In my second year of hunting these big turkey birds, a lot has been learned and a few things are best forgotten.
The reason that reverently-serious pro-turkey hunters on television make simple hunting look overly complicated is so you won’t want to venture out and try it on your own. They reap big bucks selling novice and corporately funded hunters a load of turkey hunting paraphanelia and guide services. It is what it is.
Hunting turkey is very similar to hunting deer (some say) and in other ways not so much. To put the odds in your favor it’s always best to be set up by daybreak and be prepared. Sit down, shut up and do not make any sudden movements. And (I cannot stress this enough) do not fart. And pee in a capped jug if you must pee, this goes mostly for deer hunting.
Deer and turkey do not like rain. Me neither. Hunting in the rain is no more comfortable or rewarding than changing a flat tire in the rain.
Deer can smell a human fart a mile away, turkeys can’t. Both can spot a human turd at over a mile. Prepare accordingly.
Deer have excellent eyesight, so do turkeys.
To kill a deer one large piece of metal hurled by an explosion in a metal cylinder must cause rapid internal hemorrhaging to get the job done quickly.
To kill a turkey requires only one of many BB’s to perforate the skull or take out the spine. Collapsing the windpipe also gets the job done. A body shot messes up perfectly good meat and the bird will most likely get away. Turkey skin is much thicker than goose skin.
Concealment is the most important consideration when hunting turkeys. I mean head to toe camo and a camo wrap for the shotgun as well. A facemask is an absolute must.
There is camo and there is camo.
When I first began deer hunting in the late 70’s the only camo available was the military woodland pattern and the best clothing was military BDU’s. While that’s fine for early season bow hunting in a leafy forest it’s not too good after the leaves drop.
Many believed that any breakup of the human shape helped. Then came the great camo explosion of the 80’s.
These days camo outerwear comes in a wide selection of realistic patterns designed to blend in with different landscapes. Many waterfowl hunters want to blend in with cattails. Soldiers in the desert need to blend in with the sand.
For turkey and deer it’s best to look like a tree trunk so I choose traditional Realtree®. Being frugal my practical choice is a thin, cheap, oversize camo coverall. This way I can layer as much or as little warmth as desired without interrupting my concealment pattern or spending a fortune for matching outerwear.
Here is a photo from last year wearing my Treebark® coverall.
To demonstrate how realistic and useful proper concealment can be, this as a photoshopped image of my leg from the same shot copied and pasted next to a nearby tree.
Be the tree from head to toe. Think like the alien beast in Predator when hunting deer and turkey. Total visual concealment erases many errors. Slow movements can be undetected when totally concealed. Keep movement to a minimum.
Animals are stupid.
There are only four things wild animals care about. Safety. Water. Food. Sex. Being able to take advantage of two out of three increases the odds of putting meat on the table.
There is this popular notion that because you take to the fields and woods with a gun you have an unfair advantage against natural wildlife. Try it. Then we’ll talk.
My trip was hastily planned for three hunting days and were determined by the long range weather forcast. It also took place during opening week. With three more weeks of open season it’s more than possible for me to get back there again.
No turkey for me so far this season but I plan on getting back down there next week when the weather gets back to normal.
A road trip side note.
Ever see a program on The Travel Channel called “Man v. Food”?
This pudgy young New Yorker dood travels across the country looking for unique roadhouses and café’s serving what we all take for granted. But this NY guy goes batshit crazy whenever he finds a dive serving cheese burgers and fries.
He likes to find establishments that offer free food with a catch. The food happens to be delivered to the table in insanely large portions and must be consumed within a given amount of time. The tape rolls. Fun ensues.
Last week I watched the host, Adam Richmann, on a food tour of Springfield IL. I kid you not.
Richmann visited two Springfield IL diners so I planned on trying one of them on the road home. One diner offered insanely hot chili that was far off my route. It was not considered. Not inviting potential indigestion or the squirts before passing thru Joliet was my goal.
Another diner featured was called Cozy Drive-In made more sense. Cozy Drive-In is located on old US 66 and has been there for decades. The family that started it still owns it. They claim to have invented the corn dog. On television it looked good and eating a corn dog with fries in my lap while driving home in the Mazda sounded easy, tasty and clean.
Cozy Drive-In is about five blocks off I-55 in south Springfield. It was typical Route 66 hype. There is the wall décor with images like Corvettes, James Dean, Steve Mc Queen and the ever-present Route 66 license plates, postcards, retro metal road markers, t-shirts and jackets along with an ordering counter to buy food. Ho-Humm.
I ordered a corn dog and small fries to go.
Back on the road my plan was to clear Springfield traffic before digging into my brown bag of heartland culinary lust. It was disappointing. The dog had no flavor and the coating was too sweet. The fries were fresh sliced with peels clinging to some. They looked good but were limp and greasy and not in a good way.
Not worth the side trip for a Cozy Dog. Just sayin’.