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BILL'S WILD TURKEY WANDERINGS


blackbeltbill
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OK- now some members who read this and guests will laugh at the following. Alot of turkey hunters at first really don't know what to expect out there as they first start hunting. And if you are like me and had no mentor--this will happen. A gobbler is at a tree-line and you are in a small field. Beginning turkey hunters are looking for the whole gobbler and are thinking-black---black tipped feathers. When they see that huge white head for the 1st time and a few times after that-- I can throw you. It did me. Now some of these OLD gobblers will stand at a tree line and scan the field. Often- all you see is just that white head! It takes time to develop your Game Eye. Now if I had a mentor-I would have known more. The early times, I saw that white head and nothing more- I thought-- WHAT THE HELL IS THAT! And of course I moved my head to check it out better. White head gone! The very first time this happened- that white head went STRAIGHT back further in the woods. That is the sign of an OLD TOM!!  I suspect this happens alot on opening days with hunters set up in fields. Alot of hunters don't see that white head- but he sees them before he backs up. This probably happens alot at 40 to 30 minutes before sunrise.  Took me years to figure it out as my mentor was --The school of hard knocks.  If you are new to the sport and have a mentor--you are lucky indeed and will score sooner than most. It took me 5 years to finally kill my first gobbler--a small Spring jake that I took on the wing.

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  • 2 weeks later...

So many times this has happened to me. You are working a gobbler and calling hard and loud with a box caller and another Spring hunter moves between you and the tom who is perhaps less then 100 yards away. This happened to me on my 2nd trip to Tenn. I was on public land near Columbia,TN and around the Duck River. The tom was coming my way and BOOMMMM! A local TN hunter got between me and my tom without calling and scored.  This does not happen often TG. My first time down in TN- I did take a nice jake.

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OPENING DAY HIKE!!

     This was yet another very tough opening day in the Spring woods for me on 5/1/2003.I hunted at a total of 3 areas over 6 1/2 hours. 2 public land areas which were crowded of course and land leased by a hunting club that I was in. Even more crowded here-LOL!

    The morning was 55 degrees and the barametric pressure was 30.15. Light rain this morning and I only heard 1 gobbler. Cutt and Run the whole time using my Lohman glass caller and THE COPPER POT.  I am glad that I keep journals as the memory of the following came right back after I reread it.--- * NOTE-- flushed a hen off her nest while walking.  I keenly remember taking a quick look and I was out of dodge! This does not happen often to Spring hunters- but if it does and you leave pronto--that hen will come back to her nest.   NOW THIS IS ONE OPENING MORNING WHEN I WISH THAT I HAD PRIVATE LAND ACCESS!!  Seriously--- if members or guests have access to private land or own your own tract- never take that for granted as your chances of taking an opening day gobbler will be greater then a public land hunter--no doubt about that.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The (OFF KEY) Hen.

     This Spring hunt happened in the late 1990s. I was in Sterling Forest State Park and walked in more then 1 mile and was set-up 1/3 of the way up a mountain. I heard a few gobblers and soon I got a reply from a (hen). It sounded just like a guy with a poorly tuned box caller or sub-par calling skills or perhaps both! The (hunter) kept coming closer however after I sent out a string of yelps. It sounded like a old rusty door and being above and looking down, I had a very good view. Soon the yelping got too close and for my safety, I yelled out- HUNTER. Just then a very large hen turkey appeared below me. Damn, I thought as calling in a hen is what every Spring turkey hunter wants. And hopefully that gobbler will follow. She soon ran off. I figure that she was a OLD hen turkey who was not going to nest- but wanted female company. I expected to see a sneaky hunter coming my way and was prepared to give him a verbal lashing and instead a hen showed up. Pretty sure, I was using a slate caller.

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2 HUNTERS IN THE MIDDLE!

    This Spring hunt happened in either 1989 or 1990. My just found and unused1989 Spring tags made me think of it.    Now when I first started, I hunted up at the Monroe- Chester Sportsmens Club around the ranges . You had to be out of the woods before 10am every day as that is when members were allowed to start shooting. It could get somewhat crowded up here as well.  I drove up to where the old skeet and trap range was located. It has since shifted areas. It was not long before I heard that rumble that told me that other turkey hunters were on their way to the skeet range. Were they surprised to see me standing next to my truck in the dark with coffee. It was 2 hunters and 2 trucks. One guy told me --you hunt this area and we will hunt near the pistol range. No problem there. A gobbler opened up soon enough and in my area and perhaps 75 yards to the left of the high house. I called with what I knew- which was not much. Soon though- those 2 guys cut in between the gobbler and me. They must have walked too fast as they spooked him. Silence now until I heard 2 voices where the calling was coming from.

     Even- that Spring hunt-- one of my first and I knew that those 2 kind of snookered me by cutting in between that gobbler and me.  

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  • 4 weeks later...

In responding to a post about about converting a deer gun for turkey-- the following popped back into my memory super fast!! I was hunting Spring turkey at the Monroe-Chester Sportsmens Club leased land. This year this happened-it was still very cold in early May. Off a high line- I called up 4 gobblers TOGETHER! Yup- they had yet to break up due to the lingering cold weather. I had with me a 12 gauge pump shotgun and for ammo-- I brought out the (BIG GUNS)--3 1/2 inch shells. I was above the gobblers and sitting in front of a thin cedar tree and they came in to my calling. Now, I had to wait for just one to move to one side so I could shoot. It took more then 1 minute---heart thumping and barrel weaving.  I fired and missed just over the top like an army of turkey hunters have done before me. I could not expell that long shell- it was stuck! Finally, at the 3rd try- I was able to pump out the 1st shell and fired again. By this time- the gobblers were walking fast out of that clearing and I just missed the last one in the line.  

     This happened to me once before with the 3 1/2 inch shells--both times in the mid 1990s when I had 5 or less Springs under my belt.

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  • 1 month later...

STALKING AT PORT ARMS!

    My Brother-in -law told me this story after I told him that I talked to another Turkey hunter at the Rockland  Hunting And Fishing Expo of March 3rd--6th  2017. I was eating at one of those circular tables before leaving and took out a box caller I bought. Cedar box and black walnut lid. I ran it and this guy next to me started some turkey talk and got his smartphone out and showed me pics of his gobbler from 2016 and his sons as well.

   Turns out he hunts the VERY SAME area as I do. One of my core areas. He could not believe that I knew about this great area- which I cannot reveal here. He told me that he has only been hunting this one area--but for many years. With that in mind here is Marks story. He also hunts this very same huge and secluded area running down to a swamp. One Fall- he was calling loud and sitting in front of a tree- when he heard VERY SLOW walking coming from behind his tree and then silence. Then more slow walking. Mark did not call again! Deer, coyote, another Fall turkey hunter? He did not know until he saw a very slow walking Fall Turkey hunter pass within 5 feet of Marks tree. Walking with shotgun at port-arms!! He never saw Mark sitting there and Mark let him get out some and called out (HUNTER) to let this guy know he was there.  Mark said the hunter shuttered  and when he could talk- said that he had never seen another turkey hunter in all the years that he hunted this area. Probably why he was walking at port-arms. Mark also said another hunter was up in the hardwoods-(ME)!! The hunter looked disgusted Mark said .

     I would lay odds that the guy I talked with at the Expo was the very same man.  Hope members here enjoyed this true story.

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  • 1 month later...

I was out today for the 4th time in New Jersey today. I walked a good 3 miles and set-up some. I heard a number of far off gobblers--perhaps 6 or so-- but I had 1 gobbler no more then 150 yards away. He gobbled very good from the roost and I let him have it with loud cutting and yelping as I knew there would be hen near him. Just like 80% of the time though--he flew out the opposite direction and the hens took him away.

     I checked out next the small swamp where I worked 4-5 jakes on Monday. The Indian heads and skunk cabbage are about just over half way up.   I heard a magnum shot about 1/4 mile from the swamp around 7.50am. A lucky turkey hunter shot one of those jakes, I am sure. I had to leave around 8.15 as big Chris wants to shoot clay pigeons later this morning. Heard another shot as I was at my truck. 

    So I am 0 for 4 so far this year in New Jersey. Very humid this 4/29/17.  Each time out, I have changed up my callers as well. I have enough for an army and try to use as many as possible in a Spring Turkey Season.....

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  • 1 month later...

AT LEAST 8 RAPID SHOTS!!!

 

   I just thought of this and wanted to share it before I forget. I was Fall Turkey Hunting with my Brother in law--Mark down In Sterling Forest probably around 1996 or 97. It was early November and we were following alot of very fresh wild turkey scratchings. We both fully expected to see the turkeys any second and I was ready to make a fast run to flush them to the--4 winds if I did see them. We both saw a red fox that was sniffing around the turkey scratchings. The turkeys seemed to be heading for the parking area. Not good!! Another 5 minutes go by and I hear about 3 men yelling bloody murder and a cascade of at least 8 shots!! Pheasants dogs were barking and the bells around their necks told of a fast flush of the flock and a follow up. I never found out how many turkeys were taken or missed for that matter by the pheasant hunters.  Mark and I were close to the flock- but a little late. I remember that it was just a beautiful sunny Fall day in the woods.

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  • 3 weeks later...

MAMA FLIES IN CIRCLES!!!

 

I remember back in the mid to late 1990s- I was walking around the sand-pit area  near the Blue Lake in Sterling Forest State Park in late June. I noticed some small and rapid movement on the woodsroad and took a closer look. Very small wild turkey poults were hiding as best as they could in the short weeds on the each side of the woods road. All of a sudden--Mama starts flying around me in short circles enough times for me to get some pics. I was out of there pronto so the Mother  could land and call her poults out of that open area!! Maybe 7-8 little poults I would guess.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Nice day for a hike today. Hiked in Bloomingrove where I first started to hunt in 1974. Just a quick hour. *-Found a smallish tail feather from a jake or jenny that was born probably last June of 2016. This was a good find for me for 2 reasons. First--there might be a jake flock in this area and jakes are fun to mess with when the Fall Turkey Season opens. And second-- that tail feather was not too far from my (dusting bowl). It was a very fresh tail feather as well! I spent a good 5 minutes or so stirring up the soil of the dusting bowl .

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  • 3 weeks later...

THE SLEEPING SPRING TURKEY HUNTER

 

   I remember back in the mid-1990s-- I was motoring around Sterling Forest  around 7am or so and thinking about where to park for a second crack at hopefully hearing a gobbling old tom. I was on Bramertown Road- almost at the end of it where that road connects to Orange Turnpike. I was thinking about parking soon and hunting up the gas line right of way dirt road. In a small parking area- I saw a sleeping turkey hunter. Head half way out the window--mouth open and catching flies-LOL!. It is possible that he already went hunting and maybe got a tom or never went out at all. Who knows. He was gone when I got done hunting in that area. I am sure plenty of Spring Turkey hunters have seen the same thing.

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  • 1 month later...

Old Master's Publishing--1984

 I recently bought the 4th and last of the turkey books that were reprinted in 1984.  Jim Casada in a letter wrote that I lacked what he thinks is the best book about wild turkey hunting.   THE AMERICAN WILD TURKEY by Henry Edwards Davis. I tend to agree even though I am but half-way through this fine book. It was first published in 1949 and is 328 pages. The reprints from 1984 are becoming scarce and I gladly paid 100 bucks to get this piece of history. There is plenty of Fall and Winter turkey hunting in this book. In fact Davis- a lawyer Refused to hunt during the Spring months. He still took over several hundred wild turkeys.

  The other 3 wild turkey books  published by Old Master's Publishing are -THE WILD TURKEY AND ITS HUNTING-published in 1914 and 245 pages- by Edward A McIlhenny. Now most of this book comes from the notes of the late Charles Jordan who was killed in 1909 by imfamous wild turkey poacher- Allen Lagrue on the Morris Game Preserve of over 10,000 acres near Hammond LA. Jordan was the Manager of this Preserve and was out patrolling it when he was shot in the back at age 67.  There is a good chapter--HUNTING TURKEY WITH A DOG. That chapter covers Fall And Winter turkey hunting.

  The 3rd book is HUNTING THE WILD TURKEY by Tom Turpin which was published around 1940--no one really knows- but this date is given as being the close. This book is 73 pages and again deals with Fall and Winter turkey hunting as well as Spring.

 And the 4th book is TALES OF WILD TURKEY HUNTING- 1928 by Simon (THE KURNEL) Everitt. This book is 128 pages and deals with Fall and Winter turkey hunting using dogs to a great degree.

 Members who are lucky enough to secure 1 or more of these 4 reprints will see that turkey hunting was king in the Fall and Winter.  Alot of the newer Spring turkey hunters really will never discover their true roots of turkey hunting-- The Fall Season. Hope some members here and guests buy one or more of these old reprints before they are all gone---Bill.

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Bill we lost a turkey on roost last night...Damn! I was walking the grandpups and started noticing droppings everywhere around old faithful stand...and a couple of feathers...Well they routinely roost there this time of year and was happy to see they still were...Until I actually got to the stand and a couple of wing feathers turned into half a tail and a bunch of downy feathers in a large are of crap right under the stand ..I looked up to see a roosting limb over my stand 30 ft up... only a fisher or an owl could have down that, rather been quiet enough....Obviusly the bitd had been there quite a while from all the wht and green splatter every where...

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lol glad you under stood that...holy cow !

 I think so we get them here this time of year..and that stand is right on the edge of the lane way in a very big maple, watched an owl kill a cat just feet in front of me...he actually flew over my head to nail it....killed it quick too.... hopped it off the road and allowed me to walk by...sorta sad but WAY Cool to have seen so very very close...

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  • 4 weeks later...

10/21/17---  Back out to the turkey woods by 3pm.   Half hour walk to a known area used by the Wild Turkeys. As soon as I called with a box caller-- I got a QUICK reply!  My quick set-up in front of a hickory was not fast enough!  A jake or gobbler showed up at a rockwall and I was spotted.  I was still able to call him up to 45 yards or so. I had a shot here- but he kept moving right to left and I really don't like shots beyond 40 yards. He walked off. I stayed until near Sundown. A bowhunter was here all day!! His Ford had a Artic Cat atv in the back in case he got a deer.

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10/22/17-- I was back at before Sunrise where I was yesterday on some public land. A ton of scratching--but nothing roosted close. Finally-- right at Sunrise--7.15am- I heard what sounded like the brood hen telling me- (the caller) to get my butt down to where the flock was.  Soon silence and that was it for my morning.  Loud Kee-Kee-Runs on a double glass and my super slate double slate. I bought a new LACEWOOD striker and this is super loud! Nothing answered on the way out and at the parking area- that same bowhunter with the Ford was parked next to me. His Artic Cat atv in the back all ready to get his deer out hopefully later.  Maybe my loud Kee-Kee- Runs drove a buck in his direction!

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  • 3 months later...

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