OL contributor Ruben Perez, a Rhode Island boy, has been down in Immokalee, Fla., enjoying some premature spring and trying to put a tag on his first Osceola wild turkey. He graciously volunteered to share the story of his quest as it played out along with a few pictures that he took. Here it goes:
Warm, misty morning, a full moon lights the sky. Our set-up is just off the roost containing a couple dozen turkeys. Roosting spots surrounding the 1,000 acre orange orchard where hunting are few. With a handful of tall pine trees around, finding the roost is not a difficult thing. My guide's attention was in trying to figure out how to run a video camera with the hope of getting the action on film (unfortunately he failed to plug in the camera's microphone, later resulting in a soundless video of our hunt). I kept busy by getting our gear organized so we would have a bit more room in our Double Bull blind. With little cover offered by the orange trees, and the roost only a hundred yards away, the best option for the hunt was to use the blind.
Just as the moonlit sky gave up the battle to a new day, a serenade of gobbles seemed to emanate from all directions—a new season was on it's way. With the help of my Walker's Game Ear, I could make out five different gobbles.
My host, Bang Collins, with Paradise Valley Hunting Club had promised that I would be sitting on the "honey hole." And, true to his word, I was. For several years, Collins has taken his turkey right off this spot without fail. His knowledge on how they would react was dead-on.
"You need to go easy on the calling," Collins warned. A warning that another of his guides failed to heed while working a different part of the property. True to Collins' prediction, the guide came up empty for the day, running off these wary gobblers.
Since my guide opted to film the action, calling duties fell on my shoulders. With Collins' successful track record on this property, I listened to his suggestion and decided to do some light calling. My choice of calls were my favorite longbox custom-made by Marlin Watkins of Ohio. He just recently won several places in the yearly NWTF contest. My other call of choice was a Bruce Wurth pot call. Wurth, also an award-winning custom call maker, produces one of the best round calls made. Both of these calls have killed lots of turkeys for me, so my confidence level with them is high.
Sparing the long details, let's just say that the turkeys did exactly what Collins had predicted they would do. Unfortunately, the only birds to come within range were jakes. Apparently, a dozen or so jakes were running around the property raising havoc on the longbeards. In fact, Bang Collins' son Tom, witnessed eight bully jakes putting a beating on one unfortunate longbeard. These jakes were running the land. If I had know that in advance, I could have brought the demise to one of the three that came within 20 yards of our blind.
That evening's hunt, I was dropped off near the roost once again with hopes of enticing a returning longbeard. Unfortunately, the only thing I came close to was a group of deer that seemed to be at every turn of the orchard.
Check back to see how Ruben's second day hunting Osceola's goes tomorrow.