Turkey Tales: A break from bass
Win CamoFlexPrairie State Outdoors readers can win one of five CamoFlex systems we will be giving away in the next two months. To enter the drawing, submit a turkey hunting story and picture via e-mail to: Turkey Tales Stories can be about this season's hunt or any previous season. Our first two winners are Chad Mayfield of Brownstown and Brad Crisco of Elmwood.
Being a tournament bass fisherman I have very little time in the spring to do much of anything but work and fish. However, I have been trying my hand at turkey hunting for four years. While I consider myself a decent deer hunter, taking many deer with a bow, I have not quite had the experience as a turkey hunter.
I have been going to Michigan with some friends for a few years with no success. Last year was my first Illinois season and as my luck would have it, I was busy at work and could just not get away. This spring was going to be my year as I learned that I drew second season tags for my home county of Livingston.
As second season started I thought here we go again as work was busy and I had a tournament the weekend of second season opener. Luck would shine on me as the rains of Tuesday and Wednesday of second season allowed me to slip out to the woods. Somedays construction work pays off! Tuesday was pretty raining and nasty but that did not stop the birds from moving.
When I first entered the woods I was hearing birds gobble. Although none were very close to my ground it gave me hope they were up roaming around. I set up at an intersection of a fencerow and two large tracts of timber where I often see turkey in the spring.
The morning was pretty good as I was able to see a jake that was with a hen and a mature gobbler that was 1000 yards away strutting in a cornfield. However, the only close action was two hens that came over to look at my decoys and a group of eight deer that walked up to 10 yards from me.
As I woke up Wednesday morning I thought it was going to be a good day with clear skies and little wind. I got to the woods at about 6:30 and made a couple low yelps and right away a gobbler let off in the timber one-quarter mile away. I thought that I would cut the distance in half and set up next to a fence post where I had saw the gobbler strutting the day before.
I sat for two hours and called occasionally with no response. As the morning wore on I only had one response and the bird was on the other side of the river and I know he was not going to cross. At 10 a.m. I had two hens walk out into the field to my right at about 40 yards. They worked toward me eventually crossing behind me at 20 yards.
That got the blood pumping. As 10:30 rolled around I thought there was never going to be any action. This is when I decided to try some more calling. I had been using the same mouth call for two days with not much luck, so I decided to try some others I carry with me.
The first yelps I made with the second provided me with the same quietness I had heard all morning. However, after waiting about 20 minutes I decided to yelp with the third call. I was immediately cut off by a gobbler that was probably 50 yards behind me in the timber.
I frantically got my head net down and hunkered behind my stake blind and began to make small purrs on my slate call. Only a few minutes went by when a heard a twig break to my right. As I looked over my shoulder there stood a beautiful mature gobbler in full fan about 50 yards away. The bad part is he was on the neighbor’s property and would have to come through 30 yards of CRP to make his way into my field.
It did not take him long as he caught my decoys in the filed in front of me. As he hit the field he began strutting for the decoys, only to stop and look as if he knew what was up. He turned and began to walk away; I yelped one time he stopped and raised his head. I centered my bead and fired! My first mature gobbler was on the ground at 40 yards.
I enjoy the outdoors as much as anybody and feel that hunting and fishing year round has helped make me a better person and outdoorsman. I understand what all turkey hunters’ talk about when they say it is as good as deer hunting.The last four years have been frustrating for me as a spring turkey hunter, but they all paid off during the second season of 2009.
This bird weighed 23 pounds had a 9.75-inch beard and 1.5-inch spurs.