Funny how a sound, or smell or sight of something can bring back a flood of memories. My first year turkey hunting, I primitive tent camped in southeastern Minnesota, and a whippoorwill sang all night long above my tent. Many years later now in Georgia, there was the whippoorwill again singing almost like a mantra, beginning just at dusk after the turkeys fly on roost. I’m not sure where whippoorwills go after turkey season as I do not hear them much. But their song is God’s song to me that winter is done and hunting has begun!
I had turkey hunted my own land in Minnesota this year and killed lots of time, but no turkey. My friend Deb and I had been invited to Georgia to hunt through the Womenhunters organization. Jasper, Georgia is in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and while I have a pretty tough constitution when it comes to hunting, I was about to meet my match with this terrain. We spent all of day one trudging nearly six miles trying nail down where the birds were hiding. We heard them, but we did not see them. Traversing the foothills was like stair stepping. My calf muscles were screaming by mile three. I made the mistake of telling the guys I was a distance runner and I would eat those words before the week was out. We patterned the birds to a central field on the 800-acre parcel we were hunting.
The next morning we didn’t see birds, so we set up on another field after sunrise where four or so gobblers were strutting with about a dozen hens. We set up 150-yards away in trees and brush. “We” consisted of two callers, Eddie and Devon, and Chris, a videographer with Cottonwood Outdoors. Deb was bow hunting from a ground blind on a nearby parcel with Dave from Cottonwood Outdoors as her guide. Except for my first turkey hunt, I had in the past usually always done my own calling, so having a champion turkey caller doing it for me was something new.
After calling the birds for over seven hours on that field and watching them disappear and reappear half a dozen times, we decided to get aggressive. We were also getting stir-crazy after sitting in the bushes for half a day, yelping to turkeys that refused to come closer. We had even tried a mating pair of decoys with choruses of yelps and purrs… to no avail.
I had ranged trees on a wooded peninsula across the field to be 50-yards and was comfortable with that distance for a shot. My Benelli 12-gauge M1 Super 90, with Winchester 3-inch HV turkey loads were rated to 60-yards, but I had only patterned this gun to 40. I am a good shot and I don’t get the shakes till after the shot, but still I always seek to shoot within my practiced distance. At one point, I had birds at 40-yards, but the shot was through a lot of trees and brush and I was not confident that enough shot would get through that tangle to kill the bird, so I let it go. That tom went across the field to the peninsula and slipped back into the woods. My backside was getting very sore from sitting on the ground by this time. We had been trapped in this field with uncooperative birds for near eight hours now. It was time for drastic measures!
Hosts: -Dave Garner, Gordon Rickets, George Frady,
Of Cottonwood Outdoors -Rusty Sellars, True Timber Camo
Video: -Chris Kinsey, True Timber Camo
Callers -Eddie Wallace the “Turkey Man” ,-Devon Sweeney, True Timber Camo
© June 2007