Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Turkey Town pt 1

Even though I'm a complete novice turkey hunter, this is quickly becoming one of my favorite hunts of the year! Not only was I excited to get back into the woods, but I was also excited because this was going to be Caden's very first hunt. Since he passed Hunter Safety earlier this year (read about that HERE) we've been looking forward to his turkey hunt to practice what he learned. I put in some evenings scouting and found a few toms and some jakes doing almost exactly what they had done last year. We also came across several spots where some turkeys hadn't quite made it through the long winter. 

The 'scouting' hikes were also a great opportunity to do some shed hunting and we actually found a few!

Being a music teacher never seems to come with an off-season, but spring isn't even close to that. Festivals, concerts, practices, and finishing out the school year all managed to get in the way of turkey hunting but we tried our best to get out in the evenings whenever we could. The boys were going to take turns going out with me because we only have one shotgun (and I thought having fewer people would be easier to minimize noise/movement/distractions). The first evening came and Caden got his first chance in the field. The plan was to catch the birds on their way to roost, not really trying to call them in unless they wanted to talk. The cold evening was just starting to go dark when we spotted some birds that had snuck in behind us. Caden got a shot at a tom, but he had to turn quick to shoot, and missed. 

Atley got the 1st morning hunt, but we completely struck out other than spooking some birds as we were still trying to get where we wanted to set up. Amazing how quickly thoughts of being cursed, or unlucky, creep in despite him having success in the past. The youth hunt ended without a bird for either boy, but they still had the opportunity to get one during the general hunt. Unfortunately, the weather kept trying to extend winter and I didn't want to force the boys to go out in bad weather, fearing that a bad experience might turn them against going out at all. Of course this is when a group of several jakes presented an opportunity. I decided against filling my tag with a young bird since I'd shot one for my first-ever turkey last year.

An evening of better weather got both the boys to come with me and Atley was up. Again, the plan was to catch the birds on their way to roost. Before we could get into position we spotted some birds in a field on private. We used the terrain to stay out of sight and worked up and above them. We slowly worked to where we thought they'd be coming through on the way to roost. As seems to be the trend of this year we were busted by a hen on our way to set up (maybe we're being too aggressive?) and we froze in our tracks until she moved off. Then we went into "Ninja-Sniper" mode, as Atley called it, and tailed the group of birds hoping they'd cross the fence to where we could get a shot. Super slow going! We did get to see a jake try to mount a hen and get smacked down by a tom. Suddenly, a red head was on the right side of the fence, but Atley couldn't see it. Quickly, it disappeared down the trail and we were in hot pursuit. Once we spotted it again Atley made a great shot and filled his tag! 

One thing I'm trying to be better at is letting the boys be more involved with the decision making and calling. Atley made all the decisions that led to his harvest. Once we spotted the birds he decided to use the scrub oak to hide us, he decided to take the high trail, and he decided to trail the flock. It definitely made the experience better for him and hopefully will translate into getting him out hunting more.

More to come about Caden's hunt and how I finished out my season. Good times with great people and lots of turkey nuggets! 

Hope you're as lucky,

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