Kansas 2013 spring turkey hunting trip. Short version one jake and a good time hunting with a good friend. Long, long winded version see below.
After driving 9 hours from Minneapolis to southern Kansas, with 8 of those hours being in the rain, I arrived at the WIHA a buddy and I planned on hunting. I spent an hour or so driving around the WIHA lands trying to see what hand I was dealt and trying to roost and turkeys to no luck. Thursday morning I got out to some WIHA land and hunted a few locations with no luck and after a few hours I decided to move to another location. After driving the WIHA land again I decided to start hunting an area I thought looked good from Google Earth so as I was moving along the edge of the field I spotted some turkeys around the bend working my way. I got done and watched them to see if they were hens/jakes or toms. After realizing they were coming my way I got down got my gun up and saw 6 jakes come around the corner at 25 yards. I figured what the heck I have 2 tags and once one jake cleared the group I dropped him. The other 5 jakes stood around for 5 minutes trying to figure out what happened and I could have easily dropped another one but that last tag was now designated for a mature gobbler. After taking some in the field photos with the jake I saw a black object moving around in the picked cornfield. I slowly made my way towards the object hugging the tree line until I got about 50 yards away and realized it was a raccoon. I spent the rest of the day set up on the edge of a field trying to catch some toms on the way to the roost when I heard one on the other side of the creek from me so I decided to back track and get closer to him. Or course as I do this he is coming in the direction I was originally set up in but I did see him enter the trees near roosting time at the corner of public land. Friday morning we get out to the spot where I roosted the tom from the day before and my buddy bumps a hen on the way in. We must have been about 10 minutes to late as she scatters and takes the rest with her. Friday night I roosted some toms from my spot on a road but they were on private land. Saturday morning I set up about 30 yards South of the public-private land boundary along a single row of trees thinking if I could get one of those 2-4 gobbling toms interested I could get them to come my way across the land boundary. Of course the time I think they are getting closer a rancher comes by with his tractor and scares them off.
I then go check out another spot and see a strutter and two hens in a picked corn field flanked by woods that make a triangular shape with the smallest end being where I started and opening up as I head southwest. So I set up facing Southwest against a good sized tree and start doing some calling. About 5 minutes later a hen starts clucking at me off to my left at 15 yards and behind me I hear some footsteps in the leaves but he/she never appears and after I try to stand and peak around the corner slowly nothing is there. So I start working my way around the field edge and I bust about 5-8 turkeys laying down in the grass and they start taking off so I decided quickly to run after them trying to break them up and hopefully call them back. After 30 minutes of calling nothing was going on so I go for lunch but I planned on coming back later that afternoon.
I get back about 3:30 and get set up about 75 yards from a good trail between two pine trees that make a great natural blind and start calling with my box call about every 20 minutes or so. About 5:30 I hear a gobble so I let him wait about 5 minutes then give him some more yelps and he hammers back in what I think is from the other side of the pine tree. So gun is up and ready to go and ready for him to walk out from that pine tree then…nothing happens. I start to slowly start to look around and see that there are two good toms right where the trail that I walked in at 75 yards away. So I try to give them some soft yelps and purring. One starts heading my way until the second one turns and walks away leading the other one with him. Those were two very good looking toms as they were strutting and gobbling from 75 yards with their cream colored fan ends in the dimming sunlight. So I buzz around to try and do some roosting and as I stop by the place I started that night a gobbler hammers back at me after I use my crow call. I drive slowly out trying to see him from the road and sure enough there he is 25 feet from the road and 20 feet up. He was lucky it is illegal to shoot roosted turkeys in Kansas or he was dead.
No problem I thought my buddy and I will set up in that small field the next morning. I tell my buddy that if that tom starts towards him to shoot him and not try to save him for me…he just smiles and said “You had your chance and if I do he is dead.” So we get there plenty early and figured that there was 3 ways for that gobbler to go and 2 of them he would die. He landed about 110 yards from me and followed a hen as they take the safe option and head across the road to private land.
All in all it was a good trip and I was happy to harvest a jake the first day. However I am disappointed that, in my opinion, two mistakes were key in me failing to harvest one of those gobblers Saturday evening. I think one mistake was my set up location as I should have been closer to the trail as in my experience turkeys will take the trails as it is easier for them and secondly in the corner of a field I should have been using decoys, possibly a couple of feeding hens and jake, as they were looking for the hen that they heard.
Once again picked cornfields in Kansas is where were we saw the most birds and secondly make sure to look at Google Earth WIHA maps good before you get there because sometimes the land that is enrolled in WIHA is nothing more than pasture land with no trees at all. I would recommend Kansas as a spot for nonresident hunters as the WIHA maps are very user friendly and the people I have come across in Kansas are very nice and friendly.
I will add photos from the trip as I get them downloaded.
"Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will." --Mahatma Gandhi
"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."--F. Scott Fitzgerald, American writer