Turkey hunting. Not easy. You see the toms fanning to a flock of hens when you drive by on the road and it’s easy to think “Hey piece of cake to bag a turkey”. Umm…no. They are amazingly keen. Any movement out of the ordinary they will see and they can almost sense when something is not quite “right”. Combine that with the little H&R Pardner Compact 20 gauge shotgun I use (with 3” Federal Mag-Shok Heavy Weight turkey load) and it’s a tough hunt. The absolute best thing I did was track them in a late spring snow to find their travel routes which was confirmed in the past two weeks of sitting and watching. I started to anticipate where they were going if I bumped them and could pick up their low “pocks”, “clucks”, and “yelps”. I watched hens 30’ from me cutting and yelping at each other, saw lots of deer, had a big tom walk wicked close then sensed something and “put putted” and veered off, & had a jake come up behind me. It was lots of very, very still sitting. And lots of observing wildlife and listening to the woods.
Today I ran 8 miles then came home and headed out around 11am. Hunting at daybreak during the week is not possible with getting the kids off to school. I’ve observed turkeys traveling around during the day and even evenings (here in Maine you can hunt all day). On the way out I bumped the tom I shot. He went in the woods above the field corner where I hide and the corner they travel down through to the field. I dropped below him and quickly clipped a new shooting lane from my hiding spot so when he comes out of that corner and clears the brush hiding me my barrel is right on him. I bumped two hens in the corner but that was ok. Figured they would meet up with Mr. Tom and maybe come back to the field. I did some light calling and sat for about 1/2 hour and could hear a low yelp and clucks. I could sense they were around. I also could hear some movement in the leaves. Then the hens appeared and I knew that Mr. Tom wasn’t far off. And he wasn’t. He moved into my lane and I even pulled my mask down quickly so I could get a better shot. He was about 50’ away when I pulled the trigger. The 1/2 mile walk to the house was pretty hard so I knew this bird was a good size.
I rushed up to Libby’s to get him tagged then home to part him out and get the meat cooling. 17.8 pounds with an 8” beard. I packaged up the turkey “fingers”, ground one breast into burger, cutlets from 1/2 of the the other breast, and pieced the rest for marinating for stir fries or burrito night. I’m going to make carnitas in the slow cooker out of the legs/thighs. This is all about healthy, organic, free-range meat so let the wild turkey cooking experiment begin!