Wednesday, April 22, 2009

2009 Thunderchicken Harvest

The Kansas turkey season began two weeks ago and today was my first opportunity to get out after an old Tom.

At first light I tried to get within 150 yards of a roosted gobbler that was sounding off intending to alert his lady friends before fly down. It's a bit of a crap shoot guessing where a bird will fly down and sure enough the gobbler I was setting up on pitched off and away from my location. Still, I could hear another gobbler a long way off, so I stayed put and called for a good 10 minutes. Just as I heard a turkey responding and possibly coming in, about 100 head of cattle descended upon my location and scared off anything that was inside my set up perimeter. Such is turkey hunting, so I packed up my decoys and headed about a half mile west to a place I have seen Tom's strutting.
I sat in that spot for about 20 minutes calling intermittently, then "BOOM". The neighbor was hunting on the other side of the fence and apparently got something just 150 yards away from me. I slinked back towards my original position and tried to devise a new strategy as I walked.

This was the best part of my morning by the way. Walking peacefully through the woods at 7:30 AM, taking in the Spring sights and sounds. Muddy ground, newly budding leaves on the trees, sprouting green plant life coming up through the forest floor. I witnessed two raccoons fighting over a resting spot high in a sycamore tree and watched a bunch of tree rats (squirrels) dig out acorns they planted in the Fall. The wind was light out of the southeast at about 5mph, 60 degrees- just perfect. I slowly made my way to a favorite ridge top, picked out a tree and decided I would set up and take a nap if nothing else.

Just as I finished placing my decoys (I use a standing hen, bedded hen, and standing Jake set up) I stood up at the big Oak tree I had decided to sit in front of and used my box call to try and elicit a gobble. As soon as I hit the call a loud gobble was unleashed and not far away! I sat quickly, got my mask on, put my mouth call in, and started some yelping to lure the longbeard in to range. I still couldn't see him, but he was gobbling his fool head off. I had my gun ready, I was guessing the direction he would come. After about 10 minutes of going back and forth with the gobbler, I saw his big old white head and coming over a little rise. Soon he would see my decoys...then, when he did, he puffed up in to full strut. He came in to my decoys at full strut for about 60 yards. Seeing a fully mature male turkey in full strut trying to impress a hen is a mixture of nobility and ridiculousness. It's an awesome sight for a turkey hunter. When he got to 25 steps, I put the bead on his head and dropped the hammer- he fell instantly.

This is one of the heaviest turkeys I have ever harvested. I'm guessing him to be 25 pounds plus. I got lots of breast meat off him. He had 1 1/4 inch spurs with a 10-inch beard. Very nice, mature bird.

Fire up the frying pan!!!


Qayaq said...

So you are a mammal with a chin beard going after a bird with a chin beard.

jeff said...

Nice story!

I'm regretting not turkey hunting this year, but I can live vicariously through your story...

Just curious, you don't know the weight? Don't you have to check them in? We do in NJ.

Anonymous said...

Gobble!Gobble! Turkey Hunter by the hair of your chinny,chin, chin.
That is a beautiful bird. What a catch. Better than the one I caught with my van. Congrats!!!

Reepicheep said...

No check in required in Kansas. I wish they did have such a system.

Frontier Forest said...

Pastor Tony, my business partner is a pure sportsmen and he loves the hunt. Before I read for myself, I sent him the Tony Turkey Adventure. Your stories leading up to the big kill are as exciting as the reading of a fine “who-done-it” mystery. I would have loved if Pastor Nathan would have been able to video the keen stalk. But he was probably on his own gobbler watch.

Malcolm said...

I love your descriptive "tree rat".
I describe them as rats with a good PR agent.

Qayaq said...

The Turkey was going to be out national bird. I think Ben Franklin suggested it.

Nathan said...

Woody I was on my own gobbler watch, but it was more like a gobbler listen since I never saw him. I did some manuevering and calling to try to get him to come, but my guess is he was with some hens.