25 Apr Todd’s Take – A Whitetail Hunter Turned Turkey Hunter
A couple years ago, I was lucky enough to kill the world record Eastern Gobbler with a bow. Seeing as it was my first turkey with a bow, and I knew right next to nothing about turkey hunting; it wasn’t something I can take too much credit for. Just plain dumb luck!
Last year while attempting to kill my second bird with a bow; I wasn’t expecting to kill another record book bird or anything. I was just trying to kill “any” Tom turkey. I had several close calls, I missed one, and hit one but it flew away upon tracking the bird. I was frustrated and irritated that these stupid birds just didn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason to them. Going into this season, I was determined to spend some serious time in a blind on a variety of different properties. I wanted to learn as much as I wanted to kill. If I could do both; that would just be a bonus!
I also had recently met a guy at the Harrisburg show this past spring that quickly became a good buddy. We discussed a variety of different situations on how to get Eddie out to Iowa (he’s from the East coast), and spring Turkey season was perfect. It’s a season I’m serious about, but also a great time to be in camp because it’s nowhere near the level of pressure that is on me during whitetail season. With Eddie arriving the day before the season, we were ready for a week of serious hunting and fun!
As our turkey season started, we were immediately on the birds. I had brushed in a couple ground blinds off my property where I knew we would see some action. Seeing action became the norm over the first couple hunts. We saw a dozen different giant gobblers working the areas we were hunting, but none of them would commit to our calling or decoy set-ups.
One area of turkey hunting I was enjoying was that you could move around easily with pop-up blinds. We would see birds working one area, the next hunt we’d be right on top of them. Finally, with Eddie up to bat first, he shot a nice tom right at the end of an evening hunt. Unfortunately, there was no blood, and after reviewing the footage; it appeared as though Eddie hit the bird a little forward and actually glanced right off the wing “butt” or shoulder of the bird. Literally, the arrow never entered the bird; it was just one of those things.
Eddie and I were not deterred. The next morning we were going to be setting up on my farm, and I couldn’t wait to hunt the first morning out of a blind I can watch from my house. That morning turned into a barn-burner. We saw ton’s of hens first right away and literally had them bedded in front of the blind for half the hunt. Occasionally calling, we kind-of wanted to let them come to us a little more than forcing the issue. The birds had just not been too excitable, or callable in the previous few days. We found that being a little quiet and letting them curiously investigate the decoys was working better than being aggressive. It didn’t take too long before I saw the big red head coming in. The bird walked right past my trail cameras and was very cautiously working toward the decoy set-ups.
As the tom approached the decoys, he held up approximately 10 yards from the shooting lane as Eddie came to full draw. The darned turkey stood there for 2 minutes straight. I could see Eddie holding, and I was just waiting for the tom to enter the video screen. Finally, he did, and Eddie’s arrow was off. The arrow struck the tom in the back center of the body, angled forward up through the vitals. His bird took off and went into the pines about 50 yards in front of the blind.
It was now my turn, and who knows; maybe we could get a crack at another one. Sure enough, about 30 minutes later, Eddie says “3 Tom’s Coming”. We got ready, and almost exactly the same situation happened. A slight hold-up just off the side to our shooting area; and then a slow curious walk past our decoys at about 15 yards. Before I even knew it, my arrow was in-flight and burning into the side of a big bird!
It took off flying a short distance and was flapping like crazy as it hit the timber next to the blind. Within 30 seconds I was pretty sure he was dead. The flopping stopped, and there were two very happy turkey hunters celebrating!
The next morning found Eddie and me in a ground blind on a different property trying to fill my second turkey tag. At first light it was obvious, we were going to be seeing some action. We heard some gobbling, and knew there was a great chance to see some big birds! A short time later, like clockwork; 3 big toms were coming to our decoy set-up, and for the first time it actually seemed like they were excited to come. Upon closing the distance to 20 yards, 2 of the tom’s got nervous and peeled back. One of the big toms ’made a mistake and gave me the 2 seconds I needed. Once again, arrows were in-flight.
The arrow struck the tom perfectly – hard quartering toward the front through the goodies. It ran 50 yards, died, and one of the other toms started attacking it. It was awesome; I’d never seen this before. I was pumped to be tagged out in Iowa for the first time in many-many years.
The coolest aspect of this turkey season is that I got to hunt a lot, and was able to watch the behavior of turkeys like never before. I learned that a lot like whitetails, each bird is different, and calling isn’t always the best way to get a crack at them. In the future, I will continue to work hard for Turkey’s, and using trail cam pictures is a sure-fire way to help get on the birds!
What can I say, I’m a turkey fanatic at this point!