The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Hide > The Hunt

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old April 2, 2024, 03:03 PM   #1
bamaranger
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 8,376
Alabama Spring Gobbler season 2024

Once again I will relate my season chasing spring gobblers. I spent a lot of time scouting this spring and came to the conclusion that the turkeys around here can read maps! About all the birds I located were "fringe birds", turkeys on property just across boundary lines of property I cannot legally hunt. Alot of this is likely folks baiting turkeys, either so they can hunt themselves, or to hold the birds on their property so they cannot be hunted at all. Hopefully as the large flocks disperse and the hens begin to nest, some of these concentrated birds will drift next door where I can get a crack at them.

Additionally, I lost my favorite area, what I have referred to in my stories as the "Three Ridges" to logging. All those glorious hardwoods and park like woodlands about them are gone. I rode out there while scouting and it near drove me to tears. Last spring I ran up on the timber cruiser running the plot, so the loss was not a surprise, but that did not make it any easier. The loss of Three Ridges really drove my scouting this spring as I needed to find some new territory. The past 4-5 seasons I spent a lot of time on the ridges and took multiple birds and will miss it dearly.

All that said, I have heard a very large number of gobbler,s this spring, even though most not on property I can hunt. But I won't be far off.

Day #1, opening day, 1April
Up extra early to hunt an area I've spoken of before, Big Hollow. I had a close encounter there with a tom scouting and hope to hear him again with a gun in my hands. Big Hollow is part of the same club that Three Ridges was on, and I've taken a few birds out of the Hollow in seasons past, but the past few years I have not heard a lot of birds there. A new house out along the county road at the mouth of the hollow likely doesn't help, and the folks there are hunters to boot.

The Hollow has a moderate finger ridge that protrudes into it about middle way, running N-S, creating a large U-shaped hollow with sides on the E &W. The bird was on that spur preseason and I'll hunt him there today. Rather than wander about in the bare woods with little vegetation, as soon as I leave the pine plantation adjacent, I pick a spot well before daylight at the back of the spur against the pine thicket. I expect the tom to be parading about the length of the spur, and the thicket will guard my back, the tom hopefully to my front.

I never move all morning, staying planted at the base of a white oak watching out the spur. At 10:00 AM a log truck passes along the county road at the mouth of the hollow, and I hear a weak half gobble from somewhere to the west side of the "U". Were one not a turkey hunter, I doubt one would recognize the muted, brief burble. I hammer back loudly on my old slate, hopefully some loud calling this early in the season won't hurt anything, but get no response. I stay an extra hour, but hear no more turkey noise.

That PM I run out to the Mud Club to sit a green field that had a modest amount of droppings and tracks on it. I see or hear no turkeys. Near dusk I bounce the ATV over to the opposite side of the lease and listen in Beech Hollow for roosting turkeys, but again hear nothing as well.

The highlight of the day: I saw TWO whitetail bucks, both still carrying antlers. One a spike with a lone staub, the other a webby looking 6 pt. The antlers were heavily bleached white, there was no mistaking them. As well, I watched thru the 5x setting on the 1.5-5x scope on the Remington.

Day#2, 2 April
Bad weather predicted, I hunt Beech Hollow again as it's closer home. I don't need to get up as early, and I can beat the weather home if needs be. Plus the gusty winds will be less in the deep narrow draw. I settle into the narrow hollow in one of the few places open and wide enough to see and call turkeys, dearly hoping the lone bird I heard gobble one time preseason is home today and vocal. At dawn all is silent. I set up at the base of a giant pine and call periodically all morning, finally leaving as thunder rolled ominously in the west. I stayed a few extra minutes hoping the thunder might provoke a gobble.....and MAY have heard one way over to the west, but cannot be sure.. I run the ATV hard back to the truck ( the old Bronco is ailing) and beat the rain home for some much needed rest.
bamaranger is offline  
Old April 2, 2024, 09:07 PM   #2
Blindstitch
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 14, 2013
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Posts: 2,694
Good luck. I have a tag for Wisconsin on public land for next week but i'm having hernia surgery on Thursday so that's out. I'm not seeing or hearing birds anyway.

I have a tag for northern michigan that lasts 6 weeks where i have private land to hunt on and can run light so hopefully I can get out.

Good luck hunting.
__________________
NRA Lifetime Member
Blindstitch is offline  
Old April 5, 2024, 12:12 AM   #3
bamaranger
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 8,376
Day #3

3April
Heavy rain the evening before likely soaked turkeys on the roost and I plan a field hunt as turkeys like to come into the open to dry out. There will be high winds today as well, and I'm hoping that the birds that typically roost in Beech hollow and drift out into a huge pasture will avoid the wind and the open pasture, and find their way to a smaller field I call the "Century Field" . Access is easy and close home, and I get some extra sleep minutes and arrive about dawn. A short walk and I'm settled in a pop-up blind and a comfy folding chair.

I'm no sooner planted than a turkey gobbles in Beech Hollow.....about where I hunted yesterday AM Well that figures. It's a bit far to call 300-400 yds, but I hit a fly down cackle on a waterproof box call brought for that purpose and calling in the wind, No response and as that tom's gobbles fade west, wind be danged, he's headed over to that big pasture where they always seem to go...........and I cannot. I stay on the field in my silly pop-up, hoping a wet gobbler will show up as predicted. About 10:15 I hear some hen yelps a bit closer to the west again,and answer with the WaterProof. Twenty-30 minutes later a hen pops out on the end of the field in that direction, but simply cuts the corner of the field and disapppears. I stay an extra hour, hoping one of her boyfriends is nearby, calling intermittently with the box and a harsh striker on my trusty slate, but hear
and see nothing. I call it quits, make the short walk to my old Toyota 4-WD (not quite as old as 'Ol Blue, my Bronco) and fix a proper lunch at home and get some sleep.
bamaranger is offline  
Old April 5, 2024, 12:56 PM   #4
ligonierbill
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 20, 2007
Posts: 2,494
Sounds like a good morning! We don't open here in OH-IO until 20-Apr, my native PA 4-May.
ligonierbill is online now  
Old April 5, 2024, 06:16 PM   #5
bamaranger
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 8,376
Messin' up

Day#4-4April
I'm back in Big Hollow before daylight, plunked down in the exact spot I sat on the opener. It's cold, high 40"s, and breezy, but it's clear. At dawn a single gobble wafts in from the SE, a way off, maybe on the other side of the county road, private property. I send some soft tree calls on the slate, and the wind just covers them up. But along today is an old Lynch Box, set up with the hen side on the right, which allows me to use the reverse grip I favor. I hammer a fly down cackle and a couple of yelps which ring out against the wind, then go into wait an see mode.

About 15 minutes later I see a turkey coming in at 2 o'clock, steady and deliberate. Clearly a hen. She strolls right up to within 10 yds or so, and glares about. That close there's no hiding from her eyes and at that distance, and she picks me out despite full camo and a screen of brush stuck up in a make-shift blind. She flushes away and back to my right into the pines.....good riddance. Perhaps her boyfriend is about? I run a series of yelps on the slate with a raspy carbon strker and we'll wait some more.

I don't have to wait long. Ten minutes later a gobble rings out from the direction she came, maybe 150 yds out and lower down. I answer with the slate. No response, and when the tom gobbles again a few minutes later, it seems he's not moved........maybe he didn't hear me? I crank out 3 yelps on the old Lynch box. When he gobbles next, again a few minutes later, he's halved the distance and is just out of sight off at 2o'clock. I level the gun and settle the mouth call snugly. I see the white spot on the top of his noggin' first, bright in the early morning dimness. Then behind him about 10 yds back another spot......there's two of them!

They slant in, very slow and cautious. Alternately one will fan, then the other, only the rear bird gobbles, but the drumming is incessant. They're about 75 yds out and in no hurry at all. The plan was for them to come down the woods road and strut in the little swag ahead of me, but they've stalled on their side of the road and will not budge. They don't see a hen and are wary. I clam up, they know I'm here and I don't want to over call.....perhaps they've been messed with earlier, who knows? When they begin to drift away, I call with the mouth call, they stop and strut and drum some more, but it's clear they aren't going to stay around.

Abruptly, something changes and they begin to walk parallel the woods road, on their side, but back my way. They're still strutting and then I get it as some hen yelps break out off my right shoulder. It's a hen, likely the one from earlier , and they see her. I add my yelps to the moment and am mortified when the hen pops up to my right, a mere 15 yds away and closing. If she spooks it will likely spoil everything......but the gobblers are closing down to, now in range, but the dang hen is between us and I cannot line one up with her in the way. I'm on the closest one, a mere 30 yds, but can only see the top of his fan as he's in a slight depression.

The hen closes down to 5 yds or so, and she's out of the way. I'm moments from getting a shot at the leader, and then the hen makes me, putts and flushes. The leader vanishes behind his depression, and I push the sight picture (scoped shotgun) hard right a few yards to number 2. He's standing tall, shoulder, wattles and head exposed, and in range and not moving. I take a millisecond to center the wattles and trip the shot. A gobbler flushes away, I struggle to my feet and stride over, certain the gobbler will be there......but he's not!!! NOT AGAIN? Everything seemed right? I find a couple of breast feathers and a small piece of wingtip, but there is clearly no gobbler down. What the heck happened, it all seemed good??

I pace it off, 37 steps, about 35 yds, in range and clear. I cast about downhill, hoping for all the world to find him crumpled in a blowdown, but nothing. I leave totally crushed. Home, I put the gun on the bench, staple up a large sheet of paper, and check my scope. The shot is 30 paces and the volleyball sized pattern is 5 inches low.....good grief. How and when did that happen? I add 30 clicks of elevation, tack up another target at 25 yds and shoot again. The cantaloupe sized pattern obliterates my aiming point.
I did not shoot the gun before season. Did it get bumped off last season ( I killed two birds with it), in the safe, in the last 4 days......dunno. It's good now, but I'm pretty disapppointed.

To add insult to injury, that afternoon I hit the Mud Club for an afternoon field hunt and the ATV quits. I pay hob getting the Toyota and the trailer back to the Polaris, and pay more getting the dang thing manhandled 180 degrees and then manually winching it onto the trailer, all in about 3 inches of red clay mud. I make the Polaris shop just before closing, they'll be in touch......great.
bamaranger is offline  
Old April 5, 2024, 06:31 PM   #6
stagpanther
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 2, 2014
Posts: 12,022
Sorry about losing your prime spot. I've been seeing a lot of big birds here in Maine--One scared the daylights out of me a couple days ago--he was hiding underneath my side porch and took me by surprise when I stepped out onto the porch. I see lots of them groups--just like deer they seem to come out and forage in the open when bad weather is on the way--and we've had lots of really bad weather lately.
__________________
"Everyone speaks gun."--Robert O'Neill
I am NOT an expert--I do not have any formal experience or certification in firearms use or testing; use any information I post at your own risk!
stagpanther is offline  
Old April 7, 2024, 10:45 PM   #7
bamaranger
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 8,376
more messin' up

Day#5, 5April
With the Polaris down, I'm a wee bit more limited in locations, as the walk would take too much time in the predawn than is reasonable. But there are options, that's why you scout preseason and this morning I head for Irish Hollow. I can only hunt the south side of the hollow, a mature hardwood slope with a few benches on the way down. The bottom is pasture and the opposite side is a terribly steep hardwood slope up, both private and off limits. The east end is public land, currently closed to hunting, the west end more private property. I can get the Toyota to within a 1/4 mile or so of the south lip of the hollow, fairly easy access.

Or so I thought. I get only a couple of hundred yards down the access road before dawn and find a blown down pine across the road which must have fallen after I scouted. I grab my gear and a walking stick and head on, arriving at the lip of the hollow about 15 minutes later than planned. Birds begin gobbling almost immediately, no sitting and waiting, and I pitch down the side towards them. They sound low, likely near the private pasture, but I will get as low as I legally can and set up and call..

I end up on the last bench near the bottom, the property line about shotgun
range ahead of me. The birds are already on the ground and out in the pasture it would seem, about 300 yds off, 2-3 to the left and a lone bird to the right. Too far really, but I have no options. As I kick the leaves out from the base of the tree at which I've chosen to sit, I hear soft tree calls nearby and then wings.....heck there's turkeys right here! I plunk down and tree call myself, and am greeted with a barrage of harsh clucks to my left front. The gobblers in the bottom hear this and really crank it up. In a few minutes a lone hen stalks into about 35 yds and clucks repeatedly, with a second hen just out of sight doing the same. No point in me calling, I've got live decoys!

The hens eventually stalk off, and I cannot entice them to stay with any calling on the slate. There's a flurry of gobbling as it would seem they arrive over to the left with the gobblers there, then things settle down. Occasionally a gobble raises from that direction, but further west in each instance, their drifting away. I cannot follow or turn them and all goes quiet. I have not heard the gobbler on the right since the initial flurry when the hens were cutting. It's 8:00, there's a lot of turkeys down here, and I just sit tight, calling every 15-20 minutes on the slat or another vintage box I have along. At 9:45 a cow moos in the pasture and a gobble explodes hard off my right shoulder, close, inside 100 yds.

I feel I must get on the right side of the tree to get the tree behind me and breakup my outline. I believe turkeys are suspicious if they catch your outline alongside a tree. Further, I would rather not have to try and shoot off my left shoulder and if that bird gets any further uphill, I will not be able to pivot cleanly and track him from where I sit now. Simple to slide around.....you'd think. But piled right where I want to be is the slate, the box call and my walking staff. Frantic moments while I move them over and scramble to get reset. I shoulder the gun and look towards where the gobbler sounded........and there he is, 75 yds or so out and he's clearly seen me. He turns away and disappears, putting repeatedly as he strolls off away from that stupid hunter. Arrgh! Rookie mistake. I stay another hour and a half, hear gobbles repeatedly far to the west, but nothing else close.

The walk up out of the hollow seems extra steep and it seems to take forever to get to the truck, I'm bummed again. I break a timber cruiser axe out of the 4WD and take my frustrations out on the down tree, cutting it into three rollable sections which I move over. Tomorrow I'll be back and can drive further and descend earlier.
bamaranger is offline  
Old April 8, 2024, 03:49 PM   #8
bamaranger
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 8,376
got away again, Day#6

Day #6, 6April
I run the old Toyota p-up past my axe work the day previous and drive out to the furthermost point on the access I can, then walk off the lip into Irish Hollow and stop one bench down just as dawn is breaking. Almost on que the birds that have been holding to the left (west) crank up, and now closer than before, I can tell there are two jakes and a mature bird. I hear nothing from the right (east). It's clear, cold and still and I drop down another bench and end up just where I sat the day previous. Again the western trio raise hob, then drift off west. I get some answers to my calls, but they are no doubt with hens, and baited in by the landowners who are all about protecting "their" turkeys. By 8:00AM the gobbling has ceased and they have moved off again.

I stay put as before, the spot is comfortable and offers a relatively good view of small bench to my immediate front, then the gradual slope of hardwoods slanting down to the pastures. To my right I can see all the way to the bottom as a small draw leads up to the spot where I'm seated. In addition a shallow bowl is formed to my left, overall a near ideal calling spot. I call sporadically every 15-20 minutes on the old slate. About 9:15 a weak half gobble drifts up from the right and I cut back on the slate. He answers enthusiastically and I'm hopeful. The bird is likely 300 yds away, and hopefully alone. It wouldn't surprise me if it wasn't the some gobbler from yesterday that I messed up on. When he gobbles again 20-30 minutes later, he's closer and I cut at him again with the slate. Again he answers. He just may be coming. Sounds about 200 yds out now, still to the right. To avoid the circus from yesterday, I slide over to the west side of the tree well in advance. If he angles right like he did yesterday, I'm ready, and I can still cover the downhill side easily.

Another 20-30 minutes later I see him, easing up the little chute, about 100 yds out. No hurry, he pecks and scratches, looks about, then moves a little closer to repeat. If I can see him, he can see me (only better) so when I call it must be with the mouth call, no way to pick up a box or slate. I debate, should I call? I decide yes, convince him to come on up. He could pick up a hen, or a coyote could appear, another hunter could call or blunder in, any number of things to spoil the set up. I run a few soft clucks, then a string of yelps on the mouth call. He looks, adjusts his angle, and increases his pace a wee bit, .......he's on the way!

I get the gun up at the first large tree he goes behind, and begin to track him in the scope. At what appears just out of range, he veers off to the left and pauses, scanning the little flat. He slips left a bit further, then pivots and comes back to where he was, all the while glaring right up at me. I see him shuffle his wings and I know I've got a problem. He pivots again and walks behind a screen of post size saplings, but I can see his eyeball through the scope. He doesn't see a hen, and he's suscpicious. Does he see me?

He pivots back left and stalks across the lip of the little bench, just his head and neck showing. I'm on him, but it seems just a bit far. I darn sure do not want to roll another one......OK .....no shot, he must come a bit closer. But he doesn't He continues to stalk off left, periodically stopping to glare back at me, but he never putts the alarm. At 75 yds or so he resumes pecking and scratching, and drifts on out of sight. Arrgh!

I stay another 30-40 minutes, but then surrender. I pace it off down to the closest point he appeared.....55 paces, maybe a bit over 50 yds. I've killed turkeys that far out, largely by accident in open fields where it's harder to judge range and I believed they were closer. But I do believe that 50 yds is a wee bit far for a lead shotgun load and consistent clean kills. Shooting in the woods, with twigs and brush stripping pellets out of your pattern the whole time, is different than an open field with nothing but air between you and the gobbler. I'm glad I didn't shoot, but wish I was leaving with a gobbler.
bamaranger is offline  
Old April 8, 2024, 05:29 PM   #9
stagpanther
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 2, 2014
Posts: 12,022
Nice report--you will be rewarded soon! I learn more about turkey hunting reading your reports than I do from books/magazines.
__________________
"Everyone speaks gun."--Robert O'Neill
I am NOT an expert--I do not have any formal experience or certification in firearms use or testing; use any information I post at your own risk!
stagpanther is offline  
Old April 9, 2024, 09:38 PM   #10
bamaranger
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 8,376
learninig

Yeah, you can learn from my dumb mistakes this year!!

I should have checked the zero on the gun (though I suppose it could have gone wonky in the first 3 days). I should have kept my big butt still instead of trying to get on the "good" side of the tree. And maybe I should not have called to that bird the next day. I dunno....I may not be as good as ya' might think.

I did not hunt Sunday and went on into church and a social event after. Glad I went, it was a poor turnout, but I'd rather been hunting. It's rained off and on since , and likely be worse tomorrow. I pondered about hunting a field in the AM, 50/50 chance of rain by 10:00 AM, dunno 'bout that either. Might just sleep in and go to lunch. The state has declared "No Decoys" 'till 11 April, and the big hayfield I have in mind really needs dekes to work best. 'Course it's easy to talk yourself out of a hunt in bad weather. And ya' won't kill one at the house. Haven't decided yet.

There was a post from ligonierbill about PA and I may hunt up there in May myself. Much depends on what is going on with family. I had a lovely week there last year on public land, relatively late in the season. Nearly killed one too! We'll see about that too.
bamaranger is offline  
Old April 9, 2024, 09:55 PM   #11
bamaranger
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 8,376
gun stuff

Oh yeah, just thought of this. Pulled bamaboy's Mossberg 835 out of the safe and thought I might hunt with it the other day. Shouldered it in the den.....what is wrong with those sights (fiber optics)???? Uh.....half the pipe on the front sight is broken off! More aggrevation. I reversed what was left so the remaining portion was closest my eye, but I am not happy with it so......

Out came the gun vise, screwdrivers and parts, and on went an old Tasco turkey scope. Wasn't happy with that either (not enough eye relief for the recoil of the alloy receivered magnum) and so off with the scope without even shooting it. I was almost ready to snitch a dot sight off an AR when I remembered the See All. I'll not describe the See All in depth, interested parties can look it up themselves. I suppose it is a sort of reflex sight. Suffice to say it's compact, nonelectric, it puts a large triangular aiming point in your sight picture using a fiber optic sort of wafer. I had it on the Mossberg (I think) before , killled some gobblers with it, and was not unhappy , but swapped it over onto an AK clone. Pulled it off the AK and it's been gathering dust since.
Two screws and 3 shots later it's zereoed. We'll see about that too.
bamaranger is offline  
Old April 10, 2024, 06:07 AM   #12
stagpanther
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 2, 2014
Posts: 12,022
My shotguns are set up as rifled slug guns--but I do have a smooth bore swap-out for my 870, it's a long barrel and pretty easy to sight just off the bead sight at the end of the barrel. I put a scope on it--but that raises the line of sight off the bore and it does make it quite challenging for me (my shotgun skills are rudimentary at best) to get well centered patterns beyond 50 yds. Our turkey season starts in May also. My technique is to rely on the idiot factor--when I'm out shooting at the range it's amazing how often deer and turkeys wander out between me and the target. Unless of course i actually bring my shotgun with me--in which case they seem to know it and stay away.

PS--I just went out and tried shooting some winchester longbeard at 45 yds--I got a few of the shot around the POA but the vast majority I pulled high and left--I know I'm not ready.
__________________
"Everyone speaks gun."--Robert O'Neill
I am NOT an expert--I do not have any formal experience or certification in firearms use or testing; use any information I post at your own risk!

Last edited by stagpanther; April 10, 2024 at 01:15 PM.
stagpanther is offline  
Old April 10, 2024, 06:26 PM   #13
bamaranger
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 8,376
more gun stuff

The Winchester XR longbeard hi-speed, 12 ga, 3" (1-3/4 oz of #5) has been my go to load since it's introduction. If anything, it is almost too tight.

I've long been an advocate of some type of sights on a tight choked turkey gun. My 870 mag Wingmaster, bought in 1980 as a graduation gift to myself after my Granddad's old 1921 Savage broke a critical part (repaired, but retired). It started with a 30" full choke barrel, 'cause that's what Ben Rogers Lee, the guru of the day, recommended. I carried that one season and determined that was WAAAAAY too long. Remington came out with a 26" full choke magnum barrel that year and I paid a bundle to get one. Some better. Both of those barrels were fixed chokes. Sometime after the screw chokes were introduced by Remington, I was given a 20" rifle sighted slug barrel (smooth bore) with the Rem Choke system. I screwed in a Rem extra full turkey tube, then later a Rem Super Full tube and have not looked back. The Wingmaster lost its pretty walnut then as well (saved) for cheap aftermarket poly furniture and I've spray painted (poorly) the whole thing.
I had a camo, turkey carbine, long before short, factory camo turkey guns were ever on the market.

About 15 yrs ago now, I started having trouble obtaining a good sight picture on the stubby slug gun and irons. The See-All was one solution, but I also have used low powered variables. The Remington is not drilled and tapped, and I suspect part of my problem with a zero shift, this year and once before after a drop, is the saddle mount is just not as secure as it ought to be. I likely should have the Remington drilled and tapped. I have, over the course of time, taken to carrying bamaboy's Mossberg 835. It's 24" bbl and aftermarket fiber optic sights (Williams) are a bit easier to see. I've had a scope on the Mossy as well, in addition to the See-All. I just ordered a LPV scope, a cheap one and may well plunk it on the Mossy when it arrives. The new LPV was intended for one of my AR carbines and may well still end up there after season.

Scopes and sights on shotguns? Remember, these are dedicated TURKEY shotguns, throwing incredibly tight patterns at a very small (head and neck) target. Modern loads and chokes are almost too tight shooting, and you can well miss, as I have painfully done several times in recent years. Add old man eyes and an optic becomes not only an accessory but a near necessity.
bamaranger is offline  
Old April 10, 2024, 07:14 PM   #14
stagpanther
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 2, 2014
Posts: 12,022
I went out again later and discovered I made a silly rookie mistake--I was shouldering with the butt too far out on my shoulder rather than closer in towards my neck--that was definitely throwing my groups up and left. I haven't shot this shotgun in a couple of years so I kinda forgot how to operate it.

Don't laugh--i put this together about 15 years ago when I was going through a bad case of "if it isn't tacticool--then you aren't." That's a 26" barrel with a Carlson turkey choke. My high tech sight system consists of a dab of fingernail polish over the bead. I don't know what you consider "too tight"--but at 50 yds mine groups most of the shot at about a foot in diameter; the trick is getting it centered at POA.



Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_1155.jpg (133.1 KB, 99 views)
File Type: jpg IMG_1156.jpg (225.8 KB, 100 views)
__________________
"Everyone speaks gun."--Robert O'Neill
I am NOT an expert--I do not have any formal experience or certification in firearms use or testing; use any information I post at your own risk!
stagpanther is offline  
Old April 12, 2024, 05:03 AM   #15
Pumpkin
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 18, 2020
Location: Seguin Texas
Posts: 525
Any concern about “Bird Flu” from a wild turkey?
Here in Texas they have found a lot of chickens and some wild birds, one red tailed hawk I know of that were diagnosed as having this disease. Really burns me up because I enjoy Spring Turkey season here, with my Marlin 22 mag or Savage 110, 223. I have had success with an old Stevens 87 and on one occasion a open sight 336 30-30. The 30-30 shot was totally unexpected happening around lunchtime one deer/turkey season behind our cabin. At 75 yards or so I drilled a Tom with a 170gr Silver Tip. Bullet went straight through the breast dragging a bunch of feathers along the way. The bullet failed to expand (not surprisingly) leaving very little blood shot meat.
bamaranger,
You should write a book about your turkey hunting experiences. It would be very entertaining.

Last edited by Pumpkin; April 12, 2024 at 05:18 AM.
Pumpkin is offline  
Old April 12, 2024, 01:39 PM   #16
Jim Watson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 25, 2001
Location: Alabama
Posts: 18,627
I am local to Bamaranger and get these stories and more at Wednesday lunch.
He could write a book or record living history type stuff.
Jim Watson is offline  
Old April 12, 2024, 08:42 PM   #17
stagpanther
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 2, 2014
Posts: 12,022
Quote:
He could write a book or record living history type stuff.
I would buy a copy.
__________________
"Everyone speaks gun."--Robert O'Neill
I am NOT an expert--I do not have any formal experience or certification in firearms use or testing; use any information I post at your own risk!
stagpanther is offline  
Old April 13, 2024, 04:20 PM   #18
bamaranger
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 8,376
too kind, two hunts (days #7 )

You guys are too kind, thanks. It's been suggested before I write a book, about gobblers and my ranger days both. My old English prof said good writing is hard work, and I guess I'm just too lazy to do it. The notes are right here for several years should I choose to do it. Maybe someday.

The AL state wildlife biologists have declared we have fewer turkeys. Bird flu is mentioned by some folks locally as part of the problem, but I believe the decline is for several reasons and began at least a 15 yrs ago. Loss of habitat, longer hunting season and increased natural predation all need to figure into the equation. Now there is a knee jerk reaction by the state to limit harvest. That's fine I have no problem with a reduced limit, but the state should have been taking measures to address the issue a decade or more ago.

-Day #7, 12 April
Steady rains roll into the area Monday morning and persist on and off all week. I welcome the break, but am itching to hunt as well. About the time we get a lapse, I suit up and try to hunt close to home, another wave pushes through and I sit it out again. I've killed them in the rain, usually by making field hunts over decoys. " No Decoys 'till mid season "(12April?) says the state and I hate hunting from a blind anyhow, though I've done my share of it.

I've got the Polaris back and go sailing thru the pre-dawn towards Big Hollow. There doesn't appear to have been anybody back here and I'm pleased with that. I roll up onto a down tree across the road. Doesn't look all that big.....I'll just run it down and keep rolling. WHAM.!

What I thought was pool cue sized turned out to be as big as a fence post, solid and unmoving. I'm OK, the ATV's OK, but there's no way over it, no way around it. On foot from here but that's OK, not a bad starting point really. When I get my eyes uncrossed and my neck uncrooked, I set out. It won't hurt to be able to hear up on this end at dawn anyhow.

The day breaks sunny and clear . I hoof it out to the spur in Big Hollow and stick a decoy out on the woods road that runs the length of the ridge that bisects the place and settle in exactly where I've sat the last time I was here and rolled one. I hear nothing 'till about 8'oclock and then three gobbles way to the west, so faint I cannot really estimate the distance. To go or not? Sure sounded a long way off, and I elect to stay in place. Thirty minutes later there's a shot from over that way, related to the gobbles or not I cannot say. I say planted with my deke 'till 11:00am and call it quits. Since I have to hoof it, I stop about halfway to the Polaris and listen a bit back up on top but hear nothing . Back at the ATV , I run hard back to the truck, grab the little timber cruiser axe, and burn back out to the down tree and cut that dang thing out of the road. Of course, it's a hickory, more work than I intended, but now it's done.

Home, I eat and catch an hours nap, then run over to the Mud Club for a evening field hunt with blind and dekes on the only field where I've found hen sign and heard a single gobble pre-season. For variety's sake, I ditch the big pump guns and carry the 2-3/4" OU Lanber. For nothing it turns out, as I see narry a feather. At dusk I pack it all up and run the Polaris to the top of the ridge to the west that abuts state land. I can hear a long way, but no gobbles meet my ears and I ride out in the dark for a very late supper. I'll try again tomorrow.
bamaranger is offline  
Old April 13, 2024, 06:54 PM   #19
Jim Watson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 25, 2001
Location: Alabama
Posts: 18,627
When Elmer Keith did 'Hell, I Was There' he said he only agreed because they let him dictate it.
Jim Watson is offline  
Old April 14, 2024, 12:22 AM   #20
bamaranger
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 8,376
day #8

Next morning I oversleep a bit, but head out to hunt Irish Hollow on my big lease. I park at the usual spot.....no body here yet, unload the Polaris and run down the dirt Co. Rd a half mile or so to the turnoff...and there sets a truck. Well nuts....good luck to him, he's got a long walk back to where the birds are. I leave him alone, spin the ATV around and back off to the Big Hollow on the other side of the lease. Run past the tree I cut out and ride all the way back, but pull up a bit short as it's getting daylight by the second. I hoof it the last 1/4mi or so and arrive in the hardwoods with enough light to walk easily.

Almost immediately I hear a gobble, way off to the SE. That bird may or may not be within reach, but I do not strike out immediately. There may well be one roosted closer. I listen for a couple of minutes, but hear nothing near, and the bird to the SE seems to be gobbling with every breath. There may well be two of them, too far to tell. I set out, walking south down the spur road on the ridge top, the tom hammering away off to my left in the hollow. I'm still concerned about other birds on roost, and in no great hurry. I leave the road and drop off into the hollow, picking my way through the wooded hillside, headed down. I pause at a small shelf, the end of which drops off steeply into the bottom. I'm shocked when a gobble rings out around 100 yds ahead, there must indeed be two of them, 'cause THAT gobbler is not the one I've been coursing out. Jeez, no closer, he's right there some where in a clump of big pines. I'm not in a bad spot either, the little shelf is relatively open and flat, he might well come to call .

I pussyfoot over to a big white oak and sit as quietly as I can. He's not gobbled again, and I suspect he heard my footsteps and took me for a hen. I struggle with gloves and mask, dig out the slate, and risk a tree call. Nothing. When he gobbles again a few minutes later, it's clear he's on the ground on the hollow floor. I call again, honest yelps. Nothing. Next gobble he's at the base of the ridge on the other side, going away. I pick up and drop off the shelf into the bottom. When he gobbles next, he's topped out and headed straight E away. I cross the hollow floor and huff and puff up the opposite side and do not hear him again. I carefully pick my way across the top of this ridge, it's been several years since I've been over here, but I know it's more open out ahead. When I get to a good spot I'll set up.

The brush thins and I find a good spot and settle in. I run a series of yelps on the slate. Nothing. Change strikers, try again. Notta. Fifteen minutes later I try the old Lynch box. Zilch. Arrgh. It's been over an hour and I've not heard him. Did he hit the fields just a bit further S or did he go on E across this top? About 15 minutes after that I hear 3 gobbles to the E. Same turkey or another....that was a long way over?

The sun is now high enough that I'm lit up pretty good and I compromise by drifting east another hundred yds or so 'till the top I[m on drops off into another steep hollow. I find a shady spot and call a bit more with no results. I'm not convinced that the bird I heard was the one I was following either. That far east I'd heard a birds while scouting from the county road preseason. The bird(s) I was chasing could still be here on this top. I've come a long way, I'm over dressed and gassed. I strip down and shed the layer of fleece I thought I would need (and might have if I'd not ended up going cross country) and set up for a long sit. The new hollow drops off to the east, and a long point with a good flat extends out to the south, a good a place as any. I call and snooze periodically, but hear and see nothing else. At 11:00Am I call it quits. I retrace my steps back to the Big Hollow floor, then turn N. and walk the bottom till I hit the pines, then climb up from there to the top where I sat and shot on days previous. If I hear birds(s) in that bottom again, I will drop into the floor from here and ease down the hollow to them. Approaching them from the bottom, on the level, instead of dropping down from above as this morning.

I'm beat. Taking my time it took an hour and a half to get back to the Polaris. Ride out and load up. On the road, call bamawife, she wants bread, and stop at the small grocery in our little town and buy a loaf and some woods cookies . I run into an old coworker and his wife. She killed a gobbler, on her own, this morning. Well good for her. Ryan says he thinks he walked into the next county trying to chase one down. I tell him I'm pretty sure I saw a sign that said "Welcome to Mississippi" on my adventure. We all laugh.....I'm a bit jealous.

I try and roost that evening, ride the ATV out onto a ridge near home. I stop short to glass a ROW a bit and the dang thing does not want to restart. Just as the battery seems to give its last it catches and rather than risk getting stranded deeper in, I turn about and ride back home. Back in the shed, it cranks and recranks 5-6 times. Who knows?

I may try and squeeze a hunt in bofore church....I better get to bed.
bamaranger is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 04:09 PM   #21
bamaranger
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 8,376
Day#9...bird in hand!

I end up not hunting Sunday but go on into church and lunch with bamaboy and his lovely wife and newborn bamagrandchild. Bamawife spends about the entire meal holding the little dear, I just hope she will like to fish. That evening I run out onto state land near home in an attempt to roost one, but the wind is up and I cannot hear worth a dang.

-Day #9, 15 April
I'm all fired up to get a good hunt in today, the mind is willing, but the body is not. I oversleep and dog it in the AM and never leave the house 'till after 5:00
AM. I could mitigate the late start by hunting closer to home, but I want to head back to Big Hollow. By the time I reach the club, it's plenty daylight. I worry about other guys hunting and riding about and through them this early in the AM, but I get lucky, there's nobody here. There's some advantage to being an old retired guy and keeping a job sure gets in the way of having a good time I ride the ATV deep into the club and pull up at Big Hollow. Once again, it does not appear that anybody has been down in here since my adventure Saturday. I gallop thru the pines pulling on mask and gloves and draw up on the other side as I enter the hardwoods. it's plenty light, 6:00AM. I'm already tired, though I planned to drop into the hollow on the E side of the horseshoe, if I don't hear anything I'll just stay up here.

That thought is hardly through my mind when I hear a gobble, way down to the SE, near or beyond where I was Saturday. Choppy jake gobbles follow, there's a couple of them down there! I pitch off the top and down the slope headed for the bottom. I walked this route out Saturday and now I'm retracing my steps down. I'm rolling too, down hill, as hard as I can go and still maintain a degree of woodsmanship. I continue my "Last of the Mohicans" impression for a 1/4mile plus, to the bottom of the hollow and across the small creek at the foot of the slope.

I draw up and attempt to catch my breath and listen for gobbles. My rest is not long, I hear them hammering away and it sounds like they're down. But...instead of heading up the opposite slope and east as they did Saturday, it sounds as if they are drifting south, essentially away and down the hollow floor. I take off again, it's level, near open and park like down here, the hardwood mix is gigantic and there is very little understory, the ground soft and quiet. I make more ground up but am anxious over my late start. Had I been here 15 minutes earlier, I would have likely been on them from the roost. Now I'm playing catch up......again.

I cover another 1/4 mile and throttle back again, resting against what may be the biggest white oak I have ever seen. I pop a mouth call in and run some medium volume yelps, this would be a good place to set up. But I get no response. I should be close, where are those devils? I get oriented as to exactly where I am on the hollow floor. To my right is the general area where they were roosted Saturday, I can see that big clump of mature pines that at least one of them was in. Above me and to my left is the slight notch/saddle in the opposite ridgetop where they likely drifted through on Saturday, and I have heard turkeys work through there in times past. In fact I missed one up on that notch a few years back (pure stupid). The last gobble I heard seemed down low still, and 2-300 yards further south.

That theory is adjusted when I hear a solid gobble from up top on the ridge with the notch. He's close too, inside of 200 yds. The bird is on the crest, but south of the saddle by a bit. I need to get up there, but if I climb straight up, he's bound to see or hear me. I end up ascending away from him, creating distance to conceal my movement and footsteps as I work up the slope. Once topped out, I wait for another gobble and he eventually obliges, he's still on the opposite side of the saddle on a little knoll out there. If I can get in range of the saddle, there is a good chance I can call him down there to strut. I move only when he gobbles allowing me to confirm his location. He seems planted, likely strutting out there on that little point.
I make it to another large white oak that places me in range of the midpoint of the saddle. Reaching back, I pop the cushions off my vest and place them at the foot of the tree. There at the base of the trunk is the remnants of a sawed off sapling. This is the very spot I sat couple of years ago and missed one The gobbler is out in front now, likely 100 yds or less away.

On his next gobble I answer with the slate with my "ready" carbon striker on the lanyard. No response. He gobbles again a few minutes later and by then I've fished out hardwood striker and answer with same. Again no response. On his next blast, I answer with the mouth call and follow it with the slate and hardwood. Silent treatment again. You devil, answer and get down here! Two can play that game and when he gobbles next I stay silent. In fact I let him gobble two or three times and don't answer. He hasn't budged either.

Now what? I've been answering without results, time for something different. I risk reaching a switch sized limb and run it across the leaves in a distinctive, turkey sounding, 3 lick rhythm, scratch-scratch.........scratch.
He gobbles!!!!!!! My first real answer. I do it again and follow it with some clucks on the mouth call, ever so soft. He double gobbles. He likes that!
I let him gobble on his own a time or two, then prompt him with the scratch and he answers. In business. I get the gun up, pointed down the ridge across the saddle.

I hear him drumming first, then see the white crown of his head dart through a gap in the leaves, followed the neon red wattles and can see the beard swing. Matur.e tom, 60 yds out and closing. I dare not move.Ever so careful, he slides closer, seeing everything.. I've picked a spot in mid saddle as my shoot point. He's drifting in from my left front and I'm locked on. When he gets behind a decent sized tree or clump of leafy saplings, I ease the Mossberg accordingly. One more step...........

A new gobble rings out from the left and the bird I'm on stops, obscured by my "shoot" sapling. He gobbles back and another gobble rings out from the right front,, Jeez, there's him and two others!!!!!!!!!!!! In stead of stepping out for the shot, the gobbler pivots and takes two steps away at an oblique to the left. My mind races..........

Did he see me......is he simply pivoting to strut........is he headed to the other gobbler to confront one . Things have changed....... My mind processes all this in a millisecond. The birds rearward sachet has placed his head and neck in the clear, visible thru a fork in my marker sapling. Shoot!

I've got bamaboy's Mossberg balanced on thumb and forefingers to give me sufficient elevation too be on him. The glowing fiberoptic wafer and the tip of the dime sized aiming point of the See-All is centered on the gobbler, just below his head, near the top of the wattles. Shoot I do. The Mossberg rears up from my wimpy foregrip, muzzle climbing. I see the gobbler flopping wildly, hit hard, and I reacquire a shooting grip and run the pump with purpose. No worry, he's anchored. I clamber to my feet and hustle over. A glance at my watch, it's 7:10.

It's apparent to me immediately he's big, bigger than average and I'm tickled. Despite my shot, the two gobblers that entered the equation continue to hammer, and I decide to exit in a hurry. I snatch the gobbler....he's heavy too.....and spot my spent case in retreat and pocket it. I head away from the saddle, no use spooking one of those others, I'll be back here! In the excitement, I do not pace the shot, but I'd wager it 40 yds. Once away another 100 yds or so, I stop, admire him, shed jacket , mask and gloves for the trek out, snack and some water. Slow and careful it takes an hour with two rest stops to get back to the Polaris.

In my late departure from home in the AM, I left my phone (for pics) and my old scale and steel rule at the house. Upon arrival back home, I run the numbers. He's 21 lbs with a 10-1/2 inch beard and the spurs........one at 1-5/16ths, the other at 1-3/16ths. A fine bird, who likely has whipped me and not a few others over the course of 3-4 seasons.

Finally....bird in hand!
bamaranger is offline  
Old April 15, 2024, 09:09 PM   #22
sako2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 12, 2009
Posts: 752
Good job. Congrats. Love reading your hunting stories.
sako2 is offline  
Old April 16, 2024, 01:06 AM   #23
stagpanther
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 2, 2014
Posts: 12,022
Persistence pays off! well done.
__________________
"Everyone speaks gun."--Robert O'Neill
I am NOT an expert--I do not have any formal experience or certification in firearms use or testing; use any information I post at your own risk!
stagpanther is offline  
Old April 18, 2024, 12:30 AM   #24
bamaranger
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
Posts: 8,376
Days #10 & #11 bird on a limb

Day 10
Flushed with success, I hunt Irish Hollow the following morning. I'd heard 4 gobblers there just a bit over a week ago, and botched two opportunities. This morning, I hear not one gobble. I do hear some hens calling, and manage to call up a hen about mid morning, but no gobbler activity. I doubt seriously they are dead. It was a flat light morning and.......the E. end of the hollow joins public land, and the birds have likely been hammered with calling from the boundary line anytime they sounded off. I've heard it, guys calling to gobblers half mile away,.......crazy.

Day 11
It rains this morning, and I sleep in then to town for lunch with friends. I beat it home as it clears in the PM and set out dekes and a blind on a Mud Club green field and hunt for 3+ hrs till dusk. I stay in the area and do some owling for birds on the roost and am rewarded by a tom responding from the east, not all that far from where I'd spent the afternoon. Roosting a turkey is always a good start, and I was able to get close enough to this one this evening that I have a fair idea of just exactly where he is. Not to the very tree, but very close. Stupid spot though, thick, near public land, easy access from several angles. But we will see in the morning.
bamaranger is offline  
Old April 18, 2024, 05:49 AM   #25
stagpanther
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 2, 2014
Posts: 12,022
There's something to be said for hiding in plain sight where hunters least expect it--I've seen deer do that.
__________________
"Everyone speaks gun."--Robert O'Neill
I am NOT an expert--I do not have any formal experience or certification in firearms use or testing; use any information I post at your own risk!
stagpanther is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:56 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2021 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Page generated in 0.12430 seconds with 9 queries