Turkey Day in the Loess Hills

Spring did not appear and it felt like we went from winter to summer in southwest Iowa.  It is turkey season and the toms have been out looking for love.  With the number of hens I have seen, they should not have any problem, other than competition from another love sick big boy.  

The place to be hunted has produced for me in the past four years.  North of Council Bluffs in the Loess hills, this farm has it all.  There are plenty of woods for hiding and roosting.  With plenty of  water in the dams in the valley and the gravel on the roads for their gizzards, what more could a turkey want.  

A gentleman that I hunted ducks with for 17 years had the good fortune and luck to be an excellent turkey hunter.  He once told me that more big toms are shot between 08:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. than any other time.  With that in mind, I was in no hurry to head to the hills and set up on a good spot.  I did not do any scouting of the area first as I felt that I knew the farm well enough just to pick a spot that was successful in the past.  Plus, I had been following this advice for the last four turkey seasons and was having excellent luck.

flextone Funky Chicken Turkey Decoy

Click on the link or the pic to buy from Bass Pro. 

On this morning I was up early, and had a healthy breakfast.  Plus, watching all the news and the weather for the area, I enjoyed several cups of coffee.  Drinking at least a half a liter of water, in addition to the coffee, is important for me.  If you drink a lot of water when you are sitting or scrunched up in the woods, I believe you eliminate the chance of leg cramps.  The turkeys have, as their defense for survival, an excellent set of eyes and can recognize movement if it is not quite right.

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Zink Calls Avian-X LCD Feeder HenDecoy
Click on the pic to order from Gander Outdoors. icon

As I pulled into the farm, I noticed up the valley were a couple of toms following a group of hens.  After parking about 200 yards from where they were pecking around, the truck was well out of their view.  I made my way to a hiding place I had picked out on the side of a hill where a fine bird was harvested last year.  Obviously, they split when their eyesight caught me walking to the hillside.  So I put out the funky chicken and a couple of feeder hens and climbed up behind a tree and was surrounded on the side by undergrowth of small branches and weeds.

I was hiding right behind the tree.  Sitting down there was good coverage on both sides and to the front
There is funky chicken and the two feeder decoys.  The manufacturer recommending a couple of feeders.  Also the hunter who recommended using this decoy said it adds to the area looking more secure. 

My past experience with the funky chicken decoy has been fantastic.  Each time it has been used, it has drawn the toms.  When they see it they get really mad and try to beat up on it.  It is really funny to watch.  The turkey hunter that told me to buy one, said after a couple of seasons with it you will have to buy another one as the toms will wreck it.  Putting out a couple of feeder hens helps provide a feeling of safety for the toms, which was recommended by the manufacturer and my friend.  It makes sense and seemed like the right thing to do.  Plus, it gives you the opportunity to buy more equipment.  It is important for a hunter to have a lot of stuff.  It makes hunting more fun.  When I am questioned about some of this stuff, I just say, “I don’t know where it came from.”  It works for me. 

 
Looking straight ahead. 

On the ground by 08:15, it was important to let the woods settle down, and so I pulled out my Kindle and began reading.  No movement was made.  Soon after 08:30 I could hear the squirrels running around and the birds began to sing and fly around.  A couple of doe stepped out of the woods and strolled by me about 30 yards out. A light wind was in my face.  They never even looked my way and went across the open fields to the next stand of timber.   Turkey hunting was now beginning.

Looking to my right
Looking forward
Looking to my left. 

Soon off to my left was a distinct gobble.  Loud and clear the big boy was out looking for love.  He was promptly given some quick calls and promptly answered.  I have always wonder what they are saying.  One evening when talking with a fellow hunter, we came up with the idea that the gobbler is saying, “Where are you my darling? I am looking to find you.”  The answer by the hen is, “Over here, big boy, come and see me some time.”  Calling has produced a response and results.  It has also produced nothing for me, but I keep doing it.  The one thing I do differently now is limiting the calling.  I give a few responses to a gobble and then wait.  This time he just shut up and shut down.  Who knows, maybe he saw me or something just wasn’t quite right, but he failed to answer anymore and was silent.  He never stepped out of the woods to beat up on Funky Chicken.  

Anyway, that was fun and it always gets a person excited.  After calming down and wiggling around, it was back to my kindle and to the spot I had just left.  

Then it happened.  Mother nature and three cups of coffee plus all the water that was drank this morning began to have its effect.  I should have seen to this need before sitting down, but I didn’t.  At the same time, I looked up and there was a big tom about 150 yards out heading straight for me very slowly.  He responded to a quick call and puffed himself all up and showed his fan.  As he slowly drew nearer, I saw a white head through my cataract eyes. He was a mature big boy and was looking for some action.  I needed to pee badly, but did not want to foul up this shot.

I took time for some deep breaths.  Then I placed my hands on each side of the tree and with my arms and legs pulled myself into a standing position.  This relieved the immediate pain and pressure and gave me a little time to re-position the gun.  It would be better to stand up and shoot rather than sit in the previous sitting position.  The bird was now out about 80 yards.  I slowly peeked around the side of the tree and saw that he definitely was a fine looking specimen and would taste very good.  He slowly made his way toward me.  By now he should have seen the funky chicken and should have begun to show some anger.  But instead he seemed to move off to my left.  

He got another short call and then turned and puffed himself up and gobbled real big.  What a phony big shot. Still, this was a really nice bird and I wanted to shoot him.  I keep the turkey breasts, but give the legs and thighs to my good friend John, a long time hunting friend.  He is from West Virginia and will eat anything. 

 
At least, I got a picture of him.  He was probably 100 yards out and I stuck the camera around the side of the tree and put in its max magnification and when I got home the picture turned out pretty well.  He has no idea what he just missed out on.  Notice his neck all stretched out.  I had just given him a couple of clucks and he stopped to gobble.  

Still, he was no longer coming toward me but moving off more to my left and it became obvious he was not going to come into the decoys.  Finally, with his actions it was time to step out of my hiding place and look after myself.  All that pain and no shot.  It is called hunting, not shooting.  Tomorrow is another day.  

 

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Good hunting, good fishing, and good luck.  Hank

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