Spring had finally come to Southern Ontario after a very long and cold winter, with the snow gone it was nice to get out and do some shed hunting and reacquaint myself with the farmers who allow me to hunt their land. The weather had been good and things were greening up quickly with every day. The turkeys were starting to break up from their wintering flocks and moving on to new food sources. It wasn’t until early April that I saw that they have returned to their traditional roosting areas and that the population was in great shape. We have had bad winters in the past with some local die offs but not this year. So it was time to get ready for the upcoming season.
I like to do my pre season scouting with as little disturbance as possible I try to stay long distance away using my spotting scope in my truck or out in a pop-up blind with my binoculars. I can observe where they roost for the evening and fly down in the mornings to feed with out putting any pressure or educating them and still get a handle on their patterns. After many of these scouting missions on a few of the farms that I have permission to hunt I came up with a plan for opening day. I went out under the cover of darkness and setup my blind in a location that wasn’t too close to the roosted birds but yet far enough away to be affective. All I had to do now was wait until opening morning and the hunt that was yet to come.
After all these years of hunting I still find it hard to sleep the night before opening day, and this year was no exception. At 4:30 am my friend Darryl and I made our way to the blind undetected and settled in to experience the spring woods come alive. As the sun started to rise a coyote howled and the first gobble rang out ,and then another and another. The roost seemed to be full of gobblers that just had to let the world know they were there. To me there is no better place to be than sitting in the early morning light hearing the sound of a gobbler making his presents known.
Darryl graciously offered to run the camera on this hunt so I could try and get a tom with my crossbow on film. It was now legal shooting time and the birds were doing a lot of talking on the roost the hens were cutting and yelping and the gobbles were answering their every call. Then it was time to fly down all heck broke loose the birds were dropping in to the stubble field and along the fencerow .After they were all down in the field the hens started to feed away from our location. I tried to get one of the Toms to come my way with a series of calls from my box call to no avail, I guess it’s hard to beat the real thing so off they went out of sight. Not five minutes later out of the bush came two Jakes who had no problem coming our way to check out the decoys and my calling. Being that they were Jakes I tried to encourage Darryl to pick up the Equinox and let the air out of one of them but he said it was my hunt and he has all season to kill his bird.
Around 9:30 I did another sequence from the box call and was immediately cut off by a gobble! Our heads turned to look down the fencerow and standing there was a mature Tom in half strut. I again tried my very best rendition of a seductive hen and he gobbled again. It was a beautiful sight with the sun shining down on the Boss Tom now in full strut showing off to his unseen lady friend. I decided to change things up in my calling and switched to a mouth call. I did a series of yelps and some cutting to spark his interest to come down our way. That got his attention and he started the march down through the corn stubble and into the decoys. At twenty yards he was now in range so I brought up my Equinox and put the crosshairs on his chest and squeezed the trigger. The arrow hit the mark and passed through him and off he ran back down from were he came. We gave him some time to lay down wile we reviewed the footage. It all looked great and after 15 minutes we decided to go find him. He only made it back to the edge of the fencerow and just inside we found him. A great hunt with a great friend and an experience that I will never forget!
Now if you remember…Darryl passed on the two Jakes in the decoys opening day so now it was his turn to be the shooter. We have been chasing birds all over the farms that I hunt and on one particular morning as luck would have it we had our chance to fill one of his tags. We setup on a point of land that juts out into a ploughed field that the birds have been scratching up worms and bugs .Well after fly down with us once again losing interest and deciding to go “Run and Gun” I happen to look to my left to see 5 Jakes coming into our set-up. I tapped Darryl on the shoulder and whispered “here they come”. He readied his Excalibur for the shot and I stopped them with a few clucks from my mouth call. At 15 yards he waited for one of them to clear the rest and put an arrow through his beard. That was the first Turkey he has shot with his crossbow and hopefully not the last.