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TURKEY HUNTING


VIDEO/HUNTS FOR 1998


BY

DEREK FOWLER

MARCH 21, 1998 VIDEO HUNT #1
LOCATION: JASPER COUNTY, PRIVATE LAND
PARTNER: CHASE
CALLS USED: ROHM SLATES, DOUBLE TROUBLE CUTTER DIAPHRAGM
DESCRIPTION OF CALLS: YELPS, CUTTING, CLUCKING, PURRING
DESCRIPTION OF HUNT: AM HUNT, CALLED IN THREE HENS, LONGBEARD KILL AT 7:45 AM

It was opening day and I had promised to take Chase back to the Cullum farm. It was almost a sure bet that we would be close to some turkeys. As day broke we heard one or maybe two turkey gobbles back toward the pasture where we had parked. We had elected to setup near the area where Chase had killed his first turkey. Not long after hearing the first two gobblers, another gobbler sounded off to our left, the one we were counting on! We heard several hens and finally saw three as they neared the pasture but kept onward toward the sounds of the gobbler. One eventually came back and went up the pasture we had walked in on. Thinking the hens had the gobbler at bay we settled back for a patient wait. But just after 7:30, Chase whispered that he saw another turkey across the creek. I thought it was just another hen, but when I glasses the bird I told Chase it was the one he wanted, a nice longbeard. The bird pitched across the creek and began to come straight for our decoys. Chase had the gun shouldered, but not up and ready. I told him to wait until the bird was in and turned around. When the gobbler neared the Jake decoy, he turned around and I told Chase to raise and shoot. When he did the gobbler dropped instantly. Great shot, especially with a 20 gauge single shot with 2 inch 7 shot. I had purchased Chase a Mossberg 20 Gauge pump, but the sighting was so bad we had left it with a gunsmith to have the barrel straightened. Instead, he would shoot his old New England arms 20 gauge single barrel. After we retrieved Chase's bird, we set back up in hopes of getting one of the other birds for me. After a short while, another bird gobbled from the same direction as the one Chase's bird had come. Soon I could hear him drumming but could not see him. Finally, I saw him on a little ridge straight behind Chase. This gobble however was not about to come any further. He eventually left and returned the way he had come. Chase's gobbler weighed about 18 lbs. Had a 9 inch beard and 1 1/8 inch spurs - another good bird for his second! See this footage on my Collectors Series 3 Video.

MARCH 25, 1998 VIDEO HUNT #2
LOCATION: BALDWIN COUNTY, PRIVATE LAND
PARTNER: DWAYNE MORGAN
CALLS USED: SMALL ROHM SLATE
DESCRIPTION OF CALLS: YELPING, CUTTING, CLUCKING
DESCRIPTION OF HUNT: EARLY MORN. HUNT, CALLED IN 1 GOBBLER, 3 JAKES, 1011 HENS

Dwayne called me on Tuesday night and said he had roosted a nice gobbler and a "croud" of hens. Eager to get some footage I told him I would give it a shot the next morning for a couple of hours. I arrived at our destination at 5:20 am and we set out to get set up before it was light enough for them to see us. Dwayne and his brother had seen the gobbler on at least three other hunts and were unable to call him away from the hens. I know the secret to calling in a hen pecked gobbler is to call the hens in too. As soon as it began to break day, we could see some of the birds roosted across the pasture, about 150 yards. This was going to be interesting! As soon as it was light enough, approximately 6:15, birds began to fly down to the same spot in the pasture. Soon there was a whole flock of turkeys with only one bird strutting. I began to do some light yelps on my small slate. As a hen became interested and yelped back, I got a little more aggressive. I did a little cutting and before I knew it the entire flock was headed our way. Once the gobbler was in range, Dwayne had to wait until he had a clear shot at only the gobbler. Finally, at approximately 6:25, we had completed our hunt. Dwayne's bird probably weighed about 17 lbs, had inch spurs and a 9 inch beard. See this footage on my Collectors Series 3 Video.

MARCH 29, 1998 VIDEO HUNT #3
LOCATION: WILKINSON COUNTY, PRIVATE LAND
PARTNER: HAROLD FOWLER
CALLS USED: ROHM SLATE AND DOUBLE TROUBLE DIAPHRAGM
DESCRIPTION OF CALLS: YELPING, CUTTING, CLUCKING
DESCRIPTION OF HUNT: AM HUNT, CALLED IN 2 HEN AND 3 LONGBEARDS

If ever you hunt to learn from your mistakes, this was the hunt. Dad and I were saving this tract of private land so that we could video a kill and hunt together. As we entered the pasture, to our surprise, a vehicle was parked right across from where we had planned to set up. Quickly, we hurried around to a second area we had in mind. We owled and heard at least three different gobblers, all too far or in the vicinity of the other hunter. After a few minutes of waiting and wondering, another bird gobbled less than 200 yards from us. We hurried and set up and in our haste picked two trees about 30 yards apart (big mistake) After a few calls we realized that there were 2 gobblers. Hens immediately began yelping, so I knew it would be tough. I kept the hens interested and after a while the gobblers were in view and there were three longbeards and all of them were strutting. The birds didn't want to come any further and remained in one spot for about 15 minutes. As the hens began yelping again, I also called and encouraged them into coming a little farther. Instead of coming toward me, they went straight toward my Dad and must have seen something they didn't like when they were within a few feet of him. As they began retreating so did the Gobblers too. They had long been in range for a shot, but Dad was waiting until they were positioned for both of us to get one. Needless to say after a desperation shot by my Dad, neither of us got one. If we had not been trying to video or both trying to kill a bird, we could have easily taken a bird. Setting up so far apart was a disaster. It is always much better to be in whispering distance, if not shoulder to shoulder. Well, maybe our blunders for the 1998 season were over!

MARCH 29, 1998 VIDEO HUNT #4
LOCATION: TWIGGS COUNTY, PRIVATE LAND POWERLINE
PARTNER: HAROLD FOWLER
CALLS USED: ROHM SLATE AND DOUBLE TROUBLE DIAPHRAGM
DESCRIPTION OF CALLS: YELPING, CUTTING, AND CLUCKING
DESCRIPTION OF HUNT: MID MORNING HUNT, CALLED IN 1 Jake AND 2 GOBBLERS

Wrong! Our blunders were not over. After pruning an area of small pine saplings on a power line so that an incoming bird could see our decoys, we set up and began calling. I immediately had a response, but it was behind me. I told Dad that if we stayed positioned the way we were, we would have to be very still and let the bird pass by us. After a short few minutes, I noticed my Dad with his gun up in front of us. I had already heard the drumming, but I thought it was behind us. Well, I began looking in front of us and saw what he was looking at, a Jake. I continued to hear the drumming and now wondered if it was behind the Jake or behind me. It got louder and louder and finally, I eased up to look over the camera and there he was about 12 to 15 feet from me passing right to left. I thought surely he would continue on toward the decoys, but a second gobbler behind him had obviously seen me or Dad and putted. This alarmed the first bird and he turned to go away. With that I told Dad to shoot, but he was not positioned to shoot. I eased the camera around to try to capture the shot but when there was no shot, I thought I could quick draw the bird, wrong. I shot three times as the gobbler was leaving and never cut a feather. I really rushed the shot more than I had too. My first shot was only about 20 yards and I just didn't hold it tight enough for the tight patterning 3 inch magnum. The next two shots were just desperation shots. Dad also got a desperation shot in! I've never had this much bad luck in one day at anything! Rookies can do better than this! Would this be all the blunders for our 1998 season? I guess I'll stay tuned.

BLUNDERS CONTINUE:
APRIL 03, 1998 NO VIDEO
LOCATION: JASPER COUNTY, PRIVATE LAND
PARTNER: ALONE
CALLS USED: ROHM SLATES, DOUBLE TROUBLE CUTTER DIAPHRAGM
DESCRIPTION OF CALLS: YELPS, CUTTING, CLUCKING, PURRING
DESCRIPTION OF HUNT: AM HUNT, CALLED IN HEN WITH GOBBLER - MISS

Eager to get my first bird of the season, I ventured to the best spot I could think of, the Cullum Farm. As I approached the lower pasture, a bird gobbled on the far end of the upper pasture. I immediately turned around and began to look for a setup. There were a few large field pines in the middle of the pasture. The weather forecast was calling for rain and thunderstorms. I didn't especially like to be on a hill under a large pine during a thunderstorm, but I thought I'd take may chances and maybe with a little luck, he would come in before the thunderstorms did. After setting up I could here two other gobblers, but the closest was this bird which was about 250 to 300 yards. I called once it was light enough and he gobbled. Then the hens began yelping. There were several around him and my task was going to be to call them in. The storm was fast approaching and the turkeys were not. I decided to leave the setup and take my camera and gun and get in my truck until it passed. The bird was continuing to gobble at every thunder and all during the heavy rain. It soon passed, at least the heaviest rain and thunder, so I put my rain gear on and headed back. Without the camera I decided to close the distance and setup closer to the gobbler. As I approached the pasture I could tell the hen was practically in it, so I crawled to the edge of the fence where I lay flat on my stomach and positioned my gun toward where I thought the birds would be at the time I would shoot. The hen entered the pasture and the gobbler followed closely behind. I called a little to persuade them to come by a little closer then they had planned. When the gobbler was in range, he was so close to the hen that I could not shoot. He seemed to know his safety was by her side. They had worked their way past me and I could no longer shoot, at least right handed. So I switched to left handed and drew a bead on the gobbler's neck and squeezed a shot off. The hen flew and the gobbler ran. I raced after the bird until he made it to the opposite wood line where he also decided to fly. Another hunter's nightmare. I was starting to feel like Nelson! It was approximately a 45 yard shot and the gun just didn't perform at that range as I thought it should have. My blunder woes continue!

APRIL 03, 1998 VIDEO HUNT #5
LOCATION: BALDWIN COUNTY, PASTURE
PARTNER: TOM UMLAND
CALLS USED: ROHM SLATES AND DOUBLE TROUBLE DIAPHRAGM
DESCRIPTION OF CALLS: YELPING CUTTING, CLUCKING
DESCRIPTION OF HUNT: PM HUNT, WATCHED 6 8 HENS/JAKES, 2 GOBBLERS ROOSTED

Upon entering the pasture edge I glassed carefully. I saw one, two and then three hens. After a few minutes, I finally saw him, a nice gobbler with about a 10 inch beard. Although our planned setup would be far from the birds, we elected to setup anyway, since we thought the birds would roost on that end of the pasture. After calling to the gobbler for a while it was apparent he would not leave the hens and they seemed disinterested in coming in as well. As they began moving away from us we noticed another nice gobbler with several hens and jakes. After continuing to call, they turned and began coming back. The two good gobblers separated from the rest and crossed the pasture in front of us. We knew they would fly up not far from there and that our chances would be good for calling them up the next morning.

APRIL 04, 1998 VIDEO HUNT #6
LOCATION: BALDWIN COUNTY, PASTURE
PARTNER: TOM UMLAND
CALLS USED: ROHM SLATES AND DOUBLE TROUBLE DIAPHRAGM
DESCRIPTION OF CALLS: CACKLING, FLYDOWN, YELPING CUTTING, AND CLUCKING
DESCRIPTION OF HUNT: AM HUNT, CALLED 2 HENS, 4 JAKES, 2 GOBBLERS, KILLED TWO

Nothing is a sure thing, but this hunt was bound to be as good as it gets. With all the birds we had seen the previous day and with their knowledge that we were there, we hoped it was just a matter of time before they were posing in front of us. After we set up we began to hear hens to our RIGHT, a direction where we thought were only gobblers. They flew down fairly early and we called to them just enough to get them to respond and move past us. We could hear our gobblers sounding off and at least 4 other gobblers around as well. At the time we felt the gobblers had flown down there was only one other bird gobbling, and that was not our bird. The hens passed us and we noticed that one of them had at least an 8 inch beard. As I tried to get her on video, I glanced around to keep a check on the area we expected the gobblers to come from and I noticed a bird fly across a small ditch. I eased my binoculars up and noticed that there was 1 Jake and 2 nice gobblers, our gobblers! I called to them and they turned to come our way. As they approached, we noticed that there were at least 4 jakes and the 2 large gobblers. The hens began yelping and this took the gobblers off their course for us, so I yelped lightly hoping the gobblers would look and see out decoys. They did and the dominant bird began strutting toward us. Luckily the two large gobblers were together and would pose no problem for shooting a Jake when we fired. When the gobblers reached the decoy where had planned to shoot, Tom had began to get impatient and called my name as if he wasn't going to wait any longer! I was, as usual, awaiting a strategic point to complete my aim and shoot. But at Tom's request, I called for the shot only to find I had not taken my safety off. Tom's shot was true and the dominant bird went down. My gobbler flew up and lit back down a few feet away. I immediately threw the safety off and blasted away three times and luckily downed the bird at about 40 yards. Again my blunders almost cost me another bird. This season has got to shape up! Tom's bird we guessed to weigh 21 pounds plus with 1 1/8 spurs and an 11 inch beard. My bird we guessed at about 17 pounds with 1 1/8 inch spurs and a 9 inch beard. Finally, although not very pretty, I had taken a gobbler. (Included on the video: Tom's dedication to Franklin, the tobacco chewing, couch potato redneck!) See this footage on my Collectors Series 3 Video.

APRIL 09, 1998 VIDEO HUNT #7
LOCATION: PIEDMONT NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE AREA #4
PARTNER: HAROLD FOWLER
CALLS USED: ROHM SLATES AND DOUBLE TROUBLE DIAPHRAGM
DESCRIPTION OF CALLS: YELPING, CUTTING, AND CLUCKING
DESCRIPTION OF HUNT: PM HUNT, CALLED 1 HENS, 1 GOBBLERS, KILLED ONE

Dad and I had missed our pick for the second hunt on the Piedmont this year. We were however chosen for the third hunt. This could be good or bad we thought. After a stormy/tornado weather night the birds were pretty much silent on the first morning. We heard one bird gobble twice and that was it. It became very windy and we decided to hunt a power line for the evening hunt. We set up at about 2:00 and called loudly for a couple of sequences. We sat back for wait and napped on and off. At a little after 3:00, we saw a gobbler strutting in the bottom to our left at about a hundred yards. We called a little but he just kept strutting. This went on for a half hour, and I told dad that there must be a hen with him. After a while, she came out and went straight across the power line. She didn't respond to my calling a bit! The hen was not paying any attention to the gobbler and he decided to take his chances with the hen he was hearing near us. He came straight for us until he saw the decoys and then went straight for the Jake decoy. Dad let me get some good video before he decided to shoot. At the right opportunity, I putted to alert the gobbler and dad took the shot. His bird as well as all that had been taken on the Piedmont was light at 16 lbs., had a 9 1/2 inch beard and and 7/8 inch spurs. The video turned out excellent. See this footage on my Collectors Series 3 Video.

APRIL 23, 1998 VIDEO HUNT #8
LOCATION: PIEDMONT NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE AREA #4
PARTNER: ALONE
CALLS USED: ROHM SLATES AND DOUBLE TROUBLE DIAPHRAGM
DESCRIPTION OF CALLS: YELPING AND CLUCKING
DESCRIPTION OF HUNT: PM HUNT, CALLED 1 HEN

After no luck on our morning hunt, Dad and I had decided to hunt the PM separately. We set up on the same power line about a mile apart. As I topped the hill above where I was to set up, I noticed two hens feeding about 3-4 hundred yards away. I slipped over to the edge and set up and later called one of them to me for some fairly good video.

MAY 03, 1998 VIDEO HUNT #9
LOCATION: JASPER COUNTY, PRIVATE LAND
PARTNER: ALONE
CALLS USED: ROHM SLATES, DOUBLE TROUBLE CUTTER DIAPHRAGM
DESCRIPTION OF CALLS: YELPS, CUTTING, CLUCKING, PURRING
DESCRIPTION OF HUNT: ALL DAY HUNT, CALLED IN ONE HEN, ONE GOBBLER AND ONE
HEN THAT THOUGHT SHE WAS A GOBBLER! SAW TWO ADDITIONAL HENS AND 2 GOBBLERS

The season had become rather dismal. By now I had usually taken up bowhunting solely. My bleeps and blunders were such that I felt the bow would only add more misery, so I continued to hunt with the gun. On the previous two occasions on the Cullum property, the birds had roosted on the upper side of the pasture I generally hunted, so I decided on this morning to stay on top and set up after he gobbled. Then, as usual when you plan it, no gobble! I trimmed a place out around a tree on the edge of the pasture and hunted a couple of hours anyway. I decided at this point to go across to the other side where Chase had killed his bird. On the way I noticed some nice fresh gobbler tracks in the creek bed, so I elected to set up in the lower pasture. After calling for less than an hour, I heard a faint gobble. I answered and later it became apparent that it wasn't a good gobbler and as it turned out wasn't a gobbler at all. To my amazement, I had called in the same "strutting" hen as Chase and I had called in last year. She strutted and even gobbled for over an hour around me. I ran out of tape, so when she had moved far enough away, I left the blind and went to the truck and retrieved a new tape. When I returned I called her back up for some additional footage. At about 1:15 I heard another gobble in the distance toward the other side. This sounded more like the real thing! The "tom" hen left and made a "bee line" for the gobbler, which was across the creek. When the hen reached the gobbler, he became silent. It wasn't long before I could see some of the activity however. There were two gobblers and two hens, but the hens didn't want to come to my calling across the creek. After they moved out of sight, I heard something to my right running for me. I immediately thought it was a coyote and began easing for my gun to get in position for a shot. To my amazement it was a nice gobbler running down the hill toward the pasture and my decoys. At about 15 yards he either caught my hurried movement or just didn't like what he saw. He putted and I knew video was out of the question, so I started to switch the gun to shoot left handed. A hen that was behind him, which I had not seen, spoiled the plans of I had of going home early. I had almost got the sights on him when he shifted gears. An exciting day, but again my problem season continues!!!!!!!! See this footage on my Collectors Series 3 Video.

THE END

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