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Quest For A Limit (Part II) The Conclusion

Posted April 24th, 2012 at 07:39 PM by Black Spurs

From my journal:

April 22, 2012 (Updated)

I walked across the field at 5:15 AM. I was early, very early. I set up where I saw him enter the field the evening before and waited. It was 6:10 AM when I heard the first turkey gobble. He was straight down the edge of the field. Something deep inside me urged me to move on him, but the wind had me a little confused about the distance. By the time I realized exactly where he was, it was too late to move. I knew they generally headed west, and I figured I was in decent shape to move when he got on the ground. It is hard to hold back the tendency to get stupid when it comes down to the last day, but one thing I have learned over the years is that if you have some patience, you will often be rewarded. The turkey answered me very well on the roost and on the ground. Soon, I saw two gobblers in the field. They were too far to tell much about them, but I figured they were jakes. All total, there were three turkeys gobbling along that far edge of the field. Then, things got quiet for a few minutes.

The turkey that was doing most of the gobbling started moving toward where the other two were gobbling. Was he going to shut them up? Or was he going the other way with hens? I wasn’t sure, but I knew he was too close to the edge of the field to make a move across a wide open field. The sun was rising over the trees and creating a glare that made it almost impossible to see much through the binoculars. I always seem to forget that when I set up like this on these birds. I guess the one thing that makes me tend to keep doing it is that the glare also makes it easy to see the sun hit a turkey’s back. And at 7:15, I was reminded of that when I saw the gobbler step out into the middle of the field about 200 yards away. He was half strutting and walking towards me, looking hard. Hmmm. He has a long way to come. In the sunlight, I noticed something else behind the gobbler, a big cow, and another, and another. The cows were grazing toward the gobbler. He left the field about 100 yards from me. He gobbled after he went into the woods. I called to him, and he answered me. I began to scoot around the tree. The cows were coming up the middle of the field. The turkey answered me twice more moving around me in a semi circle, getting closer. Then silence.

After 20 minutes, I heard him gobble twice down in the woods, further away. I decided to make a move on him and get to the levee. I felt like I knew where he was. I made it to the levee and climbed over the top. I quickly cut the distance to the turkey until I got to a gap in the levee, a cut had been made to allow water to drain from the swamp into the canal and out to the river. The turkey gobbled close just before I reached the gap. I eased through a section of briars and climbed around the edge of the levee, hoping to make it to the big water oak. He gobbled again. WOW!!! He was close, I guessed 50 yards. I peeked around and could not see him. I made it to the tree and made a call. He answered about 75 yards down through the woods. I called again, and he answered me. Then, we sat in silence for about 20 minutes.

Something caught my eye to my right, back where the turkey had gobbled when I got to the gap in the levee. Gun shouldered safety off, ready, aim, HOG… The black figure moving through the timber looked like a turkey in a half strut. It was a hog that was coming from the direction near the last place where I heard the turkey gobble. I figured the hog spooked him, but they are accustomed enough to hogs that he should settle down and start gobbling again. By now it was 8:30; the hog went back through the woods toward where he came from. Maybe he spooked him again, a reinforced spooking. An hour later, the turkey gobbled at my call from near where I had left an hour and a half ago. If it isn’t cows, it is hogs. If it isn’t either of those, it is me. But, there is nothing you can do to anticipate a turkey being spooked by other critters. I called to the turkey again at 9:45, and I waited until 10:30. He never answered me again. At 10:30, I decided to ease up and check the field before heading out. He was not there. So, there I stood in the edge of the woods looking at the vast green field, like Hawkeye and Kincachcook standing on a mountainside overlooking the vast forest at the end of “Last of the Mohicans”. I contemplated all the things that had gone right and wrong this season. Overall, I had a great season, but it was, like the last two seasons, filled with bad breaks. I just spent a lot of time in the woods and the breaks that happened were mostly in favor of the turkeys. Sure, I had called up some turkeys and killed some good ones, but I had failed to limit out the last two years, which is a hard pill for me to swallow. Nevertheless, every single day is a blessing, and I had some fun this spring just hunting each day without a care in the world.

The easy way back to the truck was to cut across the field and onto the gravel road, but I felt like making a loop around. Maybe I could find one of those other birds that gobbled this morning. Maybe I could make contact with a turkey that had gobbled off and on during the season on the roost but never made another peep once he hit the ground. Maybe, I could just get lucky and catch one in the open woods on the other side of the levee where I killed that turkey opening morning in 2007. Yeah, and maybe I will set a new course record at the Pinhoti 100 in November right after I win the lottery two weekends in a row. Nevertheless, as long as I am in the woods, there is a chance.

I made my way inside the wood line to the east. I crossed the levee and walked down a game trail. All the while, I am going over how many wonderful hunts I have had in the area. I walked down the trail, shotgun in hand and decided to work on my balancing act by crossing a log over the creek. Balance was good. I walked across and hopped to a stump on the bank. I began walking up the creek until I reached an old road. I knew the road existed, but I had never gone down it. I knew it came out near the truck, and I remember a guy telling me during the first week of the season that he saw turkeys congregated in a little loading area near the barn. I took this information with a grain of salt. For one thing, I had been hunting this place for many years and never have seen a turkey in this area. But more importantly, in my mind, it is hard for me to take seriously information that is volunteered from a man 6 foot 7 inches tall who rides around on one of those really small children’s four wheelers. Despite my doubts about his credibility that I based solely on his mode of transportation, I did keep the information in the back of my mind. He is there more than me. And although turkeys do not possess the ability to reason, I can’t imagine them not seeing him on that bike and getting some entertainment value out of it. Plus, as a turkey hunter, you must take in all information on turkey sightings and add it to your knowledge of the land where you hunt.

As I walked along the old road, I made sure to check the field that ran parallel to the creek. I only saw cows. I reached the bottom of the hill where the loading area is. It appears that some years ago a dozer was used to carve out a pretty large area for loading and unloading things. The hill was basically cut into causing a steep drop off on the side of the hill, which made a very good wind break when the wind was out of the north. I stopped at the wood’s edge behind some privet hedge. It is automatic for me to stop short of an opening and check it for turkeys. I stood at the hedge and 30 yards away there stood a gobbler. I could see my truck’s roof a hundred yards away. It took a moment to process what I was looking at. At first, I thought somebody had a decoy set up. Then, I saw the beard swing. Everything became slow motion. I raised my gun and shot him. He began to flop, but seemed to be about to get up on me. No sir. I ran towards him and fired once more for good measure, which was probably not necessary. However, given my track record on the last weekend over the last few years, I wasn’t taking any chances. Two more turkeys flew away; they appeared to be hens.

The turkey wasn’t much to look at. He did have a decent 9 ¼ inch beard and typical ¾ inch spurs. But he only weighed 13 pounds. By the looks of his feathers, he had not strutted at all. Still in a bit of a confused state, I climbed the hill with the turkey over my shoulder and walked up to the gate. Oddly enough, the 6’7” guy on the child’s four wheeler sputtered by as I crossed the fence with the gobbler. He stopped, and he said he heard me shoot. I told him where I had shot him, and as I expected, he said, “I told you them turkeys hung around right there…”
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  1. Old Comment
    WHW's Avatar
    Posted April 27th, 2012 at 11:17 AM by WHW WHW is offline

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