How bad can opening weekend of spring turkey season get?

Ridge Runner

AH fanatic
Joined
Mar 23, 2017
Messages
861
Reaction score
907
Media
16
Hunting reports
Africa
3
Hunted
East Cape, South Africa
Saturday, was the start of Tennessee's start of spring turkey season. I started the morning off by arriving at a prominent turkey hot spot just before nautical twilight. The birds were already beginning to gobble before sunrise; 7-8 where I was heading to set up, 3 at least in the closed off area, 2 more across the lake to the right.

Hastily I moved across the now marshy lake bottom, slowed my pace to the base of the ridge, then quietly as I could move to my preplanned position and a hasty setup to await the turkeys to move over to me as normally they do, or use to anyway.

As sunrise approached so did the excitement of all the gobbling, now more turkeys joined the chorus of aforementioned gobblers.

Suddenly a burst of cackles, sound of wings and of turkeys coming to the ground off their roosts all around me.

My eyes then my head started the slow tedious swivel in search for an approaching gobbler to come over the little ridge to me.

Suddenly a shot ring out from across the lake. Okay the first shot of opening day of this turkey season won't be mine. About fifteen minutes later four more shots from across and the left side of the lake ring out. With the sound of the shots the gobblers near me would gobble like crazy.

As I work my slate turkey call the gobblers are real excited and I can hear them moving toward and to the left of this natural blind, to the right a hen cackles. My turkey call isn't needed as now a hen will be calling these gobblers toward the hide and my awaiting shotgun.

It's been about forty minutes since my initial arrival; these birds are still excited.

POP! That sounded like a 410 on the other ridge to my right, followed by a BOOM! That was either a 20 gauge or 2 3/4 inch 12 gauge further up the other ridge. Now the gobbling nearly ceases.

I use my slate and box calls to fire the gobblers back up. There they are, 2 nice long beards; Where are the rest?
These 2 gobblers are around 70+/- yards, sneaking across in front of my hide.

The woods are now quiet. It's now 8 am, only "tweetie" birds and squirrels are moving about. Where did all the turkeys go?

Scanning the area with my eyes then slowing shifting my head to the right then left, nothing but annoying squirrels moving, it's 8:45; WTF, SOB, what happened to all those turkeys? Where'd they go? I slowly stand up looking, listening, nothing.

Its 10:00am: As usual no since in staying around the turkeys have disappeared toward the boat ramp/ NO HUNTING AREA side across from me.

Next: Sunday day 2
 

Ridge Runner

AH fanatic
Joined
Mar 23, 2017
Messages
861
Reaction score
907
Media
16
Hunting reports
Africa
3
Hunted
East Cape, South Africa
Sunday: day 2 of Tennessee's spring turkey season.

Today I'm launching the boat to turkey hunt.

Arrive at the lake around 5:30am. All's relatively quiet. The boat is in the water and ready just a little past nautical twilight. I'm in the little cove and easing my way to the second hide just before sunrise. Only gobbler calling this time of morning is on the other side in another TVA no authorized hunting area.

Breaking out the slate call and using a couple of other "tricks", 2 gobblers close by and to my front immediately respond.

It's just past sunrise, gobblers have stopped gobbling, WTF?!, this time yesterday they were still gobbling.

Eyeing the area not a single bird in sight. Slowly reaching for the water bottle in my cargo pants pocket. I look around once more before pulling the water bottle free from the pocket....OH SH*T, two birds have snuck to within 20 yards of my hide. Slowly, easing my hand over to pick up my shotgun to ready for the shot.

The birds move directly in front: breath, aim at the head, take the bird on the right, BOOM!, the turkey rolls backward, starts flopping, got him.....WTF?!!....the turkey is on his feet running up the hill....WTH! SOB!!...20 minutes of looking/stalking....no bird down.....this S*CKS!!..

Back to the boat, on to the second spot. On the bank coming to get a drink a hen, not just any hen, this hen has a two inch beard sticking straight out from her breast....studying to make sure....she realizes she being sized up.....YES!... positive...its a beard.....hunt on! (NOTE: now legally I could have tried a shot from my boat as the motor is off and not under power.)

Powering up the boat, maneuvering about 100-150 yards down, in a sandy spot the boat is beached, land anchored, and I'm off for a bearded hen.

First position is a spot along the bank about 30 yards from where I left the hen, no sight of her, no problem. Back up and into the pines. The stalk is on and up to the field and over the hill. Well there goes a hen into the air and away.

Make my way back down. Hmm...I beat her to the field so she didn't go that way. I didn't see her go for the rocky area, need to check the bank again from here..... Hmm...reevaluate....as I'm watching her to pop her head up in the natural run off ditch to my front, I hear her cluck... twice...to get my attention as she moves into the open lake bottom 15 yards from me...we look at each other, the bead sight of the shotgun goes to her head, and she quickly takes wing and away she goes.

Back to the boat and onto spot 3, it's now 9:am:

Fishing boats at 3, moving to 4. Well forget 4 move to 5 as the 4 deer socked and sent at least 3 turkeys running. At spot 5, another fisherman, a quick chat, and around to the second landing at spot 5....two hens sneaking their way in the short weeds... move on down to the third landing and sneak back...another hen running for the wood line. Moving to the back side of the island, land and head into the pines to the top of the hill.

It's 11:30am and around 72°F, time for lunch at the boat and on to point 6 for the afternoon hunt.

Arrive point 6, bird on the bank. Move down about 70 yards, park the boat, up and over to the wood line and move along the sandy path looking for the bird between the wood line and water in the weeds. Wait, listen, Oh Sh*t!!....2 Tom's in a fight...behind me in the pine area about 90 yards....moving....slipping into the pines and into a brushing natural blind, pull the slate call out and wait...seems the fighting is over, hit the call: first a couple of purrs, a cluck....a little bit of yelping... another few purrs...wait....somethings coming to me in a hurry....shotgun at the ready....finger on the safety....alls quiet.... eyes searching the area.....its sneaking in...there's movement along the edge of this natural blind....its a bird....BUSTED... by a hen five feet from me....WTF!!... SOB!.

Using the slate call, make a couple of cackles, a soft series of yelps and the gobblers respond back. Now wait a waiting and watching game. What seems like an eternity (maybe 5 minutes). Another series of soft purrs and yelps and a couple of other "tricks"....Suddenly a hen cackles about a 100 yards up the peninsula's ridge, the gobblers answer her. I use my call to bring them to my awaiting shotgun......After another eternity of silence....the hen cackles...the gobblers respond....she has won them to come to her...with no quiet approach through the thick brush to the grassy trail. I have been beaten yet again by a hen.

Graying clouds moving in from the southwest and scattered showers and possible thunderstorms in the afternoon forecast I decide to head back to the boat ramp, checking the various areas on my way. At spot 4 along the wood line 4 turkeys....red heads...can't land here must land about 200 yards further down on the sandy beach. On land I quickly move towards the turkeys. What might be a jake or hen is moving toward the lake for a drink...freezing....watching....another boater sends the turkey back to his friends along the wood line. One bird separates to the right the other three puddle around and slow move further into the woods...the stalk is on!

Creeping along the sandy and sparsely rocky ground, closing the distance...which way did they go? Right or left? Wishing now I had my moccasins on instead of these snake boots. Easing ever so slowly, using a really good woodsman tactic I move further into the woods following the turkey and deer path. The brush has now grown thick and green...looking and listening....finding my ambush spot...a "tweetie" bird avoids nearly landing on me...makes for a low tree branch a couple feet to my left...then just as quick flies off.

Once again the slate call comes out. The turkeys are silent. To my back the heavy amount of down fall trees and brush not likely the way these turkeys went....onto the sparse open woods and flat area ahead. As I get to my destination a gobbler sounds off, to my right...less than 25 yards, coming past me...shotgun shouldered...fiber sight on his head....he pauses, head stretched up.....BOOM!....he flutters, and rolls.....recovers and takes flight....WTF!!!...the other three red heads move swiftly ahead toward the lake on foot....they'll circle back toward me or fly off to the left.....the three have disappeared. Now to search for the one I shot..at.

After a 30 minute search of the area...another bird has failed to fall my shot....WTF!!...rolled to birds and both got away....how can this be??...WTH??.
 

Ridge Runner

AH fanatic
Joined
Mar 23, 2017
Messages
861
Reaction score
907
Media
16
Hunting reports
Africa
3
Hunted
East Cape, South Africa
My equipment:

Weapon: my previously patterned, 12 gauge, 28 inch barrel, full choke tube, shotgun.

Ammunition is 3 inch, number 5 shot

A Slate and a cedar box turkey calls with synthetic strikers, a relatively stiff ball cap

When weather permits, the next trip afield, I will break out the 10 (11) gauge, double barrel, muzzle loading shotgun. Using: 70 grain charge of 3f powder, over powder card, felt wad, 2 5/8 inch shot cup filled with number 5 shot, and over shot card.
 

BRICKBURN

Super moderator
Contributor
Lifetime titanium benefactor
AH ambassador
Joined
Aug 5, 2010
Messages
22,793
Reaction score
16,476
Location
Canada
Media
412
Articles
23
Hunting reports
Africa
8
USA/Canada
2
Europe
1
Hunted
Namibia, South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Canada, USA, Mexico, England
Great story. Sad result for you. Good luck.
 

Tra3

AH fanatic
Joined
Jan 22, 2019
Messages
625
Reaction score
864
Location
Minneapolis, MN
Media
13
Member of
SCI
Hunted
Namibia
Keep hunting! Lots of action, way better than just sitting with no birds.
Has it greened up down there? In MN we are still all brown colors and turkey season starts a week from tomorrow.
 

WAB

AH legend
Joined
Oct 8, 2015
Messages
2,019
Reaction score
4,075
Location
Alabama
Media
84
Hunting reports
Africa
5
USA/Canada
1
Member of
DSC, NRA, SCI
Hunted
Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Scotland, England, Canada, Alaska, Ireland
Keep at it. Been a slow spring for me, just got my first bird yesterday. IMO turkey hunting is one of the truly great hunts on this side of the pond.
 

Ridge Runner

AH fanatic
Joined
Mar 23, 2017
Messages
861
Reaction score
907
Media
16
Hunting reports
Africa
3
Hunted
East Cape, South Africa
Keep hunting! Lots of action, way better than just sitting with no birds.
Has it greened up down there? In MN we are still all brown colors and turkey season starts a week from tomorrow.

Here in northeast Tennessee we have had the 6th wettest March on record, and a lot of brush and trees that were leafless a week ago has now become leafy. Late spring/early summer temps (highs upper 60's- low 80's: lows upper 40's-low 60's) have helped things grow also.

Places where visibility was once out to 100+ yards has been reduced to 10 yards to zero. However, there are still the few open piney and hardwood areas, and old road beds.
 

leslie hetrick

AH fanatic
Joined
Jan 27, 2018
Messages
630
Reaction score
1,355
Location
pa. u,s.A.
Media
416
Hunting reports
Africa
1
USA/Canada
1
Member of
several sporting clubs
Hunted
several
tss # 9,s are the same weight as # 5 lead. that turkey was shot at 38 yards and most hits were in the neck-head area. this patteren was shot at a lazered 40 yards.

DSCN1569 (2).JPG
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Bruce

AH elite
Joined
Nov 2, 2013
Messages
1,225
Reaction score
964
Location
South Africa
Media
59
Articles
1
Hunting reports
Africa
1
Member of
SAGA/ Cape Hunters/ SA Hunters Association
Hunted
Namibia/Zimbabwe/Zambia/ South Africa/ Botswana/ Tanzania
My equipment:

Weapon: my previously patterned, 12 gauge, 28 inch barrel, full choke tube, shotgun.

Ammunition is 3 inch, number 5 shot

A Slate and a cedar box turkey calls with synthetic strikers, a relatively stiff ball cap

When weather permits, the next trip afield, I will break out the 10 (11) gauge, double barrel, muzzle loading shotgun. Using: 70 grain charge of 3f powder, over powder card, felt wad, 2 5/8 inch shot cup filled with number 5 shot, and over shot card.
I've never hunted turkey, but after reading this story I will surely include it on my " wish list"... Exciting/ disappointing / shocking / memorable / fulfilling... ALL IN ONE!!!
PS.. Do Guinea fowl count???
 

Standard Velocity

AH enthusiast
Joined
Sep 4, 2019
Messages
421
Reaction score
577
Media
2
Articles
1
Sounds like a more exciting turkey hunt than any of my attempts. Swing and a miss is better than staying home.

I spent a little time teaching an 8 year old to squirrel hunt this winter. I saw he and his father the day before turkey season and the boy was very excited to go shoot a turkey with his 410 the next morning. I bemoaned my poor turkey hunting abilities and told him how difficult turkey hunting can be; that it takes a true woodsman to be a good turkey hunter.

He promised to give me a turkey if he shot two. What a kind offer from this kid with such high hopes and undaunted belief in his abilities. I wished them luck and went home.

The next morning he had a nice Tom on the ground with his little 410 and a big smile.

Hope the remainder of your season is productive.
 

Ridge Runner

AH fanatic
Joined
Mar 23, 2017
Messages
861
Reaction score
907
Media
16
Hunting reports
Africa
3
Hunted
East Cape, South Africa
Sounds like a more exciting turkey hunt than any of my attempts. Swing and a miss is better than staying home.

I spent a little time teaching an 8 year old to squirrel hunt this winter. I saw he and his father the day before turkey season and the boy was very excited to go shoot a turkey with his 410 the next morning. I bemoaned my poor turkey hunting abilities and told him how difficult turkey hunting can be; that it takes a true woodsman to be a good turkey hunter.

He promised to give me a turkey if he shot two. What a kind offer from this kid with such high hopes and undaunted belief in his abilities. I wished them luck and went home.

The next morning he had a nice Tom on the ground with his little 410 and a big smile.

Hope the remainder of your season is productive.
One must never underestimate the "power of the force".....'Luke First Youngsters Turkey'; when it comes to youngsters and their underrated 410 shotgun.(n):whistle::):ROFLMAO:; so many turkeys have lost their heads...'.(y):)

Congrats to your young friend!
 

smokepole

AH veteran
Joined
Mar 1, 2011
Messages
104
Reaction score
66
Media
1
Hunting reports
Africa
1
USA/Canada
1
Member of
nra life member
Hunted
south africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambque, australia, New Zealand AK, VA, TN, NM, CO KS, SD, MT (USA)
Ridge Runner-- Why in the world would you take a 3 in 12 ga when you have a good mussel loader. So much fun with a ml. I have a 9-10 ga and use 110 grains 2f and the same volume of lead shot-9,7,5 mixed with or without a shot cup. Do not kill as many but lots of fun. I say if they are over 30 yards I just throw the gun at them because I cannot kill one any greater distance than that. I live near Bristol and things are getting green. Have some good hunts.
 

Ridge Runner

AH fanatic
Joined
Mar 23, 2017
Messages
861
Reaction score
907
Media
16
Hunting reports
Africa
3
Hunted
East Cape, South Africa
Ridge Runner-- Why in the world would you take a 3 in 12 ga when you have a good mussel loader. So much fun with a ml. I have a 9-10 ga and use 110 grains 2f and the same volume of lead shot-9,7,5 mixed with or without a shot cup. Do not kill as many but lots of fun. I say if they are over 30 yards I just throw the gun at them because I cannot kill one any greater distance than that. I live near Bristol and things are getting green. Have some good hunts.

We're country neighbors. I'm near Johnson City.

The 10/11 ga usually gets taken out after the first/opening weekend, or depending on where I hunt.

If I can find the photo I'll post the photo of 1 of 3 turkeys taken with my (since stolen indian trade gun), a 61.5 caliber, swamped barrel, smooth bore, flintlock rifle at over 50 yards.

Maybe we can get together and burn some powder at pond range when it reopens?
 

TNDave

AH veteran
Joined
Mar 29, 2018
Messages
128
Reaction score
133
Location
Tennessee
Media
13
Good story! I’m in Jonesborough, did my very first turkey hunt this year, opening morning, by myself, called in 2 gobblers from the roost, watched 4 fly down and called, within 5 minutes had 2 old boys at twenty yards...boom! Call it beginners luck? Since then, this past weekend had probably 15 hens with 5-6 gobblers around them and wouldn’t budge, very next day had a single hen that walked around and talked to me for 30 minutes!
5DAC43F5-BDFB-4A05-A3CF-06F30250EEB6.jpeg
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Ridge Runner

AH fanatic
Joined
Mar 23, 2017
Messages
861
Reaction score
907
Media
16
Hunting reports
Africa
3
Hunted
East Cape, South Africa
TNDave,

Nice bird! Congrats!
Are you hunting public or private land?
Your another nearby neighbor.
 
 

 

 

Latest profile posts

Enjoy the bush with Respect
20 day hunt in May 2022 with Zana Botes hard part now starting the wait
Better a fool on his own than a wise man at someone else's discretion
... F. Nietzsche
perry madl wrote on Ignatius of Antioch's profile.
Is your double still available?
I am interested in Safari Animal Paintings
 
Top