Late Start Memory

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Sportsmen hunt all different kinds of game and I'm no exception. Turkey hunting is another sport which I ended up falling in love with but didn't start turkey hunting until later on in life.

When I was young we didn't have turkeys around here and if we did, there was very few. I remember applying for a turkey permit years back after they got established here in Vermont and the state finally allowed the taking of them. It was a time when the only way to go turkey hunting was to apply for a permit. You had to go sit in a crowd of hopefuls and wait to see if your name got drawn. It took a couple years but I finally was lucky enough to draw a permit and tried hunting them for the first time. I never did get a turkey then and kinda gave up on it until a few short years ago, here's my story of how things turned out.

Well, needless to say I wasn't up on turkey hunting with all the calls etc. out on the market but read my share of articles on them and how to use the calls properly. I got pretty good with a diafram mouth and a slate call but the box call still needed some work. Oh, I did the normal thing all of us do, spent a lot of money buying decoys, clothes, masks and calls. When I finally had everything I needed, I was set to try for my first bird.

It was spring time in late April and I had been scouting this farm area I got permission to hunt and had picked out a few places I thought would be perfect ambush sites. Before opening day I would stand on the edge of one of the many field's that spread across the farm and have been hearing turkeys gobbling at daybreak. The farm was spread out with rolling hills and corn fields surrounded by tall pines and hardwoods. It was a perfect haven for turkeys to flourish as they had plenty of cover as well as food. The tall grasses of some of the fields that were not planted with corn held plenty of small insects for them to forage on.

I was anxious to try out this new sport to me of turkey hunting and when opening day finally came I had everything ready to go. With permit secure in my pack along with my calls, number 6 shot shell's and my old Mossburg shotgun in hand I was ready. I reached the farm about 45 minutes before daybreak and parked my truck near the owner's hay barn and proceeded walking up one of the logging roads to a clearing that was nestled inside the surrounding trees which were still in their budding stage. This made it easier to see further into the wood's. The clearing was a good place for them to cross during the morning hour's as they rummaged around for food undisturbed and out of sight of the nearby road. I had picked out this spot because of the many tracks I seen in the dirt at the end of the old road leading into the clearing plus from hearing them in this general area as I listened preseason by standing at the edge of one of the many fields at daybreak. I was getting more excited with every gobble I heard and with a week left before the season opened I could hardly contain myself.

Upon entering the clearing I slowly walked the 75 yards to the other end of it. Being as silent as I could I took my two hen decoys from my back pack and placed them so they would be in plain view of any tom that may be roosting in the nearby tree's, or so I hoped. I picked out a tree to sit by which was just off the edge of the clearing and still only about 20 yards from my decoys. Placing my ground blind around me and putting on my face net and gloves, as daybreak was coming fast, I was ready to start the hunt.

No sooner had daylight begun to appear when on the far hillside about 150 yards away, a Tom had gobbled and in turn made another gobble. This got me excited thinking that it wouldn't be long that they would be flying down to the ground and maybe heading my way. I picked up my slate call which I had laying on the ground beside me and with a few soft clucks and yelps I got an immediate response which excited me all the more.

This went on back and forth for almost 10 minutes when I could hear the distant flopping of wings through the trees as he hit the ground. He was dedicated to my calling or so I thought but the sounds of his gobbles seemed to be getting further away. Maybe he had some hens with him which would have made him ignore me from the time he landed, I wasn't sure so I waited a couple minute's then called again. He gobbled back but it sounded to me as if he was now heading away towards where my truck was parked. The second turkey that had gobbled at first never made another sound so I thought that once he hit the ground he must have gone away from me towards one of the main corn field's that lay along the road.

Now I figured that both of them were long gone so I just sat still without trying to call that one back while listening for any other sound's for what seemed like 10 minutes when the silence was broken by a tom's gobble coming from the other end of the clearing which I traveled up through to get to where I was now. 75 yards away, I thought, so I pulled down my face mask and resting my shotgun on one knee, I put the diaphram call in my mouth and made a couple clucks. To my surprise he returned my call immediately and then another. He's coming to me, stay calm, I said to myself, don't make any mistakes. I clucked again and again he returned my call but closer now. Try as I might, I couldn't see him but I knew he was close then his head came into view comming straight up the center of the clearing. My decoys were still out of his sight and I had to get him just a little closer so he could pick them out. Now only 40 yards away he came into full view, stopped in his track's and went into full strut as he seen my decoys.

I clucked softly with my mouth call just to tease him into range and just as I've seen in the videos I watched he would drop his strut, take a few steps then back into Strut again. My heart was beating fast as I tried to coax him in closer. His full attention was on the hen decoys as I slowly moved my finger to the safety and pushed it off. Still at about 30 yards, I wanted him just a little closer and had a smile on my face as I watched him do his dance of strutting then a couple more fast steps. What I wouldn't give to have a video camera I thought, This was surely just like in the videos.

A couple more steps, please! just a couple more I said to myself. With a single soft cluck of my mouth call he dropped his strut and at 20 yards took those final two steps I was so wishing for. As I squeezed the trigger he was mine. I was up in a flash and ran to see my first turkey. I gathered my things and my decoys and slung him over my shoulder as I proudly walked back to my truck in a hurry to get home to tell my wife and show her my bounty.


numbnutz's picture

Thanks for sharing your

Thanks for sharing your story, I really enjoyed it. Congrats on your first turkey. I hope to bag my first bird this year. I have never really gotten into turkey hunting but have a tag every year, it comes with the licences package i get every year. I guess i should brush up on calling and stuff, I will be using my bow so it should be fun.

GooseHunter Jr's picture

That is a great reading

That is a great reading story!   Congrats on the turkey.  Here in a few weeks it will be turkey time in NE.

Deer Slayer's picture

Congratulations on a nice

Congratulations on a nice looking turkey you have there. It sounds like you reall enjoy turkey hunting. The first time I went out with my dad, on my very first turkey hunt I killed 2 jakes with one shot. They were both about 16 pounds apiece. It was a pretty exciting day.

arrowflipper's picture

Great Story

Loved your story Rem2arms.  That's pretty much how it was with me.  I saw my first turkey about 40 years ago while deer hunting in Washington.  I watched those birds for about half an hour.  Back then, we didn't have a season on turkeys.  Our population began to grow and they finally opened a season on them.  They have now exploded and we have multiple seasons and a two-bird bag limit.

There's just nothing like calling them in and listening as they come.  I've found that way too often they will come in silently though.  Several of the birds I've taken have not made a sound.  I have had them answer me lots of times but getting them to come in while gobbling is another story.  One thing you have to do is BE READY.  They can show up when you least expect it from where you least expect it.  I've been busted more times than I would like to admit.

My first couple of turkeys were jakes with fairly short beards.  I have taken a couple nice ones but nothing huge.  I left that to my granddaughter.

I took my camcorder with me one year and got some fun footage of several jakes that came to my call.  They gobbled incessantly as they came in, each trying to outdo the other.  There were three of them and they came straight to me.  I didn't pop a cap as not one of them had a visible beard.  They had the red heads and were strutting and gobbling, but with no visible beard, they were not legal.  It did give me the chance to catch them all on video though.  Had one been a legal bird, I probably would not have been filming.

On that same hunt, I got video footage of a hen with a beard.  Had she come in close enough, I'd have taken her just for the novelty.  I took lots of video of her at about 80 yards.

Turkey hunting can get into your veins.  It's a fun hunt and a wonderful way to get into the woods in the spring.  Thanks for sharing your story.

Rem2arms's picture

Thx for your comment arrow

Thx for your comment arrow and I agree, it sure does get in your blood, I wish I would have gotten into it years ago. I remember one time turkey hunting in an area where I hunted deer and always seen turkeys but never did there until one season a couple years back. aAfter a couple hours of calling I head one gobble WAY down through the woods about 400 yards and hot he was. I was sitting behind my ground blind and every time I clucked he would gobble and come a runnin my way. He would stop, I clucked, he gobbled and run somemore,lol,

Finally he reached me and I knew I wasn't going to shoot him, he was just to small, around 11 lbs I would guess but as he was approaching I got out my video camera and clucked at him and he would gobble. Finally I lowered my camera, he was looking RIGHT at me, I waved at him and he gobbled!!!!!!!!!! OMG what a thrill,lol This went on for about 5 minutes until he finally wandered off still gobbleing I might add. I could NOT help but laugh so hard I had tears streaming down my cheeks.

After it was all over I laid my head back againt the tree, looked up at the heavons and said Tell me God, WHY havent I been doing this all along. Still laughing I left that spot and went home. ;)

Rem2arms's picture

Thank you all for your

Thank you all for your comments, they were well accepted. I've taken a number of Toms since then but Now I have to find Someone willing to go with me just to sit behind me and video a couple of my hunts. Cant ask the wife, no patience for that,

ManOfTheFall's picture

Great story, I really enjoyed

Great story, I really enjoyed it. Congratulations on a fine looking turkey there. I have shot a couple hens and a couple of jakes. I really do want to take out a nice gobbler this year. This year my taxidermist and myself will be going out in pursuit of my first big tom. I think with his help this will be my lucky year.

Rem2arms's picture

This year -- hunt many days

This year -- hunt many days and one word comes to mind for this year, --- VIDEO!!!!!----

groovy mike's picture

WOW!  That’s the way that is

WOW!  That’s the way that is supposed to work, but so seldom ever does.  It sure sounds like you did everything right on that hunt and it played out just perfectly. Liek you, I'ma  late starter to turkey hunting but man is it ever addictive!  After that first spring hunt when you were calling toms and they were calling back on all sides of us, I was hooked even though I never did get a shot that day either.   I sure hope that it will work out as nicely for us come May 1st 2011 as it did for you on teh hunt you write about here!


jaybe's picture

Well - that must have really

Well - that must have really been exciting! I mean after waiting all those years to finally start turkey hunting, buying all the calls, clothing, decoys, etc. Then watching the videos to learn how it's supposed to work, practicing with the calls - only to have it work out perfectly on your very first turkey hunt! That was really cool!

That's a nice looking bird, there. I hope that all your future hunts turn out as well as that one did. Of course, anyone who hunts knows that is probably wishful thinking. We all know that sometimes you just have to put in your time without bringing anything home except memories of the hunt. However, that's not a bad thing. Thank God that we still have this privilege!

Thanks for the story and good picture of that beautiful gobbler.