My First Turkey Hunt

Discussion in 'Happy Trails' started by lynn1130, Apr 20, 2020.

  1. lynn1130

    lynn1130 Staff Member Mod

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    I posted this on another site back in 2001/02 when I first started turkey hunting. I was lucky enough to score the first two years I hunted and since then have killed over 25 birds. I love hunting, and love elk hunting but really, to me, nothing beats the excitement of turkey hunting.


    Beginners Luck Twice Over by Lynn Babcock



    I don’t know the first thing about turkey hunting! Or let’s say I didn’t until the spring of 2001. But then this story starts even before that. It really starts in the fall of 2000. That is when I made a decision to try something totally new to me. Hunting turkey. Oh sure, I had watched a lot of turkey hunters on the Outdoor Network Channel, and I had even read a story or two in the popular hunting magazines while waiting for a hair cut at the barber shop. And I have even seen loads of turkey while elk and deer hunting but other than that I knew nothing about turkey hunting.

    Now, I am an elk and deer hunter and along with two of my sons-in-law have had some success at that over the years. My sons-in-law Todd and Chris are always up for a hunt so during one of the family get-togethers I asked if they were willing to give turkey hunting a try. I was mildly surprised when I found that we had been drawn for the 2001 spring turkey hunt.

    If I were going into this process, I was going to be serious about it and make every effort to make the hunt a success. That meant attending a seminar on turkey calling/hunting techniques and picking the brains of any successful turkey hunter who allow it. I have to thank Marvin Robbins of Timberline Calls for pointers that proved to be very beneficial. My skill at applying them was probably less than stellar but the help from Marvin sure made it more exciting.

    The last days of April arrived and all of the scouting was done; I had listened to hours of turkey tips on tape, and had practiced all of the calls that one should know before getting out into the field (to my wife’s dismay). So off we went into the woods to pursue the wild turkey.

    The three of us spent a week camped in our favorite camping/hunting area. The first day was a total bust. Not a single fresh bird track, let alone a sighting. I had covered a lot of ground scouting, and thought that I had picked the proper area. I knew, from old track, that the birds had been in the area we were hunting but could not locate them until the second day. I finally found fresh scratchings and droppings. Late in that day both Chris and I got a return gobble from our feeble attempts at sounding like a sexy hen turkey. But that was it, one answer and then nothing more. So the week of effort produced more scouting info but nothing else.

    Two weeks into the season, Chris and I convinced my wife and daughter (his wife) that they would enjoy a nice camping trip while we hunted turkey. The fact that we convinced them to spend Mother’s Day on a camping/hunting trip gives you some idea of the adventuresome spirit of the women in my family. And this trip turned out to be an adventure. After two really nice days it rained, and it hailed. The wind blew and it turned cold. For the first two days Chris and I did not have much better luck than before. We found fresh sign but could not locate the birds. Sunday afternoon came and the rain stopped long enough for the sun to peek through the clouds. It was still cold but we decided to give it one more try so off we went.

    I parked the quad along the edge of the forest service road and, looking at the gathering clouds, decided that I had best take rain gear with me. Chris was about a ½ mile away working an area where we had seen plenty of fresh sign. We had been hunting this same area for several days. The sign was there, we just could not seem to locate the gobblers. We had seen several hens but those had been spooked by us on different occasions while moving from one area to another.

    I had walked about a quarter of a mile into the trees when I decided that it was time to try a call. I leaned against a pine tree that was one of several closely spaced and pulled out the “push pin” call. I yelped with the call and saw him about the same time that he gobbled an answer to my call. He was 150 yards off and below me in the trees. I ducked down and was sure that I’d been busted but I yelped again and guess what? He gobbled back. Ok, now what? My heart is pounding, the adrenaline level is going up and I have to figure out what to do here. I had not prepared well before making this call. My face cover is buried in my pack some where.

    Ok, let’s just sit down by these trees and try to look like a part of them. Is he still interested? Call again. Yep, there was a return gobble and it is closer now. Better get the shotgun situated. Keep your face down over the gun sight with as little uncovered flesh showing as possible.

    I Yelped again. No answer, but here he comes up over the hill right at me! He is walking and pecking but no display. Still coming. A soft purr and a yelp or two and he is still coming. I have no idea if I am making the correct calls but he seems to like it. Forty yards now and still coming. Another series of soft yelps and he stopped at about 30 yards, looking, looking, looking, and up comes the head, higher and looking around. Boy are those 3” mags loud! One turkey tag filled for Spring 2001. What a thrill!

    The only disappointing part of this was the fact that we only filled the one tag. But for a bunch of novices, I guess that was not too bad. And it gets even better.

    We decided that we were going to try this again. We had been successful during the 2001 elk season and had the freezer filled with tasty roasts and steaks but we still needed more hunting time. Never seem to get enough!

    I really was surprised when we were drawn for spring turkey for a second year in a row. Luck seems to have been running our way with draws lately and I know after 30 years of mixed luck with Arizona draws, we need to make every minute of these hunts count.

    So here we were, on opening day 2002, back in the same area as before. We know this area well and we hunt it for every species we can (sorry I am not giving up information on our hunting area).

    This year there are fewer water tanks with water in them and elk are everywhere. We hunted hard but the first two days were fruitless. Again we found some very fresh sign. He had been strutting and drumming along an old road. The “wing drags” were fresh in the powdered dirt. I know he is here somewhere but slow walking and calling produces little, probably because the wind is blowing 30 miles an hour. Even if the birds could hear our calls we wouldn’t be able to hear their replies.

    Sunday morning the wind died and we were up fixing coffee and pancakes at 4:15 AM. We were off well before sunrise. I moved slowly through the forest, stopping often and calling. It is close to 9:00 AM and I have been moving and calling since the first shooting light.. I would call for 20 minutes or so and then move to call again. I stalked over a small rise and there he is! 35 yards away and in full display. I ducked down. He didn’t see me. He is too interested in a hen that is a few yards away from him. I tried some soft yelps and purrs. He does not even seem to hear me. I tried again, same results. He is too love struck with the hen in sight to worry about something he cannot see. I better do something or loose this chance. I am within shooting range but would much rather he have his head up than lowered in the display. I waited for a side shot and as much visible head as I could get. Man oh man, those 3 “ mags are still loud! Another nice Gobbler with a 9” beard! There really is nothing to this turkey hunting. Or perhaps it really is just my dumb luck!

    Chris and Todd did not have the same luck. Chris roosted a gobbler that night and was there at 4:30 the next morning only to have the gobbler come down from the tree and go in the opposite direction. Todd found more birds but they did not seem to be interested in coming his way either. There will be other hunts and probably future success for them. But I am happy that they are having to live with the bragging and ragging from me until they have some of that same “dumb luck” or more likely they will become more and more skillful from my mistakes and successes.

    Interestingly, I saw many hunters driving the roads but few spending the time necessary to locate birds in the woods. I still wonder how you “road hunt” turkey but there seem to be ‘hunters’ who think that is the way to do it. That is fine with me. It leaves me the best opportunities!

    ã 2002 Lynn Babcock

    The mount from my first turkey. IMG_1786.jpg
     
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  2. Thanks Lynn! I am hitting the turkey woods zero dark thirty Friday morning and this story has me pumped up!
     
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  3. Nice Lynn, isn't Turkey Hunting Fun !!!
     
    lynn1130 likes this.
  4. Thanks for the read Lynn, Certainly fired me up!

    Is anyone planning on being in Kaibab? As construction work goes on (which I am thankful for) I unfortunately will only be a weekend warrior maybe with a "sick day" one Friday mixed in there. I'll be able to get out two hopefully three weekends. Good luck everyone, I sure need it!
     
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