SCOUTING FOR RESULTS I’ve always believed that good luck comes to those who prepare for success. Success in the turkey woods is no different. Location, calling, set-up and practice all play an important role in tagging a big bird. Scouting may be the most important element. If you roosted birds or if you’re in a traditional strutting area your chances of encountering a Tom improve. This day was my fourth in Nebraska and I figured that I had them figured out by now.
|The bottleneck. This is where it all converges.|
They roosted to the West in a long stand of cottonwoods just below a cedar ridge. I’d watched dozens of birds walked down a 5-strand fence and file past a particular cattle gate and onto a rise where they strutted all day long. THE SET-UP
|The set up was a winner for a number of reasons and that gives me confidence.|
My plan was to set up my blind just past the gate about 15 yards to the east of the fence. I’d been glassing their movements and this was the ten-ring. My set-up was under a big old cottonwood and I tucked the blind up against its trunk. I was far enough from the fence that a bird could feasibly walk right past me. By now I knew that they always come down the fence to the gate and not from up on the hill. I was facing the gate at a distance of 22 yards. My blind is sneaky to Tom eyes. I treated it for UV with UV-Killer so it doesn’t glow blue. PRACTICE LIKE YOU MEAN IT If you could see into my blind after I get in there you’d be surprised to see me dancing all around. I practice everything. I open the windows that face the predicted shots. I position the chair and then practice drawing while checking the arrow and Roscoby Cam for window clearance. I position the camera and check to be sure I can see the LED viewfinder from all angles. I check for objects that define my cameras field of view and memorize the margin markers.
|Setting up and practicing before it happens is critical.|
I draw and practice shooting from my knees if I have to take an extreme angle. I place my box call in a pouch so I can access it quickly and quietly. I lean my bow with arrow on the string against the leg of my tripod and make sure my feet can move without tipping it over. O hang my binocs from the leveling arm of my camera. I even practice turning my camera on and off from this angle while not dinging my release into the tripod. Practice makes perfect I’ve heard so I’m practiced up for all possible scenarios.
|Calling was only a small part of my plan and it did convince two hens that the gate was a good place for a rest.. My location was the primary reason for my set-up.|
Well I called a bit and listened. Yep there they were just flying down in the morning river mist. This was my day. Some poor old Long Beard has seen his last sunrise. To my surprise I heard gobbling up on the hill behind me. I’d never seen a bird up there before. Then two hens followed the fence all the way past the plowed field and walked up to the gate.
|The hens felt completely comfortable sitting down and hanging out just a few yards from my blind. I’ve come to a conclusion that deer don’t understand cars like turkeys don’t understand blinds.|
I wear black when blind hunting and today I was blending in with the black interior of my blind. Its impossible to see me in here. Sure enough they walked up to my decoy, which I’d put in a squatting position with a Jake behind her. They rubber-necked the set up for a minute and then sat down next to the decoy. Actually one sat on a limb just behind the decoy and one squatted down for a rest not 15 yards from my blind. I thought, “That is neat…real decoys!”
|Two places that I’ve been able to encounter the big birds consistently are adjacent to a roost in the AM or PM and at their strutting grounds.|
I saw a number of long beards walk out of the cedars up on the ridge and approach the strutting grounds from above…that was different, they’d always come from the fence line before. BE FLEXIBLE Then I heard something that made me uneasy. Gobbling from directly behind the blind, about 50 yards. Hadn’t they read the set-up book? They are supposed to come from the plowed field, along the fence and through the gate. I opened up a zipper an inch in the rear of the blind toward the tree trunk and sure enough three gobblers were walking toward the blind like bearded terrorists to an execution. They were angling toward the strutting birds but they’d pass by the back door at about 14 yards.
|I peeked out the back door and here came the troops.|
I had only 10 or 20 seconds to make the call. Robert and Fred told me that they have opened up blind windows when birds were 25 yards away and the turkeys didn’t mind as long as they moved slowly. No time for slowly now! I unzipped the window and let it free-fall like the Euro. I pushed the chair to the side spun the camera around, turned on my Roscoby and then the trio stepped past the tree. They were only 16 yards away. As if I wasn’t already rattled enough, the last one broke into a strut, spitting and drumming. I drew my bow from my knees and raised up. My pin found the wing butt and I touched off the shot. You know how a shot gobbler usually flops around like popping popcorn. Well this one did the opposite.
|The tom fell like he ran into a lightning bolt…right here.|
I was shooting Rockets giant turkey whacker. They call it a Tom-O-Hawk. This three blade mechanical has a 2 3/4 cutting diameter but its total tissue cut is over 5 inches. It’s like shooting a kitchen knife sideways through the bird. The result…this Tom fell straight down like he was hit by lightening. He didn’t even wiggle a single feather or kick once. His buddies saw this new long black stick coming out of his side with the words “Crush” written on it and started putting as they walked away.
|The bird was my second with an arrow this spring and a Merriam to boot.|
I was pumped. I had filmed a backdoor bird with not one camera angle but with my Roscoby….two angles. I couldn’t wait to show Robert and Fred. Yep, I’m Mr. cameraman alright. If you need something filmed just get a hold of Ol’Wade. So I got busy shooting the appropriate cut always to support the story. After about 20 minutes I had enough and I decided to take a look at the shot. I knew it would be incredible…On-camera with the bird only 14 yards away … I’m a great video producer/cameraman even out the back door.
- I used Bear’s new Attack Bow set at 70# and shot the Crush arrow through a Whisker Biscuit.
- My 3 pin Trophy Ridge Fox Fire sight lined up perfectly.
- The Tom-O-Hawk broadhead dropped him in his tracks.
- They never noticed the Gorilla Blind with the frilly stuff all over it…which I really like.
- Of Course I treat all of my hunting gear, blind included with ATSKO’S UV-Killer.
- I held my Roscoby Riser Cam just low enough to film the blind and not the bird…OK, so I’m not such a great camera guy…but I took a great long beard with an arrow and had a great time.