Monday, April 30, 2012

Tagged out in Kansas

Rob and Lisa headed into Nick's place Wednesday night 4/11/12 after Greg and I headed back to Missouri from our successful first day. They were seeing a ton of birds still and Lisa and Nick had both tagged out before I got back to Topeka on Friday evening. 

Saturday 4/14/12 found Nick and I set up on several birds they'd scouted the day before. The birds were there, but didn't cooperate and quickly went the wrong direction with their hens. We worked several birds throughout the afternoon and got real close to two toms, but we couldn't close the deal. So over lunch we decided to setup in the same field we started the day in a try and catch up with the toms coming back to roost. We had a major front scheduled to arrive in the early evening, so Nick and I hauled in the blind and were in place at 3:30pm. The weather change was quick and before long we were sitting in a constant drizzle and very windy conditions. With zero sign of the turkeys returning to roost we climbed out of the blind around 7:15pm to check the field behind our setup. Sure enough there was a hen with a strutter in tow working the field edge. I went into sneak mode and started trying to close in on them. The hen picked me off early and bugged out, but the tom kept strutting and working towards where the hen entered the treeline at the opposite end of the field. I covered as much real estate as I could before running out of cover, but the tom was still a good ways out. I shouldered the 20 gauge and got the tom in the scope and cracked off my shot. The bird rolled and then regained his footing and flew away over the trees never to be seen again. 

We had some wicked storms roll through over night and the turkeys weren't cooperating Sunday morning. Nick and I had several hens and geese work through our spread in the morning, but no toms showed themselves. After a couple hours we decided to take the fight to them. Around 9:30am we got a text that Rob had just tagged out on two jakes with one shot, so we met up with them to celebrate and say our good-byes. 

After Rob and Lisa took off Nick and I decided to make one more pass through the Corp ground. We eased up on the field I hunted Wednesday morning and there were nine birds strutting with several hens about 3/4 of a mile off the road. We devised a game plan and headed down the west treeline. After about 20 minutes we'd got within 100 yards of the group, but the two biggest toms had worked the other way with some hens, so we were left with 7 jakes and a couple hens to work with. I told Nick that we'd come this far, so if I could sneak up the rest of the way I was going to kill one of them. Nick stayed put and I bailed off into the creek so I could cover more ground quicker than in the timber. I quickly made it to the spot I thought the birds would be and eased up out of the creek. The birds were about 40 yards away directly in front of me and right on the edge of the timber and field. I could have easily killed one then, but with the high winds I decided to push my luck and continued to close in on them. I got to 20yrds and the birds were still on the edge so I pushed my luck a little more and continued to inch forward. At about 7 yards I called it good and eased up to the back of a tree. Nick was calling to the birds and the biggest jake was in full strut right in front of me. After a couple seconds of watching the close range show I flipped the safety off and dished the strutter up a face full of lead! It was probably one of my best sneaks ever and having Nick watch the show just made it sweeter! In 5 days of hunting Kansas we had filled 9 out of 10 tags...all on public ground! I can't wait for the 2013 season!

Unfortunately I had a serious error in judgement when I returned home that afternoon and ended up cutting myself pretty badly while cleaning my bird. I was sitting on a cooler in the garage with the bird between my feet while wearing flip-flops. One slip of the knife, a trip to the ER, and 12 stitches in my left big toe later...I was going to be missing my first Missouri Turkey opener in 13years!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

2012 Mo Turkey Gun Opener

The 2012 Missouri Spring Turkey opener was upon us. Pete has been lucky enough to have been hunting out in Kansas with our buddy Nick and was able to tag out there on 4/15/12. Our plan for the opener was to head out to of friend's small 80 acre farm in Oak Grove, Mo.

The day before the Mo opener found me out bright and early on a windy cloudy morning on a little scouting adventure. I arrived at the farm a bit late, but lucky for me the birds were pretty quiet until about 7:00am when they finally decided to wake up. Two toms were roosted in the northwest corner tucked away in a small 4 acre field which was almost the perfect location. The only bad thing is that there were a bunch of hens with them. Bring on opening morning!!

Around 10:30pm Sunday night I got a text from Pete saying that his big toe that he had to get 12 stitches in due to the Kansas bird getting even with him was killing him and he wasn’t going to make it. I told him he was basically acting like a little "School Girl" and to suck it up!

Opening morning had finally arrived. I made the short drive to the farm and was fired up to get after them. My plan of sneaking into their bedroom worked for the most part and I ended up setting up 60 yards away from the roosted birds. The first birds that pitched down into my decoys were two hens. The gobblers were gobbling like crazy and my trigger finger was about to run out of patience waiting for the boys to pitch down. Unfortunately one of the hens decided to start working away from me and by the time she got just out of gun range the two gobblers decided to pitch down right to her. I worked them for almost an hour before finally they worked off to the main 40 acre field in the center of the farm.

At this point I knew that I needed to make a move. I found the flock in the middle of the field and the toms were strutting around nine hens and after glassing them for a few minutes trying to figure out how to set up on them I noticed that there was just enough of a hump in the field that I could try and make a sneak attack on them. I dropped my pack and started belly crawling. It was tough on a fat boy but after crawling 125 yards I finally made it into position. I slowly rose up and as luck would have it the hens were 30 yards and closing and the gobblers were strutting around 15 yards behind them.

They finally made a move towards me and when they got to about 35 yards I rose up again and let the Benelli bark....Kaaabbboooommmm!! Ole boy couldn’t handle a face full of pellets and tipped right over. Of course the less dominant bird decided to let his buddy feel his thunder and pounced on him for a couple of minutes before finally deciding to follow the hens out of the field. Awesome end to the Mo opener!!!

With me having 1 tag left and Pete with's time to get Big Pete healed up and on a Missouri Gobbler!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Kansas Triple Play

4/11/12 - Nick Bales, Greg Cole, and me met up in Topeka, KS for the opening day of the Kansas spring turkey shotgun season. Nick and Greg had bow hunted some Corp of Engineers ground the previous weekend and were covered up in birds. We all picked a different area of the Corp ground to hunt for the morning and we'd planned to meet up around 11a.m..

I was pretty much going into my spot blind and I wasn't exactly sure where to head to first, so elected to hike in about 1.5 miles to an area that had open crop fields, timber, and big turn in the creek. At about 6:15am I was very happy with my decision, because 12-13 toms started to fire up on the roost with in 150 yards of my position. I worked inside 70yards of the first bird and got my decoys setup and settled in for the morning. The gobbling on the roost was amazing and around 6:45am they really fired up. The toms were hammering at each other and a mess of hens were also joining into the chorus of turkey talk. The first bird to pitch down was a long-beard and he immediately went into full strut and started heading my direction. He didn't make it 10yards before a group of 8-9 jakes pitched down between him and my decoys and proceeded to run the big tom off. The jakes stayed in and around my setup for the better part of an hour. I had several hens feeding in and around the spread also, but no big guys. It was an awesome first morning show and first hunt in Kansas!

Greg and Nick were both having a pretty sweet morning themselves. Greg was only about a mile east of me and he had several birds hammering on the roost also. He had 4 toms, a jake, and several hens pitch into the field he was set up on and around 7:30am one of the toms finally broke off and came into Greg's decoy. He didn't waste any time and quickly dropped the hammer on his first KS tom! Nick was about 2 miles south of us and was hunting a field they had seen birds in the weekend before, only he had some company today because some guy had a blind setup about 30 yards from Nick's hiding spot. The first bird into the field was a triple bearded jake and after strutting around for a few minutes Nick had seen enough and he smoked that dude. By the sounds of it the guy in the blind didn't know he was there and had a few choice words...I'm sure he probably needed a change of undies also.

The boys picked me up around 11:15a.m. and we headed into town for some gas. On the way in we were seeing toms all over the place, so after a quick fill up we headed back towards the Corp ground. On the way I spotted two toms sitting on the top of a knoll, but on Corp ground. We had drive about 2 miles to get around to them and when we drove by the knoll the birds were gone, but the spot they were in was actually a little island with roads on both sides of it. As we drove past Greg and I both spotted the toms on the back side of the knoll, but there were now 5 toms in the group. We didn't have much time to make a decision, so I had Nick drop me off in the ditch about 80yards down the road. There was a pretty good bank that allowed me to sneak up on the group quickly. Once I was inside of 30yards I'd run out of real estate to move. I could hear and see the birds in front of me, but the cover they were in was thick and I was going to have to do something else in order to get a shot off. I decided I'd just slowly stand up and see what happened. To my surprise there were now 7 birds in the group and they all stuck their little heads up when I stood up, but they didn't move. Instead they just stood in a big group trying to figure out what I was. As soon as the first bird separated from the group I smoked him! The other 6 toms all exploded out of the timber like flushing pheasants while my bird did the death flop. When I finally reached him I noticed that out of the 7 toms I'd just killed the only jake in the group, but what do you do...

It was an awesome day with good friends and a lot of turkeys. I'll be headed back to Kansas on Saturday to try and punch my second tag, then it's on to the MO opener on the 16th....gobble, gobble!!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

March Mushroom Madness

3/31/12 - With the unseasonably warm weather we've been having this spring the shrooms have been popping early. My good friend Nick Bales found around 200 shrooms in the middle of last week, so Saturday morning I left KC around 6:30am headed to Toto-land in search of some fungi. Landon, Todd, Nick, and I got to Nick's first honey hole around 9am and by 9:10am I'd found the first shrooms of the day and it only got better from there. The little buggers were thick and we only had to move 10-20yrds to find another good group of them. We'd planned to hit a couple of different spots, but when the getting is this good...there was no reason to go elsewhere. By noon we were pretty hot, thirsty and our bags were overflowing with 276 shrooms, so we shut it down for the day. I'm planning to make it back out there this week for a night and then hit up some of my Callaway Co. spots this weekend...thanks again Nick! My belly thanks you!