One of the great challenges to a blogger who likes to hunt is balancing the actual hunting (most often in places where there is no Internet access) with blogging. This past month has been a struggle for sure. I’m like an absentee landlord (maybe more appropriately a slumlord of bloggers) at the moment as I scramble to get caught up on work in the office and around the home, as well as try to become reacquainted with the family!
With the season now behind me and for many others playing out in its final weeks, I look back with a mix of sadness (that its over) and joy (as there are a million other things that I need to get done).
As I sort ’em all out, here’s a guest post from OL contributor Ruben Perez:
This season, my daughter Raquel and I were invited by turkey call maker Marlin Watkins to hunt with him in Ohio for the year’s youth hunt. Getting the chance to hunt with a group of experienced turkey hunters, seeing new turkey country and staying at Watkins’ famed Limbhanger Lodge was too much to pass up.
Hunting with Watkins was a treat on many levels. Not only does he and his friends Ron Bolyard and Bill Greaves know how to hunt turkeys, but Watkins is one of this country’s most respected custom turkey call makers. His shop was just what one would expect; full of machinery to make his masterpieces, along with different types of woods, and of course a collection of calls. It resembles the old country style candy store, where dozens of treats are displayed to entice the kid in us. I have to say my head was spinning after playing with and admiring his creations. What’s unique about Watkins is that he doesn’t just focus on one type of call. He creates box calls, long boxes and trumpet calls as well.
As for the turkey hunting, it was grand. We were on turkeys from day one, and in fact, all day long. But being early in the season, most were tied up with hens. Nevertheless, Raquel still enjoyed an awesome hunt along with a memory box-full of turkey hunting knowledge. For us flatlanders, hunting the Ohio hills was a challenge, but fun none-the-less.
On the second day of hunting, Raquel and I were front row and center to one of the best turkey hunts imaginable. We set up on a ridge with a beautiful valley to the front and sides of us. Watkins and Bolyard set their calling position a few yards to the back of us. They used Watkins’ calls, specially a new trumpet call that Watkins had made—to work on a longbeard for over two hours.
Sitting at the edge of a saddle, with only our Nat Gear camo to keep us hidden, we watched the turkey make a cautious approach up a steep ravine for what seemed an eternity. I was so proud of Raquel’s composure. It was not easy to sit there and watch without moving for so long!
Soft calling, leaf scratching, and patience brought a nice 19-pound gobbler that sported a 9-inch beard and 1-inch hooks to the gun. Raquel’s 20-ga. Benelli, shooting No. 5 Heavy Shot through a Kick’s Gobblin Thunder turkey choke did the trick.
I’ve provided two short video clips (one at the beginning of this post, one at the end). One shot just at the end of the hunt, with Watkins describing the day’s events (it includes a lot of turkey hunting knowledge and tips right there). The second video is of Watkins in his shop showing the different calls he makes and how to use them. Hope the video can help some of your readers.
Well, I don’t want to get into too much detail and give away what’s on the videos, but I would like to say that sportsmen like Marlin Watkins, and his friends, Ron Bolyard and Bill Greaves, should be commended for selflessly giving their time to provide a meaningful hunt for young hunters.
There were two other youths hunting with us that weekend and both got with birds. I also want to thank companies like Natural Gear and Mossy Oak for being so generous and providing great turkey hunting gear in hopes of making the hunt a success.