Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: Up state NY (Way up)
Results of my Spring 2005 NY turkey season
This might be best on the hunting forum, but I seldom go there. For those of you that know me well, you know that to me turkey hunting is a passion. This is a break down of events during the past month. The NY spring season runs from 1 through 31 May, and you can hunt from sun up till noon. You can take only one bearded bird a day and only two a season.
It has been a strange spring turkey hunting season for me this year. I went out hunting fourteen days of the 31 days in May, and one day in April during the spring youth hunt with my daughter Allison. It seemed like the birds didn’t want to talk (gobble) for the first week, and the weather in upstate NY was very wet during this time frame. The second week was a lot better, and I heard a lot of Toms responding to my calls, and they gobbled a lot on their own while still on the roost. However, the only thing that came in was a few Jakes on the Fleming farm in Evans Mills NY. This farm has been very productive in the past, but it was recently sold to a developer who intends on building 850 new homes on it in the next two years. The birds there got a lot of pressure. The land was not posted, and the fact that it sold seemed to open up the flood gates for other hunters to hunt it also. Because, of this I did most of my hunting on a private farm in Antwerp NY. I spent three of four of the weekends in May hunting one large bird there that had a group of Jakes, and some hens with him all season. He never came into my calling, and he managed to give me the slip every time I thought I had him figured out. I even once set up about 60 yards from his roosting tree, only to have him fly down and lead his group away from me in the opposite direction. I was able to finally take one of the Jakes in his squad on the third Thursday of May. However, it was not because of my calling. The bird just was not as quick as the others, and hung around in the meadow too long after the others had pegged me for what I was. He succumbed to a 3.5 Winchester #5 Xtender round from a distance I was mighty impressed with. Heck, I was getting disparate by this time of the season. The best part about hunting the earlier part of the season was that I got to hunt with a few friends (Active duty US Army) who had just returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. As hard as I tried we could never manage to put them on a bird, but each one later was able to take a bird on their own. If you get a chance to take a Veteran hunting, do it! They really appreciated it, and enjoyed the opportunity to be able to get out and hunt. The one thing I learned from hunting during this time frame was “when hunting from a Double Bull blind”, do not just let the windows fall freely on their own. Ease them down very slowly for best results. I didn’t do this and when the window screen fell it must have been like a blink to the Tom that was on the other side of the blind. I never saw this bird; he just appeared out of no where. But, he sure saw the window screen drop. On 30 May my Friend Tony and I went to a private farm in Pierpont Manor NY that is owned by another friend of mine (John) who is a NY State Corrections Officer. John had offered me his farm to hunt several times in the past, and I had never closed the loop with him about it. On the previous Sunday I had spoke with him at Church, and he told me I should really consider coming out, that his birds had not had much pressure, and he felt we could have some success. It didn’t take me long to take him up on his offer. I had hunted five different locations during the season, and I had come away with only a Jake so far. I was in the mood for a change of scenery. Monday morning found Tony, John and I set up over looking a hidden freshly plowed corn filed, that was surrounded by hardwoods, and thick French country side like hedgerows. The area was very secluded and looked outstanding, but we had not put a bird to sleep the night before, and were going in blind. John guaranteed us that we would hear and see birds there, and he was proven right. Shortly after setting up at around (4:55 AM) I could hear hens clucking on their own, so I joined them. I counted at least four different hens on every side of us. We were surrounded by hens, but no Toms were gobbling. I whispered to them that I felt this many active hens would have to attract a Tom, and if we just stayed put we should have something coming into our set up. Around 6:00 AM, we finally heard a Tom gobbling behind us to our left, but he was several hundred yards away from us, and was not closing in. John told us that the Tom was in another hidden meadow on the other side of the thick hedge row to our left. He felt we had a real good chance of moving on the bird. So, off we went looking for the bird. We did see some geese in the meadow, but the Tom that was gobbling just walked off even further. John then walked us around the outer edges of his property showing us the boundaries, because he was going to have to leave us and go to work. We bumped one bird along the way, and after leaving John back at the house Tony and I headed straight back to our original set up. I felt good about this place, and Tony and I guessed we would be bumping birds when we got back to the plowed field around 8:00 AM. When we got there Tony told me he thought he heard a Tom gobbling back towards the same area we had headed off for earlier. We were walking across the open field towards the thick hedge row again when we clearly heard at least two Toms gobbling down in the hard woods behind where we had first set up. I told Tony I didn’t think they were that far into the woods as they sounded, and we talked about how to approach them. Tony wanted to go to the trail to our right, and I wanted to try another lower ATV trail to our left that John had pointed out to me when we first set up. We chose the ATV trail, and we had only walked about 100 yards into the woods when we heard three Toms gobbling down in the hard woods bottom that we had now entered. I took out the begging boat paddle and did some cutting, and they all started screaming back to me. There were two birds together just ahead of us in or around a creek bed, and they sounded real nice. The one to our right was a bit farther away. These were not jakes, they were excited adult Toms, they were vocal, and they were coming in fast. Tony and I quickly sat at the base of a very large Sugar Maple, and I started purring lightly on my HS Strut slate call. The two Toms in front of us responded, and we could tell they were closing the distance quickly. Tony was on my right, and these two birds were now coming around to our left. I had already taken a Jake and Tony had not bagged a bird yet however, with the birds coming in so fast we didn’t dare change our position, and make any unnecessary movement. A few minutes later we could see them walking in the woods about forty yards to our left. We were at an intersection of two ATV trails, and the birds were in the covering of the under brush on the forest floor. I could tell that the bird in the rear was the larger of the two, and Tony was trying to keep a bead on it, while I took a bead on the lead bird. When he stepped out into the opening of the trail I first thought it was a Jake. Mainly because of the size different between it and the bird in the rear that was strutting off and on. The lead bird never went into strut. The lead bird turned towards us and stood still. There he stood at about forty yards in all his splendid glory staring straight down the barrel of my Remington 870 “snot-knocker”, which had the red dot resting just below his beak. He was facing a 3.5” Winchester Xtender #5 like the one I used to take the Jake with earlier at quite a greater distance. For all these reasons this bird was already dead, and no one had told him yet (Dead bird walking). Then he started walking closer towards us, but there was no covering between us and him, and the larger bird had not stepped out into the opening where Tony could get a shot at it. Tony could see the lead bird out in the open in his peripheral vision, and asked me if I had a bead on him. I said I did, but was waiting for him to shoot. Tony told me that he couldn’t because the second bird wouldn’t step into the clearing. Tony then whispered that he felt the bird I was tracking would soon peg us for what we were, and if he started alarm putting that I should go ahead in shoot. I asked him if he could get a shot at it, but he said he didn’t want chance it and try and move. He said that I already had it tagged, then he mentioned something about “one in the hand being better then two in the bush”, and I agreed. The bird I was aiming at took a few steps to the left, and then quickly turned around while never taking his eye off us. I swear this bird swiveled his head 360 degrees on its neck. How do they do that? Tony could see this also, and we both felt he was just about to take off for parts unknown. Tony told me to shoot the bird, and I did. He dropped dead at 35 steps, and didn’t even flop or thrash. The other bird didn’t stick around after that, and took flight. I just wished we could have gotten a look see at how large he actually was, because the smaller bird I killed was no slouch. He was not as large as last years bird, but he had some nice statistics. Of course we never heard from the third bird again ether. I guess I saved the best for last, because the season was over the next day at noon.
This is the score on the bird I took on Monday.
Beard 9 & ¾” = 9.75
Right spur 1 & ¼” = 1.25
Left spur 1 & ¼” = 1.25
Weight 22 pounds, 14 ounces = 22.14
Total NWTF score = 67.375
He came to die on a cross of wood, yet he built the hill on which it stood +++