You know what they say, “all good things must come to an end.” As spring turns into the beginnings of summer I sit back and reflect on what a great turkey season I had again this year. Did I kill a record turkey this year? No. Was I able to complete a Grand Slam? No. I was, however, able to SELFILM and tag a couple of birds with my bow and make lasting memories along the way.
The season started off for me in Ohio with high expectations of having another good season. Bird numbers seemed to be pretty good considering the terribly long and brutally cold winter we had endured for months on end. By the time the snow finally started melting away and temps began to rise, I eagerly set out scouting the property I hunt here in Ohio. In addition to walking the property, I threw up a few trailcams to try to pin down the bird movement in the area. A couple of weeks went by and I headed back out to check my cameras. I was delighted in what I saw. A total of 5 strutters working the bottom field where I have had success in the past.
It seemed like the next few weeks flew past as I started to prepare for the upcoming season. Getting my bow tuned up, sighted in, arranging all of my gear, and buying my tags prior to season opener on April 21st. As I had done in prior years, I took off work for the Monday opener, woke up bright and early and headed out to the property to get ready for the morning hunt. I sat up just across the bottoms from where I had shot my buck the previous fall, in fact I could see my treestand from the blind. After getting the blind set up, DSD decoys positioned, and external GoPro cameras setup, I crawled into the blind and began getting everything setup. Much to my surprise, I didn’t hear a single gobble that morning.
My next opportunity to hunt came the following weekend. I sat up in the same spot as I did opening day just knowing the birds had to be working the large bottom field as they had in years past. This time, at the crack of daylight, I was startled by a gobble breaking the morning silence only 80-100 yards behind my setup. That got me excited! Other gobblers fired off along the bottoms on the neighboring property with almost every gobble the nearby bird let out. Shortly thereafter, a bird appears off to the south of my setup and silently works west to east to the wood-line. The morning was silent until I saw a strutting Jake in the field edge followed by two other Jakes. They saw the DSD decoy setup and came right in to investigate. I decided to pass on the shot opportunity as it was only the first weekend of season and I wanted to save my tags for a mature Tom. The strutting Jake made his way to the DSD Leading Hen decoy that I had set up only 6 yards from the blind, and proceeded to try to breed her. After several attempts, they finally walked off in the opposite direction. Noon came and again it was the end of a hunting day. Sunday proved to be a bust as not a single gobble was heard, nor did I see a single bird.
Along came the first weekend in May. We would be taking off to go on our annual turkey hunting trip in Nebraska on Sunday, so my time was getting limited here in Ohio. I set out and again setup on the south end of the large bottoms were I had killed my bird on opening weekend last year. 6:00 AM rolled around as I heard my first gobble of the day. Again it was 80-100 yards behind my setup. Like the week before, several birds fired off along the bottoms and I just knew I was in for some action. Shortly after fly down, I saw the group of three Jakes that I had watched the weekend before.
I wasn’t too eager to put an arrow in one as I really wanted to hold off for a Gobbler. They made their way slowly to my setup, but none of them presented a good shot opportunity. They worked their way off in the opposite direction again, and a short while later I look up to see a line of 6 more Jakes make their way my direction from the north. After seeing a total of 9 Jakes this morning, I then decided I wasn’t going to be picky anymore. They made it all the way into the decoy spread as I filmed and waited for them to interact with the decoys. After cautiously approaching and leaving the DSD Jake, they worked their way towards the DSD Leading Hen I had set up 15 yards away. The dominant Jake in the group slowly approached her, and as he turned broadside, I let my arrow tipped with the new Grim Reaper Fatal Steel head fly. It hit its mark and the bird struggled to make it about 50 yards before expiring. With that, tag number 1 was finally punched and it was time to take some pictures! After watching the footage back home, I realized I had successfully captured the kill shot on all 5 of the camera angles I was using. Should turn out to be a great Hunt Vid next spring, so keep an eye out on the website!
The next day we headed out to NW Nebraska to chase the Merriam’s subspecies for the 4th year in a row now. My Dad, Brother, friends Rich Peace and Forrest Breedlove and I made the 1200 mile drive west to the Pine Ridge area of Nebraska. I don’t want to spoil it, but a couple of us were able to put a tag on a bird out there, so keep your eye out for the blog article! I had my opportunity, but failed to complete my end of the deal and came back empty-handed. It was a great week spent with some family and a couple great friends, and I can’t wait to go out again next year.
By the time we got back into Ohio after the week-long trip, I had exactly one week left to hunt before season ended. My first opportunity to hit the woods was on Saturday (May 17th). It was forecasted to rain later that morning, and with the crop fields planted in corn already about 4″-5″ high, I decided to try to set up off the field edge a little to avoid messing up the corn plants. It was windy, cold, rainy, and yet the birds were still active. Shortly after fly down, the bird I had heard gobbling almost 500 yards away to my south was making his way my direction. I peaked out of the back of my blind and could see him standing in the field to my east gobbling and blowing up in full strut before pacing back and forth for what seemed like eternity. He never broke the 200 yard mark before working off out of sight. A couple of hours later, a couple more Gobblers, two Jakes and a hen worked from the north to the south about 250 yards away with no interest in coming my direction. Dejected, I sat trying to stay dry as the rain now began to seep through the seams on the Double Bull Darkhorse blind.
It was again down to the final day of the season, and I had yet to fill my second tag in Ohio. After speaking with the land owner after the previous days hunt, I found out that the birds were typically working the field near the south wood lot. Knowing this information, I setup next to an old fallen down building along the field edge that had excellent cover to help break up the outline of my ground blind. Just like clockwork, the first bird fired off at 6:00AM about 250-300 yards directly in front of my hide. Gobble after gobble erupted from the tree-line until shortly after 6:15AM when I saw a bird pop out of the tree-line directly to my south. I pulled up my binos and flipped on the camera to realize it was a lone hen. Hoping a gobbler would be following her, I watched for several minutes until she moved off to the north of me.
The morning was quiet as a dense fog rolled in. I waited and waited for the sun to peak up over the horizon and help burn off the fog which had now blanketed my entire viewing area. It was almost an hour before I could see the tree-line again, so I gave a few yelps and clucks on my glass call and waited. It was about 10 minutes before 9 when I looked up from my phone and saw a bird rounding the corner of the south block of woods I was facing. I flipped on the camera and looked through my binos to realize it was a long beard making his way my direction. He was determined to come into my decoy spread as he would take about 10 steps, blow up in full strut and immediately deflate and make his way even closer. The 250 yards he had to cover to get to my setup seemed like it took forever as I watched him cross the wide open corn field. He blew up in full strut one more time only steps away from my DSD Leading Hen when I decided it was time to shoot. As he turned, I pulled up my Hoyt and drew back waiting for him to turn. I settled the pin on my Spot Hogg Hunter sight and released…the arrow hit its mark again and the bird struggled to make it 5 yards before piling up. After retrieving my arrow and the bird, I realized this was one of the best birds I had killed with a bow, even with a half-broken spur.
So that was my season in a nutshell. Like most seasons, it was full of both ups and downs, and fortunately for me it was full of more ups as I was able to make the most of my chances here in Ohio and filled both of my tags. Next year I vow that I will not come back empty-handed in Nebraska!
- 17 lbs., 10 ounces
- 5 1/16″ beard
- 7/16″ nubs for spurs
- 22 lbs., 8 ounces
- 10 1/4″ beard
- 1 3/16″ and 9/16″ spurs
- Hoyt Spyder 34 w/ Spott Hogg Hunter Hoggit
- Gold Tip Velocity Pro arrows
- Firenock nocks and Aerovane III vanes
- Carter Too Simple release
- Grim Reaper Fatal Steel 125gr broadheads
- DSD (Dave Smith) decoys
- Huntmore 360 chair
- GamePlan Gear BowBat XL and Long Haul
- Benchmade Hunt knives
- HECS Stealthscreen gloves
- Sitka Gear camo
- Canon XA20
- 4 GoPro Hero 3 Black Edition
- Nikon D5200
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