2020 MS Season...so far.

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With the series of events that have unfolded around Covid -19 since I went to assist a a friend and his son on 3/12 (end of youth week), I've ended up self quarantining myself at the camp.  Safer there.  Came back yesterday afternoon to catch up on paying bills.  Heading back there tomorrow to quarantine myself again far a little while.  So far, here's how MS has gone.

My buddy (Lee) and his 10 year old son (Max) were hunting together and Max bagged his 1st gobbler during the opening day of the regular season.  After 2 1/2 days of failed attempts during the last 2 days of youth season and morning of the regular season, I moved Lee's groundblind to a new area.  This setup would have to be Lee and Max, on their own this time.  No way for me to set up safely there to call for them.  As Lee's story goes, about 3:30 a silent gobbler came strutting in toward his hen decoy.  Caught them both by surprise too.  By the time Max was ready to shoot his 1st ever gobbler with his .410 using a #9 TSS load, the gobbler was on top of the hen decoy.  Max knocked him off of it at ~20 yards.  Sorry, Lee hasn't sent me a pic of them I took with his camera.

As is usually the case during the early part of the season, the birds are henned up most days gobbling has been shutting down at or shortly after flydown.  Another good friend mine (Joe) arrived to hunt the 2nd weekend.  He's been in self quarantine with his family.  This would be his 4th attempt with me to bag his 1st gobbler.  We got real close last year.  Basically we had the same type early morning action.  Some gobbling on the roost then quiet when they touched down.  I was creeping around in my Ranger EV midday Sunday and suddenly see a hen to my left.  Before I can stop and reverse out of there we're looking at the back side of 2 gobblers strutting with 2 hens.  Somehow, the birds never busted us before I eased back out of sight.  I told Joe we had a great chance for a double.  If the opportunity happens, I told him he shoots 1st, then I take the other...if I had a shot.  We move into position down a small creek drainage until we ran out of cover.  We crawl up the creek bank to work them and discover there are 3 strutting gobblers, a jake and 8 hens that are now a little off to our left but they are close.  Some light purring and all the birds ease our way...slowly.  When they are in range, I whisper...pick one.  Joe rolls one over at the 38 yard line.  It happened to be the same bird I was aiming at though.  Another gobbler runs past Joe's dead bird and does a J hook back and stops at full alert.  I role him over there with my new 20 ga. M2 turkey gun at 50 steps (Nitro 3" load, with 8x9 TSS shot).  Joe starts to move...I stop him and whisper...wait...lets watch the show.  The 3rd gobbler and the jake are still there.  My bird is flopping around so the 3rd gobbler couldn't resist the chance to go beat up on him.  GREAT SHOW!  After the surviving gobbler was satisfied with the whipping he put on my bird he eased off and gobbled once while he was leaving.  Both of our birds are 2 year olds...Joe's has a 9 3/4" beard and 3/4" spurs...mine has a 9 1/8" beard and 7/8" spurs.


As luck would have it, almost the same thing happened a couple of days later while Lee and I were easing around midday...in virtually the same spot too.  This time I stopped short with my Ranger EV to get out and check for birds.  This time 1 gobbler close to where the other 3 were but all alone there.  He needed company so we made him think there was some in the bush.  Came quick!  Lee rolled him over at 30 yards with his 20 ga.  Lee's bird was another 2 year old...8" beard and 3/4" spurs.  Lee still hasn't sent me those pics yet either. 

Not much eventful happened in the turkey woods until a cold front moved through.  Except for a gobbler that I happened to bump his hens off.  Talk about that later.  The 1st clear, cool day after the front was April 1st.  Perfect weather conditions.  I opted to set up on a shelf on the side of a ridge I'd heard birds gobbling from 3 times during this season.  I was there before they began to wake up on the roost.  In all, 7 birds were gobbling around me.  The  closest were 4 to the W ~150 yards away across the bottom and one to the NE on the same ridge I was on.  When the birds touched down this time they kept going nuts.  I didn't need to get aggressive at all.  The 4 birds to the W kept yo yoing on me till 1 went off to the W.  At first the other 3 were together until the strongest sounding bird broke away from them going further W.  The other 2 weaker sounding gobblers slowly came toward me.  They paused at the base of the ridge (out of sight) when their buddy decided to gobble his was back to them.  Somehow, he got to my right without me seeing him and gobbled LOUD inside the 30 yards.  He's right over a slight rise to my right.  San't risk moving.  He eases in to my right and stops inside 20 yards just turning his head checking out his new view.  He slowly eases into a strut and slowly moves forward passing behind a big tree allowing me to switch hands for a left handed shot.  As he appears again, I wait for him to move into the sight at ~20 yards and role him over with the 20 ga. at ~8:30 that morning.  My 2nd MS gobbler has a 9" beard and 1 1/8" spurs.


Spent the end of last week and weekend trying to get Joe and his daughter on birds.  The birds had cooled down since it warmed up the end of last week.  Not much exciting happened with the gobblers.

Now...Lee, Max, and I have been running trot lines for catfish.  We have had great success with those.  The channel cat I'm holding in the pic below weighed in at 21.5 pounds on our scale.  The one Lee is holding is now slouch either.  Many were going 10+ pounds.


Spent some time bass fishing too.  Caught a hot streak on top water when Joe, Max and I caught 29 bass and 1 bluegill on top water bass baits.

Now...that gobbler I mentioned I'd talk about earlier.  If any of you participate in an annual wild turkey survey you know you count or estimate the number of gobbles you hear on a hunt.  I had bumped this birds hens out, by pure accident the prior afternoon after fly up.  I was sitting right above him the next morning.  When he started going nuts on the limb I had been counting his gobbles.  Mentally I was urging him to 50...then 75...then 100...the 125 but he pitched down right after the 124th gobble on the limb.  Unfortunately for me...he took off gobbling his head off in the direction the hens had gone (downhill) the prior evening.  I could easily tell the details of the path he took crossing a creek to go to a spot where gobbled in a hen.  By the time he had a hen come calling and walking to him I was as close as I could get on the wrong side of the creek.  They stayed over there and gradually moved away.  All in all he easily gobbled over 350 times before he quit ~9:30 but the 1st 250 were while he was either on the roost or on his way to where he gobbled in a hen.

Headed back to quarantine in the camp/woods tomorrow.  FYI...the only people I've been close to have been in self quarantine before the "stay at home order" was issued.  Got 1 more gobbler left for my bag limit and whoever wants assistance getting their birds while I'm there too, provided they've taken safe precaution measures too.  Some of the best turkey hunting weather we've had since I killed my April 1st gobbler is supposed to show up Monday.  Hens should be starting to get away from gobblers to go nest here soon too. 

Hope all is well with y'all...I'll report back in when I return from quarantine.



Edited by Rhino
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Well I haven't filled my 3rd tag yet but I've done a lot of the guide role stuff while not carrying a weapon since I last checked in.  A good friend of mine (Scott) showed up for 3 days of turkey hunting that tore his bicep loose from his elbow the Monday before the season opened.  He had surgery the following Monday.  He came to try to hunt birds with basically 1 arm and had to shoot left handed (he's right handed).  Needless to say our options for setting up and moving were limited.  He had 3 shooting opportunities during those 3 days...if he'd had 2 arms working.  Here's how it went.

Day 1 - Morning hunt - Set up close to where I'd had birds roosted the prior hunt.  Heard 4 birds gobbling off and on.  The closest was east of us...then 2 behind us further away...the other even further.  We had the bird east of us moving in.   Then birds behind us had gone silent for a little while when suddenly one gobbled inside 100 yards.  We couldn't move.  They passed by our left side at ~25 yards.  When they got toward our front side the trailing gobbler got behind a tree so Scott adjusted to shoot when he came out the other side.  He never appeared again.  Gobbled again way out in front of us out of sight.  The bird that was to our east joined them.  Gobbling quit...game over.

Afternoon hunt - Scott set up on the edge of a field where he'd killed his 1st gobbler with me 5 years ago.  A silent gobbler appeared in the timber uphill from him.  Again...although he got inside 35 yards, no way to for a left hand shot.

Day 2 - Morning hunt - Set up in the same spot as the prior morning.  This time the 3 gobblers that we heard close to there yesterday were roosted together further north up a ridge.  We managed to coax one down toward us but he shut up when he got to our elevation.  We sat there for another 1.5 hours never hearing or seeing a bird.

Afternoon hunt - didn't see or hear any birds.

Day 3 - Morning hunt - Weather was horrible with a strong front moving in.  High winds, overcast with light on & off rain.  After trying to find a gobbling bird in 2 areas (using my Polaris EV to ease around) we headed to a new area where I'd chased an old, bad gobbler a couple of times.  I got him to answer a gobble call so...we moved in for the hunt.  This bird was gobbling like I haven't heard one for years do.  We got in a close as we could risk given Soctt's limitations...old school, run and gun style...no time for decoys.  After setting up he answered every call I used.  When it thundered he went nuts gobbling one behind the other...so much I was amazed wondering how in the world he could suck in air to keep that kind of gobbling pace up.  It was literally 1 gobble after the other up to a dozen times in a row every time the thunder rolled.  This went on for 1 hour and 45 minutes.  During that period of time only twice did he not gobble within a 2 minute span.  I'd estimate he gobbled between 300 and 400 times.  The last time he paused his gobbling he moved toward us out of sight.  Suddenly I see his head, then neck, then body at ~30 yards...wow...he's BIG!  Scott hasn't moved.  I whisper "there he is" right when Scott noticed him.  Perfect for a left handed shot.  Scott clicks off the safety on his Benelli 28 ga.  That is the loudest safety I ever heard.  Sounded like someone tapped the bottom of a metal pot with a spoon.  The gobbler immediately went to full alert.  At the same time Scott was adjusting to aim and the bird caught his movement.  He putted and started slowly easing off but still an open shot.  I wait...Scott doesn't pull the trigger.  The bird disappears.  Now Scott is so mad at himself he tosses his shotgun down in front of him.  After asking why he didn't shoot he said...I saw how big the bird was and it messed me up.  I had the dot on him right when he putted but my brain couldn't figure out I need to pull the trigger with my left hand.  Oh well...if nothing else, it was one of the most amazing gobbling shows I've ever heard a bird put on.

After Scott left (would return the following Wednesday) another friend of mine (Joe) showed up with his 12 daughter year old daughter right after the front moved through.  It was so windy behind the front we didn't hear a bird the first 2 days.  The 3rd morning we at least heard a bird but way to far away for us to move on.  The 4th morning a bird gobbled closer but moved away from us off the roost.  The last morning we heard 5 birds gobble but the closest one didn't move our way either.

While hunting with Joe and his daughter, Scott returned with friend of ours (another Joe).  This Joe has been on a quest to kill his 1st gobbler for 5 years.  Several times with me and several times with Scott.  The 1st morning, they had a bird come into 6 steps behind Scott's right shoulder.  Joe was on Scott's left side so no shot was offered.  The bird turned around and disappeared.  Their 2nd day was more or less a bust hearing nothing.  Their 3rd morning was a charm!  Same type of weather Scott and I had on the magic gobbling morning and they found the same vocal bird going nuts near the same place we had worked him a week earlier.  This time he only put on a 50 minute gobbling show before a 2 year old gobbler came sneaking in silent.  At 12 steps Joe rolled him over to finally kill his 1st gobbler.  10 1/4" beard, 7/8" spurs.


Heading back tomorrow to listen for that big bird to get vocal again.

Edited by Rhino
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