Turkey Murder in Iowa – Part 2

27 Apr

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25 lbs., 1 1/2′ Spurs, 9 1/4′ Beard

 

Now that Sara was tagged out I was going to run a solo mission Easter morning. There’s no better way to celebrate the life of Christ but by enjoying nature. It was warmer than the two previous mornings. I can’t remember the last turkey season with no rain. It seems in the past that the first rain drop to hit the ground was the off switch to any vocalization. Not this year.

Let’s back track about 18 hours…

After Sara killed her turkey I could still hear turkeys gobbling on a different piece of the property. So I made a quick trip to drop her off and headed back out for the remainder of the morning. After parking by a bridge I worked my way along a steep ridge to a river bottom where I heard the toms earlier in the morning. Once I got to the location, an open area that is typically flooded this time of year, I set up the decoys and sat there for about 15 minutes before I pulled out the slate call and started some soft calling. It was another 10 minutes before I heard a loud gobble on top of the ridge in front of me. He sounded close but must have been on the back side of the ridge out of my line of sight. He had to be strutting back and forth across the ridge because every time he gobbled he was at one end of the draw or the other.

This went on for about 30 minutes before he stopped responding to the calls. Somewhere around 10:30 a.m. I tip-toed over to my decoys to pack them up and decided to sneak up the opposite side of ridge where I heard the last gobble. Once I got to what I thought was good location did a little glassing to see if I could get a visual on the bird before I started calling. Not being able to see him I sat down and started some light calling. Nothing. I knew I had one last morning hunt left and so I called it a day and decided to come back to the same location the next morning.

After a couple cocktails, fast forward to the next morning…

The moon was still bright. I took my time getting to the bottom where I heard the gobble the day before, set up in the same location and waited until I heard my first gobble in the distance before I started some extra soft calling as the echo seem to travel a long ways. 1… 2… 3… I counted 5 different gobbles within about 300 yards that responded to the call. One coming from the ridge I was directly in front of me. Lots and lots of gobbles that morning. At one point I counted 7 gobbles in a row from the same bird, I almost thought that there was another hunter playing a trick on me.

All the other gobbles seemed to fade away as the birds hit the ground and I became 100% focused on the tom that was roosted on the ridge in from of me. He sounded off a couple more times then headed for the forest floor. I was able to get a visual as he strutted across the top of the ridge, but only for a moment before he disappeared. With one last gobble, as if he was saying “later dude”, he began to move in the opposite direction.

This is where it started to get fun. After about 30 or 40 minutes of no answers to my calling I packed up the decoys and headed up the draw. Similar the previous day, my hopes were to sneak up on him from the high ground and try to look down on him if he was s on the ridge. On my way up the ridge the tom made his first mistake, he gobbled. He gave away his location. He was in the adjacent cattle pasture next to the ridge he was roosted on. I didn’t know how far out in the pasture he was so I slowly worked my way up to the fence line and took a peek through my binoculars. There he was, flexing in the wide open at about 200 yards.

I had a couple options. One, follow the fence line to the corner of the pasture and work my way up another fence line and try to call him, into the timber. Two, drop down out of site from the tom and enter the pasture, walk on the opposite side of this knoll out of site, then pop up to a large bush in between the tom and I for a better view and to start some calling and to see if he was even interested. I chose two.

Once I arrived to the giant bush I noticed there was another tom and a hen about 50 yards behind the strutting tom. My first thought was “I’m screwed” no way he would come thins way with a hen in the picture. I was wrong. I pulled out one of the best calling sequences of my life. (If it would have been a competition I would have won first and second place.) The tom turned around and examined the horizon looking for his next lover, but it was only me… with a gun.

I called one more time and the tom started my way on a string. I was not in the perfect location, I needed to move to another bush. So as soon as the tom walked behind what looked like a down tree branch I belly crawled 20 additional yards through thorns and cow poop to the bush I had scoped out moments before. By this time the bird had disappeared, but I knew he was on his way.

What seemed like 10 minutes has passed, but in actuality only a minute or so. Before I could even see him I could hear him. Did I mention I love that sound. The next thing I noticed were the tail feathers – strut step step step – then his head – strut step step step – then upper half of his body. He came out of strut for only a moment, stuck his head up to see if he could find his mid-morning caller, he got something completely different.

After the trigger was pulled the last thing I remember seeing was the toms head folding backwards and a mist of blood in the sunlight. I knew he wasn’t going anywhere. I stood up and walked to the still flopping bird, stepped on his head, and said “Got ya”.

From the first gobble to the quick prayer to give thanks after the kill took about two hours and had to be one of the most exciting hunts I have had in a long time. I love the chase, making decisions on the go, and in the end it all paid off.

Some day it will be Ava’s turn. But first things first… potty training

Some day it will be Ava’s turn. But first things first… potty training

 

I love the outdoors and can’t wait to set off on my next adventure.

Thanks for reading,

Dan

4 Responses to “Turkey Murder in Iowa – Part 2”

  1. Sara April 29, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    Very well written!

  2. katie May 8, 2014 at 9:24 am #

    I really enjoyed reading your chronicle and visualizing the hunt. I could almost feel the thorns and smell the cow poop as you belly crawled towards the enamoured tom!

  3. Dan Johnson May 9, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

    Thanks Sara!

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