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Turkey season is off to a pretty good start!

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Jun 11, 2009
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Fair Grove, MO
Missouri's spring turkey season opened this past Monday and I had the truck loaded Sunday afternoon and heading towards my farm in the Shannon County Ozarks. I was excited about spending a few days with my dad and chasing my favorite game animal with a black powder smoothbore.

The good omens started right away. I hadn't been there 20 minutes when I looked out the kitchen window and saw a jake feeding in the field about 100 yards from the house. Later, I went to listen for birds going to roost and saw a nice tom strutting in our middle hay field. I knew where he would spend the night so I spent the rest of the daylight looking for mushrooms. In total, I would see that gobbler strutting three times, in three days, in pretty much the same spot. He and I are gonna tango next week if Dad doesn't get him first!

A little video of that bird doing his thing.

Dawn at the Granny Field

Monday morning, I woke up well before daylight to begin the Big Day. Dad fed me the standard fare of fried eggs and side meat that I washed down with strong coffee before heading out the door. I drove towards the back of our middle field and parked by the family graveyard. I knew where that tom would be roosted so I didn't waste any time on waiting for him to gobble. I loaded up Sweet Rachael, my 20 gauge smoothbore, grabbed my gear, and hot-footed in his direction. About half way there, he gobbled for the first time, confirming his position.

At the end of our middle field, on the east side, is a narrow piece of open ground that is bounded on the west side by a strip of trees and brush and on the east side by a steep wooded hill that leads up to our neighbor's north hay field. That spot is a magnet for turkeys and deer for as long as I can remember and I cannot count how many of each I have killed in that place. That tom was roosted right at the top of the hill on the edge of our neighbor's hay field. My plan was to sneak down as close as I dared and set up on the east side of the field somewhere. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any good place to do that and, with it getting lighter every second, I knew he was gonna spot me from his perch if I didn't do something quickly.

By now, toms were sounding off everywhere, so I made an executive decision. I decided to walk out into the field, cross the creek, and hunt our southern most property, the Granny Field. I knew the roosted longbeard had hens with him so I most likely wasn't going to kill him right off. The best place to set up on him was at the edge of a food plot where I killed one of his cousins last year. That food plot was in his sight line at the moment so my plan was to come back and hunt him in the late morning after the hens had left. With a firm plan in my head, I started across the field towards the creek. Ole Tom stopped gobbling as soon as I came into view but there were several others picking up the slack and some were in the direction I was heading. It was shaping up to be a great morning!

I crossed the creek as quietly as I could and snuck up to the edge of the Granny Field. I didn't think any birds had flown down yet, but it pays to be careful. After some deliberation, I finally settled on a setup spot at the edge of the field on the west side. There was an old logging road right next to me, another one about 30 yards to its north we call the Deer Turnaround Road, and a third road another 20 yards further that runs between the creek and the bottom of the ridge. We call that one the Deer Highway. I got all my gear settled and then walked about 25 yards into the field to place my decoys. The ground is pretty uneven so I had to pick a spot that was high enough that at least part of the decoys could be seen by interested toms.

By now it was full daylight and birds were gobbling everywhere! The harem of hens that the first tom had with him pitched down with lots of yelping and cackling. I could hear gobbles all around me and it is a time like that that really makes you appreciate Nature in all its splendor. However, I was here to do a job, so I laid out all my calls and started to go to work.

I started with a few soft yelps on a pot call which got responses from several different suitors. I knew I was probably in for a long game so I didn't call too hard. I just wanted to let them know where I was at and, if they were so inclined, I would be willing to tolerate their advances. I threw in the occasional jake gobble to also let them know that I had company and wouldn't wait all day for them to show up.

This went on for hours...At one time there were four different gobblers on the other side of the creek trying to outdo one another in the calling department. Although I couldn't see them, I could picture in my mind what all was taking place. On my side of the creek, I had one bird in the neighbor's field in front of me, one down to the south, one directly behind me on the ridge, and another up Woodland Holler. Nobody had showed themselves but I knew it was just a matter of time.

Finally two birds from that field across the creek started coming my way. They were on my side now in the woods by the creekbank next to the Deer Highway. We called back and forth, I cocked the hammer back, and scanned the field edge for those big blue heads.

Meanwhile, the bird right behind me on the ridge got fired up and he and the two brothers were having a call-fest of their own. They all started closing the distance like they were gonna rumble and I was right in the middle. That could be good or bad, depending on where they decided to meet up. If they came down the road next to me, they would have to walk by me at 5 yards before I could do anything about it. Well, all I could do was play the cards I was dealt.

After 30 minutes of nonstop gobbling, the bird behind me shut up and went somewhere else while the two brothers took up his position. I decided just to sit quiet and see what happened since they were only 20 yards or so behind me in the brush. After 10 or 15 minutes, they gobbled again. This time they were heading back north, the way they had come, and were now on a little point between the road next to me and the Deer Turnaround Road. I putted and purred, they'd gobble, but would not come out in the field. We all shut up to catch our collective breath and then they started up again. Now they were on a point between the Turnaround Road and Deer Highway. This was good. If things went how I hoped, they would finally enter the field from Deer Highway and come to the dekes. I checked the powder in my pan, recocked the hammer, and waited. I'd been at this for almost 3 hours now and my sitting parts were getting sore.

After a bit more back-and-forth, I shut up to rest. My mouth was dry from working a mouth call but I didn't want to move around to get my water bottle. I looked down to see if I could free it easily from the back of my vest and when I looked back up, both birds were standing at the mouth of Deer Highway. Game On! The lead bird puffed up a little as they eyed my Funky Chicken jake decoy and then they started walking towards it. They took kind of a circuitous route to stay on high ground but they eventually walked right up to the deke. The lead bird was standing directly behind the Funky Chicken so I put my bead on the head of the other one and pulled the trigger. After the smoke cleared, one bird was running off and the other one wasn't. Opening Day Success!!!

He weighed 23 pounds, 10 ounces, had an 11" beard, and 1 1/8" spurs. My turkey load was 75 grains 3F, 1 over powder card, 1/2 of a lubed fiber wad, 1 1/2 oz. #6 shot, and 1 over shot card. The gun used was made by my dear friend John Pruitt. It has a 42" Colerain turkey choked barrel and a large Siler lock. The walnut stock came from a tree off my farm.



After action report - my camera jacked up in the middle of filming the hunt so this is all I have.

With Missouri's season, you are only allowed one bird the first week of the season. I had taken the whole week off so I had plenty of time to look for mushrooms and enjoy the land of my ancestors.

I found several of these.

The wildflowers were just starting to bloom


Saw a few critters and where they lived



Monday was the best day of turkey hunting I've had in probably 15 years. I heard around 10 different birds and worked as many as 4 at one time. Killing a mature tom was just icing on the cake. I am blessed to have a place like that to call Home.

You could write like this for a living you know. I felt like I was there doing the hunt with you. Great job writing, great job hunting, great job on the rifle and great bird. You sir are a blessed man.