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Guest Blog

A good start on turkey season

Wed, April 30, 2014

woodcock turkey 2014


Opening day of the north zone second season in Illinois was Saturday, April 19. As always, I had high hopes and was excited to get out in the woods. Even though I have been fortunate to have filled several tags during the past fourteen seasons, I have come to learn that turkeys are who they are and will usually do what they want to do, rather than what you want them to do. Once in awhile, the stars do align correctly and I am able to fill a tag.

My primary style of hunting is based on three key factors: location, decoys and luck. When all three happen, it seems like I really know what I’m doing. But the luck factor is my key. The location I am hunting is about a half hour walk from where I park. And it is a known roost area. That means I need to have decoys out and be on my seat forty-five minutes to an hour before shooting time. It also means walking to the spot in the dark, including crossing a swamp with water about four inches deep. This can get interesting in the dark while carrying seat cushions, decoys and a gun.

Shooting time opening morning was about 5:45 a.m. I started my walk about 4:30 a.m. and with no accidents (remember I’m not 60 anymore, so that’s a good thing) I get to my spot, decoys out and on my seat by 5:00 a.m. After a half hour or so, all I have heard are geese, wood ducks, cardinals and robins. No gobbles or yelps. It’s also colder than I prepared myself and I start to shiver like crazy. At 5:45 the action I wanted started. The first booming gobble was probably less that seventy yards away, caught me totally by surprise and almost made me wet myself. Then five minutes of silence. Then he gobbled again. And another bird answered very close to the first. Two more toms joined the chorus and it seemed like I was going be in for a good morning. Some hens started yelping and I hoped they all would head my direction at flydown.

At 6:00 a.m. The gobbling reached a crescendo. All kinds of turkeys starting pitching down from the trees and immediately headed the opposite direction from me. I remained in my seat for another thirty minutes or so. Even called a little, but to no avail. Last time I heard one of the toms, it sounded about three hundred yards or more away from me. That pretty much ended the morning, as I had commitments and could only be out a short time anyway. Like I said, turkeys are who they are.

Day two of the second season I didn’t have quite the pep that was there on day one, but I knew I had to get up and get going. You don’t tag ‘em staying at home. Drove to the property, parked and made the walk in the dark to my location. This time I set up about thirty yards further north, hoping my decoys might be more visible. Then got seated about 5:00 a.m. and waited to see what would happen. Thankfully, it was about fifteen degrees warmer than the previous day, so the waiting was a little more comfortable.

Around 5:30 it was getting light enough to see pretty well and I thought I saw a bird on the roost about 60+/- yards away from my spot. Some limbs were partially blocking my view and I really wasn’t sure, until I saw tail feathers moving. Then my hopes were really building. My decoys would be visible to the bird and it would have a good shot to pitch down between two big trees, right to my location. But two things needed to happen. It had to flydown to my setup and it had to be a bearded bird.

Like yesterday, at 5:45 a.m. The gobbling started. One in the same location as the day before. Then another close to the first one. The bird I was watching joined the gobbling and I was excited that one of   the conditions for a successful hunt had been met. By 6:00 a.m. the gobbling was in full swing,with only a few hen yelps.

Don’t know if the bird I was watching wanted to be the first to get to what it thought were birds on the ground, but it was the first one off the roost. It pitched down to my spot and landed ten yards away from my decoys. Wow! The old heart was a pumping now. I must have flinched a little taking the gun off safety, ‘cause the tom froze and was staring at me with his left eye. This lasted about a minute, which on a game stand seems like forever. He slowly went into partial strut and turned his back to me. I like watching these shows, but he was acting very nervous and I knew I had to act. I aimed the gun and when he turned sideways, the hunt was over.

It was a very cool hunt and a happy Easter sunrise. The tom had a 10.5 inch beard, 1.25 inch spurs and weighed 24.75 pounds on digital scales. After a few photo ops, I was back in town by 7:30 a.m., my second season permit concluded.


Nice one, glad you have some birds in your area, this is the first year in many I never even heard a gobble.

Posted by cuttnstrut on May 02

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