Sunday, March 24, 2013

Texas Spring Turkey Season Opener

Spring Turkey season opens at our place March 30th and the opener always brings back memories of past seasons. The rain in the last week has things greening up just a little and the gobblers have starting calling already.  This year I will only be calling and taking pictures as we are just getting turkeys back to their historic range on our place in Lampasas. We had a set back when a neighboring hunter killed one of our gobblers in deer season but at least two gobblers are staying around with a few hens.  We are keeping out feed in hopes of keeping the turkeys from straying onto a place where they will get shot this year.  Once the flock has a healthy population it won't bother me if a few are harvested, but my brother and I have been working to get them going in the area again and are kind of protective of them right now.

I remember turkey season many years ago when as a teenager I would chase turkeys through the woods in Llano and San Saba counties with just a mouth call and a .243 rifle. I later added camo consisting of Army surplus camo clothing and charcoal rubbed on my face. There were a lot of times that ole gobbler would see me move or the shine of my gun, face or hands and be gone in a flash. As my skill developed and I learned about face paint, camo gloves and gun camo I became more proficient at bringing home a gobbler. I got good enough at calling I started using a shotgun and getting those gobblers to come in close. I remember seeing the first outdoor television programs showing someone using a turkey decoy and how the turkeys came to the call looking at the decoy and not the hunter. I finally found a plastic turkey decoy in one of the outdoor mail order catalogs and ordered it. There was no Internet or online search and ordering at that time, just the Gander Mountain and Cabela's mail order catalogs. When that first plain looking decoy came in the mail I could hardly wait until season to try it out. The success I had with that plastic decoy through the years helped me take a lot of gobblers and even a few with my old Fred Bear Grizzly recurve bow. I remember using rubber bands and a hot glue gun to put real turkey wings and a tail on that solid grey-black plastic decoy, from a distance it almost looked alive but kind of beat up. I guess the gobblers thought she looked great as they sure came in time after time.

Many years later I was watching the outdoor shows one Saturday morning in the off season and here were these two guys in a weird shaped camo tent hunting turkeys in the middle of a field with a decoy right outside the tent. I thought I can’t believe this will work as the turkeys will see that tent out in the middle of an open field and won’t come anywhere near it. I was starting to think the turkeys were tame as the turkeys walked right up to the decoy and one of the guys shot that turkey at mere feet from the tent. I knew it must have been a fluke or a place where turkeys had not been hunted much at all. Flipping through the channels a little later in the week I saw another hunter on another outdoor show setting up a turkey decoy and one of the strange camo tents in another open field. He then proceeded to call several turkeys right up to the tent and took one with his bow. I went to the catalog basket in the bathroom library and started looking through the pages of an outdoor catalog. I had to have one of those magic camo tent blinds. That was the beginning of my love affair with pop up camo blinds and turkey hunting. These things allow the regular guy to have success with shotgun or bow in hunting turkeys just about anywhere. I have had people that can’t even call send me emails about having turkeys come to a decoy set up outside a pop up blind. If you are like me you will find a lot of uses for your blind. I have used mine on deer, hogs, and predators. The pop ups are great for birding and wildlife photography. I have even hunted waterfowl and sand hill cranes from one of the blinds. It pays to read and watch for new techniques and gear to be used in hunting. Sometimes it will even change your life or at least the way you think and hunt.
There are many different kinds of calls out there these days and even if you never called there are calls that will have you sounding like an expert caller.  Go check out the new gear and have a great time chasing a gobbler this year. Have fun, make sure of your target and above all be safe.  Wild Ed

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