Thursday, July 26, 2012

Turkey Trials

I enjoy all types of hunting but if I had to pick my absolute favorite type of animal to hunt I think turkeys would be it. I started turkey hunting seriously when I was in college, and got my first turkey during the 2005 season. This ignited a passion for turkey hunting that I still have. Since that first turkey, I have been lucky enough to take two more, but I have spent much more time getting outsmarted by these birds.

My first turkey
To me, the appeal of turkey hunting is the challenge. As a turkey hunter, I not only have to avoid being seen, but I have to make a turkey act against his normal nature. When I'm turkey hunting, I mainly use calls that imitate the sounds of a hen turkey with the hopes that a tom will come to the call. However, in nature the tom normally gobbles and the hens come to him. Add to that the fact that turkeys have excellent vision and already the deck is stacked against the turkey hunter.

This past turkey season reminded me why I enjoy this sport so much, and also just how trying turkey hunting can be. I spent the majority of the season after one particularly wary gobbler, but at the end of the season both my tags went unused. This gobbler had the frustrating habit of gobbling hard early in the morning, and even answering my calls almost every time. However, the old tom would often sit in the tree until all the hens had flown down and then wait until they came to him to leave his roost. The farm I was hunting on had an abundance of hens, and only two mature toms and a jake. The other tom and the jake must have both been subordinate birds because they rarely gobbled and never answered a call. This left the old boss tom free to woo his hens without any worry of competition. This also made my job as a hunter that much harder, because I had to compete with 13 or 14 real hens who would run to the tom whenever he gobbled. To make matters worse, I had several pictures of him strutting by himself on my trail camera before the season opened. I think this old turkey was taunting me!

Showing off

On the other farm I hunt there were several toms, but they had the habit of roosting on the farm I hunted one day, and then moving across the road to another property the next. Of course they never seemed to be roosting where I could hunt them on days that I hunted that farm. Occasionally I would be able to get a tom to answer a locator call late in the evening so that I knew he was roosted on the right property, but even then it was a challenge hunting them. This particular farm is mainly open pasture and rolling hills, with scattered blocks of woods. If I didn't get in place very early before sunrise, there was a very good chance I would be spotted walking across the fields. This happened to me one afternoon as I was walking to my hunting spot. I topped a hill and a tom was staring at me from about 80 yards away. He made tracks getting out of there, and that was the end of the action that day.
Where are the turkeys?

It was more of the same throughout the turkey season for me this year. I never seemed to be in exactly the right place at the right time, although there were a few times that I thought sure I would get a turkey. I wouldn't trade any of the time I spent in the woods even though I had to eat my turkey tags instead of turkey breast at the end of the season. The ability to be outdoors and see the woods come alive at sunrise and hear a tom turkey sound off from his roost is something that will never get old. If I hunted only to kill a turkey, I would have quit long ago.

Thanks for stopping by!

- Joseph


  1. Loved your stories (again) and I have pictures to share of animals we've rehabbed and released which are many of the same that you've posted photo's of. Also came across a few turkeys sunning one morning, so if I can figure out how to post them for you to see, I will. I'm really enjoying your blog...really interesting and well written. Keep them coming and have fun this hunting season. Be careful!

    1. Thanks Dawn! I would love to see those pictures!


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