Ray Eye’s Media Camp: The Hunt

The Hunt.

The piece everybody wants to hear about.

The first morning, Friday Tim and I elected to sit in a blind.

With archery hunting, it’s hard enough to get in close to a turkey. Add in the action of drawing a bow, and the eyes of a turkey, a blind is the best option.

We got to the field just a bit late, but not too late to ruin the hunt. We made the hike up the hill, to where Tim had killed his monster buck two years prior. It was an opened glade burned for new growth, and we decided to cut into the woods to start calling. We walked up and down the same hill twice, before deciding on a place to settle in. We had heard some birds gobble on the opposite ridge, and we settled in to start calling.

Over the morning, we heard around 8 different gobblers. We also heard 2 shots close by, and we thought that our party had killed. We spent the whole morning full of hope and optimism, thinking that our hunting camp was going to have killed 3 birds instead of just the one from the day before. We heard birds until mid-morning, around 9:30 when they stopped talking.

We continued to call, but we never saw a single feather of a bird.

We broke down the set up, planning for the next day. We decided to run-and-gun, or rather run-and-bow.

Getting to bed later than expected, and kept awake by a snoring bear, the morning came too early. It was a good thing that we had decided to move towards the birds that day, I’m sure I would have fallen asleep in a blind.

We started off the day talking with Chance, Ryan and Bill, the other group hunting the same plot. We decided to stick to the left of the road, they to the right. We headed up the hill to where we started the day before, and began to listen for gobbles brought on by the hooting owls of the night.

The first sounds came from the opposite ridge, on the right side of the road.

Crap.

We listened closely as we heard six or more birds gobbling, all on the right side of the roda, the other groups territory.

It wasn’t until close to 6am, daylight, that we heard the first bird on our side. Game on.

We stalked closer, closing the distance to what seemed like less than one hundred yards. We made a quick set of the decoys, and started calling. The bird on the roost responded, and we were sure that we had him on a string.

Unfortunately, that string lead straight away from us, and he followed it straight away.

We decided to make a move. Up and over the fence, and to the top of the ridge we went. The bird was on top, and with any luck he was moving down the ridge to the area we travelled. We closed the distance again to one hundred yards or less, and again he backed away and over the ridge.

At that point, we stopped for a break. Grabbing a snack bar and a couple minutes of rest, we hiked back downhill and to where we started the day. As we neared the other side, we called again, and the bird we had just left responded. Round 2. Fight!

We made a move towards the bird, but stopped short for another treasure of spring. As we moved closer, the bird move away again, and this time for good. We didn’t leave empty handed, we found a delicacy. 20180421_090626.jpg

The Morel mushroom has long been the prize of many turkey hunters, and we quickly found 8 in a small area. At least we wouldn’t leave the woods hungry.

We then set out back for the Jeep. The plan was to grab a blind, set up for the afternoon and for tomorrow’s hunt, forecasting heavy rain. While we set up the blind, the woods came to life and the hollows thundered with the gobbles of big toms. Back on the run.

We made a quick move to the next ridge over, and called. Gobble.

Moved again. Gobble.

Moved three, four, and five times, each more gobbling. From more than one gobbler.

Finally, we closed the distance. In what felt like a Colorado pine elk stalk, we made our stand in a grove of evergreens, and brought the birds in.

It wasn’t long before we looked through the woods, and Tim saw birds.

Still as stone, we called softly. Tim’s hands busy on the bow, I gave quick clucks and yelps on the mouth call. The birds closed the distance. Only two of the four had made the commitment, but it was all coming together.

Seventy.

Sixty.

Fifty.

Then, gone. The lead bird erupted in a series of puts, clucks, and general alarm sounds.

I called back as quickly as I could. Quick cuts and yelps and harsh calls to try and convince him that he hadn’t seen anything, that I was a turkey, and he wasn’t dinner. To no avail. They slowed down, continued to run the other way.

The next day, was a nap day. The rain started right after daybreak, and only two birds were vocal. Short of an unlucky bird walking through the wrong place, at the wrong time, we called it quits early for the first time. The next, and final day was not much more eventful. We walked the ridges, made the calls, heard the birds, and never saw a tom. We stumbled upon two birds walking away, but both were hens, nothing to do with our hunt in Missouri.

And thus, our trip ended. A close encounter at 50 or so yards was the highlight of the hunt. The highlights of the trip, however, came in the camaraderie and friendships made, and the storys to be told later. Chance and Joe run a stellar operation, and it will only continue to get better as more hunters work their way through the rugged Ozark hills and learn to experience a true, honest Missouri turkey hunt.

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