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Another Florida turkey story

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Another Florida turkey story
You ever have one of those nights where you wake up waaaaaaaaay too early to head out to the woods? It is so early that you know if you head out there, Sasquatch will be waiting for you? You also know that Sasquatch will also want to torment you while you wait for the sun to come up? So, instead of playing peek-a-boo with Sasquatch, you decide to stay and try to go back to sleep? Well, that happens to me more often than I like. And generally, sleep will find me within an hour of my alarm needing to go off (whether for work or for hunting). Since it was the weekend, I decided I would just turn my alarm off and wake up when I wake up from my early morning nap. Afterwards I would decide what to do about chasing a turkey.

I woke around 7:45. The temperatures in the house were lovely. The windows were open, the morning was about 60 degrees, there was a fresh breeze flowing through the house and I could have sworn that I heard my resident, across the road gobbler gobbling up a storm. I decided that was a great sign and I should get my butt up out of bed and get out to the woods.

On the drive out, I saw a couple of gobblers strutting their stuff and a few hens wandering the roads looking lonely. I expected the birds in various private land spots. They often are there and they usually bring me good luck on later morning hunts. They didn't disappoint me that day.



When I finally got out to the woods, I began putting on my chest waders...YES CHEST WADERS...and began contemplating how to approach the days' hunt. It had rained several inches again and the river was flooded, thus my woods were flooded, the roads were flooded in some places and the ditches along the roads were only passable with chest waders. It didn't matter which side of the road; chest waders were needed in most spots to get into the swamp or the pine farms. There was considerably more water in the swamp than when I sat in the ditch and shot my first turkey of the season.



Once my pack was on, I yelped a few times to see if anyone would respond and got nothing. Not that that was unexpected. It was a little on the early side for the hens to be leaving the gobblers. I looked down the road and saw no strutting birds as far as I could see with my binoculars in either direction. So, I figured I would head to an area in the pines that I have always thought there should be a bird or two in there. It is quite open and usually has some dryish ground during wet years.

It was a long way down from where I was parked though so I took it slow. Though the temperatures started out cool, it didn't take long for the morning to heat up and I didn't want to start cooking in my chest waders so soon. I walked and yelped from time to time. I followed a side road into the swamp to see just how flooded it was back there. I decided that turkeys aren't born with webbed feet for a reason and so there was no point to continue the walk back through there. It was deeper than I expected and I found myself back on the road fairly quickly.



As I was getting to the entrance to the pine clearing, I stopped in the ditch against some thick brush and yelped a few times. I got an immediate gobble!!!! He was close, though not so close that I could feel his gobbles in my chest. I couldn't really creep closer and he would gobble every time I called. He was not having any of this "come to me big boy" nonsense that I was spouting. I think partly because he already had at least one girlfriend. I heard a hen back towards him a few times.

I couldn't begin to sneak closer because there was no way to get back in there without being seen. I stood in that ditch and slowly shifted around until I could see him back about 100 yards or so. He was strutting up a storm on a high spot in the pines. Exactly where I have always thought a bird should strut.

I stood in that ditch and watched him for about 45 minutes. He would gobble with or without me calling. I had several trucks pass me by and he would shut up and then a few minutes later he was back to gobbling his fool head off. The trucks didn't scare him off. Eventually he drifted off. I waited a while before moving back into the woods. Once I got back to where he had been gobbling I thought that since he wasn't still gobbling, that was as good a place as any to see if he would come back to that opening. It was mid-late morning. I had no better options so I got set up. One positive about chest waders: the skeeters and yellow flies can't bite me through them. So YAY fewer bugs to be bothered by.



I waited and called.

Then called and waited.

The local wildlife watched me.



I watched the local wildlife.



I sat a good long while, a couple of times with trucks stopping near where I had stood. They tried to get gobbles and I didn't say a thing.

Just after lunch time, I am looking around and in front of me, against the hardwood/piney woods transition is a turkey silhouette. It was a hen but hens have been known to drag in gobblers. I watched her feed her way in. Zigging and zagging but not dragging a fella with her. She got really close. About 10 yards or so in front of me and apparently there were lots of bugs or nuts or whatever in the woods in front of me because she spent at least 30 minutes just feeding around in front of me.

While I was sitting there I thought I would try to get a picture or two of her. I have very few live turkey photos and I thought what the heck. There weren't any boys to play with. Turns out that she didn't care for that much. I think she has something against the color pink since that is the color of my phone case. She wasn't totally scared off but she slowly putted and fed her way out of the area. If you look REALLY close, you might be able to spot the beard she was sporting.



After a while more I decided I was done for the day. I had had a great turkey day: hens and gobblers responding to me, wandering in front of me and making the day fun. It was plenty hot out and I was looking forward to getting out of my personal sauna.

When I come to roads of any kind, it is ingrained in me to always look both directions before crossing the street or stepping out onto the street. My mother would be proud. So, as a good daughter, I crept out onto the road and looked left back towards my truck. Nada. I stepped a little further out so I could look right and HMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. That was either a bear in the road or a blowed up strutting gobbler. I back into the woods and dig my binoculars out and then creep back out. YUP. It was a blowed up strutting gobbler. He was down further than a quarter mile but not quite a half mile, so a good distance for me to creep to get close to him.



I watch for a minute or so and there are a couple of hens hanging with him. He is dancing in the middle of the road but not really coming down the road. I believed that he was standing at the intersection, trying to get as much visibility as possible.

Looking down the road and seeing that they weren't really making their way this way, I figured I would have to go to them. Luckily, I had my chest waders on. Have I mentioned that? But this time, YAY for me! I could walk much of the way down in mostly waist deep water fairly quietly and with ease and because I was in the ditch, the vegetation on the sides of the road would hide me. I walked slowly but steadily. I stopped from time to time to peek out and see if the birds were walking towards me or not. I would have hated for us to have been walking towards each other, not be aware of it and then stumble on top of each other, startle each other and we all freak out, the turkeys get a way and I am left empty handed. However, they appeared to be hanging around in the intersection down the road.

Eventually, I ran out of ditch. That kind of brought me a bit of sadness because it was hot out and the water felt sooooooooo good. It also brought me to a hmmmmm moment. Do I continue walking or do I stop there and hope they come my way? There is still a good bit of woods between me (at least several hundred yards still) and them but first I have to make it back to where the ditch starts again. I peek out and the turkeys are still where they were to start.

It was super windy out so I figured that all the sticks and leaves I would be crunching in my clompy waders wouldn't be super obvious. I hoped. I cringed every time I crunched a stick. There was just no avoiding them.

As I was clomping through the woods, the gobbler began periodically gobbling. I had checked a few times and it looked like he was in the same place but his girlfriends were gone? I reached a stretch of woods where there was just no hiding me from the road. AT ALL. If he were coming down the road and I didn't know it, he would see me and then he would disappear. I hemmed and hawed and finally decided to move as fast as I could, crossing that opening to a tree that had some vegetation in front of it that would help hide me some as he made his way down the road. Plus, it was almost to where the ditch started back up again.

The gobbling sounded in the same place at first but as I speed clomped to my tree, he gobbled again and he sounded much closer. My heart stopped and I hustled even quicker to the tree. I just knelt down and hunched into myself the best I could turning on my mental cloaking device. As I was hunching down, I could see his feet and dragging wings through the gaps in the vegetation lining the road. He was too far out though. Plus, there was no shot. He would have to get closer and luckily, he would pass by a kinda thick clump that would allow me to get my gun up. But first he had to not see me.

I didn't even dare to breathe. I told myself that he doesn't know I am here. I haven't called once on this stalk. It is windy out so he likely didn't hear me as I worked my way towards him. He is still strutting so he just can't be worried. I watched from under the brim of my hat as he stepped into a little gap in the brush that was on the edge of in range and strutted. I was sure he was going to see this blob that didn't belong. Apparently, my mental cloaking device helped me out because he just kept strutting on down the road. Finally, he reached the spot where I was able to breathe again and I could then twist a little and get my gun into position.

When he stepped out on the edge of the thick clump, his head was up and I thought OH NO! He sees me. But then he snapped his gorgeous wings and started strutting again. When there was nothing at all between him and me, I was sure that he would see me. He reached that spot in full strut. Before he had a chance to become alarmed, and with a twinge of geez I wish I had my camera to record his gorgeous self, I shot. At the shot, turkeys flung themselves into the air, off the road, flying deep into the woods like cockroaches scattering. He still had had hens with him! And it seemed as though he collected a few more on his way down the road. Thinking about how all of those extra eyes could have screwed everything up for me made me even more excited and grateful for my bird.



And what a bird he was. His beard wasn't all that impressive but his 1.5? spurs sure had me grinning. While I was getting my bird and gun and everything all situated for the long walk back to the truck, a Jeep came creeping down the road. It was an older couple who were out scouting turkeys and were thrilled for me. We were talking and when they asked where I was parked, they were a bit shocked. Then they asked if I would like a ride back to the truck.

HECK YEAH, I WOULD!!!! It was in the upper 80s and have I mentioned that I was wearing chest waders? We chatted and I described my hunt and they were thrilled. They told of a few turkeys they have gotten in the forest over the years and it tickled me to finally meet another lady turkey hunter that will get out and hunt by herself. The lady took pictures for me and then I wished them luck and they went on their way.



Not a bad way to end an afternoon after starting the morning quite late. I was also happy to close out the season and not have to "look forward" to finishing the season wearing chest waders in the turkey woods. I know they are a great tool and they helped me to get my second bird but UGH!

On the way out, I always like to dawdle and see what there is to see. You never know what neat stuff might be waiting to be viewed. Plus, it is always nice to head out of the turkey woods knowing there is at least one more turkey to be found in the woods...



Hopefully y'all northerners had as good a season as I did......

Dani

Last edited by:

Dani: May 27, 2022, 3:04 PM
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Re: Another Florida turkey story In reply to
Awesome story Dani. Thanks for sharing!
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Re: Another Florida turkey story In reply to
Woohoooo!! Great hunt Dani!!


Carl
Mobile, AL
DHBP Member since 1998

"Life is too short to drink bad beer."
Disclaimer: This post and/or report is not a substantiation of or reflection on the true accuracy of the present surveying methods. It is only a report on or comment concerning local observation and/or results. Your results and observation may vary based on your location, local water conditions, food supply, weather conditions and migratory patterns "
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Re: Another Florida turkey story In reply to
Dani,
Congrats. Great picture story as usual. I won't joke and call you a road hunter.
And let no one say you didn't earn your birds.
You go girl!
Steve
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Re: Another Florida turkey story In reply to
Truly excellent story. Very well written. Congratulations on an excellent season!
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Re: Another Florida turkey story In reply to
Great story Dani. First turkey I shot years ago I was in chest waders . High spot in river swamp I went to by boat and needed waders to access where the birds liked. Sitting against a tree in about a ft. of water. Waders come in handy sometimes to get after the thunder chickens!
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Re: Another Florida turkey story In reply to
Dani,
Congrats!! nice hunt and great story.

Take care, Huntindave McCann Smile SHELL ROCK IA. ,,,,,, "As sailors grow older, the wiser ones move to smaller boats." Thomas Firth Jones, Multihull Voyaging
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Re: Another Florida turkey story In reply to
Spectacular story and what a great turkey!!!!!

My turkey season, flat out sucked. Gus and I got a couple-three birds early on in stupid easy setups, but most of the season was horrible. I've never seen anything like it as far as poor bird numbers and lack of action. I spent a lot of time in the woods and had some beautiful days, but not fun days. I'm very grumpy about it, I'm used to grinding it out and being rewarded, but not this year.

Have a great time in Africa. Pics would be great.
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Re: Another Florida turkey story In reply to
Thanks y'all!

Sorry to hear about your turkey woes this year Tod. I have heard that many states north of me are having a decline in turkey populations. Since FL only recently started counting, it is tough to know how our population is doing statewide. I will say in my area, I have not seen a decline. There were a few days out there that I heard 6-8 gobblers back in the swamps.

If I get internet access while I am gone, I will try to post some pics while I am there. I leave tomorrow so yaaaaaaaaaay!!!!!