There are more than one way to skin a cat. And there is more than one way to access public land with good turkey hunting on it. So when I was told by a landowner that he'd no longer be allowing access through his property to the isolated block of national forest that I wanted to hunt, I knew I had quite a few hours of work behind the screen of a computer scouting for alternate backpacking routes into the area. My easy, 25-minute-drive-from-home-hunt, turned into a 3 day backpacking hunt. Now, I got my fair share of laughs from people that thought I was crazy for bivy-hunting for turkeys, but results don't lie.
It was a good hunt, complete with adrenaline-filled gobblers, hung-up toms and rejuvenating views of the sunrise that only hunters know. I got my bird around noon on opening day. I got on the road right after I got out of my GIS lab on Friday morning. It took me 4 hours to cover the 6.5 nasty miles to the area I wanted to set up camp. Upon arriving in the area I actually spooked a hen and knew my scouting had paid off. After setting up camp I even heard what I thought was turkeys flying to roost. "Sweet", I thought "looks like I won't be hiking too far tomorrow!" Haha I couldn't have been further from the truth. It was a nice night that I am guessing didn't get below freezing thanks to the cloud cover. I woke up excited about my prospects of taking a bird so close to camp. It turned out that the ruckous that I had heard were dusky grouse flying up to roost. Damn!
After restraining myself from blasting the damn grouse --partly from anger and partly from percieved threat; these birds sound like gunships when they spook-- I took off for the area I originally planned on hunting. After 2.5 miles I still hadn't made contact with turks. I decided it was time for some tea and made a little fire and boiled me up some moral-boosting-juice. I then got back on the trail, so to speak, and not long after got a response.
I first made calling contact with him with about a third of a mile separating us. He was down on the opposite side of a creek bottom about 200 vertical feet below me. I slowly made my way down calling occasionally to make sure he hadn't lost interest. I set up on a cut-bank about 15 feet above the creek. He was a little over 100 yards across the creek and out of site. Every time I yelped on my slate call he would gobble in response. I started cutting after every gobble and this got him all the more in the mood.
We went back and forth for about 15 minutes and he wouldn't budge. I then pointed the call in the opposite direction in order to make him think that I was moving away. Sure enough, his next answer was closer. He was coming! I then saw him strutting off the opposite hill coming in like he was on a string; his head red with passion. When he moved behind a tree, I laidd down my slate and got into shooting position. He would have to come across the creek to be within range and I knew that when he made it to the edge and didn't see any ladies, that he would be suspicious. Luckily I had bought a push-pin call that attaches to the barrel of my Remington 870 (the ol' workhorse that she is) and allowed me to give him a couple clucks of encouragement. Sure enough, he reluctantly flew across the creek and I knew I had him. At a distance of 53 yards I let loose lead.
A few moments later and I was marveling at the wonderful animal in which I had just harvested. I cooked one of his legs over the fire back at my spike camp and it tasted like pure paleolithic majesty. Tonight I will enjoy fried turkey breast in the comfort of my own home. My only negative feeling at this point is jelousy for those of you who live in states that allow for the harvesting of more than one bird.
Good hunting to all!