I look forward to Spring turkey every year, and this year was no different. With a couple tips from a buddy and a successful scouting trip to a new area I wanted to hunt this year, I felt good about getting onto a tom. I had onX pins dropped and got my boots on the ground in a couple of different spots around the area.
Then my Spring turkey season started to look like it might not happen at all. With the BHA Rendezvous, flying home to see family who’s visiting from far away places and a fishing trip that’s been in the books for months all happening in the second half of the season, May was out. But I still had a couple weekends in April to get it done. Then I came down with Mononucleosis. Mono. I couldn’t go to work, couldn’t get solid food down for almost a week, and the fatigue… I could hardly get out of bed. Hunting was certainly out of the question for the meantime. I thought my season was toast.
Towards the end of the month I was feeling better for sure. Back on solid food and working, I took out a couple float trips with the dude ranch I work for and felt pretty good on the oars. I thought to myself; If you can row a boat you can hunt a turkey. I still had two days at the end of the month. It wasn’t much time to hunt a new area and it had been weeks since I had been up there, but I’ll take it.
I got in after dark so I started blind on the first day. After putting on a few miles (oh man does mono make hiking a piece of work) calling along the way, not hearing a peep and cutting a set of wolf tracks, I decided to move on. Checked a few spots, let out a few locator calls, it was slow. But I did drop a couple pins on birds that sounded off from way far away. Now it’s late afternoon and I’m headed back to the area I started after my buddy told me it was worth a second look. I couldn’t help but think of the elk hunting adage, Don’t leave elk to go find elk, but I defaulted to local knowledge.
After trying to locate a bird from the back roads in the area, I decided to take a quick lap down a two track I hadn't been down yet and boom, a tom and his hens were right there, sixty yards off the road. Henned up and eating before flying up to the roost, I doubted he would come into my calls. I pulled off down the road and started to make a play. With a season cut as short as mine, I was not above bushwhacking a turkey. I got to about fifty yards when the group started to move away from me, then the hens took off and the gobbler followed. It was time to bust a move and bulldog this tom. I got uphill of him while staying below his hens, put my bead on him and click. Left my damn safety on. Now I’ve really got to hustle. I break away uphill, find another spot that I think would offer a shooting lane, stop, bring the gun up and make a clean shot at thirty yards.
While he may not have come into my calls and I may not have won the finicky game of cat and mouse we play with these birds every Spring, I was sure happy to get out and punch my turkey tag this year.