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My flintlock turkey tale

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Joined
Jun 11, 2009
Messages
321
Reaction score
936
Location
Fair Grove, MO
CHUyBES.jpg


Missouri’s spring turkey season opened last Monday and my hopes for a quick score were dashed when the passel of birds I had been seeing and hearing behind my house suddenly vanished or went mute. I spent opening day patiently listening to nothing as I racked my brain trying to figure out how a “sure thing” could go so wrong. I was planning on going to my family farm the coming weekend to hunt but I already felt the prospects there were dim. My dad still lives there, and his weekly reports were not encouraging. No matter, it would be good to see him, I would be fed well, and I might at least find a mushroom or two.
backyard birds

I heard and saw these boys almost every day a month ago
NIFRk8Q.jpg


I arrived at Casa Haverstick Friday evening where Dad greeted me with a big hug and a plateful of stuffed peppers. I enjoyed hot coffee and his extraordinary peanut butter cookies for dessert as we watched an old Kirk Douglas movie before bedtime. It was supposed to be cold and windy the next day, two strikes against successful turkey hunting, but a chilly day hunting in the woods of my childhood beat anything else I could come up with, so I set my alarm for an early start and turned in.

After a hearty breakfast of fried everything, I loaded all my turkey hunting paraphernalia into the truck and headed out. I usually start the morning by driving over to the east side of our middle hay field before daylight and listening for bird gobbling on the ridges around me. I parked my truck near the family graveyard and it was not lost on me that I was fixing to walk the ground that my father hunted as a boy, and his father before him, and his father before that. It is a bond I have with the land that cannot easily be put into words. As I contemplated this, I loaded up Sweet Rachael, my 20-gauge flintlock, and put on all my Big Boy clothes for the day ahead. It was 30 degrees when I left the house and with the predicted wind speeds, I knew I would need them.

Just before six o’clock, I heard a tom sound off way to the north of me on the old Stewart Place. He was much too distant to mess with but, after 30 minutes, he was still gobbling and nobody else had decided to join in so, tag, he was it. My plan was to get up on the ridge behind our barn, which is on the property line, and listen from there to better course his position.

After the near vertical drive up to the ridge top, I got out of the truck, grabbed my gun and overloaded turkey vest, and started walking the old logging road that leads to the north end of the ridge. I suspected the bird was in a little field that is at the bottom of the ridge’s east face. The only problem was that if he was there, he definitely would not join me at my location because that side is almost a sheer drop to the bottom. I would have to go back down to the valley, circle around, and try to call him out of that field and into ours.

Fortunately, all this proposed walking was negated when he gobbled again and I realized that he was much further away than I had originally guessed. Oh well, nothing ventured nothing gained. I got back to the truck and decided to set up in our south field to see if I could shake something loose there. I made a pitstop at Dad’s first for a hot cup of coffee and a cookie or three. Refueled now, I drove to the creek crossing at the south end of our place, grabbed all my stuff, and walked to my setup spot. At the far end of that field is a small park that turkeys and deer just love. I set some decoys out, climbed underneath a cedar tree nearby, and started calling. I figured I would do this until I either killed a turkey, got bored, or my butt hurt too much to sit anymore. It was only a little after eight, so I still had a lot of hunting time left.

May apples are just starting to bloom at the farm
Wpd3HtV.jpg


About 30 minutes into my sit, a bird gobbled on the backside of the ridge in front of me. There is a big bowl on that side of the ridge that turns into a saddle at the ridge top. I thought there was a very slim chance that he would come down to me, but I also was loath to climb up there after him because I figured it would be an exercise in futility. However, he kept gobbling, and I hadn’t gotten my steps in yet for the day, so I packed up my gear and headed up the mountain.

Now I won’t bore you with all the details but basically I went up while he came down and if I had just stayed put, he probably would have ended up in my lap by the time I turned around and got back down to his level. He disappeared somewhere and I ended up spending another 30 minutes in that field being pinned down by a hen. Finally, around 10, I waded back across the creek, got to my truck, and started thinking about what to do next. No other turkeys were in evidence so I decided to take a short break from walking all over creation and go visit our neighbors the east. One of the guys that owns the place had brought his family down to hunt turkeys and mushrooms for the day. After a half hour of us cussing turkeys, I thought I better get back after it. Our season closes at one o’clock each day so I needed to go make my last stand.

I found this old shelf mushroom that a squirrel had used as a dinner table
zoOCRuh.jpg


I picked a spot in the lower part of our middle field we call The Punkin Patch on account of Dad having a food plot at that location most years and one year my niece talked him into planting some pumpkins in it. Dad had just plowed up the ground the week before and said there was sign of turkeys dusting in the newly turned soil. A box car wouldn’t all the game my family has killed at that spot, so I figured it was a good a place as any to go down swinging.

I put my decoys in the middle of the food plot and then situated myself against a big elm off in the brush about 20 yards away from them. It was 11 by the time I got all set up and I determined that I would hunt until noon and then call it a day. My fried eggs and side meat had already worn out and I was getting a might peckish. I made a series of calls, really banging on my box call to get over the wind, and then settled in to read my book some before it was time to call again. I looked up and around every five minutes or so to see empty fields in every direction. At least the sun was out, which helped warm me against the gale force winds.

After my second set of calls, I happened to notice a hen turkey just on the other side of my decoys. Apparently, she had just popped out of the ground because I certainly did not see her approach. She meandered around awhile, not paying any mind to my setup, when I got the bright idea of calling to her to video her reaction. So I fired up the mouth call, and the camera to record some interesting stuff. Of course, she paid me no mind either but what did happen was a gobbler fired off just to the east of me. At that edge of the field where I was at is a wet bottom and on the east side of that is a rise that leads to a plateau and our neighbor’s hay field. He was on that rise, and after I called and he gobbled again, I ascertained he was coming my way.

By now the hen had turned around and was heading the other way and I just knew Tom would step into the field, see a real turkey, and go after her instead of visiting me. Nevertheless, I checked the powder in my pan, cocked the hammer back on Sweet Rachael, and hoped for the best.
You know how time has a way of slowing down during situations like this? I captured the whole event on video, and later when I had a chance to review it, I was surprised to learn that the longest hour and a half of my life was actually only five minutes in length. Here’s how it played out.

As I waited for the longbeard to show himself, I saw that the hen was at least 75 yards to my left and going away from us. I was pretty sure she was too far away for him to see, due to the terrain, but you never know. Finally, I see Ole Tom standing at the field edge, about 100 yards away to my right, looking for a girlfriend. There was no reason to call since he could easily see my decoys from his position, and he wasn’t looking at the hen, so I just had to wait for him to stroll over for a visit. Here is where the clock started ticking on that hour and a half.

He began walking my way and then he would stop and puff up. Then he would wander about, go in and out of strut, and generally make my heartrate exceed its safe operating parameters. My original plan was to have him come all the way into my decoys and get some great footage of him whipping on the jake, just like you see on TV. However, after about minute 45, I remembered all the times things had went wrong at the last minute while hunting these critters and I changed my plan to shoot him the first chance I got when he was in range. After an hour, he finally committed to my setup and started strutting his way in. I put my front bead on his neck and when he came out of strut I said to myself, “Close enough!” and pulled the trigger. That feller dropped like a rock and I cannot say enough good things about the Colerain turkey barrel on my gun. After I gathered up all my goodies, I stepped the shot off and it was 35 yards. Not bad for a “primitive” weapon!

Gun specifications: A "Pruitt Special" smoothbore made for me by my good friend, John Pruitt. It has a 42" Colerain turkey barrel and a LH large Siler lock. I used 75 grains of 3F, 1 over powder card, 1/4" lubed fiber wad, 1 1/2 oz. #6 shot, and 1 over shot card.

jglEaMj.jpg


According to these scales, the bird weighed 25 pounds. He had a 10" beard and 1" spurs.
gu5nuoY.jpg


A view of my setup
WU9vN85.jpg


The turkey's point of view
FXfV44I.jpg


This is the run-n-gun model of the Ghostblind. Even with frost on it, it makes you invisible!
stATmrU.jpg


I spent the rest of the day cleaning and butchering the bird and then hunted for mushrooms. I ended up with a good mess of those and Dad cooked us a fine supper of baked rabbit, stuffing, and winter mix vegetables in a mushroom sauce. We watched another old movie and I went to bed with a pretty great day under my belt.

Morels - a turkey hunting bonus!
8GHMrYH.jpg

lkuIjFv.jpg

KmPbV1m.jpg


I count myself very fortunate to live where I do and to be able to experience what I experience. Having it happen on family ground with my father there to cheer me on is just icing on the cake.

Link to a video of my hunt


Darren
 
Nice one. I'm hoping to get a bird with my smoothbore this weekend but it's looking like it's going to be a rainy one. I may be forced to take my unmentionable shotgun out the first day at least. Hoping the forecast changes for the better by the weekend.
 
Really cool hunt, I'm jealous. I missed a jake this weekend at about 27yards because I didn't want to wait for something to go wrong..... well needless to say I was what went wrong.
 
CHUyBES.jpg


Missouri’s spring turkey season opened last Monday and my hopes for a quick score were dashed when the passel of birds I had been seeing and hearing behind my house suddenly vanished or went mute. I spent opening day patiently listening to nothing as I racked my brain trying to figure out how a “sure thing” could go so wrong. I was planning on going to my family farm the coming weekend to hunt but I already felt the prospects there were dim. My dad still lives there, and his weekly reports were not encouraging. No matter, it would be good to see him, I would be fed well, and I might at least find a mushroom or two.
backyard birds

I heard and saw these boys almost every day a month ago
NIFRk8Q.jpg


I arrived at Casa Haverstick Friday evening where Dad greeted me with a big hug and a plateful of stuffed peppers. I enjoyed hot coffee and his extraordinary peanut butter cookies for dessert as we watched an old Kirk Douglas movie before bedtime. It was supposed to be cold and windy the next day, two strikes against successful turkey hunting, but a chilly day hunting in the woods of my childhood beat anything else I could come up with, so I set my alarm for an early start and turned in.

After a hearty breakfast of fried everything, I loaded all my turkey hunting paraphernalia into the truck and headed out. I usually start the morning by driving over to the east side of our middle hay field before daylight and listening for bird gobbling on the ridges around me. I parked my truck near the family graveyard and it was not lost on me that I was fixing to walk the ground that my father hunted as a boy, and his father before him, and his father before that. It is a bond I have with the land that cannot easily be put into words. As I contemplated this, I loaded up Sweet Rachael, my 20-gauge flintlock, and put on all my Big Boy clothes for the day ahead. It was 30 degrees when I left the house and with the predicted wind speeds, I knew I would need them.

Just before six o’clock, I heard a tom sound off way to the north of me on the old Stewart Place. He was much too distant to mess with but, after 30 minutes, he was still gobbling and nobody else had decided to join in so, tag, he was it. My plan was to get up on the ridge behind our barn, which is on the property line, and listen from there to better course his position.

After the near vertical drive up to the ridge top, I got out of the truck, grabbed my gun and overloaded turkey vest, and started walking the old logging road that leads to the north end of the ridge. I suspected the bird was in a little field that is at the bottom of the ridge’s east face. The only problem was that if he was there, he definitely would not join me at my location because that side is almost a sheer drop to the bottom. I would have to go back down to the valley, circle around, and try to call him out of that field and into ours.

Fortunately, all this proposed walking was negated when he gobbled again and I realized that he was much further away than I had originally guessed. Oh well, nothing ventured nothing gained. I got back to the truck and decided to set up in our south field to see if I could shake something loose there. I made a pitstop at Dad’s first for a hot cup of coffee and a cookie or three. Refueled now, I drove to the creek crossing at the south end of our place, grabbed all my stuff, and walked to my setup spot. At the far end of that field is a small park that turkeys and deer just love. I set some decoys out, climbed underneath a cedar tree nearby, and started calling. I figured I would do this until I either killed a turkey, got bored, or my butt hurt too much to sit anymore. It was only a little after eight, so I still had a lot of hunting time left.

May apples are just starting to bloom at the farm
Wpd3HtV.jpg


About 30 minutes into my sit, a bird gobbled on the backside of the ridge in front of me. There is a big bowl on that side of the ridge that turns into a saddle at the ridge top. I thought there was a very slim chance that he would come down to me, but I also was loath to climb up there after him because I figured it would be an exercise in futility. However, he kept gobbling, and I hadn’t gotten my steps in yet for the day, so I packed up my gear and headed up the mountain.

Now I won’t bore you with all the details but basically I went up while he came down and if I had just stayed put, he probably would have ended up in my lap by the time I turned around and got back down to his level. He disappeared somewhere and I ended up spending another 30 minutes in that field being pinned down by a hen. Finally, around 10, I waded back across the creek, got to my truck, and started thinking about what to do next. No other turkeys were in evidence so I decided to take a short break from walking all over creation and go visit our neighbors the east. One of the guys that owns the place had brought his family down to hunt turkeys and mushrooms for the day. After a half hour of us cussing turkeys, I thought I better get back after it. Our season closes at one o’clock each day so I needed to go make my last stand.

I found this old shelf mushroom that a squirrel had used as a dinner table
zoOCRuh.jpg


I picked a spot in the lower part of our middle field we call The Punkin Patch on account of Dad having a food plot at that location most years and one year my niece talked him into planting some pumpkins in it. Dad had just plowed up the ground the week before and said there was sign of turkeys dusting in the newly turned soil. A box car wouldn’t all the game my family has killed at that spot, so I figured it was a good a place as any to go down swinging.

I put my decoys in the middle of the food plot and then situated myself against a big elm off in the brush about 20 yards away from them. It was 11 by the time I got all set up and I determined that I would hunt until noon and then call it a day. My fried eggs and side meat had already worn out and I was getting a might peckish. I made a series of calls, really banging on my box call to get over the wind, and then settled in to read my book some before it was time to call again. I looked up and around every five minutes or so to see empty fields in every direction. At least the sun was out, which helped warm me against the gale force winds.

After my second set of calls, I happened to notice a hen turkey just on the other side of my decoys. Apparently, she had just popped out of the ground because I certainly did not see her approach. She meandered around awhile, not paying any mind to my setup, when I got the bright idea of calling to her to video her reaction. So I fired up the mouth call, and the camera to record some interesting stuff. Of course, she paid me no mind either but what did happen was a gobbler fired off just to the east of me. At that edge of the field where I was at is a wet bottom and on the east side of that is a rise that leads to a plateau and our neighbor’s hay field. He was on that rise, and after I called and he gobbled again, I ascertained he was coming my way.

By now the hen had turned around and was heading the other way and I just knew Tom would step into the field, see a real turkey, and go after her instead of visiting me. Nevertheless, I checked the powder in my pan, cocked the hammer back on Sweet Rachael, and hoped for the best.
You know how time has a way of slowing down during situations like this? I captured the whole event on video, and later when I had a chance to review it, I was surprised to learn that the longest hour and a half of my life was actually only five minutes in length. Here’s how it played out.

As I waited for the longbeard to show himself, I saw that the hen was at least 75 yards to my left and going away from us. I was pretty sure she was too far away for him to see, due to the terrain, but you never know. Finally, I see Ole Tom standing at the field edge, about 100 yards away to my right, looking for a girlfriend. There was no reason to call since he could easily see my decoys from his position, and he wasn’t looking at the hen, so I just had to wait for him to stroll over for a visit. Here is where the clock started ticking on that hour and a half.

He began walking my way and then he would stop and puff up. Then he would wander about, go in and out of strut, and generally make my heartrate exceed its safe operating parameters. My original plan was to have him come all the way into my decoys and get some great footage of him whipping on the jake, just like you see on TV. However, after about minute 45, I remembered all the times things had went wrong at the last minute while hunting these critters and I changed my plan to shoot him the first chance I got when he was in range. After an hour, he finally committed to my setup and started strutting his way in. I put my front bead on his neck and when he came out of strut I said to myself, “Close enough!” and pulled the trigger. That feller dropped like a rock and I cannot say enough good things about the Colerain turkey barrel on my gun. After I gathered up all my goodies, I stepped the shot off and it was 35 yards. Not bad for a “primitive” weapon!

Gun specifications: A "Pruitt Special" smoothbore made for me by my good friend, John Pruitt. It has a 42" Colerain turkey barrel and a LH large Siler lock. I used 75 grains of 3F, 1 over powder card, 1/4" lubed fiber wad, 1 1/2 oz. #6 shot, and 1 over shot card.

jglEaMj.jpg


According to these scales, the bird weighed 25 pounds. He had a 10" beard and 1" spurs.
gu5nuoY.jpg


A view of my setup
WU9vN85.jpg


The turkey's point of view
FXfV44I.jpg


This is the run-n-gun model of the Ghostblind. Even with frost on it, it makes you invisible!
stATmrU.jpg


I spent the rest of the day cleaning and butchering the bird and then hunted for mushrooms. I ended up with a good mess of those and Dad cooked us a fine supper of baked rabbit, stuffing, and winter mix vegetables in a mushroom sauce. We watched another old movie and I went to bed with a pretty great day under my belt.

Morels - a turkey hunting bonus!
8GHMrYH.jpg

lkuIjFv.jpg

KmPbV1m.jpg


I count myself very fortunate to live where I do and to be able to experience what I experience. Having it happen on family ground with my father there to cheer me on is just icing on the cake.

Link to a video of my hunt


Darren

Ha! Darren, ya just had to include those morels. didn'ya? My favorite treat and I haven't had any for a while. :rolleyes: BTW: great hunt, great story, great gun and beautiful bird. Go do it again! Dale
 
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