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#2828079 - 05/13/12 09:22 PM A few thoughts on this season
Setterman
8 Point


Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 2396
Loc: Knoxville, TN

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From my perspective.

I started my season as usual in Mid March across the SE, and things seemed to be basically normal other than the greener then normal woods. Birds were henned up as usual, and virtually staying with them all day, and roosting with them at night. Birds died as usual as I traveled, and some narrowly escaped, while others just completely handed down a beating.

At the start of TN's season, I expected the same sort of behavior. Well, that was a mistake. What I witnessed over the first 2 weeks beats anything I have ever seen. If I could have killed what I shot at, and tags were unlimited I think 30 birds could have died. I have never heard so many lonely birds anywhere I have hunted, at anytime during the season. There would be 10 birds free gobbling every morning around 9 am or so, and every one of them was killable in minutes. However, there was a ton of birds which were henned up as to be expected. A little gauge on how crazy it was in these parts, I missed 5 birds in 6 hunts, and tagged 2. 8 birds being shot at in 10 hunts is remarkable hunting anywhere at anytime. It had nothing to do with me as a turkey hunter, and more to do with the birds being crazed beyond belief.

What appeared to be happening at that time, was that it was normal assembly period delayed a week or 2, and that these lonely birds were simply gathering hens after being booted by the dominant birds. That proved to maybe not be the case, or it may have been the case, I still don't know what happened.

Starting with KY's opener, and TN's 3rd week, the number of single lonely birds had dropped considerably to dang near zero. I found 2 KY birds during the first 2 days of their season that an infant could have killed with 2 rocks being banged together. But overall, most birds were horribly henned up.

4th week of the season, birds still henned up, and basically no ground gobbling. Seemed perfectly normal.

5th week of the season, most birds were still henned up, but every day starting around 9:30 am birds would start free gobbling here and there. The problem was that even the best set up, would find a bird that was basically unkillable. They would gobble a million times, and never move one inch. I worked no less than 30 birds or groups of birds that I still have no idea why they wouldn't budge. A few had hens, but most seemed alone, and would gobble uncontrollably for hours, until I finally would give up on them and move on.

Last week, I expected to go into last week and see similar stuff as the first week to 10 days. Wrong. Some birds were still henned up, but the woods basically went quiet, completely. Hens were everywhere, literally. Wandering alone, in the same areas, in other words sitting, or raising poults. However, there was zero lonely birds basically. I did find my 3rd TN bird last Monday, and it was a death match that last 2 hours before he finally closed the 40 yards he needed to, and died. That's right it took 2 hours for him to travel 40 yards. Not normal with a 3 year old bird that was alone. AS the week went on, it got weirder and weirder, zero birds gobbling at daylight, with maybe a bird firing up mid morning, but not responding to calls at all. Gobble at everything except a hen call, certainly never seen this before, not consistently at least. Top all of that off with me seeing poults yesterday. I did fill my 4th tag this morning on a nasty dominant bird who had 4 hens with him, but it was more luck than anything that cost him.

I don't know what to think, buddies of mine in the deep south are still killing birds, they are responding well and it seems perfectly normal. However, that is there, and this is here.

At the start of the season, everything I have ever been taught and/or learned in the field indicates temps don't matter a great deal when it comes to breeding. And it still may not, but it also could play a larger role than anyone expected. Granted we have never seen weather like this past year, so historical data is somewhat useless.

I don't know what caused the weirdness, and we all should learn more over the next few months as the poult sightings and counts come in. That will show when peak hatching occurred, and clearly show if the entire pattern shifted or not.

A few wonderings I have had:

1: Did the thicker woods cause normally killable birds to refuse to move for fear of being killed by predators? In other words, they felt safe where they stood and wouldn't move as to avoid danger?

2. Did birds, simply lose interest over the course of the season by not finding receptive hens early, thus leaving a surplus of hens for the dominant birds?

3. Did most hens get bred early, and the first 2 weeks found what would be normal week 5 and 6?

4. Did past hatches keep birds henned up longer than normal?

I don't know, and hope to learn more over the next few months as to what happened, and also hope we go back to normal winter/early spring. Overall it was a great year, and my kill totals were normal, but dam it took alot of work, blood, and sweat to get it done. If I weren't stupidly persistent, it would have been easy to hang it up.

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#2828112 - 05/13/12 09:59 PM Re: A few thoughts on this season [Re: Setterman]
RAFI
10 Point


Registered: 12/20/09
Posts: 2912
Loc: Tn

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wth man earlier when i asked you you didnt ever miss a bird lol
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#2828124 - 05/13/12 10:12 PM Re: A few thoughts on this season [Re: RAFI]
catman529
spiderboy
16 Point


Registered: 11/10/10
Posts: 17592
Loc: Franklin TN

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Thanks for the info, congrats on a successful season. You don't have any pics though??

 Originally Posted By: RAFI
wth man earlier when i asked you you didnt ever miss a bird lol
yeah I was gonna say I pulled a Setterman this year but then heard he missed 5 times. Last year, I missed a few times. At least 3 times in the spring and once in the fall. This spring, I spent four shells and killed four birds. Hope I can keep that streak going through fall season. And hope one day I will be half as good a hunter as Setterman \:D
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#2828234 - 05/14/12 05:44 AM Re: A few thoughts on this season [Re: RAFI]
Setterman
8 Point


Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 2396
Loc: Knoxville, TN

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 Originally Posted By: RAFI
wth man earlier when i asked you you didnt ever miss a bird lol


Where have you been, there was a huge discussion just 10 days ago about this. I switched weapons and had all kinds of issues, and I mean all kinds. Sucks that happened, and still stings, but all seems to be good with the new gun.

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#2828283 - 05/14/12 07:19 AM Re: A few thoughts on this season [Re: Setterman]
muddyboots
12 Point


Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 7406
Loc: savannah, tn., usa

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I say number 3
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Let em go and let em grow!
There is a difference in a turkey killer and a turkey hunter!

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#2828304 - 05/14/12 07:57 AM Re: A few thoughts on this season [Re: muddyboots]
Setterman
8 Point


Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 2396
Loc: Knoxville, TN

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 Originally Posted By: muddyboots
I say number 3


It makes me wonder for sure, time will tell, and if the poult sightings shift up dramatically and there is widespread poult counts that are 3 weeks early, than it could be likely. It will be an easy one to prove because of the physical evidence.

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#2828514 - 05/14/12 10:52 AM Re: A few thoughts on this season [Re: Setterman]
Bullfrog
6 Point


Registered: 10/14/08
Posts: 619
Loc: Ky Lake

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I think you're right on track with your first two questions. I don't think "most" or all, got bred early...but definitely a significant number did. #4...something to think about. All in all, 2012 will be a year that I doubt any of us will forget.
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#2828715 - 05/14/12 02:41 PM Re: A few thoughts on this season [Re: Bullfrog]
ruger7mag
6 Point


Registered: 12/21/08
Posts: 867
Loc: tn

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I also say number 3.
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#2828756 - 05/14/12 03:10 PM Re: A few thoughts on this season [Re: ruger7mag]
Grizzly Johnson Moderator
Team Grizzly
16 Point


Registered: 10/07/08
Posts: 15791
Loc: Tennessee

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Do you guys think that the earlier cycle will have a better than usual affect on next years number of birds or the health & survival of poults?
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But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

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#2828812 - 05/14/12 03:59 PM Re: A few thoughts on this season [Re: Grizzly Johnson]
Setterman
8 Point


Registered: 12/31/09
Posts: 2396
Loc: Knoxville, TN

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 Originally Posted By: Grizzly Johnson
Do you guys think that the earlier cycle will have a better than usual affect on next years number of birds or the health & survival of poults?


With the warm dry weather and early green up it should be a very successful hatch. Survival should be good because of the dense ness of the foliage and the bugs are super plentiful with an extra month of production. Also, and this is maybe the most important, but the poults appear they will have an extra month of growth before winter hits, and that is a huge advantage for them.

The only risks have passed IMO, and other than the negative affects to hunters the population should be fine.

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