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Author Topic: Time to Face the Facts (long rambling read)  (Read 353 times)

Online davisd9

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Time to Face the Facts (long rambling read)
« on: April 29, 2020, 10:17:22 AM »
Sorry for grammar or spelling issues.  I did not go back and proof read yet.  ;D

I have been putting off accepting that my 2020 turkey season is over but I guess it is time to accept it for what it is.  I had high hopes this season with a trip out west but with the current state of our country it was best to cancel that trip. Also, Russell cancelled his trip to hunt my in law's farm.  It was the right decision, but still stung a little as I always look forward to hunting with him. In no way did I have a bad year as I used my three tags here in SC and had so very good and exciting hunting.  Had just been looking forward to my trip out west but it was not meant to be this year and has been rolled over to next.

I was not sure how hunting my in law's farm was going to be this spring as they had some timber cut.  Some of my most productive roosts were being cut and I just did not know what to expect.  Did a little more scouting there this year than I have in a few years.  The weekend before I went to our back field and listened.  The birds were in the woods I expected them to be but deeper than I thought.  Did have hens get out into the field where I thought they would be on Saturday morning.  Found a good set up spot and had more hens fly over the top into the field.  Got out Sunday and listened from the road and heard birds gobbling back in the back field again.  Made my way back there and there was three toms coming across to the set up spot I had found and another gobbling just inside the woods down there.  My mind was made up, that is where I would start.

Our original plan was to go for the weekend, but all the virus mess heated up and my wife decided she would stay home.  I could have went down Saturday, March 21 and stayed the night but just decided to get up early on the opener, March 22, and make the two hour drive and come back that evening.  Got up, made the drive, and got there in plenty of time.  Getting my stuff together the wind was a little heavy but not bad and not steady.  Personally I hate hunting wind, but this was just on the edge of me not being happy.  Get everything together and make the half mile walk to my set up spot.  Get set up and start waiting. 

A bird about 200-250 yards behind me starts cranking up.  Wishing he was closer but happy that I am hearing some gobbling.  Next a bird past him in the distance starts gobbling.  Again, very encouraging.  I am sitting there waiting for a gobble close but nothing.  Around 7:10, little before maybe, I hear wing beats and expect to see the hens sail over me and into the field.  Well I wait a few seconds and nothing. I figure it must have just been a hawk or owl or something when I catch movement to my left.  I look over and two turkeys are walking about 35 yards from me coming in from my left.  I notice beards hanging so I get ready.  They get behind a small piece of brush I had so I adjust my gun so I can shoot either side in case they decide to turn around.  Had a couple decoys set in the field and they kind of pause looking at them.  Then they make their way on to them.  I choose which I think is the bigger bird and when they separate I shoot him and he drops at 20 yards.  The other just stands there and kind of seems confused.  He hung around circling his buddy looking at him and just walking around for 20 minutes.  This is the first year in SC that you can only kill one a day so he was tempting but nothing I could do about it.  Of course as this 20 minutes passes I start replaying it thinking did I shoot the right one?  Man, I hope that was not a jake and I got confused.  Well finally his companion leaves so I get up to go check, as I stand something to the right in the middle of the field catches my attention.  Another longbeard is making his way toward me. I step on out and he spooks and runs into the woods I was sitting on.  Get to the down gobbler and to my relief I did pick the right bird and it was not a jake, lol. Not knocking shooting a jake, I just knew one was a longbeard and that I was I wanted to kill.  I pulled the trigger around 7:12 am so what a start to the season.  I would prefer to have called them in than what happened but with the situation with the virus I was not going to pass opportunity for poetry.

Well SC also passed new laws this year that created two openers in different parts of the state and you can only kill one bird the first 10 days of the season.  So there was no more hunting for me until April 1.  April 1 I could go back to the farm or the upstate opened and I could hunt my lease that was fresh.  I decided to go to my lease and hunt some woods.  Buddy that hunts there was hunting that morning as well but he wanted to stay up front on a food plot as I had heard a bird gobble up there the Saturday before.  That was fine with me as that meant I could go on back and cross the first creek and roam 90% of the property.  I go listen a hear a bird gobbling in the back on a hill.  I am familiar with this from last year so have a good plan.  I sneak up and get to a tree that I have called birds to in the past.  To my left is a little road that goes to a back gate.  They like to skirt the top of the ridge and pop out on that little road.  Bird is gobbling good on the roost and there is a hen with him.  I hear them fly down and start calling. Well he is hammering and doing his circle like I expect.  This is where I go to rookie mode and screw up.  Instead of pointing my gun where my gut and history says he will step out, I put it on his last gobble tracking him.  Well I next hear drumming and foot steps but cannot really place where. Then the exact spot my inner soul screamed for me to put my gun I hear the spit and drum and cut my eyes to see him standing up beautifully for a 15 yard shot. Of course my inner rookie was not done so instead of letting him turn and walk off a little behind some dirt and thick stuff then try calling him back.  I try to slowly move my gun to him and he sees it.  Does not spook bad but drops 30 yards just out of sight and gobbles at every call I make until finally drifting off with his hen into the abyss. Of course the inner rookie moved too much and called too much the rest of the day.

Hunted on the third was great action first thing.  Had birds roosted gobbled probably 30 times.  Took my safety off twice but they drifted off with hens.  Stayed on them and got to the front and called up one of the hens but they stayed back gobbling enough to tease you.  The next day I had quite at roost and a bird gobbling crazy around 8.  Once I tracked him and figured out direction and set up he went silent, of course this happened a few times. 

Went back April 8th and spooked birds as I was walking back to the back.  Once again no roost gobbling.  You also can guess that bird fired up around 8 only to shut down when I set up on him and called.  I was honestly frustrated and decided to go to some state land.  I was going to hunt/scout as a friend and I was going to hunt there on Friday.  I was walking from the very back and decided to call in a few key spots just in case.  Called in one and nothing.  Went to the next, nada.  The next is probably 80-100 yards from the last spot I had called and was down in a bottom off a small river.  Hit the trumpet and bam he gobbles at me.I sneak down into the bottom and set up beside a drainage.  There is a plot down there and a road that goes to it.  My set up is to shoot at the road as I expect they will at least come to it. 

I call and get a gobble.  I pull out another trumpet and call sounding like a second hen but nothing.  Sitting there waiting as I should be able to see him in the open bottom.  I call again and this time I can tell there is more than one gobbling.  Next I catch movement and see one coming toward me.  Then I see a strutter.  Then I see another strutter and another satellite walking my way, so four toms coming.  I do a light yelp on the trumpet and one of the strutters blow up and angles toward me.  Seeing that in that creek bottom is one of the prettiest sights I know.  Their heads were shinning red, white, and blue.  Next I notice two other birds walking more to my right headed to the plot, two hens.  I sit there and hit two almost inaudible clucks and short yelp.  One of the satellite toms pops out of the road to my left at 15 yards and stands there looking for the hen.  No shot was possible as there was too much trash between us, but it also allowed me to move my gun where i needed to as I felt confident he could not see it with the trash.  The two strutters are now walking straight to me but right together. Will I get a shot or will I have to pass with them together and fearing I hit both?  Well they are now 35 yards when one of them cuts over to my left toward the looking satellite.  The one left is walking right down by gun barrel and when he steps in the road at 30 yards I squeeze the trigger and down he goes.  The others got antsy but settled quickly.  They slowly made their way on past me and up the ridge out of sight.  I get up and walk over to him. Sit there a moment thinking how quickly things can change on a hunt and how incredible it was to watch them coming.  Just felt blessed all the way around and to add I was going to get some good pictures with the bird when I got home with my boys. 

Hunted with my friend on the state land but with being in the different part of the state again I could not kill another bird until the 11th so he was on the gun.  We heard one bird and found lots of sign but no luck.  Got up early the next morning and we drove to the farm.  Heard some gobbling but no interest in us.  Around mid morning we struck up a hen and she was going to go nest in his lap when she caught a glare off his glasses, he said he did not move, and she spooked at about 10 ft from him.  Was cool experience playing with her and learning from her.  After that we had no more luck the rest of the day.

I went back to my lease on the 14th and heard nothing.  Did see some red heads on the road but no interest in my calling.  My buddy took his young son the 16th and he killed one with his boy in that front plot.  Was very happy they got to experience a good hunt together.  I hunt the 17th with no luck.  Was going to go back on the 18th but did not plan to hunt long as I had some other stuff to do on our other property but of course I had to go for a couple hours at least. 

Another gentleman that does not turkey hunt was going to bring his grandson and they wanted to sit that front field.  Once again that was fine with me.  I get there and walk back to the middle of the property where I can hear most of the area and wait. I hear a gobble back toward where the bird was on the 1st.  I make my way back and he is gobbling good.  He is not quite as far down the road as the other one was.  He also was not very far off the road so I had to just step off the road and find a tree to keep from spooking him.  I find my spot and not overly happy with my tree as it is not very big but it had was what I had to work with. He was up on a small hill and gobbling his head off.  From listening to him I thought he must have flew down and was on top of the hill so I started calling.  He gobbled at everything and I could hear him drumming, but he just would not budge.  Then I hear something and my heart stops.  He is not on the ground but just flew down.  I just know I have over called to him and he was going another direction when I hear something moving in a quick pace.  I get down on the gun, wait, and here he comes.  He is not full running, but he is not walking either.  He gets to 19 yards, stops and sticks his head straight up to look and that is where my season ended.  Finally a hard gobbling bird.  I think he was the same bird I should have killed on the opener, but was thankful I did not so I could experience this hunt.  Sat there and enjoyed the moment, took a few minutes, and then slowly walked to the car thinking about the season and all this country was going through.  Another moment I was lost in my own little world and at peace. 

Went one more time with my friend and his grandson.  Called in a bird but the young man was a bit fidgety and I think the bird did a disappearing act behind a big tree.  I saw him when he stepped behind the tree at 60 yards or so then he vanished right there.  We called in a hen a little later but the movement was caught by her as well and she left us. 

I have been playing with the idea with going to NC and had a buddy invite me to go to some ground with him.  My wife is expecting so I do not want to be far from home as I am the only one going out right now with the virus crap.  Would love to go but I had a great season and it was nice to sit here and relive the memories right here again.  My journal is updated and now it is time to accept things and look forward to Spring 2021!

"I wish I could breathe life back in him, if I could I'd hunt him again tomorrow." Ben Rogers Lee

Offline Terry

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Re: Time to Face the Facts (long rambling read)
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2020, 05:00:44 PM »
Great season Donald! It's always hard to accept when it ends, but great to have such awesome memories to relive.

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Offline trkehunr93

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Re: Time to Face the Facts (long rambling read)
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2020, 11:48:00 AM »
It’s definitely a weird time we’re living in right now, working from home has its ups and downs.  I’m having a VERY humbling season, I’ve hunted ten days and have heard gobblers three of them, two didn’t gobble until well past daybreak and we’re way off.  I’ve seen more jakes than ever and they are starting to look like good candidates.  This past Tuesday was the first bird I’ve heard gobble on the roost and I was able to slip within 75 yards of him only to have a hen 50 yards from me and after matching her call for call she cackled and flew back down the ridge and across a small branch to another property I can’t hunt.  I never heard the gobbler fly out so I’m guessing he just pitched off the limb and went her way.  He gobbled to my calling once an hour later.  They were roosted in some trees that I watched turkeys before season fly off the roost multiple times and land right where I snuck into, that morning must have been Opposite Day.  I was confident enough that the safety was off my gun when I knew she was getting ready to fly down as I was sure she would pitch my way and bring him with her.  I was off all last week and the weather sucked, between wind and rain it was an exercise in patience staying in the woods until noon when your hearing next to nothing in places that sounded like turkey farms the week before our season opened.  I’m not throwing in the towel but my patience is being tested for sure.  Seeing all the birds taken so far has brought a smile to my face so congrats to everyone who has contributed so far. 

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Offline AppalachianHollers

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Re: Time to Face the Facts (long rambling read)
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2020, 12:29:23 PM »
Congrats on a great season! Thanks for sharing. Goes to show how much hunting it takes to have success, even on fecund properties.

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