Three States in Eleven Days

I just got back from my annual springtime turkey hunting trip to the midwest.  My dad and I, along with a few others, hit Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri.  The following pictures are the high spots of the trip.  I’ll post more and a few videos as I get them sorted out.

My dad was the first to draw blood in Oklahoma.  He killed this pair of gobblers immediately after fly down when they decided to land in the wrong place…right in front of his gun barrel.

Our good friend from back home, Stephen Young killed these two longbeards the first morning not far from where I was hunting.  The report of his shot made a turkey gobble right behind me.

Around 9:30, during a thunderstorm, I intercepted this gobbler sneaking up a row of cedars.  I had been surrounded by a group of gobbling jakes not long before this guy came out.  He was really being cautious and was on the look out for the band of gobbling marauders.

oklahoma turkeyI killed my second bird the second evening of the hunt.  He came in gobbling hard and got up on a bluff behind me.  I even saw him peeking over the edge of the bluff trying to locate the hen he heard.  Realizing he overshot his target he hopped of the bluff right in front of me where I had to make a quick shot.  I’ve always heard you couldn’t call them downhill, but nobody every said anything about calling them off a cliff.

armadilloI did see a couple armadillos in Oklahoma.  I’m sure people who see them every day don’t think much of it, but they’re quite a novelty to an East Coaster.

rio grande turkeyThey’re all beautiful in their own way, but there is something about the buff color on the base of a Rio’s tail.

 

IMG_7539After we all tagged out in Oklahoma, we set our sights on southeast Kansas where it was my dad again who scored first on the morning of the shotgun opener.  This bird weighed almost 25 pounds.

stevenyoung                                                    Stephen also killed a great bird opening morning.

kansas turkeyAfter not hearing much the opening day, I managed to get this big double bearded bird into shotgun range.  He had a big paintbrush main beard with a 7.5 inch second beard.

longspurI didn’t get a chance to measure them, but this bird definitely had some hooks on him.  They were at least 1.5 inches long.  He’s my best Kansas turkey to date and I was happy to get him.

robstoneMy good friend from back home, Rob Stone with a great Kansas bird.  Rob had been in Kansas doing video work and guiding and found a little time to hunt.  He called three in one evening and filled his second tag.  He killed another great one a week before with his Mathews NoCam.  We had a close call together the day before shotgun season opened when we had an old gobbler come to us.  I watched the footage on my tv and I can say he with about 99% confidence he has a 12 inch beard.  You don’t see many of those.  He was about 1o yards short of Rob sticking an arrow in him before a hen took him away.

IMG_7590While everyone else struggled to hear a gobbling bird, Dad found a willing participant and called him into shotgun range the next morning.  After three days of hard hunting, we parted ways with our buddy Stephen and headed to Missouri but not before we found a bunch of Morels which we thoroughly enjoyed.  Leftovers don’t exist with these things.

morel mushroomsFor Missouri, we hunted Stateline Trophy Hunters in Mulberry Kansas with our longtime friend Rusty Willis who runs the outfit.   Conveniently located 300 yards from the Missouri border, Stateline offers a unique opportunity to hunt two states from one spot.  I hunted the Kansas side hard for a day and half trying to fill my second tag.  Kansas had been pretty slow in terms of gobbling, but I did manage to get on one.  He came in behind me and I rushed the shot and missed him at 10 yards.  He isn’t the first one and won’t be the last but it doesn’t make it any easier to take.  There are few feelings worse than boogering a turkey.

turkeyThe opening morning of Missouri season, we hunted a farm Rusty had just leased a few weeks prior.  It was loaded with strutting toms.  Before daylight of the opening morning, Dad and I positioned ourselves in the corner of a secluded pasture where we had made a nest in the brush the previous evening.  Birds had been strutting in this pasture for days and we figured this was a likely ambush spot for the henned up gobblers.  We had this big rehearsed plan that if two birds came out together we would shoot on the count of 3.  That very thing happened, except my bird was the only one who fell.  I think I shot a little early and made Dad flinch.  For the record, the whole shoot on 3 thing is tougher to pull off in practice than it is in theory.  I wound up with a 24 pound double bearded tom, and Dad got a funny story to tell.

IMG_7883The second day of Missouri season, I sat at a distance and watched birds filter out into the main pasture field after fly down.  Four gobblers and their respective group of hens aimlessly meandered through the field for at least 2 hours before the hens broke off to do whatever it is they do.  Knowing my dad was positioned somewhere in the field edge, I watched intently through my binoculars trying to locate him but to no avail.  I watched a lone tom strut up the left side of the pasture close to where I thought Dad would be hiding.  I heard the familiar sound of his box call and the gobbler responded.  The turkey turned and marched back up the tree line almost 150 yards gobbling the whole way toward the sound of the hen.  Out of nowhere, Dad’s Browning Maxus roared and the gobbler was reduced to a flopping heap.  Dad had crawled through the weeds to get in position and when he called, the gobbler came in like he was on a string.  It was really cool to watch the whole thing play out.

We parted ways on Tuesday evening and I came home to go back to work.  I’ve got a lot of fishing trips to do the next six days but hopefully I’ll get a chance to get back home to West Virginia for their first week coming up.  I went up today and checked one of my Pennsylvania spots where I’m guiding a client on  opening day May 1.  A little breather is definitely needed, although I’m chomping at the bit to get back after it.  This truly is my favorite time of year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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