spring-turkey-hunting

The sun breaking through in a meadow I hunted

Spring Turkey Hunt

I just got home from my three day turkey hunt, and I had a great time!  I didn’t bring home a turkey, but I saw some beautiful country and had some exciting adventure along the way, mostly in the form of thunder storms with heavy rain and lots of lightning.  It reminded me so much of hunting elk in September, stalking through the mountains, with lightning striking way too close for comfort.

I got a late start on Wednesday, mostly because I had to finish figuring out my new camera, and I needed my computer to do that.  I love this camera, but they sure don’t make it easy to figure out.  It is a Go Pro Hero 3, Black Edition, and I took some videos on my trip that I am attempting to post on You Tube right now so I can share them with you.  The videos are pretty mundane, but if you have never hunted, you can see what it is like with these videos.  I am also including much more pictures in this post than I normally do so you can get a feel for my experience.

It started to rain on my way to the camping spot I had scouted out two weeks ago, and just as I got there it turned into a down pour with lightning flashing close in the sky.  I figured the first thing I should do is set up my pop-up shelter to have a place to get things out of the back of my truck and out of the rain.  As the lightning was striking closer and closer, I was a little nervous fighting with the aluminum structure of the pop up shelter, that thing is a pain in the ass to set up alone.  The rain let up a bit, so I set up the tent next, then by the time the rain stopped I got my camp fully set up, put on my camos, loaded the shotgun and headed out to hunt.

Click here for a video of part of the drive.   Click here for a video of setting up camp.

I crossed Cabin Creek and went west, moving slowly through some clearings, looking for signs of turkey.  It was very nice looking habitat for the birds, but I was not seeing any feathers, tracks, or droppings.  I continued on, heading up the mountainside, stopping frequently to listen.  I explored that mountain side almost a mile up, then two miles across towards the north, then back down and back to my camp.  While it was a nice hike through beautiful country, I was discouraged that I didn’t see any sign of turkeys at all.  I got back to camp at about 9:00, started a fire and cooked a pork chop and green beans for dinner.  I sat by the fire for a bit, and then went to bed, hoping for a better day in the morning.

turkey-hunting

Watching my decoys in a meadow

I got up at 3:30, made coffee and oatmeal, then headed out to set up my decoys in one of the clearings I found the day before, even though I hadn’t seen any sign of turkey.  I over estimated my travel time and I ended up sitting in the dark for almost an hour before the sun started to light up the surrounding landscape of lodge pole pine, spruce, and aspens in a clearing spotted with moss-covered boulders and lush green grass.  It was cold, 43 degrees according to my thermometer, and the ground was damp from the previous day’s rain.  I didn’t use my camera on the morning hunt because I still don’t know how to turn off the sounds of the camera functioning (like the two beeps when it turns on, and the loud beep when it starts recording, etc…) The last thing I wanted was the unnatural sounds of an electronic device when I was trying to be quite.

I gave a few hen purr calls and immediately a Tom responded.  I was excited!  I had called my first turkey!  I gave a few more calls, but only one response back from the Tom, and I never saw him.  I waited for a while, holding still against the tree at my back, but no turkeys came into view.  I heard them purring and clucking, but I never saw them.

I waited out that position for another hour, hoping that I might see something, but I didn’t.  I decided to pick up my decoys; I put them in my pack, and began stalking.  I walked quietly through the woods, listening, and searching the landscape, but I couldn’t find the birds.  I walked about two miles in a large circle back to camp, encouraged by the morning activity.

Click here for a video of me stalking turkey.

After cutting firewood and having lunch, I headed back out for the afternoon and evening.  I decided to try going into the area I was at in the morning from a different direction, so I went along Cabin Creek for about a mile upstream, and then cut away up the mountain.  I don’t think I could have found a steeper place to head up, although it didn’t look that bad when I started.  I made my way up for about 30 minutes, then it leveled out to an area covered by large boulders the size of my pickup truck and thick with lodge pole pines, it was really a beautiful place.

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening wandering around the mountains looking for birds, stopping every now and then in spots that looked likely to attract turkeys.  I called with my box call, and one time got a response, but it seemed very far away.  It was nearing dark, and I was a long way from camp, so I decided to call it a day and headed back to camp, arriving at 9:30, and feeling pretty beat.  I had one more day to try to get a bird.

Click here for a video of my camp.

[nggallery id=20]It wasn’t so easy waking up at 3:30 the next morning, but I made myself do it.  I would be leaving in the afternoon, so this was my last morning to hunt this spring.  I figured that I was at least hearing some birds in the areas I was at the day before, so after some coffee and oatmeal I headed west again.  My legs seemed heavier than they did the day before and my back was killing me, but I pressed on and came to the clearing I wanted to setup at before the sun came up.  I put my decoys out, found a good tree to lean up against, then sat and waited.

Click here for another video of me stalking turkey.

The forest started to come alive with the sounds of birds and squirrels as the sun’s first light broke through the tall pines surrounding me.  I gave a few hen calls and waited.  I thought about when I first started elk hunting how so many sounds in the forest sounded like an elk, and that morning it seemed like everything sounded like a turkey, at least it did to me, maybe because I was so anxious to get one.  But as the morning unfolded across the valley, no birds came to my calls; in fact I didn’t even get an answer that morning.

After a couple of hours I packed up the decoys, made one last stalk of about three miles, winding my way back to camp.  As I got close to camp and knew that my hunting was over, at first I felt disappointed.  But then I realized that I just spent three days exploring some gorgeous country, I hadn’t seen another person the whole time, and it gave me the chance to hone my hunting skills as well as my general outdoor skills.  While I didn’t bring home a turkey, it was a successful hunt in my opinion.