MARCH 20, 2004 VIDEO HUNT #1
LOCATION: JASPER COUNTY, PRIVATE LAND
PARTNER: NELSON AND TYLER CULLUM
CALLS USED: SMALL ROHM SLATE, DOUBLE TROUBLE CUTTER DIAPHRAGM, GOBBLE TUBE
DESCRIPTION OF CALLS: YELPS, CUTTING, CLUCKING, PURRING, GOBBLING
DESCRIPTION OF HUNT: AM HUNT CALLED IN 2 GOBBLERS - VIDEO
On opening day I travelled to Jasper County to hunt with Nelson and Tyler Cullum in hopes of getting Tyler his first turkey. There were several gobbles surrounding us and we felt assured that if we waited long enough, we would have success. It didn't take long when we aroused the interest of two gobblers in front of us. They came through the creek bottom and were working their way torward the field between them and us. They came out of the woods at about 125 yards from us. They seemed a little hesitant to come any further, and apparently one of the birds caught some movement from our blind. They slipped back into the woods and continued to gobble for another hour. We threw everything we had at them, but they would not reappear. They may have had hens, but they finally quit gobbling. It would have to be another day to get Tyler's first gobbler. See the video of this hunt on Turkey Hunting with Derek Fowler 2004.
Dad and I hunted some private property on this morning and started at a food plot opeing. After hearing a couple of long distance gobbles, we felt that the food plot would still be the place to catch the birds around mid morning. After one of the birds continued to gobble and seem to be heading away, we felt we should make up some ground on the bird and take our chances. We knew the video would not be guaranteed, but we slipped around the bird and set up on a fire break. The bird gobbled and was only about 100 yards. I called and when a hen responded, I poured it on to get her mad. She cutt excitedly and madly and began coming my way. We continued to call each other and I finally saw her coming directly for me. I only hoped now that she wouldn't make me as she passed. She came within about 10 yards and passed to my right. I felt this was perfect to bring the gobbler within range of a shot. There were several more jakes and at least one hen with the gobbler. The gobbler made his way around another fire break about 40 yards from the one I was sitting on. I could tell the bird I was watching was a mature gobbler, but I couldn't find him in the video. I continued to point the camcorder in the direction that I felt the gobbler would be and only hoped the shot would be on video. I didn't zoom in enough to show the bird in great detail, but the kill barely made the corner of the screen when I shot. The bird appeared to be at least 3 years with the weight about of 18 1/4 pounds, beard at 9 3/4 inches and spurs about 1 1/8 inch.
Dad and I hunted some private land in Wilkinson County on this morning. We previously made an evening hunt and spotted a couple of nice gobblers but were unable to bring them away from the hens. We slipped to the area we had previously seen the birds and waited for a gobble before we set up. As the dawn approached one bird finally gobbled and was back in the direction we had parked. We slipped back to a spot we felt we could see the bird when he flew down. We were much closer than we would have liked to be, but there was no where else we could set up. Upon completing our setup and setting out a couple of decoys, we didn't hear another gobble. I did hear one bird fly out from roost as Dad sat out a decoy. After our completed setup, another flew down, then we saw 3 hens come out one at a time about 75 yards apart. We know then we had set up too close to the gobbler and our chances of calling him were slim. The hens crossed the field pines in front of us but there was no gobbler that followed. At this point we felt we might still have a chance. I called some more and eventually he gobbled to our right in the direction of where we parked. He was circling us in an attempt to rejoin the hens. We then turned 180 degrees and faced direction we felt he would approach. He gobbled again and as he rounded the road we had walked in on, Dad took the shot at about 45 yards. The bird was beyond the road walking in the thick wet hay/grass that had never been cut from the previous year. It seemed that he was doing all he could to get around us to rejoin the hens, but Dad's 12 gauge with Hevi shot made good of the long shot. The bird was a 2 year old that weighed about 19 pounds, had an 8 1/2 inch beard and 3/4 inch spurs. See this hunt on my 2004 video: Turkey hunting with Derek Fowler.
Almost the same day as the 2003 season, it seemed destined to have another encounter with a gobbler and my bow. I had set up in a food plot on my hunting club in Baldwin County. With camera, decoys, blind, seat and all the calls to go along, I sat down for a long stay. Shortly after daylight I heard another hunter across the boundary line and knew then the competition would require a longer sit than I thought. I heard no gobblers and soon after daylight, a crop duster airplane started spraying (as I figured) and continued turning around directly at my food plot. Boy this was just not my day! I took all I could and decided to move to a wooded spot in the far corner of our club. After about 45 minutes I had made my new set up and settled in for a mid morning hunt. No sooner than I had started a series of calls, I heard another hunter crow calling. I called loudly as if to let him know I was there, and then settled in for a nice nap. I awoke after a about a half hour and called some more. I settled back and dosed some more and when I opened my eyes a few minutes later a nice gobbler was strutting torward my decoy. I could see a second bird behind him, but could never identify it. I zoomed the video a couple of times and then zoomed out to a point I felt I could leave it for the shot. I then eased my release on my string and slowly began to inch my bow in place. The gobbler was attempting to strut away, but was ever so slowly. Finally he was facing directly away and I ease the bow back. The second bird apparently caught my movement. As he became nervous, the gobbler came out of strut and moved back around in what I felt would be a perfect broadside shot. I must have been a little anxious in the shot, for as I squeezed the trigger on my release, I felt the gobbler make another step and my arrow went slightly behind where I had aimed. The bird fled on foot and I jumped up to try to stay up with him. I tripped on a fence line just beyond where I had shot him. At this point I wasn't sure if he flew or just kept running. I trailed the bird with blood for about 30 yards and looked for over an hour to no avail. The footage can be seen on my 2004 turkey video
Well, Dad and I were finally off to Nebraska and South Dakota. This would be our third trip and attempt to get our first Merriam gobbler. We arrived at the ranch where we would be hunting and were shown the boundaries during our first evening there. The next morning we slipped along the fenceline and tried to set up on the edge of a large field. There were birds gobbling everywhere. All the gobblers seemed to have a pre determined destination however. We chased them pretty much like we did on our first ever turkey hunt. After making our way back to the truck we spotted a small flock which consisted of 5 gobblers and 2 hens. The gobblers didn't want to leave the hens at all. We slipped around them trying to completely get on the other side. Now when I say slip around, this could mean a couple of miles and a couple of hours in this open country! On our way, we stopped to check them and called up 6 or 8 jakes. We finally set up a second time and still could not call the gobblers in away from the hens. We took a break for a mid afternoon lunch and then travelled to the opposite side of the ranch to give the morning birds a break. We climbed a steep hill and when we got to the top immediately spotted a couple of gobblers. By this time it had gotten late and we only had a couple of hours of daylight left. I slipped to a spot to try and call the gobblers in, but they too were henned up. As they made their way back into the woods, I slipped around hoping to get in front of them. As I did, I could hear them walking in the leaves, so I slipped down the trail, sat down and began some low clucks and purrs. A hen crossed the trail first and then the gobbler. I had left the video camera back on top of the hill and figured my first Merriam with the video would have to wait. I took the shot and the bird weighed 20 pounds, had an 8 1/4 inch beard and 3/4 inch spurs .
After setting up on the birds we had seen the previous morning, Dad and I was sure we had the birds figured out. We slipped to the area we had seen the birds and after hearing no close gobbles decided to set with it until lunch. After seeing a couple of gobblers and unsuccessfully calling them in, Dad and I took the time to make a good blind for a setup on the next day. We made our way back and spotted 5 gobblers across the river at an old abandoned home place. This would be our evening location after a small break for lunch. We made our way around the property by vehicle and tried to slip toward the home place. I spotted a gobbler before we could get to a setup spot so we stopped and eased torward some cover and tried to call the bird in. There were several hens and at least one gobbler. After they had moved far enough to relocate we moved closer. The birds finally had moved out of site and hearing, so we made our way torward the old home place. We slipped around and found two large cottonwoods to set up under which appeared to be roost trees. After a couple of hours we spotted some jakes coming in on our right. We faced the larger portion of the field and didn't expect the birds to come in from behind, but after the jakes approached, we turned around. We watched several jakes and hens feed throughout the old home place. They continued to feed around and eventually came past us to the decoys we had set up on the opposite side. As I continued to watch some birds fly across the river Dad said there was a mature gobbler behind us. I immediately turned the camera around so as to try and get the shot on video and was able to find the gobbler briefly before he took the shot. This would be Dad's first Merriam also. The bird weighed about 19 pounds, had a 10 inch beard and 1 inch spurs. This footage can also be seen on my 2004 video.
The next morning we were back again on the hillside where we had made the blind the previous day. This time we felt sure we would be at an advantage for calling up and being in range of a gobbler. Each of the previous mornings we had seen birds that seem to feed through this area. First daylight had birds gobbling in front and behind us, but much farther than we had hoped. We heard lots of hens, so we knew it would be tough to call them directly in anyway so we stuck it out. Soon after daylight, we did call two hens in and of all days, there were no gobblers with them, it figures! About a couple of hours after daylight, we heard the gobblers across the river sound like they were making their way across and to our left. A few minutes later and we knew it was a matter of time. The pair of gobblers approached cautiously to our left and were making their way to our decoys. The strutter, which was the one I had picked to shoot was all too love sick and would have wandered right on in but the other was more cautious and saw something he didn't like. I figured I had enough footage, so as they started to spook, I took the strutter. I guess this may have been a mistake, for trying to get a bird to mount. As I found when I approached the bird, his coloration was more of a Rio than a Merriam. At any rate, he weighed 18 pounds, had a 9 1/2 inch beard and 3/4 inch spurs. The footage can also be seen on my 2004 turkey hunting video
Well it was back to Georgia now to finish the 2004 season. It had been a good season thus far and another bird would surely make for a great season. I really needed more video to have enough to put together a full seasons worth on my yearly video. The day before this day I got excellent footage of a rabbit coming under my blind and nibbling on my pants leg and boot. This was sure to be a good plug for Realtree!
I was still desperate to get more footage and possible take the "Runner" gobbler which I had now seen about 5 times. I made my way to the field after work on this evening and was in such a hurry forgot to put the battery on my camcorder. I searched my vest for a spare and remembered that I had removed all my batteries on the previous trip to Nebraska and South Dakota. "Oh well, I know this will be the evening I see and kill him now", I thought. I settled in half heartedly with only a small hope that I would see the gobbler. As it turned out the gobbler answered a nearby owl hooting and gave his position away. He was just over the ridge in the field just out of my sight at about 200 yards. I had set up in a different blind on this evening in a direction that I thought he might travel to go to roost. I answered his gobble with a few sharp cutts and he again responded. I settled back and become silent knowing he wouldn't accept too much calling. Less than 15 minutes had him running to my decoys. The bird was a good one and I would guess was at least 4 or 5 years old. He weighed 20 pounds had a 10 inch+ beard (much of which was removed during the shot) and 1 3/8 inch spurs.
Well, the season was winding down and I had filled my Georgia limit. Dad was still stuck on 1 so I set out to help get his limit. He had worked a bird the previous day and pretty much pinpointed where he was roosting. We set up on this morning thinking the bird was probably roosted to our left but when no gobbles were heard had our doubts. After about 1/2 hour of fly down time, we saw him sneaking across the hillside in front of us. He hadn't made a sound! He made it to the crest of the hill in the field and when he saw our decoys began to sneak in all the more slowly. Dad said he was running the jakes the previous day all over the field so we couldn't understand why he was so sneaky on this day. After he was close enough, I zoomed in on his legs and realized then why he was not so aggressive to our decoys. He had no spurs! Not a lick of a spur on either leg. I told Dad and he said he didn't think he would shoot him. Only after he had moved back out of shooting range did we decide that shooting him wouldn't be such a bad thing. It was next to the last day of the Georgia season, He was a dominant bird, and it would lessen someone else's dissapointment later on. Attempts to call him back were dismal, but when I gobbled at him, I apparently called the jakes out and they appeared to be eager to come in. The gobbler seemed to try and prevent the jakes from coming our way, but when he failed to do, so decided to follow them in. Dad shot the gobbler at about 30 yards. Although he didn't have any spurs, he seemed to be a very mature gobbler. He weighed 17 pounds had a 9 1/2 inch beard.
I returned to the Cullum property to end the season as I had grown accustomed to. This time it would be
in search of Dad's third Georgia Gobbler. The grain I had hunted over previously had now grown high and
would be hard to call a bird through. We set up on the end of the grain field in hopes of getting a bird
to come around the edge. We extended our decoys on larger stakes to help make them more visible. Before
we could get set up a hen started cutting and a gobbler responded immediately directly in front of us. He
couldn't be over 150 yards! We finally finished our pruning and settled in. A few calls and the woods lit
up with yelping, cackles, cutting and gobbles like it was opening day. I don't recall a season ending with as much vocalization!
There were several hens, but only 1 gobbler was answering. We later hear another gobbler, but he was
farther away. Hens would come and go and the gobbler would continue to answer and stay just inside the
woodline. This went on from daylight til after noon. Finally the gobbler became less vocal and finally quit
gobbling around 1:30. I finally checked him with a crow call and he had moved several hundred yards away
across the creek and on the other hillside. I told dad we would head to the truck and offload some of our
stuff and then try him one more time. About an hour later found us on the hillside above him and on my first
call he answered eagerly. Less than 5 minutes later Dad had shot him to end a very long hunt. He was at least
a 3 or 4 year old weighing 18 pounds and having a 11 1/2 inch beard and 1 5/16 inch spurs. This hunt is also on
video for 2004.
THE ENDReturn to Turkey Page