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Brad Blackwelder with SELFILMED.COM: Opening Day North Carolina Bow Bird

Lets take a look back to what has brought me to this point in my turkey hunting career. In 2012 I coaxed myself into taking my bow out only a few times, which all ended the same way. With no bird! All of my hunts in the past have turned into a more run and gun type of hunt. Making it more difficult for me to attempt to kill a turkey with my bow. But over the past year or so, I have surrounded myself with individuals who strive to tag out each year in multiple states with a bow.  Through their videos and stories of how they setup and prepare for the hunt, I felt more confident that this would be my year to take down my first Bow Bird!

Brad Blackwelder with SELFILMED.COM


April 13, 2013: Opening Day North Carolina Wild Turkey Season

An old college roommate and close friend of mine Ben McIntosh had made the trip down to hunt with me for the first couple days of turkey season to attempt to get his first bird. But we were set out on a mission to get my first bird with a bow on the morning of April 13.

It was 3:30am and the alarm was going off. I made my way out of bed and up the stairs to unplug and pack up all of my cameras for the morning hunt. Both of us were dressed and out the door by 4am and on our way to my family farm. We had attempted to roost some birds the previous day, but with little success. The birds were not being very vocal and we had only seen a few hens go to roost at the location we were planning to hunt. So on the ride up to the farm that morning we were still discussing on where we should set up. I told him that not knowing what was in the area, we would be better off to go to a spot that there had been many birds killed in the past. It was an area that the birds commonly used in the early part of the season for roosting. So that was what we were going to do. After reaching the farm and getting all of our stuff together, we left the truck at 5am and struck out. Not knowing what and where the birds would be, we wanted to get in early and quite.

We setup the Dark Horse Blind in an open pasture about 50yrds from the tree line. I backed up to the blind and stepped off 7 paces and put out my DSD Jake and Submissive hen decoys and made my way back to the blind to finish setting up. It was an hour and a half before we heard the first signs of live. A gobble, some 500-600yrds away then another, then another and another. But the closest one was about 400 yards away, there was not a single gobble in the patch of timber we were set up on.  We immediately began to regret making the decision to setup on past experiences. But with all of our stuff set up, there was no chance of packing down and making a move on any of those birds. But shortly after 6:30am I heard some tree yelps out in front, I then began with a series of muffled tree yelps myself. And at about 6:40 we had a hen fly down in the pasture just 40yrds from the decoys.  So with any luck, she was not going to be alone. Sure enough she wasn’t, three other hens flew down and I then caught a glimpse of a tail fan just over the ridge 120yrds away.

DSD Pair: Jake and Submissive Hen

Our somewhat downed spirits soon turned into excitement and now the work would begin. We have a  mature tom with 4 hens out in front of us and nobody is making a sound. So I started off with a few soft clucks and yelps and immediately an old raspy hen started yelping. I decided to play off of her actions and not the tom, because he had not made one vocalization all morning. She would start yelping and I would answer and soon she was fired up and going through a series of 15-20 yelps. But each time I would call a little louder and cut her off in her series and they were slowly but surely working our way.  With a side note, this whole time I was calling one of the distant gobblers was responding to our calls and was making his way toward us.  At about 6:50 something happened and the mute tom that had been strutting on the adjacent ridge broke strut and began running in our direction but he was angling to our left and was going to be at 50yrds to my left, providing me no shot.

New Mathews Creed: First Kill

My buddy and I had no idea what was taking place, but we could tell he was not coming to our calls, but running from something. We then seen another tail fan appear across from us and we then realized he was getting out of Dodge to save his “tail”.  This bird had made his way in from over 400yrds and on a rope to take care of business. He would run 40-50 yards stop,gobble and take off again after our other tom. Who by this time was long gone. So as he made is way to the same position beside us to where the other tom had pasted by, I knew he was on the same course and would soon be gone as well. And this is when I became extremely aggressive in my calling sequence. I made a few sharp yelps and cutts followed by a few more yelps and he hammered off.

By this time I knew he was about 40 yrds behind us and I decided to do some fighting purrs on the Dead End Game Call: Bat Wing and he hammered again, but this time it was close. And the next thing we heard was him puffed up and spitting at 3 yrds to the left of the blind and headed straight for the DSD Jake.

coup de grâce
coup de grâce

He came by in front of the blind in high gear and went to flocking the DSD Jake. He pushed, spurred and eventually was biting the decoys head and began to walk him around and was facing straight away from me, I came to full draw. I checked the camera screen to make sure the frame was good and then I buried my Spot Hogg Hunter top pin at the base of his tail and touched off the release. He jumped up in the air and landed back on his feet and stood by the decoy for a short second and then took off towards the woods.

Grim Reaper:  Razortip Whitetail Special...not bad for turkeys either
Grim Reaper: Razortip Whitetail Special…not bad for turkeys either

But the Grim Reaper Razortip took its toll and I watched him drop at 18 yrds from the blind.  With his face plant into the ground, there was an overwhelming emotion that came over me to finally be able to say that I have taken a bird with my bow and to have SELFILMED the whole hunt, makes it even more special.



SELFILMED.COM: Brad Blackwelder Bird Stats:

Bird Stats:


3/4″ Spurs

5″ Beard (Beard Rot)

So stay tuned at SELFILMED.COM and be on the look out for this hunt and many more from the SELFILMED Crew this spring.

The keys to success

I would also like to give a big shout out to all of our sponsors who had a helping hand in my first bow bird: Spot Hogg, Dave Smith Decoys, GamePlan GearHuntmore, Dead End Game Calls, FirenockGrim Reaper, Gold Tip. Thanks Guys it really means a lot.


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