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Tagged out on turkeys with my flintlock!

504 Views 5 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Gamegetter
I must have finally found the right combination of animal sacrifices, incantations, and candle lighting because the Turkey Gods smiled upon me Saturday morning and I was able to kill my second bird of the 2019 Missouri season with my flintlock smoothbore, Sweet Rachael, at the Haverstick Homeplace in Shannon County.

There was a craft camp taking place last weekend at a facility that is around 3 miles from where my dad's house sets. My wife, Leah, wanted to attend the camp and asked if I would take Thursday and Friday off so I could make the 3-hour drive with her. Sure, and what am I gonna do during this time? Oh, yeah, I'm gonna turkey hunt at the farm! I had gotten into several birds the weekend before so I was hopeful that this weekend would be more of the same.

Unfortunately, it had rained a little over 2 inches in that area and the back half of our hay fields resembled rice paddies more than hay fields. The creek had come up a little and while I knew I could cross it with my truck to get into the upper field, I also knew there was no way I would be able to ford the lower crossing to get into our lower field. So I brought my hip waders in case I needed to get over there to chase a longbeard.

Friday morning was perfect for hunting; still, cool, and sunny. For some reason, though, the gobblers didn't agree with my assessment. I only heard two birds that whole day and they were walking away from me instead of towards me. I consoled my bruised ego by finding a passel of mushrooms and told myself that tomorrow would be a better day.

Saturday morning was just the opposite of Friday. It was overcast and windy as a sack full of politicians. Rain fell from time to time and I was sure glad that I had remembered to bring along a cow's knee to cover my lock. However, the turkeys seemed to enjoy the morning and were sounding off sporadically in just about any direction. I had two prospects that were equidistant from where I was standing at the back of the upper hay field by an old pond and neither one of them were great. They were the best thing going, though, so I decided to pursue the longbeard to the east and leave the western bird alone unless things didn't pan out with my first choice.

I thought the eastern bird was on the back side of Backhoe Holler. If he was towards the head of the holler, he was huntable because I could call him around the top. If he was anywhere else then the odds went way down on getting him to cooperate. He would either go out into our neighbor's field to the south or just stay put. I hiked up behind the family graveyard to course him better and was rewarded for my time and effort with some good cardio exercise and a silent tom. The bird to the west of me was gobbling more now so I abandoned my current plan and decided to go play with that turkey.

I like to think of myself as an eternal optimist, or maybe in this case, a masochist. The turkey I was now after was up in Woodland Holler and I have been trying unsuccessfully for over 20 years to call a bird out of that place. There is a point about 200 yards up from the mouth on a side holler that longbeards love for some reason. There must also be a force field around it because turkeys will gobble there all day long and never leave that spot. Or, if they do leave, they always head west towards the highway instead of towards me and my award-winning calling. Nevertheless, it was the only game in town so I shucked my boots, strapped on my hip waders, and forded the creek at the lower crossing to get where I needed to go. I was now in the field where I had killed a bird the week before. I put my boots back on and ascended the ridge on the south side of Woodland Holler. When I reached the Deer Turnaround, he gobbled again which put him about 150 yards away as the crow flies on the other side of Woodland. I won't bore you with all the sordid details of this campaign other than to say that it ended like it always does. I did find some more mushrooms on the way back to my hip waders so it wasn't a total loss.

I arrived back at my truck just on the other side of the creek, got a cold bottle of water, and started thinking about my next move. I had just peeled off my left wader when that decision was made for me. My original target gobbled and this time he sounded like he was on the close side of our neighbor's upper hay field. There is a strip of woods that separates that field from ours down below and I knew I could call him through it. There is also a wet weather branch that runs at the bottom of that timber that I didn't figure I could call him across so my plan was to meet him in the woods somewhere in the middle. I peeled off my right wader and the bird gobbled again. Now he was in the woods heading my way! Plans were fluid now as I got my boots on and started walking into the field the bird was closing in on.

In my mind, I pictured him at the bottom of the hill in the woods, peeking into our field to see if any girls were around. What kept him from seeing me was a strip of woods about 40 yards wide that sticks out into that field. There was a branch and a fence to deter him from entering the field so I thought I had little time to get set up before he made his next move. There is a road that cuts through from one side of the woods to the other and I aimed to sneak up to that road to plan something out.

Well, I made about ten steps into the field when Tom gobbled again and this time he was in our field just on the other side of the strip of woods. He had crossed water and crawled under a fence! This boy was horny! I immediately dropped to the ground, shed my pack, and started to belly crawl towards my end of the road. As an afterthought, I grabbed a decoy to bring with me. I got to the road, stuck the deke out where he could see it from his end, and crawled off into the brush. The humidity was about 1000% and my glasses kept fogging up. I poured powder in the pan, hoped everything was dry enough, putted to the bird a couple of times, and prayed my glasses would clear up enough for me to get a bead on him. This photo shows his view of things. I was set up just to the left of that dead tree on the left.

After about 5 minutes, the longbeard finally meandered over to his end of the road. I kept looking down my sights and decided that when I could confirm that I was definitely looking at his head, I would line things up the best I could and pull the trigger. He was acting cool now by being quiet, ignoring the decoy, and picking at the grass. When he put his big blue head in a spot that I could see well enough, I touched Sweet Rachael off. He dropped like a stone and I tagged out in Missouri for the first time in many, many years.

When I picked up my prize I noticed that the old boy had been busy. He had all the feathers worn off his breast and the tips of his wings were worn from strutting. He weighed 19.3 pounds, had an 11.5" beard and little bitty ¾" spurs. The shot distance was 22 yards. I had changed my load for this bird after several folks said my 65 grains of 3F powder was too light for 1.5 ounces of shot, even though I kill birds with it regularly. So this time I used 80 grains of 3F, two 1/8" cardboard overpowder cards, 1.5 ounces #6 shot, and one overshot card. I did not notice that the bird was any more dead nor did I notice him dying any quicker. All I noticed was that my gun kicked more.

Found some more mushrooms, too. Life is good!

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Quite a good season Darren . Congrats.
Like I know or anything, but I'd say all that hotter load does for you is extend your range a bit?? Shots inside of 25yds or so sounds like the previous load is ample.
Thats a good read and congrats!
Congratulations Darren on a Fine Bird and a Great Season!!!
It was overcast and windy as a sack full of politicians.
I love that quote. Congrats on your success following a good dose of effort.
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