The scene last week in South Dakota looked pretty bleak. We arrived on Friday following blizzard conditions that left up to 10 inches of snow in some areas. High winds and drifting conditions didn’t sound like good turkey hunting conditions to me but boy was I wrong. By Saturday morning the weather had cleared. Temps were still in the 20s and the 20 mph winds made it feel like Antarctica, but the turkey hunting couldn’t have been better.

At dawn we set up our Double Bull blind within about 150 yards of a roost. By first light I could make out what looked like a bunch of crows in the trees down a small draw. Turns out it was solid turkeys—over 100 birds.

Over a 30-minute period they flew down then came up the ridge to where we were, strutting and gobbling all the way. To see that many gobblers displaying was unbelievable. Everywhere you looked there were fanned-out tail feathers and strutting toms.

This was a bow-only hunt we were on and as this was the first time I’d ever taken any animal with a bow, I hoped to get a bird in close. No problem. The blinds are critical. We wore black fleece tops and balaclava’s to help hide our movements inside. If they see you draw, you’re sunk, as I learned when I spooked the first two birds that came in. I was ready the second time around, however, and was at full draw by the time the birds came around the corner of the blind.

Strut_zone_todd_042308_2We had turkeys as close as 3 yards. I shot mine at perhaps 12 yards using a Bear Truth 2 bow and Carbon Express arrows tipped with Rage broadheads. I had been told that if I couldn’t get a Texas heart shot to hold about 2/3 of the way up the body to catch the vitals. That did the trick. My bird ran about 10 feet and rolled over dead.

By 8:30 everyone in our party had tagged out and birds were still coming down of the roost. Quite a scene. We figured the 2 days the birds had been held up by the snowstorm had done nothing but bring them on all the stronger once the weather cleared. I’ll never worry about taking a chance on an early spring hunt because of snow again. Saw tons of pheasants too, so those planning trips to SD for bird season should have great hunting to look forward to.

—Todd Smith