The good news is that I got my bird. The other news is that I had to go thru many changes in emotions and tactics to do so. The ups and downs of hunting turkeys in Michigan. Opening day was clear but windy, 7 to 15 miles per hour winds. This cuts down on your calling range and demands you stake your decoys. Staking is putting a stick long enough to impede the decoy from moving too far to either side on each side. So even in a strong wind the decoy moves but doesn’t spin around on it’s pivot point to look like a top. Birds were gobbling when I set up and for an hour after sunup. Unfortunately that was it and all 5 toms I saw within eye shot over 2 days never gobbled.
Now for the tribulations. Monday afternoon around 3 I looked over my shoulder to see a tom zooming in to my decoy set up. No gobble just a stealthy drive by to teach my jake decoy who’s boss. Not having any shooting windows on that side of the blind I had to open the sliding door to get a shot. The door opened easily and unbenownst to tom. As I lined up the shot I noticed iron sights. The kind that are on a slug barrel not the normal shot barrel for bird shot. I quickly calculated the difference in aim point with the different sights and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. As I looked at the gun I could see the shell wasn’t all the way into the chamber. A little force didn’t help the situation and I was forced to eject the shell and the succeeding shell of the same type. My third shell was different and one I considered a long shot, size 4 shot shell. The shell did go all the way in and I focused on the tom heading well out of the decoys and looking over his shoulder trying to figure out what all the noise was coming out of the blind. I aimed right for the waddles and pulled the trigger. Not a feather was touched and the bird ascended into flight across the field only to land at the hedgerow and run into the woods.
This was the low point of my hunt with many negative thoughts and feelings rushing over me. Not seeing anything for the rest of the night I headed in a little early to find a way to see where the gun was shooting. I found a large piece of cardboard and measured out 20 yards. My shot was 4″ low and 4″ to the right so I would use this as my adjustment for any further action.
The next morning found me in the same blind with the same decoy set up. The sunrise gobbles were very distant today but the woods was full of hens. A dozen hens searched the river bottoms for food when a single hen came thru giving a roundup call. Another 10 hens came out of the surrounding woods to join the group and they all headed off to the west. Mid morning a puffed up tom suddenly appeared 70 yards out and he was with 2 hens. I tried every conceivable call I have in my repertoire but got no response from the tom. The hens naturally ignored my calling and probably became suspicious and they all left to the west.
About noon I decided to switch spots to an area I heard gobbling in the morning. The blind is on the other side of a creek and just before the creek there is a rise in the terrain. As I topped the rise I spotted a tom in full strut accompanied by hens. I dropped down to my knees and set up decoys, back off about 20 yards and started box calling. No response, so I tried crawling to the top of the rise to get a shot but the hens detected me and were on the other side of the creek being followed by the tom.
Crawling in mud takes a lot out of you so I packed up and made my way to the blind. Set up the dekes and climbed in and after allowing the area to settle in I did some calling. No responses back but within a half hour 2 hens with a tom in tow appeared across the small field I was in. The hens didn’t like my decoys and headed back into the woods to the awaiting tom. That was it for the next 5 hours, no responses, no sightings and negative feelings setting in.
Just before 6 o’clock some sort of switch was turned on and about 20 deer moved from the woods across the field I was in, across the field and into the woods behind me. Some of the deer didn’t like my decoy set up and ran across the opening.
Soon after the deer were done turkeys started to follow. First 2 hens ignoring my set up, then a young tom with about a 6″ beard came thru trying not to make eye contact with the decoys. All these birds were just out of range for me even with the right barrel. Next up was a nice tom and he puffed up when he saw my set up. He walked right in displaying to the hens in my grouping. He was well within range and I waited to see if he would attack my jake decoy. Suddenly something just didn’t seem right to him and he deflated and started to walk off so I lined up the sights with the allotted deviation and fired. The gun fired but the turkey was trying to leave the area a little quicker. The second shot somehow connected and the bird went down.
Overlooking the poor shooting the hunt was fairly typical of the ups and downs of hunting turkeys in Michigan. Hopefully the birds will start to respond to calls shortly and I can call in some birds for my sons and cousin.
Get Outdoors Downriver.