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Author Topic: First turkey hunt trip report (fun!)  (Read 1952 times)

Offline ljsommer

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First turkey hunt trip report (fun!)
« on: April 23, 2019, 04:55:04 PM »
I had my first weekend turkey hunting and it blew my mind. I am so hooked, and it's really given me a taste of what hunting can be.
I had met a few people online and tried to line up some sort of mentoring/tag-along situation but it didn't work out. I did get some pointers from some of the people despite not being able to meet up, and that advice definitely gave me a helping hand.
 
The drive over was about 6 hours but very beautiful. I initially had no idea where to go - I didn't know where I was driving to, aside from a highway name. I pulled into Kettle Falls for some bbq lunch and then decided I was going to head over towards Republic, to this big forest on the map. Keep in mind, I had no idea what sort of habitat I was looking for, or where the flocks were. I picked a highway and started driving up the many fire/access roads until I reached one that had a sign. Well, it sounded as good to me as anything else. I drove that for a few hours, taking some decent off-road trails and eventually found a nice little camp spot. I set up shop, made a fire and enjoyed my evening. I saw my first turkey (a hen) walking down the road to me. She setup camp about 500 feet down the road in her roost and we both went to sleep.
 
The next day I put on my gaiters (the ticks are no joke) and went exploring. The terrain is beautiful. The animal sign is everywhere. If you've hunted Western Washington you know that finding animal sign can be an exercise in futility at times. I genuinely couldn't go five minutes without seeing sign. There was so much moose sign that it's a wonder that tag is OIL (once in a lifetime). It's everywhere. I spooked a couple white-tail but saw no other turkeys and found no sheds (antlers) which really surprised me considering how much game sign I saw. I had a blast just exploring but decided it was time to move on to a spot that was recommended to me by a contact. I packed up, and made the painfully gorgeous drive over to the new spot which was high up on a hillside overlooking a charming town with a river.
 
I set up camp and then went out for an amazing evening of walking around in the woods. There were no turkeys gobbling or replying to my calls so I just found a little ridge and sat down to enjoy the sunset in the silence, by myself. Within an hour, three mule deer (a doe and two fawns) bounded up the hill, unaware of my presence. 10 minutes later, a very large and beautiful light gray coyote came hot on their trail with a bloody snout. I think he must have decided that three weren't worth his trouble because I found those three deer again on my way back to camp.
I made a fire, made some dinner, grabbed a beer and a cigar and watched the stars come out. I had found some bear sign in the area and that far north-east you don't really know what you've got to deal with so I slept with a loaded 10mm Glock 20 close at hand. I stoked the fire high and went to sleep listening to the wind.
Throughout the evening I awoke to a variety of spooky noises (noises become particularly spooky when you're by yourself in the mountains with no cell access) including coyotes, annoyed deer (probably at the coyotes chasing them around the basin), and something stomping heavily nearby my tent - guessing just more deer passing through.
 
Overnight I woke up at 3am to a fully lit tent. I was freaked out Ė I thought a truck had pulled up to my site and had left his headlights on. It took me a few minutes to work up the guts to get out of my tent and check it out. The moon had its high-beams on and was bathing the entire basin in the brightest moonlight Iíd ever seen. The stars were pulling their weight, too. I couldíve gone for a walk and been perfectly fine picking out a trail. It was incredible.
 
I had set my alarm for 5am - and that wasn't nearly early enough. Those turkeys were gobbling at 5:15 sharp. I missed the bus. I got up and was shocked at how cold it got overnight. It couldn't have been above 20 degrees outside - everything was iced over as soon as it got exposed to the air. I made some breakfast and coffee and broke down camp and loaded the truck so I could hit the road promptly once I was done for the day (plus, I was waiting for legal hunting light).
I set off for the day with a general plan of areas to hit, but alas - all quiet. I turned the day into a scouting mission, along with shed-hunting. I climbed a peak and got some nice views, had some lunch, and then set off again to try some more calling. This time I was getting responses.
Let me tell you - this was the most fun I've ever had hunting. Full camo head to toe with a bow sneaking through brush trying to position myself well for a tom (adult male turkey) or jake (juvenile male turkey) who is talking back at me really makes you feel like a woods-ninja. I spent easily 2 hours just chasing turkeys around in the woods. This is probably just an indicator that I suck at turkey hunting, but at some point, who cares? It was just a ton of fun. I genuinely wished I could just keep doing it day after day. Hunt all day, explore, nap in the sun, sit by the bonfire and then wake up and do it all over again.
 
This is definitely a yearly tradition for me now, and I'll be taking more time off work to do it next year as well. By far the most fun, most rewarding hunting I've ever done, and in an area that actually makes you feel like "Wow, these woods have LIFE in them!" unlike our Western Washington woods, in which I've never once seen a game animal during a hunting season. It really saps my will to hunt Western Washington.
Do I want to drive for an hour, then hike for 2 hours, to spend 10 hours in the woods not seeing any signs of life day after day, or do I want to drive for 6 and immediately start hunting woods where I can see what more than 10 feet ahead of me and the animals are everywhere? I think I've figured out my decision!

Questions/thoughts:

1.) I was using a box call and getting plenty of responses from the boys, but they were responding and then slowly drifting away from me. They never stopped calling, but they just sort of meandered away. I followed one for at least a couple miles and he never took off quickly, nor did he stop chatting at me, but he also sure as heck didn't come my way. What's up with that?

2.) Can anyone recommend some good reading material for educating myself on turkey hunting strategies?

3.) What is late May turkey hunting like? I was thinking of making a 3 day weekend trip over Memorial Day weekend.

4.) I have yet to harvest an animal of any kind but I think I can make it happen with turkey, anyone want to mentor me/guide me? I can repay with good conversation, lunch, and beer (when safe and appropriate)!

Offline WSU

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Re: First turkey hunt trip report (fun!)
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2019, 05:00:55 PM »
Sounds like fun!  I know almost nothing about turkeys, but do know what you describe is why half the westsiders head east to hunt.  More critters, more access, better terrain, and an all-around better time.

Offline kevinlisa06

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Re: First turkey hunt trip report (fun!)
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2019, 06:03:42 PM »
Sounds like a great time in the woods to me, canít wait for the weekend!
The Tom most likely had a hen with him and she was taking him away from you.


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Offline Tracker0721

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Re: First turkey hunt trip report (fun!)
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2019, 07:11:37 PM »
That area you were in on Sunday is a good spot isnít it! If youíll be up again I wonít have my son memorial weekend and we can go get one of those toms. Maybe that coyote too. Sorry I missed meeting you and Iím glad you had fun!
May my presence go unnoticed, may my shot be true, may the blood trail be short.

Amen

Offline cougforester

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Re: First turkey hunt trip report (fun!)
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2019, 07:38:11 PM »
Sounds like a great trip! Heading east for turkeys this weekend, reading this got me excited!

Offline Parasite

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Re: First turkey hunt trip report (fun!)
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2019, 08:12:19 PM »
I'd go with you, but a business trip May 12 to June 8 is going to make any time I have left betweeen now and then limited unless I take some time off work ... Which I might just do.

Offline Big game archer

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Re: First turkey hunt trip report (fun!)
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2019, 08:34:17 PM »
1) The toms were likely henned up and the hens were pulling them away from you. However, experience will teach you that some birds are just finicky. Sometimes I'll have a tom that will be moving away from me just as you described and I'll just stop calling and sit for 30 minutes. I've had more than a few times where the tom became interested after I stopped calling and decided to come in and see if the hen was still there. Also, sometimes it seems they just have their mind made up about where they want to go and no call will change their mind. That's what makes turkey hunting fun lol

3) 1st and 2nd week of May is my favorite time to turkey hunt. Most toms will be roaming and birds will not really be in flocks anymore. This definitely makes it harder to find them because from my experience a lot of the toms are on the move and are not roosting in the same area every night (unless your hunting a field or good food source). Sometimes it takes me a few days to find them. However, when you find a hot tom that time of year, it's normally a quick, action-packed hunt.  :twocents:


Offline TheStovePipeKid

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Re: First turkey hunt trip report (fun!)
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2019, 09:01:09 PM »
I've been out since Sunday night. Weather's been great, hen's have been all over the place grabbing all the toms. I'm glad you had a great time. I've been making the 6 hour drive each fall for turkey. Done a couple of spring hunts without success. Third times the charm hopefully. And yes, the ticks are no joke. They are everywhere! Good luck next time.
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Offline fjp971

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Re: First turkey hunt trip report (fun!)
« Reply #8 on: April 24, 2019, 08:40:47 AM »
Great recap!  I'm going to the Little Pend Oreille area soon on my second try.  Worse case scenario it's a learning experience and camping trip.  Got bit by a tick last year. Gator time!  Good luck.

Offline Russ McDonald

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Re: First turkey hunt trip report (fun!)
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2019, 09:51:56 AM »
If you get a tom to respond don't keep walking towards them and keep calling.  Even if he is henned up you can still get him interested if you would have stayed put.  Now out scouting you can call to locate but that us what locator calls are for, crow, owl or coyote calls.  Ben Thompson Basic Turkey Hunting.  He is a local guy from Enumclaw that loves to turkey hunt.  If you can't find onenof his books online PM me.  I can get one for you.  Funny how different areas have ticks.  I was across the river from where your were this last weekend 0 ticks.  I have hunted the property for 3 years and haven't seen a tick one.  Glad you had a good time.  Welcome to the addiction.

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Offline Machias

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Re: First turkey hunt trip report (fun!)
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2019, 11:09:17 AM »
If you can spend even half a day with an experienced turkey hunter you will shave quite a bit of time off the learning curve.  Early in the spring you can even sleep in.  Does the classic turkey hunt happen?  Yes, but not as often as you would think.  Classic hunt?  Roost a tom or two the evening before.  Then before first light, get in and set up 100 to 150 yards, depending on how open the terrain is.  Even better if you set up where he normally flies down (pre-season scouting!).  Right at first light give a few soft tree yelps, probably met with thunderous gobble.  Wait a bit, give a fly down cackle while slapping your hat on the side of your leg simulating a hen flying down.  Probably met with a thunderous gobble.  Give a nice series of yelps while you are on the ground.  Probably met with a thunderous gobble.  Tom flies down and lands near you and gobbles and strutts into your lethal range and boom, tag filled.  What normally happens is all the above, but several hens run to your gobbler and he gobbles at you as they wander off.  He stops gobbling, but what you don't realize is every time you call he still hears you, but he just fans, spits and drums, waiting for you to join the other ladies.  What I do most of the time now is sleep in, get up around 0700 and have breakfast.  Hit the woods around 0800ish.  Any bird that answers me after 0900 is very likely to end up with my tag on him.  Not always, but normally by around 0900 all the hens have been bred and Mr. Tom is standing around all by himself, feeling a tad lonely and he is much more likely to respond in to your calling.
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Offline ljsommer

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Re: First turkey hunt trip report (fun!)
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2019, 04:39:42 PM »
If you can spend even half a day with an experienced turkey hunter you will shave quite a bit of time off the learning curve.

Yeah that's what I am trying to make happen ;)

Offline Machias

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Re: First turkey hunt trip report (fun!)
« Reply #12 on: April 25, 2019, 10:00:52 AM »
Next time you are headed over, let me know and if I am not already doing something, I'd be happy to go out with you for a morning.  I don't have a WA hunting license, but I'd be happy to call for you.
Fred Moyer


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Offline scotrobe

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Re: First turkey hunt trip report (fun!)
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2019, 08:15:38 PM »
Love this story. This is the exact reason I love hunting even if I donít come home with anything. Iím a new hunter as well (only been doing it 2 years) and also started with turkey which is a ton of fun. I also live in Western WA and agree th hunting over here sucks. Ticks are definitely an issue. I didnít use any spray my first time and brought home a bunch of them which my wife didnít really appreciate. 😀

Keep at it. Youíll be successful soon, Iím sure. Good luck!


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Offline scooby

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Re: First turkey hunt trip report (fun!)
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2019, 08:58:50 PM »
Dude, I was going to write up my own first time turkey hunting (or any hunting) story but you wrote an almost identical post as I would have. Including the same questions! I went to the Republic area as well and just got back a few hours ago. I hunted two full days and heard gobbles everyday, and finally even SAW two turkeys but couldn't seal the deal. I have so much to learn but learned a ton about what I NEED to learn in the next few weeks. I'm so hooked. I'm in Olympia, maybe we can roll out together sometime before the season ends, if not, we can meet up and talk turkeys sometime soon.

 


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