The early spring sun
was just starting to shine down on all of God's good creations as I
sat huddled back in a thicket making what I hoped was the sweetest
sound to ever grace a gobbler's ears. A gentle breeze was shifting
in and around my cover as the world started to come alive.
My favorite old
sweetheart decoy, Henryetta, was dancing with each little breeze, as
were the Lem-O-Ward FlutterBlast decoys. My set-up of three hens and
a jake, with the jake set facing me at twenty yards. I was ready!
I had set up a new
Champion Hurricane bow with a Whisker Biscut rest and an HHA Triple
Threat sight to propel my Carbon Express CX300 arrows. My "bullet"
consisted of the new SteelForce "Talon" broadhead designed
specifically for use on turkeys. The design grabs the feathers on
the way in and helps to hold the arrow in the bird.
Over my career, I've
had both good times and bad times with turkey hunting using archery
equipment. Over the course of years, I've tried just about
everything you or anyone else could think of to help my odds of
If I had any idea at
all that it might work, I wouldn't hesitate to give it a try. A lot
of things I tried were just gimmicks to catch the turkey hunter, but
not the turkey. Two things that I soon discovered that had the most
affect on my success were blinds and decoys. There are about as many
kinds of each as there are bows. Again, some work well, some not at
all. Blinds are great if you are hunting birds you have patterned
and can predict.
One that works real
well on birds you stumble across is the Advanish Camo Bow Blind in
conjunction with their Adjust-A-Bow holder. I found it hard to
believe they would offer enough concealment to allow you to come to
full draw and place an arrow while basically in the open. It sets up
almost instantly and allows you to keep something between you and
Decoys were a boon to
the turkey hunter, especially the bow hunter. It took the gobblers
attention off you and on something he had thought he would see,
another turkey. As more and more people use them, they have had to
be more realistic to hold a bird's attention for very long. One that
has worked well for me over the years is no longer made. It is
fantastic in that the slightest breeze causes it to move back and
forth. The latest to work for me are the FlutterBlast decoys. Every
little breeze adds lifelike motion to hold the attention of your
approaching quarry. Anything that works is a help and these help!
My first morning got
off to a beautiful start with the help of "toys". Two gobblers came
running in and immediately went into full strut at 35 yards trying
to impress all the "girls". They were working as if choreographed.
They strutted forward ten yards and, as if on queue, whirled around
and strutted back ten yards in perfect unison. This went on for
about 15 minutes. All this time, the birds were gobbling
They finally decided
the girls weren't falling for it and decided to come and teach the
upstart a lesson. These birds were in and around my decoys for
almost an hour and I was able to draw and let down 5 different times
while sitting on a log in plain sight, but they never separated
enough to give me a clear shot at either bird. Both were takers, but
I couldn't chance one without hitting the other. They finally left
for greener pastures after beating up on my jake.
I decided to stay in
the area for awhile and moved over where I could straddle a log and
had a group of cedars to cover my back and one side. It sure seemed
to be a better setup for me. The morning was warming up and more and
more gobblers could be heard in the distance. I kept up the sweet
talk, occasionally, hoping to lure in an old gobbler.
The next gobbler came
in about an hour later. He was a dandy! He was quiet and cautious
and seemed to have a well-rope hanging out of the front of his
chest. He was proud of it too. He kept it pushing out in front of
him all the time. He probably had to keep it in sight so he wouldn't
be tripping over it all the time! He finally eased in close enough
to get a good look at the girls, liked what he saw and went into
full strut and gave a triple gobble from 25 yards away. I was
ecstatic and in heaven. A full grown, proud gobbler well within
range and engaged with my decoy set.
The big bird came in
and turned around to face the jake with his fanned tail presented
perfectly to me for a shot. He was getting a little agitated with
the little boy and started to get a little vocal. I drew my bow,
placed my pin at the base of his main tail feather and touched off
my FletchHunter release. My arrow sliced through the tailfeather,
cutting it neatly in two and touched nothing else. By the time it
had fluttered to the ground the gobbler was out 40 yards and
"putting". He turned back toward me and stared at the jake as if
thinking "How did that little sucker kick my butt without me even
seeing him move."
One go-around with my
jake was all he wanted. He stayed around for almost 20 minutes but
was always about 40 yards out. muttering and grumbling to himself
trying to figure out what happened. All I ended up with was another
tailfeather for my collection.
Soon after the bird
left, a group of three jakes came roaring in they owned the world
and were full of movement, never stopping. They were in and out of
the decoys, checking out the girls and threatening the jake. I drew
two or three times but never had a shot until one finally braced the
jake face to face and went into a strut. I repeated the sequence
from before and darned if I didn't end up with the same results.
Another feather for the collection, but nothing for the freezer or
table. Ma wasn't gonna be happy with me!
The trio ran off a
little way and went back to gobbling and strutting, but started
ambling off in a direction away from my un-neighborly bunch. They
did help me a little, though, before they left. Another gobbler
started faintly answering their gobbles from directly behind me. He
continued to work closer as they faded into the distance. What a
morning! Seven gobblers working my decoys, several opportunities for
shots and two missed shots. Not much to show for it but a happy
heart. It was truly a glorious day in the neighbor!
gobbler was soon in sight behind me. He wasn't huge, but he would
work. He hesitantly moved in closer and closer all the time. At 40
yards, he stopped and started the head bobbing and weaving thing as
he checked out my crew. Just then, a little breeze sprung up and
gave life to everyone of the decoys. He was convinced! He gobbled
and strutted, then trotted right over and challenged the jake.
This time, I went
through each step in my mind as he presented his back to me with a
full spread fan. I drew my bow, placed the sight pin right at the
base of his tail, took a deep breath and yelped. He head came
up above the fan and I released. Everything hit the ground. I had
lots of tailfeathers this time! The best part was, they were all
still attached to the bird. Oh happy day!
This hunt was the
start of a great spring turkey season for me. I had a very nice bird
in hand, one more Kansas turkey tag and up to three Oklahoma tags.
For a while, I
thought the pendulum had swung back in the turkey's favor and I
would have a tough time, but then it swung in my favor and I gained
a few more tailfeathers. In the process, I was also able to take one
more turkey in northwestern Kansas and one in far western Oklahoma.
All the birds were taken with my archery equipment and I am already
looking forward to the fall. I certainly hope my momentum stays at a
full head of steam and my success continues.
I have learned full
well that pursuing wild turkeys with a bow is often a fool's game.
(My wife says I'm well equipped to play.) I have had good success at
times, but at others, nothing I do is right and everything they
turkeys do is purrrr-fect. It is a bitter pill to swallow and I have
a hard time with it when they win. I take it really personally!
Turkeys are not
smart! That what all the fun hunters keep telling me. I tell them to
leave the gun at home and bring a bow and I'll show them some of the
smartest birds they will ever see. Not too many take me up on it
more than once. They prefer constant success and that is not going
to happen to someone silly enough to insist on using a bow on one of
the wariest and most PARANOID of all God's creatures. Maybe someday
I'll figure it out, but I doubt it, it's TOO MUCH FUN!