MS season was a bust for me, 2nd time I've ever gotten skunked granted I worked midnights the entire season and that didn't help. But still never got on a bird. Had a lone gobbler I chased all year, never would gobble or respond to a call, I would just get pics of him and he drove me nuts.
Me and Reid headed out on our annual trip this past year to Ohio with hopes of hitting PA WV and maybe NY but that got changed thanks to horrible weather and less than friendly locals.
We scouted for a day and found some birds in Ohio for the opener and when we drove up the next morning the road looked like a parking lot. There were people everywhere so we kept moving to other spots until we finally found a spot that no one was hunting. We could hear a bird in the distance and after walking through the medieval briar patch the bird ended up being across a big finger of the lake we were hunting close to. No luck day one and we had to stop hunting at Noon. We scouted a new block of land we had found and it looked promising.
Day 2 looked like a parking lot too. It was very similar to back home in Mississippi on the public land there. But that’s just part of it and it makes it more rewarding when you do harvest a bird. We set up and didn’t hear a bird all morning. So we started walking and looking. When we were driving out at 12:02 a big gobbler just walks out in front of us and looks at us as if he knew what time it was. Later that afternoon after we got some lunch we kept scouting finding some more birds. We are glassing some birds going to roost, from the truck, about 300yds away and a guy pulls up right behind us and gets out and starts cranking on a box call. The two gobblers ran the 100yd dash in about 5seconds flat. He shrugs his shoulders and drives by us as we aren’t even there.
Day 3 we’re in the area the two gobblers ran hoping they would gobble a little for us, they got to gobbling and it was our best gobbling morning so far. We could hear 8 birds in all different directions so we felt like the other trucks we saw that morning would have birds close to them to chase. We get set up about 100yds away and have the birds cutting off our tree calls. We heard them fly down and then the woods went silent. We waited, expecting to see two gobblers slipping in on us instead we see two guys slipping in from behind us. They had walked past 3 other gobbling birds to get to the more fired up ones. They finally saw us and backed out only to make a loop and get in between us and the birds. We sat for a little while listening to the calling and gobbling and waiting on a shot but they ended up bumping them somehow. It sounded like a sure thing as hot as the gobbler was. A little disgusted we split up to cover more ground and I never heard a bird the rest of the morning. Reid had one close to him and as I was getting close to the truck a shot rang out, I was pumped that he got a shot only to find out someone had shot one off the bend in the road in the area he was walking. A huge storm was blowing in that afternoon so we scouted as much as we could and yes at 12:05 we had another gobbler step out and laugh at us. They just don’t realize were from Mississippi and out past, but what I woulda done back then isn’t what I do now so they lived to gobble another day. We actually roosted that bird in the absolute last place anyone would ever think to hunt. It was at a main road intersection and another heavily traveled road in a corner lot of woods maybe 2 acres with a power line running through it. Mind you there are 1000’s of acres of land around.
Day 4 we get up to some bad weather and say what the heck we know where he is lets try him. As were pulling up we see a truck we hadn’t seen and its parked somewhat close to where we wanted to park. There are pull off on both sides on the road with trails on each. We don’t know which way he went so we parked up the road and walked in close to where we saw the gobbler last. He starts gobbling at the thunder and we make a move. I set up where I could see the tree he was roosted in and Reid made a loop to get on the other side, that way we had a good chance at one of us getting a shot. As the bird kept gobbling I kept trying to see Reid slipping through the woods then BOOOM flop flop limbs breaking and thud I see the bird hit the ground. I didn’t know how to react after seeing him get shot off the limb but when Reid stood up and walked the 3 steps to get his bird I Noticed it wasn’t Reid. Turns out (we stopped and talked to him at his truck after we got out of the woods) this was his first hunt and he just happened to have set up under this bird, he’s 40yds off the blacktop in the smallest cove of woods on the entire area. We asked him if he knew he was there and he said he had no idea just blind luck. We shook his hand and congratulated him and laughed at our luck. SOOOO now we go check out another area and find a bird strutting at a distance and decide to give him a try in the morning.
Day 5 We are walking into the area we saw the bird strutting the afternoon before. Just as were getting close we hear someone call. Still haven’t figured out how they got there. They had to climb a mountain to get there or come in from the way we came in and we didn’t see any track in the dew covered grass. So we made the long walk back to the truck to go find another bird. We found some more gobbling birds just up the road. We crawled through the thickest nastiest hedge grown field I’ve ever tried to hunt only to find out they were as expected 6 super jakes blowing it out. They sounded so good we couldn’t help but mess with them. Then we hear someone else start calling after we had been there for about an hour. He had walked or crawled over a mile and half to get to where the birds were gobbling and he spooked the heck out of them shutting them up and running them right by us at about 15yds. I actually felt unsafe at that moment hoping we didn’t get shot by mistake because of the dense brush and hard gobbling birds.
We were whipped so we headed to PA to give it a try for a few days to get a break. We had some worse luck there and I don’t really know how to put it other than the land we were set up and shown to hunt(Private land a guy I had been talking to for months had set us up (literally)) was very private and the land we thought we had permission to hunt we didn’t. He said he hunts it every year, I didn’t drive to PA to poach a turkey. SOOO we went out on our own and found some public land with birds but he weather got worse and we had a guy turkey hunting with an orange jacket and an orange seat cushion spook the birds we had seen so we just loaded up and headed back to Ohio.
Day 6 Ohio Not knowing what to do we decided to go back to the last bird we had hunted where the guy climbed the mountain to get to him. He gobbled as we walked into the area. He finally started gobbling good as it broke light. It was overcast and he was gobbling good so we got as close as we could. I sat down maybe 80yds from him with a slight hill between us and Reid set up to call a little to my right. After about 5min of him hammering Reid gets up and slips out headed back to the truck, with a horrible headache, whispering good luck as he comes by me. (it had to be bad for him to leave a bird) With the way my season has gone I was in a bit of a conundrum, with the way my season had gone so far I doubted my every decision. I thought about it and said a prayer and then told myself that I’ve killed birds and to just do what I do. SO I laid into him and let him help me in deciding how I would play it. I called really aggressive and he ate it up. After a few minutes he hit the ground and was closing the distance. He got quiet and knew he had to be close. I catch movement in the corner of my eye and there he is at 12steps. I put my red dot on his head and my Ohio tag was filled. I said my prayer and headed back to the truck but Reid wasn’t there. I could hear a bird way off in the distance and I hoped he had heard him and was going that way. Turns out he tromped through a thicket over 1.5 miles only to get less than 100yds from the bird and a dang helicopter flies over him at tree top level shutting the bird down. Dang the luck.
Day 7 We hunted for a while with no luck and more bad weather coming in so we packed up and headed South. It was tough but fun, and we will for sure be back to hunt in a little better weather.