Feel like I came a long way since last year. Last year was my first turkey hunting unless you count the one time I went with a friend in 2010. But last was my first by myself with my own gear.

Killed 1 jake last spring and 3 hens last fall. Goal for this spring was one longbeard, but I would continue to try and reach my limit if I could.

Hunted primarily Yanahli WMA. Tried some new spots and the same spot from last year. Last year's spot is popular though and birds disappear half way through the season. However it is awesome early in the season. Roost areas are predictable and birds are plentiful.

Bird #1 - April 4, Yanahli WMA. Killed him in last year's spot a short hike from where I killed my first turkey last spring. Called him and 2 other gobblers across the river with the help of hens on my side of the river. After gobbling hard below the bank, one popped his head up not 5 yards away and saw me. Putted and backed down. Then all the birds proceeded to go out into the field slightly to my right and out of sight. When I finally leaned forward for a better view I saw the strutters (full tail fans) and hens out in the field, headed toward a ground blind 350 yards away. That hunter came in after me and set up his blind and 2 decoys. Well not too much longer I hear a shot. I looked out into the field and saw the turkeys just standing there... then they started to come my way. I set back and they were out of sight due to bushes on the right blocking my view. Soon the first hen came by through the grass... just her head visible. Then a much bigger red, white and blue head came through and I dropped him at 23 yards, 8:20 am. Ran over to grab him and saw the true length of his beard. Measured 12.5" beard, spurs barely 1", and weighed 21 lbs. The other hunter across the field came over with his turkey and took pics for me. He was a nice guy, a preacher visiting for the week from Arkansas where turkeys are scarce. Sometimes having company on public land isn't a bad thing.

Bird #2 - April 16, Yanahli WMA. The controversial one. Shot off the roost (meat still tasted good...) Killed in a new spot to me. I scouted one part of this area before season, and Ricky (ImThere) showed me the other side of the tract, which is where I killed this bird. I knew birds roosted in this one area by the creek, but didn't expect to walk up on this gobbler on the limb. I watched him gobble from the limb and decided that he would likely fly down away from me based on the terrain, and head onto private land. So I shot him from the tree at 5:51 AM, which some may frown on, but I stayed within the law and killed my 2nd longbeard ever and was (and still am) happy about the bird. He weighed 22 pounds, had a 9.75" beard, and 1 1/8" and 1 3/16" spurs.

Bird #3 - April 22, Yanahli WMA. Killed on a very isolated patch of WMA that I only checked out of curiosity. So small you would have to call one off private land, which I did. I saw some birds in a private field and set up in the edge of this little bit of WMA and started calling. Turned out to be 2 jakes, 2 toms, and a hen. Hen came into range first and started eating around. Toms came in and went off to the right out of sight for a bit, out of gun range. Jakes then came straight towards me and stopped very well within gun range. However, I waited. Those toms soon came in from the right, strutting their tails off side by side. Got my bead on one. Not wanting to shoot one in full strut, and making sure the other wasn't in my line of fire, I hesitated. Tried to whistle to get him to pop his head up. But the birds moved faster to the left, all of the birds. I picked a red head and blasted him. Jake in the dirt, sometime around 3pm, toms got away. I was disappointed, but happy at the same time that I killed a 3rd turkey for the season. And I was psyched I happened to find these birds and call them into the smallest bit of public land in the area. After the shot, the other jake flogged my jake and then mine got up and tried running off. I broke out in a run and chased him down, wrung his neck. He weighed only 13 pounds, had 1/3" spurs, and his beard was somewhere between 3 and 4 inches. Plucked and dressed the whole bird rather than just breasting and cutting the legs off.

Bird #4 - May 7, Private land, Marshall Co. Yanahli had gone about dry for me. I spent all day Sunday (May 6) on a bird that gobbled but wouldn't come off a private cattle farm onto the WMA. He'd gobble closer, then farther, then go quiet a while, then gobble again, and so on. Got real close to him at one point but he was henned up on the other side of the fence. I never even saw him, just heard him painfully close. So I met up Monday morning with TurkeyBurd, who took me to one of his prime hunting spots on a private cattle/crop farm. Burd and the other hunters who hunt the spot were all tagged out. We heard two birds gobbling before sunrise. Had some birds in the first field just after sunrise. Ended up seeing 4 hens but no tom. But heard one gobbling nearby off to the right. Well Burd had to leave to be at work by 8am and let me continue to hunt myself. First I checked some fields and got a feel for the area. Bumped hens multiple times. Then headed back to where I last heard that gobbler, but from another angle in a different field across a creek. Got him gobbling again, set up, had him skirt along the creek but never come straight in. Seemed like he crossed the creek at one point, but I never saw him due to tall grass. Then he went quiet for a little bit and next time he gobbled he was farther away across the creek, towards a corn field. So I circled around across the creek and through the woods and slipped into the corner of the corn field. No birds in sight down the edge of the field. I did some cutts but got no response. There is a rise in the ground in the middle of the field so I had to check for birds out of sight behind the hill, since I had seen a hen there earlier. Well as I quietly walked out into the middle of the field, I saw a bird out of nowhere. It was just walking and feeding through the field. It wasn't yet in gun range and it didn't see me so I slowly dropped to the ground and lay prone. It was headed my way... I got a better view of its head and saw it was bright red. This must be the same bird that was gobbling at me. But I didn't want to shoot a jake. I laid quiet and motionless with the gun ready. The bird came closer and his head started to show more through the young corn stalks. Then I glimpsed a beard... looked like a long beard... and I dropped him in his tracks at 9:30 AM. Perfect head shot too. Hens and jakes scattered when I jumped up to go fetch my bird - they had been just out of sight over the rise. No wonder the bird left me and went into the corn field. I forgot to mark and step off the shot distance. But I don't care, he was close enough and it was an awesome hunt. 22 pounds, 10.75" beard, 1.25" spurs.

Great way to end the season and I thank the Lord for a successful and memorable 2nd spring turkey season. I have one fan/beard/spur mount on the wall, and 2 others in the process. Probably won't mount the jake. Might use the tail feathers for a decoy or something.

Learned a lot about turkey hunting this year as usual, and probably will still be learning one day when I am an old experienced hunter.

TurkeyBurd - Thanks again. Means a lot that you came out there even after tagging out, and I owe you lunch or something.

ImThere - Great meeting and hunting with you this spring. That was awesome when the hawk screamed and the turkey gobbled and you ended up killing him. We gotta go fishing this summer...

Nimrod - Glad you got a turkey for the first time in 14 (or was it 15) years. Wish we could have met up and hunted Yanahli early in the season when the getting was good. But it's great having a couple people to text while we're all hunting the same WMA in different spots. We'll make it work next season for a possible double...

Now for some specs for those who are interested -

Gun - H&R (NEF) Pardner Pump 12 gauge, factory bead sight
Ammo - Winchester Supreme High Velocity 3" #5 shot.
Choke - Accu-Choke XX Full .670
Calls -
- homemade bamboo tube call
- homemade wingbone call (sad I lost it after killing the jake)
- HS Strut Ring Zone slate
- Woods Wise Mystic box call (did the unthinkable and took a box in the woods!)
- Mouth call (rarely used) HS Strut Raspy Old Hen and later a Woodhaven Red Wasp
Decoys - none used in killing any birds
Gas money spent - I really have no desire to know.

Edited by catman529 (05/08/12 12:30 AM)