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2016 Ohio Eastern Brett

Brett Bueltel – 2016 Ohio Opening Day Gobbler

After having a successful weekend hunting down in North Carolina, it was time to head back home to Ohio to prepare for the opener of the 2016 turkey season.  I had been running several trail cameras on the property I hunt, and had started moving my Covert Code Black camera around every weekend for the past month trying to locate where the birds were moving through on the property.  Several weeks had passed of not getting many trail cam pictures, not seeing birds, and not hearing any gobblers, so I really didn’t think I’d have a shot at filling a tag on opening day.  I have been fortunate in past years to have had some good luck on opening day, and did get a couple of pictures a few days before season, so maybe some luck would come my way again.  After getting all of my video cameras charged up for the mornings hunt it was time for bed.

That next morning came early.  I packed up all of my hunting gear, Double Bull blind, DSD decoys, camera equipment, and headed off in the dark of the night.  Not knowing if I was even going to see a bird that day, I chose to set up on a point in the field where I would be visible from 3  different directions.  I set up my blind under a small tree on the edge of the field, set out 4 decoys, and started up the GoPro 2nd angle cameras before hopping into my blind.  Darkness started to recede as the sun spilled over the rise behind me.  I sat up my primary camera to my right and slapped another GoPro on the blind rod to my left.  Mic check one…two…mic check.  Wireless mics were ready to roll and I began my normal morning interview when all of a sudden I got cut off mid sentence by a gobble off to the far North end of the field.

I quickly pulled up my binoculars to try to locate the gobbler in the treeline.  He gobbled again…this time I pinpointed him in a tall sycamore tree.  I filmed him for several minutes up on the roost, semi-strutting, gobbling, until finally the sun had lit up the field enough for him to feel safe and pitch down.  A slight rise in the field hid his landing and all went quiet for a few minutes afterwards.  I gave him some time after landing to “do what turkeys do” before I pulled out the mouth diaphragm call and gave a few yelps.  “GOBBLE-GOBBLE-GOBBLE”  A bird fired off in the field behind me.  He was closer, so not knowing what the bird on the other end of the field was doing, I began to concentrate on calling this new bird in.  I’d call, he’d gobble.  I did this 2-3 times before shutting up to see if he’d make his way down to me.  I sat there in silence for several minutes, which felt like forever.  I look back up to the far end of the field 350 yards away and see two red heads emerge from the hidden rise in the field.

The dominant gobbler, in full strut, paced back and forth as the sub-dominant gobbler stood there and picked apart the decoy spread.  I reached for the remote control of the Motion Madness Decoys DIY kit I had installed in my DSD Feeding Hen a couple of months before, and turned it on.  The pecking and sweep motion of the decoy did the trick, the dominant bird to break strut and start heading my direction.  10 steps – blow up in strut…break strut to come another 20-30 steps – blow up in strut again.  The two birds slowly but surely made it about 150 yards across the unmolested crop field and then stopped for a moment.  I looked out the blind to my left and could make out another strutter about 100 yards away.  Did the new gobbler spook the pair and were they going to hang up?  About that time, the pair began to sprint my direction!

Once they reached the 80 yard mark, they slowed to a walk and the dominant bird began to strut again.  They looked like they were going to bypass my setup as they stood there now 40-50 yards out in front of me.  Trying not to make too much movement in the blind, I reached down to try to locate my rangefinder thinking I was going to need it to make this far shot.  I decided to give a few light clucks on my mouth call and that was all it took.  The dominant bird turned and started walking directly towards the DSD Jake.  It was game time.

The dominate bird struck the DSD Jake first.  A peck to the face, a wing flap and a spur to the body.  He blew up in full strut and passed in front of the decoy.  I took this opportunity to grab my bow and come to full draw.  I took one more peek at my camera LCD to make sure everything was in frame.  As he turned to face the blind, now on the other side of the Jake decoy, I settled the pin on my Hogg Father right on the base of his waddles and let the Grim Reaper fly.  The arrow hit its mark and he dropped like a ton of bricks.  His buddy had no idea what had happened.

I sat in that blind for almost 2 hours after I took the fatal shot.  Waiting.  Waiting for the other bird(s) to decide to leave. (3 jakes came in to investigate)  He didn’t, and honestly, I think I could have sat there all day and he wouldn’t have left that field.  Knowing I still had another tag left in Ohio, and unfortunately and not being able to fill more than one a day, I had to let him walk off.  If I let him see me get out of the blind, I’d never be able to kill him on another day.  So I sat there.  Finally, he worked off to my south just enough that I could close up the opening in the blind facing him and unzip the back of the blind. I was able to sneak out unnoticed.  I got about 90-100 yards away from the blind before deciding I couldn’t keep the blind in between the bird and myself any longer.  Finally…he saw me and tucked tail to run off.

My season had started off great, 2 birds down in 3 days.  Unfortunately, it’s like the birds completely disappeared after that.  I hunted the remainder of the Ohio season, every weekend possible, with only a few hens coming to the decoys.  Season has since long passed and I’ve now been busy running trail cams and freshening up mineral licks in preparation of whitetail season as well as training for this upcoming elk season.  Stay tuned for more SELFILMED action!

Bird Stats:

  • 20 lbs. (estimated)
  • 9-1/8″ beard
  • 1″ spurs

Brett’s Gear:

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