Friday, October 17, 2008. Bowhunt: Strafford County, New Hampshire.
A month into the season, I found 21 archery-only turkeys on a field edge not long after fly-down (early-hatch, good-sized birds). Got within 10 steps (seriously!) after S-L-O-W-L-Y moving 100 yards in a half hour inside the dense post-rain woods. Had an okay arrowing opportunity, but some cover was in the way. Wanted a better shot. One bird putted, and a 42-eyed chain reaction followed. Put my Hoyt compound bow down where I could find it again, and rushed ’em, a tactic that relies on separating gregarious birds to call them back.
Set up. Waited. Called. A brood hen (one of a couple in the group) set up behind me. I repositioned in the woods, closer to the yapping hen, called in a young bird from the other way with kee-kees. Drew the bow (turkey at just five yards now!). It didn't step out from behind cover like I wished it would, but putted, hustled away. I called, got responses from other birds that worked in to me. They got together in a swampy creek bottom. Heard ’em regroup. Saw the flock gathered now, slowly moving away. Put my bow down again, and got a super break in that swamp, the wad of birds flying in all directions.
Waited 10, 15 minutes after the action. Called, one answered. Then another. Got ’em fired up, and this audio included gobbling, but one of the brood hens eventually beat me at that game as they often do, and yelped most of them in by the end of that wild session.
Had remembered seeing a young gobbler fly the other way on my second flock bust. Walked in that direction through the woods, called (kee-kee-runs). Got a response. Bird worked in to me, close, but hung up, clucking behind cover. Brood hen called agitatedly, across the fairly deep creek. Fall jake kept coming to me—coming hard, yelping and gobbling now as best he could do being a bird of the year, likely fired up by the rowdy calling. It appeared to my extreme right (reddish head, standing tall, just 25 steps or so. I'm ready to draw my bow when it goes behind a tree, and walks even closer to my setup). Thing is, it didn't like not seeing the turkey I'd been imitating, so it did an end around in front of me, toward the brood hen, putting now, hurrying.
Then it got REAL quiet. I'd misplaced my seat cushion during all the action, and returned to my setup spots until I found it. Minor success!—Steve Hickoff