Your Best "Almost"

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Your Best "Almost"

Postby grunt_doc » February 12th, 2009, 3:53 am

I am quickley learning that going home at the end of a hunt empty handed can be just as rewarding as bagging a bird.  The same can't exactly be said for other types of hunting (for the most part).  So what was your most memorable empty handed hunt?

I took my brother out mid spring season last year.  We played tag with a tom, but he didn't want to leave the hens he already had.  Even after the argument I got into with one of them [:D]! Hunting ends at noon during the spring in NY, and around 11 we heard something making its way over to us.  A hen popped out from the bushes and started cutting up a storm looking for her "friends" making all the noise.  At one point, she must have been only a few feet from us.  It was great.  Then the toms and jakes showed up...  We were literally surrounded by gobbles.  It was getting hard to tell exactly how many were there.  They were right there!...but wouldn't step out from the thick cover.  11:30, 11:45...they were just out of sight.  They gobbled at everything we did.  I could have farted and they would have answered!  Noon hit and we had to leave.  now we didn't have a clue how we were going to get out of there without busting up the bunch.  We just slowly unloaded when the hen had her back to us and sat there for about another 20-30min, silent.  They eventually wandered away and we snuck out.  It was awesome, even though we didn't even SEE a tom.  I came back the next day to find that they were all well withing range, just behind cover [:@]! 
You don't get that with any other type of hunting!  A bad day hunting deer is a good day of stating at trees!  A bad day of duck hunting is a good day of decoy spread practice!  A bad day of turkey hunting is....still fun! 

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RE: Your Best "Almost"

Postby Fan Club » February 12th, 2009, 4:56 am

*-reposted from the Michigan forum-
Had two great mornings on the same weekend last May.

Saturday- I had three gobblers working at once at 8:00 a.m....on three adjoining properties! One to the east, one to the south and one to the west. I'd call and all three would gobble. Do you think I could get just one to come onto the land I can hunt? All three stood their ground and sounded like they were working strut zones...get a little closer, and then the next gobble a little farther. Pissed off a brood hen and had a shouting match with her bringing her to within about 10 yards of my position. Thought sure a live deke and all of that racket would bring in a tom. Nope. Gobbling petered out about 10:30.

Sunday- Took my 12 year old grandson, Ryan, on his first turkey hunt. When I went to wake him up at 5:00 a.m. he was up and already dressed in his camo! We went back to the same spot and heard the first gobble at 5:45, off the property to the SE in the pines. We set up at the property line and when the bird flew down he left the pines and headed south. He must have been pacing the field edge...I have never heard a bird gobble that much in my life. I didn't think a bird could gobble that much. Ryan quit counting at 150 gobbles about 7:30 a.m. Ryan got the bird to gobble at his slate call and crow call, a big thrill for him. After two hours of this it became comical....we would hear him back in the pines to the SE...then back to the field at the south...then in the woods to the west. We pissed off the same brood hen and got her within 20 yards of our blind this time. I got him to gobble at the gobble shaker and then, why not...I pulled out my kee-kee whistle. The bird went crazy and finally started to come in! Only problem was, it was 8:30 and by now we were sitting in full sun. He got within about 90 yards to the SW and I had to try and get around the tree. Ryan was also moving too much trying to see the bird and we got busted. He last gobbled at 9:00 a.m. and totally shut down, never to be seen or heard again.

What a thrill though. I was upset that Ryan missed all of the action Saturday morning and was hoping for a repeat performance...which we got in spades. No exaggeration, this bird had to gobble over 200 times in 3 hours. It gives me a sore throat just thinking about it. 

We didn't get that gobbler but I'm sitting here smiling.
"The joy of living is his, who has the heart to demand it." Teddy Roosevelt

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RE: Your Best "Almost"

Postby Cut N Run » February 12th, 2009, 8:12 am

Before the season opened, I found a strut zone at an opening near a ridgetop.  There just happened to be a long-ago uprooted tree in the shade that left a mound of leaf-covered dirt about perfect distance from the clearing. I sat against the base of the only tree big enough to break up my outline beside the uprooted tree mound and practiced swinging my arm in front of me to make sure a shotgun barrel would have enough clearance.  I returned on Opening Day ready to go. A nice Gobbler was roosted about 75 yards away. Once he flew down, it didn't take much calling to get him to come in at full strut. He got within range and started moving toward my left. As I got the shotgun in position for a shot, the barrel hit a tree to my left about the size of a pool cue. If I'd tipped the barrel up to clear the tree, the Turkey would have busted me.  I had to sit still and watch as a nice gobbler passed within 30 yards & I couldn't do a thing about it.  Turns out that when I tested to see if I had enough clearance, I was used to hunting with my single shot. On this hunt I was using a SBE I hadn't hunted with before that was much longer.

After the Turkey was long gone, I ripped that little tree out of the ground by the roots. A few days later from that same spot, I got that bird and another that was with him in a single shot (accidental kill). Right when I was pulling the trigger, the second bird ran up behind the one I was drawn down on. They both went down like bowling pins.  I got the landowner to tag the second one as that one would have put me over the limit.

Another one:
Last season, I had a gobbler coming to me from the East.  He was in a draw below gobbling as he worked his way up towards the flat I was positioned on. I was mostly purring & scratching the leaves to keep him coming.  I saw his head pop up from the draw and could hear him crunching leaves as he was walking closer.  He was spitting & drumming now, so close that I could feel the vibrations and I feared he might get in my lap.  He passed about 8-10 feet behind my tree dragging his wing tips and spitting & drumming the whole time. My heart was beating about 100 times a minute. He continued to about 30 yards behind me, then turned and headed back down the draw he'd come from.  About the time he got out of sight, I cutt & purred, and he double gobbled before the sounds even got all the way out of my mouth. I shifted my position so I would have a clear shot if he followed the same route he had taken before. He gobbled again, much closer this time and I was getting ready to take the safety off.  About that time, I caught movement to the North, in front of where I had been facing.  It was a hen & she was going to that Gobbler.  Even though he'd barely crested the edge of the flat, he was behind some low cedars & brush that prevented me from having a clear shot.  Last I saw, the hen was walking into the same thicket & I never heard another sound out of them.

Just because you have one close doesn't necessarily mean you are going to get a shot.

Luck Counts, good or bad

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RE: Your Best "Almost"

Postby swpatrkyhunter » February 12th, 2009, 8:24 am

Good post Grunt_ Doc! My most memorable hunt was only 3 years ago.   My best freind, my ex-brother-in-law, and I went hunting one morning and got outsmarted the whole morning.The birds were eathier henned up or just not gobbling after flydown. So we decided to go to an area we had not huntied before but thought had some potental. Only being able to hunt till noon we wasted not time getting there. We parked the truck and got our gear on and went to the top of a power line and hit a couple of crow calls. Nothing. So we moved to the next hill which was a little higher and did it again. Nothing. I had a hawk call in my poket and hit that once. Paydirt! Heard a bird about 250 yards down in the next valley. We move down to a bench in the hillside and steped into the woods about 75 yards from the power line. I took the farthest position from the power line about 100 yards. My buddy took a post about 40 yards to my right and my ex-brother-in-law sat to his right about 40 yards from the power line. I hit a box call once we were all sitting down. The tom roared back before I got done. He was hot. Not knowing the lay of the land we had not idea were this bird might come in from. My buddy hit his box and another thuderous gobble came through the woods from only about 150 yards out. He was moving in to our location. At the bottom of the vally we could hear crows going nuts and a high pitched squealing like something was getting killed. The racket would shock gobble the tom now and then. Looking at our watches we saw there was only about 45 min to get this bird into shotgun range. My buddy hit his box call softly. Nothing. I hit mine more agressive and he gobbled hard. My buddy hit his box loud and the bird sounded like he was almost right in our laps. Another tom boomed in from across the power line and was heading our way as well. we got our guns up and did'nt call anymore. The comotion down below was getting the bird to shock gobble and we could hear him getting closer with each gobble. Just like a calm before the storm the woods got erriely quiet. Not moving a muscle scanning the woods moving my eyes only I heard a BOOM! My buddy shot. I kept still few a few seconds till I heard my buddy yell out to me "Did you see him?" " No!" I yelled back. " Did you get him?" Just them I saw movment out of the corner of my eye. There was the Tom runnig full pace about 80 yards out. It was the biggest turkey I had ever seen! He almost looked like an Ostrich with short legs!  Beard swinging back and forth. Then he dissappeared. I got up and went over to my buddy who was sitting there disgusted with himself. " What happend?" I asked. " As I was squeezing the trigger he started to go into strut, I tryed to adjust to follow his head and ended up hitting a log in front of him" " He was so big I started shakeing" " Did you see him?" He asked me. " "Yes I did, He was HUGE" I replied. Looking at my waych it was 5 till 12:00. Even though we came up empty handed our adreniline was still going and we talked about what had just happend on the long hike back to the truck. Every year we talk about that hunt. What we could have done differently. What we did that was right. But still it was one of the most exciting hunts we have had and we will remember it with a smile for years to come.

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RE: Your Best "Almost"

Postby wordbird » February 12th, 2009, 9:17 am

Almost! What's that? I've killed every bird I ever sat down to. [sm=rolleyes.gif] If you believe that, I've got some nice Oceolas scouted out here in So. Tenn I'll put you on.
I've had so many almosts that I don't know where to start. From ones that strutted 10 yards behind my tree for what seemed like hours to ones that strutted 20 yards in front but with only the tip of the fan visible to the ones that circled me and blindsided me to............... You get the idea. I've had numerous great hunts that did not involve wrapping my hand around a pair of those ugly feet.
"The only absolute in turkey hunting is that there are no absolutes."

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RE: Your Best "Almost"

Postby dmcianfa » February 12th, 2009, 10:54 am

My best "almost" came my second year hunting.  The previous year I had shot a jake as my first bird and was damned proud of it.  This year I was set on getting a paintbrush/razorleg.  It was only the third day of the season and being that I was relatively new to the game, my calling was still very novice compared to that of my buddy, who could purrrrrrrrr like a kitten.  He has called in so many fussy birds for others in his day that he is known around us as "the nail" (in reference to the nail in the coffin).  If you had a henned up gobbler, he was the man to call.  It just so happened I worked with him and he agreed to go with me a weekend to try and get a nice limbhanger. 

Whel, we started out that morning working a bird we heard a gobble from a owl hoot at the side of a dirt road on public land we often checked.  We had a good idea where he was roosting from locater calls earlier in the month, so we boogied to a field edge that was about 100 yds away from a set of pines we figured he was in.  As we setup just at first light ,my pal started mouthing off and we were entertained by what we thought was 4 different gobbles.  He didn't have to make another sound the rest of the hunt.  This bird wasn't henned up at all, but all of those horny sob's were on a b-line to our hen decoys.  They were all running across the field in full view, 3 jakes and a big ole' Tom.  About 40-50 yds out the tom started strutting and then would move a little closer and strut again, all the while the jakes kinda walking hurriedly in front of the Tom.  So as the Tom approached my 30 yd preference for shooting at that time, the jakes just about came within 10 yrds. of the decoys.  They were kinda weary and trying to get the decoys to move, all the while this Tom was absoulutely MASSIVE and spittin' up  a storm.  The biggest bird in terms of body and beard I still have ever seen in my life to this day, bar none, no comparison.  I wasn't really focused on the jakes as I was too excited about the Tom, but they started to get ansy and knew the jig was up and were starting to walk away excitingly towards the Tom back from where they came.  The Tom just kinda hung back a bit to see what the jakes reactions were.  I figured he would come in kick ass and have his way with the decoys, but he just monitored the jakes and looked about.  Smart SOB!  Anyway, he crept into range and just as I put my bead on his head and he came out of full strut those jakes went into an all out run and went in front of my line of sight simoultaneously as I squeezed off a round.  I didn't know it at the time, but two jakes went down.  I only saw one bird topple over.  I was sure I nailed the big fella.  But, low and behold, when we ran up there, there was two adolescents with a whopping 2" of total beard between the two of 'em.  My buddy laughed and I almost cried, as we watching those birds continue to scurry more than a 150 yds away by that time.  Later that week a feller' nailed that bird in almost the same exact spot and full mounted the beast.  He had 1-1/8" spurs, 11.0156" beard, and weighed a whopping 24.12 lbs.  [&o][&o]  I'll never foget those numbers.  My buddy was so excited for me to get two birds in one shot, but I still kick myself for not taking that shot a split second sooner when he was still in full strut.  Oh, well.  I tagged one bird and my buddy the other and we had cream of mushroom turkey that afternoon.  Not a total loss I guess and we sure had plenty to eat and some story to share.  That bird still haunts me in my dreams to this day and looking back now, I'm not sure I would feel the same way if I did get him, but boy that soup would have tasted a whole lot better and I would have some pretty nice braggin' rights in town the rest of my days.  LOL :)[:D][:D]
"After eating an entire moose, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you're full of bull, keep your mouth shut."

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RE: Your Best "Almost"

Postby SamuraiTater » February 13th, 2009, 4:36 am

Probably not much to tell when stacked up against some of your stories, but the context is what makes this one.  I had never been turkey hunting in my life and wasn't even out with another who had any experience.  Everything I knew about the sport came from reading and talking to turkey hunters.  I had read and re-read Brian Lovett's "Hunting Pressured Turkeys" to the point of having it just about memorized like you would your favorite movie you'd seen 15 times.
So there I was, it's the second week of the season and I'm out there in the woods for my first time, flying solo right from the get-go.......on public land, at that.  I'd invested a lot of time into learning about turkey behavior and habitat, come a long way in learning to use various calls, etc.  I'd seen one hen and had a few casual conversations with some others from a distance, but you just don't really know if your calling or your set-up is viable until it actually fools a gobbler into coming in for a look.
I was set-up about 15 feet into the tree line overlooking a large field one afternoon, with a big ridge at my back.  I fully expected birds to come feeding through that field in the late afternoon and I was pretty sure they roosted up on that ridge.  Off and on for about 45 minutes, I threw out some clucks and feeding purrs and got no response.  Then I followed some quick cutting with fighting purrs for about a minute.  I was starting to question my set-up and I laid my shotgun in my lap.  I put my head back against that tree trunk and contemplated taking a short nap. 
....Then I heard the sound of him running down that ridge.  I'd never heard a turkey's feet in the pinestraw, but I was pretty sure that's what it had to be.  And he wasn't coming in slow and cautious, he was on a dead run.  Only problem was that it was almost dead behind me and I couldn't afford to turn my head for a look.  And BTW, whoever said you can't call a turky downhill, never met this ole' boy.  I heard him stop just behind me and I did my best not to even breathe.  About 10 more feet and he would have set up in my blind with me.  After a few tense minutes with my heart jumping out of my chest, he started to alarm putt.  (I'd never heard an actual one of those before either, but that sharp pop was pretty unmistakeable.)   I thought he was moving off, back up that ridge and I turned to see what I'd missed.  He was only about 15 feet away and from the way he turned his head to give me the evil eye, I realized that he had no idea I was there until I moved.  He'd been pacing around behind me.  He was black and all slicked back, with an irridescent red in his plumage.  His head was completely beet red and he had a noticeable beard protruding from his chest.  He got out of town before I had a chance to notice much more about him than that.
I never had a shot, but I was stoked that I'd been able to call a bird in.  When you're a complete novice, fooling the game you seek is a pretty satisfying experience in itself.  I know I'm no great caller, but that afternoon I said something that ole' gobbler understood and reacted to.  It sounded authentic enough to him that he came from the back side of that big ridge to check it out.  I may not have kiiled him but I knew I was doing something right.

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RE: Your Best "Almost"

Postby silvestris » February 13th, 2009, 12:25 pm

SamuraiTater, he likely was not putting, but asking for confirmation of your location.  A light yelp or a cluck & purr would have eased his suspicion and caused him to further advance.  However, since he was directly behind you, you were probably doomed due to a fortuitous, unfortunate position problem. 
Why be good when you can B-Mobile or Spin & Strut.

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