to know if I got my bird, since there was a second shot. I told him yes I did and he said he couldn't work the one he went after. He was directly across from me and said he'd bring the boat around so I didn't have to climb the hill and I told him come on around and meet me in the bottom as I had seen some mushrooms and he said great I'd love to get some mushrooms. So we met and we picked a good mess of mushrooms and then it was time to go meet our other buddy. When we got back to the truck I decided to go back to our cabin and clean my bird and the other two wanted to go look for more mushrooms. So that's what we did. The deal was at 2:30 we'd meet back at the launch.

I cleaned my bird and returned on time and waited and waited and waited. Finally another friend that lived locally who was our host showed up and I told him the other two had stiffed me and were raiding my mushroom patch. He was glad I had bagged a bird though. So we set out on our own mushroom hunt and we done well finding a bag full. We returned as evening was setting in and still the others were not there. Finally we see the boat coming and the two had poop eating grins on their faces. I am like thanks for keeping your agreement butt heads. The I see the whole bottom of the boat is filled with morels (25 lbs of them). I was ready to ditch two friends on the spot. To this day I still remind one of them (the other has passed away) how dirty a trick that was, but we are still close. They said they just couldn't leave as they kept finding more and more.

Attached is a pic of the gobbler and 1 of several bags of the morels

Next up - The desires of my heart
« Last Edit: October 09, 2020, 04:50:02 PM by eggshell »

Offline eggshell

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Re: Some of My most memorable over 45+ years
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2020, 06:07:56 AM »
The Desires of My Heart

This story in about another out-of-state hunt. It was sometime in the late 90s to early 2000s and I was new in my conversion to Christianity ( this does have relevance to my hunt), which happened in the mid 90s. It came time for my annual trip to the hills of Ky and I was not able to make it down to stay the night before opening day, but my buddy went ahead of me and got a motel room. I decided to stay home for a weekly Bible study group and get up and drive the 3 hours to hunt early opening morning. I chose a remote block of National Forest as my destination. At the Bible study our leader brought up Psalm 37:4 (Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. NIV).

Early morning found me pulling onto the forest service road well before daylight and headed to my predetermined  spot, but fate had not smiled on me and two vehicles were already parked at the gate. So I chose another ridge-line. It was still very early and I did not know this ridge so I decided to wait until the break of dawn and walk in so I wouldn't be walking past gobblers. while I waited, I picked up my Bible which I had left in the truck and Psalm 37 was were I left my book mark. I read the entire Psalm and contemplated upon the verses. After reading the 4th verse I flippantly said out loud, "Lord the desire of my heart this morning is to kill the biggest gobbler I have ever killed.

The ridge I chose turned out to be a dry hole and I was quite disappointed in my opening morning. I made it back to the truck around 10:00AM and decided to drive back to my original area and see if anyone was still there. When I got to the gate there were 4 guys standing around the 2 cars and I stopped and asked  how they fared in their hunt. They kind of chuckled and explained they were new to turkey hunting and had spooked all the turkeys off the roost going in that morning and it was a complete bust. I offered good luck wishes for the next morning and they all said they would not hunt again until the following Saturday. I asked if anyone would be offended if I parked and walked the trail they had went out and they all said go for it, but all the turkeys were already scared off. I knew better than that and with a  little over two hrs left in shooting time I took off out the ridge. About a mile in a made a cut on my mouth call and a distant gobble returned. I dropped down to the bench and his level and called again and he answered. This exchange continued for about 45 minutes and he started to fade away. So I decide to do an end around. Up the hill I went and over the crest and out towards the point. When I got to the point I called and he answered, but was even lower on the hill. So down I go and I set up and he gets closer but is even lower. So lower I go and  it is really steep. Finally he is just off my right but even lower. A quick glance at my watch and I see I have 20 minutes left to shoot (shooting hours ended at 1:00 PM). So I go for broke and move down and start calling hard as I move and he goes nuts. I realize he is moving around the hill to me. Finally I see two hens coming and a fan. I sit down on this steep bank and position my gun. The hens walk by below me and finally there he is strutting in the open. So I make a sound like clearing my  throat and his head pops up and he dies right there, with 5 minutes left to shoot. Of course he  tumbles down the hill. I finally catch him and tag him and then realize I am in a deep ravine and close to the pits of hell. I put the bird in my vest and suddenly realize this is an exceptional bird and heavy. I start my climb out and it is warm by this time and I am over dressed. One step at a time I climb out of that pit. Finally I make it to a point I can move towards the truck, but I am roasting hot. I start the mile or two walk and I am already tired. I find myself dehydrated and stopping every 200 yards to cool off and rest. I am staring to regret this decision. By the time I get to the bluff above my truck I am totally spent and wishing one of my buddies will be at my truck waiting for me and can come get this damn turkey off my back, but no one is there. When I get to the truck I undress down to minimum layers and dive into the gatoraide stash. After a while I get my gobbler out and admire him. I then weigh him and realize he is my biggest gobbler to date. He weighed 23.5 pounds had good spurs and 11 inch beard. Then I recalled my flippant prayer and thought, well the Lord heard me, but next time I'll be more specific". I felt like he was saying touche, be careful what you ask for my child, I am always listening.

I returned to the motel and a local friend stopped by and he had killed a gobbler that morning too and we were admiring each other's birds when he asked about how my buddy Rick had done. I said I haven't seen him, but his truck was parked at the first gate of the same road I was on. We waited and waited and it got to 3:00 PM and we became concerned that he wasn't in. So, we decided to go look for him and just as we were pulling out he pulls in. He gets out and exclaims I have had a hell of a morning. I asked how and he explains he took off after this gobbler, which was a runner and it led him off into unfamiliar ground. He ended up killing it in this bottom of a valley. The only way to his truck he knew was up the valley. It turned out to be the long way and hard walking and a huge steep bank to climb. It took him 4 hrs. He said at one point he considered throwing the gobbler over the hill and crawling out. We all laughed and then he said, Well at least I wasn't alone, some other fool killed a gobbler on the next ridge point down and he had a hell of a climb out too. I then told him that fool was me and he would have been better coming out with me. It ended up be good stories and a fun time.

The moral being, be careful what you wish for and be more specific in those wishes.

« Last Edit: October 13, 2020, 12:11:19 PM by eggshell »

Offline eggshell

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Re: Some of My most memorable over 45+ years
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2020, 08:23:30 AM »
The end of the Field Gobbler

The ridge top of my cousins property is a series of grass fields that is tailor made for turkeys to use. However, I seldom see birds in them. For about three years there was an exception to this. Around 9:00AM every day of season this old long beard would show up on one end of it. I would always take a peak into the field before I walked into  it. This field is 400 yards long surrounded by semi-open woods and it is tough to get around it without getting busted by any bird in the field. Over the three or so years I dueled with this old bird I tried every trick I could think of. I sat where I thought he'd come out, I tried multiple calls, I tried gobbling, I was there early and late, but I did not find any strategy that worked. He was one of those birds I held a grudge against and was determined to hound until one of us died, preferably him.

In the fourth year I killed a nice gobbler on opening morning, on another farm. The second day I teamed up with my best friend and headed up to the farm. We hunted another ridge and struck out and since it was around 8:30 I suggested we check the field. When we peaked out there was only an empty field. So we walked to the end of it and decided to swing around the point and head to another hot spot. Just as we started to go over a lip I threw a random cut of calls out into the woods. GOOOBBBBLLLLEEE was the booming response just 75-100 yards ahead of us and we quickly chose trees and set up. I agreed to let John have the shot since he had not filled a tag yet and I had filled tags in Ohio and Ky. I knew this was the old bastard of the field. I only called twice more and then soft clucks and he responded closer each time. Soon I could hear him drumming and spitting just over a rise in front of us. I watched as he appeared at 30 yards and waited for the retort of John's gun, but it never came. Finally at 10 yards old tom stopped dead, putted and began his retreat. I was not going to let this happen on this old hard head. So I pulled up and shot him at 30 yards in retreat. After I picked him up and let him flop out I asked John what happened and he said the bird came in right in line with a big high stump he never saw him at all. I felt bad in one sense and glad in another, as I finally had old field bird by the feet, but I had promised John the shot. He understood, but I swore we'd find him a bird. I decided not to pack this 22 lb bird all morning and took him to the truck a half mile away. After that we decide to make a loop through the farm. We heard nothing and my conscience was getting heavier. I mad a run past one of my best late morning spots and our calls got no answer. As we were heading out I threw one last cut up the hill and boom three birds answered right where we just walked through. Now this is wide open mature woods where you can see for 150 yards and we both looked at each other in astonishment over how we hadn't spooked those birds. In just a second or two I saw birds moving our way and we dropped to the forest floor right where we were, no cover. They came strutting right at us and gobbling. Finally at 40-50 yards they spotted us and got fidgety. I had watched John pattern his gun and knew he was good too 50 yards and I whispered if he had a clean shot he better take it. He did and dropped a nice 20 lb three year old bird. At last I was redeemed and we had two tags filled for the day. In the end John agreed is was best I got the old field bird as he had been my nemesis for three previous years. It was a good day of friendship and turkey hunting.   
 

Offline eggshell

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Re: Some of My most memorable over 45+ years
« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2020, 10:40:05 AM »
Let's Take a trip in "The Way Back Machine"

The year is 1981 and the turkey population has expanded well in our area. We are finding birds in new areas and gaining density. I have been at this for almost ten years by now, but still have only killed 4or 5 birds. One of my friends took up the sport just 4 years ago and has shot one bird. Our seasons are still short (I think it was a week at this time)  and finding more than a couple active birds is tough.

This season I will not have much time to hunt because in May of 1979 I left the nursery business and began my career with ODNR as a fisheries Tech.. I had a little comp. time, but would mostly have to get 1-2 hrs in before work. The first two mornings were very anti-climatic and I was wondering if I'd get a chance at a gobbler at all. The night after the third morning I received a call from my buddy. He had found an old gobbler on a new farm and it was giving him fits. We knew basically nothing about strut zones in those days and this old bird would head right straight for his every morning and lock down in wait of hens. He called to ask me for help.

In those days I was one of few, in my area, who knew of and used diaphragm or mouth calls. I had been introduced to them at a ODNR seminar by then world calling champ, Lew McClure. I actually made acquaintance with Lew and began using and selling his calls. I had become fairly efficient with them and had a reputation. We found out we both hunted the same mountain range in West Virginia and stayed at the same Motel.

{side Bar} This motel was in the Elkins area and If my memory is good was called the Alpine or Alpina Motel. It set on the break of a mountain range and was run by an older woman. When she checked you in you had to say if you wanted meals. If you said yes it was an extra charge, but very reasonable. Then she'd inform you breakfast was at 6:00 AM sharp, at that time you'd get a sack lunch and supper was 5:00PM sharp....don't be late or you won't eat, period! The first time I was confronted with this I was hesitant, but signed up. Later that day I ran into Lew and he informed me meals were an event. So my buddy and I were Johnny on the spot for supper and was seated at a full set table with all the proper dinner ware. It was odd sitting in camos and eating a served meal. The meals were served family style and boy were they good, all home cooked and plenty of it. Breakfast was equally great and a big sack lunch. We later found out once she got to know you you'd get an invitation to hunt  her family farm if she liked you. You just don't find those places today.   

Back to the hunt. We met the next morning and we made our way into the old bird's lair and sure enough right on cue he gobbled. My buddy pointed out where he would hang up and I said go sit in that spot and I will stay where you have been calling from and call. So that is what he done. I started working on the old bird and it seemed he was coming right to me and I was worried about what  to do, do I shoot this bird if he shows up and risk making my friend mad. Well I didn't have to worry about that as the old bird stopped at 75-100 yards and shut up. I was wondering what went wrong when, boom I hear my buddy shoot. I get up and hurry to him and I find him standing with the bird by the feet flogging the crap out of him. His hat was off to one side, his glasses another and his gun somewhere else. I told him lay the bird down and let it flop out. He was absolutely giddy and I was afraid he was going to kiss me or propose marriage or something. It was a dandy gobbler weighing 21.5 lbs and sporting a 12" beard (I don't have a record of spur length).

As we sat there admiring the bird and swelling up with pride at what we'd done all of a sudden another bird gobbles. My buddy says they're in Pete's (the farmer) field. So I take off with my trusty 20 ga pump with standard 2 3/4 chamber and magnum field loads. I call and call to what sounds like 2-3 gobblers, but they come so far and then drift away. I am puzzled as they  are really hot. Finally I decide to take a deer trail around the field. I peak up into the field and realize they weren't coming because of a fence row full of multi flora rose. So I move around and crawl up as close as I can and I see 4 long beards in the field, I have never seen this before and I am shaking in my boots. I make a squeaky attempt at a call and they gobble and start my way. They head right to a knoll in front of me and hang up. I watch them for at least 30 minutes and they won't budge. I still had rise in front of me, so I decide to crawl to the field edge. When I get there I slowly raise up and they are all in full strut. I am a basket case and I also am trying to decide if they are too far. MY emotions quickly over ride all common sense and I decide to pick one out and shoot, no matter how far they are. After multiple attempts to get my safety off and hold steady on a birds head I finally get a bead on one and shoot. He goes down but is still alive, but I am young and fast on my feet, so I catch him and ring his neck. I let out a war hoop that would make anyone proud. I go back and look at where I shot from and I realize it was about 4 miles from the bird (yeah sarcasm font is on). I step it off and it was 52 steps, wayyyy too far for my gun, but I was lucky and got a pellet in the right place. After decades of turkey hunting I am almost ashamed to admit this story, but it was part of my growing pains. In those days I had no mentors to hunt with, it was learn by trial and error and what you could glean from a very few experienced turkey men. This bird weighed 18.5 lbs and I don't have any other stats on the picture.

Attached is a picture of us with our first ever double up morning. I dare to say neither of us are quite as handsome today. Oh yeah, take note of our fancy camo too. I had an old army coat and that was all the camo I owned. I am on the right. Yeah, I was skinny, had hair on both my head and face....none of that is true today

Offline Happy

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Re: Some of My most memorable over 45+ years
« Reply #11 on: October 20, 2020, 03:32:32 PM »
Man, Elkins, Wv is some of my stomping grounds. Good stories.

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Offline Fdept56

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Re: Some of My most memorable over 45+ years
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2020, 11:19:08 AM »
Great stories, thanks for sharing!