Had work to do so I couldn't go until Friday afternoon when I had intended to go on Thursday Night, so we lost a whole day of hunting.
First day, set up before daylight and spent all day in the ground blind with the exception of about 1 hr to run to the house and eat (ants had gotten in my snacks!) I sat and listened to gobbling from quite a ways off and began to call (simple yelps, clucks, a little cutting...maybe about every 10-15 minutes. Worked great! 3 hens, two jakes, and a Tom finally came in at about 9 AM. The Ameristep Max-1 Camo blind I had set up was in some mesquite trees. I had a trail to my left at about 20 yards, and a main trail in front of me about 13 yards. The decoys were set up on the closer edge of that trail 10 yards from me. The 3 hens walked right past the decoy and just milled around a bit. The two jakes went in to full strut, all puffed out, fans up (raised little Jake sections of the fan prominantly sticking up above the rest, beating the feathers on the ground, and sizing up one of my hens while squaring off at each other and completely ignoring my jake decoy). All of a sudden one jake jumped up on the other and tried to spur him. They were fighting 10 yards in front of me over my stupid looking Flambeau hen decoy!
The Tom hung back about 20 yards to my right. I could barely see him as I strained to see to the far right. I could see him through the mesh but he was a good 20 yards away and I shoot right handed. So, having 5 birds 10 yards from me and having him on the wrong side of me did not leave me an opportunity. With all the fighting going on and the decoys not moving he knew something was up. The jakes decided she wasn't worth it either. They quit fighting then followed the hens up the trail to my left. The Tom skirted behind my blind and met them on the same trail and they were gone. I wanted to so bad to shoot one of the jakes as they would have been an easy shot, but my friend (whose farm we were hunting on) told me that he wanted everyone to get a chance at shooting one tom before trying to get another and I didn't want my "one" to be a jake. That's why I let them walk.
Day two I moved the blind over a bit more to the intersection thinking if the blind didn't spook them then I would have shots in all directions except directly behind me. I thought they wouldn't mind my blind being completely exposed but they did. Would not come to my calls. Most ignored a couple hung back. There were a lot of toms already on their own not chasing hens or responding to my calls. Closest were hanging back afraid to come in (I guess) to within 60 yards which made bowhunting them downright frustrating! End of the day - still nothing.
Day 3 last day, Sat under a deer stand with tall trees behind me (no blind this morning - my butt was flat numb) Turkeys roosted not far and I could hear them gobbling in the trees in the distance. I thought this is a good spot. Had one hen come within 3 feet of me (completely ignoring my decoys). Only saw two other hens 500 yards down field that morning. We were leaving soon so I walked to the 4-wheeler and rode back to the "Back Pasture" where I had been hunting. They usually get there about 9 AM if they're coming because it's part of their usual "route" and it's a long ways from the roost. As I drove down the road I jumped a great Tom near our "Cemetary" stand hunting area. I stopped the 4-wheeler just in time to hear a bomb go off (the sound of the turkey feathers and wings) slapping the air to lift that fat body up into the air! Didn't look like he was flying far maybe 100 yards. So I went to stalk him. I didn't see where he landed only that he was descending. Unfortunately, I lost him. Those critters are quick when the need to be. Got back on the 4 wheeler and road to the back pasture. Got into position about 8:45 AM. About 5 minutes later I spotted a tom at about 200 yards and coming straight for me so I got ready. He was making a bee line. Well, I waited and waited. he never showed. I got up and realized he got to the fenceline and decided to go up the fence line instead.
That was the end of my hunt. No bird at all for me. I hunted hard and stayed in the field from before dawn until it got dark (8:30 or so at night). The most frustrating is that usually if they don't respond they're still coming. This year they weren't responding, many weren't coming or didn't care, and most of the toms I saw were on their own which led me to believe that they bred very early. Who knows? All I know is I spent 200 bucks in gas, 100 bucks in food, and a ton of time on a very frustrating hunt. Maybe next year. God bless my wife. She reminded me, "That's why it's called hunting, not killing."
Still, this is the first year that I have not taken a turkey there. May be in the fall season.
My friend did shoot a great Tom with his .204 Ruger rifle (rifles are allowed for turkey here). he had a 10" beard and 1.5" spurs. He scored 50 points and he is currently in 3rd place for the town contest there where he may win a 100 lb deer feeder. I was happy for him.
I could have done that but I just didn't want one with a rifle...I wanted one with my bow.
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