Birds Down on First Chasing Spring Hunt

Our journey began early Sunday morning March 6, 3:00 AM for the first Chasing Spring turkey hunt. After loading my old green suburban, I headed off from home at 4:00 a.m. to St. Louis for a 6:00 a.m. flight.

On arrival to Fort Meyers Florida I was greeted by Stephen Mitchell, Outdoor life's sporting goods manager, and as we loaded my bags and camera gear Stephen caught me up with news of intense gobbler fights he witnessed near the area we would be hunting.

We quickly drove to the ranch to meet the other hunters for our first afternoon in the Florida swamp. After we got to camp, I paired with CJ Davis of Nikon and Brian Lisanke of Aimpoint for an evening pasture camera set up, deep within the ranch's hunting area.

We didn't hear any gobbling, or see any bearded warriors during our set. We only spotted a couple of hens and an unbelievable Barred owl serenade right at dark, but my first whippoorwill serenade and firefly show of a new spring made it all worthwhile.

This was not your typical spring hunt with receptive gobblers running to anything that resembled a hen call. This hunt was actually one of the toughest spring hunts I've had in Florida in many years.

As we witnessed turkey flocks still in the middle of spring break up, this was going to be an early season hunt situation, and just as Stephen had witnessed, we saw plenty of gobbler shoving, fighting and jockeying for position within the social structure of the flock.

We did see a few strutting toms with 8 to 10 hens, but it was not the norm, and during one evening of intense roosting, even after covering lots of ground, our owl hooting and hen cutting did not produce a single response from any turkeys.

The following morning was not much better. There was limited distant morning roost gobbling and it became very quiet later into the morning after sparse early morning gobbling.

However as a turkey hunter, you have to adapt to the current situation. After watching large gangs of meandering jakes, long beards still in flocks and the gobblers chasing jakes we knew how we would have to hunt these turkeys.

With long hours in the field, intense patience, perseverance and adjusting our hunting strategies to focus more on the pecking order and not mating urges, all of our guys prevailed in a 100 percent kill rate during this hunt.

I really hope you enjoy the Florida photo gallery and our hunt video footage from this first spring hunt of 2011. We will see you next time in South Carolina low country with Chasing Spring.

We have a long journey ahead of us as we bring you more sights, sounds, hunting tips, great gear and turkey reports.

I hope everyone has a great, safe spring hunt, and always remember to share this awesome sport of spring gobbler hunting with family and friends.