Took my first (on purpose) fall bird this evening, a nice jake of the year.
Today was the only day this week I didn't have meetings at work: I took that as a sign that I was meant to go hunting.
Left the house at 5:00 AM with a plan to hit some of the public land I had scouted during the summer. Arrived at the first spot at 20 to 6:00 to find trucks parked at both ends. Assuming they are bowhunters and not wanting to bugger their hunts, I turn around. The second spot on my list, is only 5 minutes away. As I was unloading another truck pulled up and two more bowhunters stepped out (apparently everyone else had a meeting free agenda today as well...), so I walked over to see where their stands were. Turned out they were tracking a deer they had shot the evening before, and were heading to the opposite side of the public from where I wanted to go.
It was windy all day, which made hearing birds difficult. I heard nothing on the roost or at flydown. After a few 1/2 hr calling sessions with no responses, I started trolling around the area. The habitat looked good, I was surprised to not hear any birds or even find any sign. Around 8:00 I decided to head over to another piece of public ground I had scouted. On the way I drove past one of the farms I have permission to hunt to see how much progress they were making on getting the crops out. Just down the road from the farm I did a double take: about 30 birds picking bugs in a back pasture a couple hundred yards from the road.
The second piece of public ground also turned out to be a bust. I covered most of it in a couple hours, again no birds seen or heard. Not even a feather or a track seen. 11:00 AM found me sitting in the truck eating a sandwich for lunch and thinking about where to head next. I finally decided on another piece of public ground where I had seen a few birds two weeks before (I was purposefully avoiding the private ground I have permission on as I had hit them pretty hard on opening weekend, and wanted to give those birds a bit of a rest). By chance I happened to be driving down the same road I had taken earlier. The birds in the pasture had been replaced by a couple dozen cows, but there was a truck in the driveway. I figured what the hell, and pulled into the driveway. The farmer was very friendly and after a nice 15 minute talk he told me It'd be fine if I hunted his land this fall, as long as I was careful about the cows. A handshake and a few smiles later and I was headed through the cattle gate and into the pasture.
The wind is blowing pretty good by now, making hearing difficult, but over the next few hours I manage to make contact with a couple groups of turkeys (one a brood hen with her poults, and a group of bigger birds that I didn't get a solid ID on. Last year's jakes maybe?) while slowly walking and calling while staying as hidden as possible. The birds where pretty chatty when I could get close enough to hear them, but a shot never did present itself (the safety came off twice...) and both groups eventually drifted away. I attempted to scatter the larger birds for a recall attempt, but they were wise to that game and I couldn't get close enough before they all winged off together to the next ridge over.
I spent the last hour sitting in the shade at a trail crossroads cat napping, enjoying the weather, and throwing out some gobbler yelps and clucks every now and then. I packed it up at 5:00 pm so I could be home at a reasonable time and started the walk out. About halfway back to the pasture gate I thought I heard purring coming down the wind. A few steps later and I was sure of it. I could hear flapping wings and clucking, and caught a glimpse of birds jumping around 100 yards ahead and off to the side of the wheeler trail I was walking. I eased over to the side of the trail and began to slowly close the distance, screened from the birds by the saplings and undergrowth that lined much of the trail. At 50 yards distance I sat down, put my gun on my knee and let out a short series of jake cuts, rolled into a kee kee run, and threw in a fighting purr for good measure. Everything goes silent and I take a breath to kee kee run again when 12 birds round the corner in a dead sprint right at me. A single cluck stops them in their tracks at 30 yards, and they up periscope. The lead jake drops at the shot and the rest take wing in all directions. I sit there for a minute to make sure they've all moved off, then get up and walk over to the jake. I slit the time and date on the tag, fix it to his leg, and place him over my shoulder to resume the walk out. The first kee kee run rings out 100 yards up the ridge, followed by a second, then a third. I smile. With two more tags in my pocket I am certainly tempted, but no, it's a long season. The birds aren't going anywhere. I turn and head down the wheeler trail towards the pasture gate, listening to the recall going on without me...
I think I am starting to like this fall thing.
Last edited by Gopherlongbeards
on September 20th, 2012, 6:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.