Saturday, February 13, 2016

Early Fall Turkey Hunting

Gander Mountain

There was one day of duck hunting and then the weather turned really nice with clear skies and southerly flow.  What is a person to do?  The logical thing is to head out for some turkey hunting north of Fort Calhoun at one of my favorite farms.  Striking out last spring was hard to swallow, but in the fall the turkeys bunch up in large flocks and all you have to do is find out where they are running.  That is the hard part.

Last summer an article was reviewed in a popular hunting magazine.  The recommendation was to find the flock,  run into the flock and bust it up.  Then hunt down each bird individually.  In the terrain where the hunt took place, that was not possible.  The hills are really steep and 50% of the farm is timber with steep hills.  Finding them will be the first problem, but trying to bust up a flock and then hunt the birds  one at a time or wait until they flock up again would not work on this ground.  Trying to run up the hills would be asking for a coronary.

The landowner called me the night before and told me about seeing a flock of 35 to 40 birds south of his storage shed.  They had appeared around 3 PM.  I waited until 11 AM.  The drive took about 45 minutes, and I was on site within an hour.

The first spot was my favorite. Notice the two big oak trees and the ground was covered with sign of deer and turkey.  I had no luck here after an hour.

The second spot was a spot that had always produced birds.  It just called for a lot of patience.  This area was surrounded by oak trees which shed a lot of acorns.  The deer and the turkey are always hanging around.  It was here that the second attempt for the day was made.
Notice the big oak tree just off of center.  The deer and turkey come up the steep side of the hill and they feed through the area.  I sat here about  one hour and saw 15 deer, but no turkey.  It is called hunting, not shooting.

It was time to move on.  Driving south to the open pastures and just field glassing the terrain, produced no evidence of movement and no evidence that the birds had been moving through.

The third spot was behind the storage shed and up the road from the house.  I never want to hunt this close to the landowner's home, even though he had given me permission many times to set up across the road from a big oak tree.

You can see the road at the bottom of the picture and right behind the big tree is an open gate that leads down into a pasture.  The terrain is really steep and the turkeys will come up to the tree through the gate and walk down the road.  They turn into the timber below before getting to the farmer's home. 

It was a really nice day.   I hid in the shadows surrounded by some tall grass with a tree behind me.  Trying to stay awake was a problem with the pleasant atmosphere and the gentle warm breeze from the south. Small hens then appeared right behind the tree.  They were obviously this year's hatch.  I passed up the shot.  Behind them came some bigger birds.  Then out from behind the tree stepped a really nice big hen.  She was immediately dispatched.  Upon arriving home, I took the necessary steps to put her in the freezer.  She will be tasty.
I took off my leaf suit as I was getting ready to drive home.  The farmer and his wife had just pulled up and took the picture for me.  Notice their dog in the background.  If you park at their house she will hang out with you in the woods.  I prefer not, and drive some distance on the farm so that she stays at home. 

Wild turkey is one of our favorites when it comes to wild game, and when we have guests over this is their favorite too.


Good hunting, good fishing and good luck, Hank

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