Monday, April 25, 2011

Public Enemies - MO 2011 Spring Turkey Season

After my new stepfather “The squirrel” burned down the family lake house at Stockton Lake early last spring, I was making weekly trips down there during the rebuilding process. I was seeing and hearing turkeys all over the lake, so Pete and I decided to change it up for the 2011 MO opener and give it a go on public land; if nothing else we’d catch some fish…..


Waking up Saturday morning was a treat to say the least. Rain, wind, and cold temps were upon us again and after a fun boat ride that resembled an episode of Deadliest Catch we pulled into the first area we wanted to scout. Pete hit the VECtor crow call and boom Gobble, Gobble, Gobble about 100 yards to the east of us. It was a good start to our scouting effort. After checking several other locations in the same general area we had located six nice birds and our expectations were growing by the minute for the opening morning.

After a superb breakfast of biscuits, venison sausage gravy, and hash Browns cooked up my Master Chef Pete; we were off to try and catch some fish. The high winds made the boat ride more than enjoyable to say the least, but we finally found some quiet water and we ended up catching a few crappie and Pete caught his first white bass; it was one for the record books!!! Unfortunately our keeper fish all lived to see another day and we’re just gonna have to blame it on “The Squirrel”!! Some dummy decided to buy a keeper net that opened on the top and bottom. As I dropped my third 2.5lbs largemouth into the net all of the fish proceeded to exit out of the bottom opening. Apparently whatever device that was keeping the net closed on the bottom broke and all of our keepers safely returned to the depths of Stockton.

As evening approached the winds started to lay and while I was outside BBQ’n up some ribs I could hear gobbling from a nearby field. Knowing this was a honey hole that a neighbor hunted every year Pete and I decided to go talk him and find out what his plans were for opening day. As luck would have it he was going to be working in Iowa all week, so he said to get after them. After firing through two racks of BBQ ribs and cheesy taters Pete and I put the birds to bed and we ended up running into the neighbor who’s house backs up to the field. She said that there were three big gobblers she named “The Three Amigos” and they used the field every day. That was all Pete and I needed to hear to make our decision up on where to hunt for the opener!

-Sunday Morning-

Sunday morning was a 180 degree difference from Saturday; we had clear skies, zero wind and temps warming up into the high 60s. As the light started to fill the morning sky it didn’t take long to hear our first gobbles of the day and that was just the start of the show. We ended hearing roughly 15-17 different birds sound off and easily heard north of 170 gobbles. It’s the most gobbling either of us had ever experienced in one location. Then as if on cue at seven o’clock “The Three Amigos” came strutting around the south point of the field with eight hens in tow….Monday morning couldn’t get here soon enough! We headed out after that for a day of fishing unfortunately the winds picked back up and fishing was poor at best. We did sort the keeper basket out and by the evening we had a couple nice bass for our efforts.

-Opening Morning-

After a restless night of sleep it was finally time to see if we could make the “Three Amigos” famous. After a short boat ride and a quick set-up we sat patiently waiting for the morning light to crack the east horizon. At 5:50am the first bird of the morning sounded off in the distance and anticipation of having “The Three Amigos” in our decoy setup was at an all time high. Unfortunately for us the trio had some lady companionship and by 9:30am our patience was wearing thin. The Amigos never came out of the timber; we had several hens work into the field, but the boys stayed put and kept gobbling their heads off. We finally decided to make a move on them, so we headed west across the field and setup next to two large oaks right off the edge of timber the birds were in. Pete let out a few excited yelps and all three of the birds hammered back at him. The Trio was on fire gobbling, but after a couple of minutes we could tell the hens were leading them away from our location. The Amigos were literally gobbling every 30 seconds on their own as they moved away, so we put plan #3 into action.

Pete and I knew our only chance on these birds was to sneak around in front of them and cut them off. We took off on a mad dash through the timber. The Amigos kept hammering the entire time, so it was easy for us to pinpoint their movements. We finally made out in front of them and made our move down hill to intercept them. We literally got settled on a tree and no joke…thirty seconds later first hen passed us about 40 yards out. The dominant gobbler was the next bird through and stopped in a perfect opening 40yrds out in front of us. Both of us had the safeties off and pressure on the triggers, but we knew that the two less dominant birds were bringing up the rear. We could hear the two birds walking through the timber for what seemed like an eternity, but they finally came into view and Pete and I let the Benellis crack. After the initial shots both birds flopped over into a shallow ditch, but unfortunately one made it back its feet and took out before we could get another clean shot into it. I scrambled to catch up with him but he made it into the thick under brush and we never located any other sign of him.

As we celebrated another stellar ambush and our first public land bird, it became apparent neither of us was positive about which bird went down and which one made it out of there. After we shot the birds flopped into that shallow ditch and the underbrush exploded with leaves and branches from our patterns, so we couldn’t be sure which bird we actually had in the bag. We finally decided that I had the cleared shot, so I tagged the bird…..much appreciated, brother!!!

We estimated the bird’s weight around 18-20lbs with a 9.5” beard and 1” spurs

After getting some good photos down by the shoreline we tried to get on another bird for Pete, but unfortunately we ran out of legal shooting time and it was time to go clean up the house and head for home. Neither of us had any complaints and had a great weekend living the dream!!! With plenty of season left it’s time to get Pete on a bird and I hope he’s a giant!!

Stay tuned we’ve got 3 more tags to fill, and two Amigos still on the loose!!!

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