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Turkey Hunting

Spring Turkey Season: Week 1 Recap

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As my quest to kill a spring turkey with my bow continues the odds are turning increasingly in the turkey’s favor. I’ve been hunting both New York and Connecticut and I’ve gotten so close to making it happen, but I have yet to fill a single one of the five tags I have.

On April 27th, opening day in Connecticut, I headed to a ridge where I had seen a giant flock of turkeys this past fall and again in March. I set up the ground blind in a small clearing and waited for daybreak and the turkeys to start talking. The sun came up, the turkeys never talked and all I saw were a few deer that were less than impressed with my blind.

The next day I went to a second spot in Connecticut where my father had taken a lone Jake with his shotgun on opening day. I set up just off of a clearing and went through the same routine as the day before with the same kind of luck – not a single sign or sound of turkeys.

Skipping out on a Saturday morning hunt, I got an early text from my brother with a picture of the bird he took at the same place I was going to hunt. It was a nice Tom with a 9″ beard and 3/4″ spurs. The good news was that there was more than one bird that came in and the other one got away. I’d be after the one that got away on Monday.

Sunday was opening day in New York and I headed upstate to meet up with my deer hunting partner and try to take some long beards. I arrived at our meeting spot, but he had slept through the alarm and never showed up. By 5:15 a.m. I was set up in a known crossing area and expected to hear birds up on the ridge as the sun came up. Not even a single gobble was heard. Then at 6:00 a.m. a shotgun hunter that arrived late to the woods walked by my blind and headed up the ridge. I heard two gun shots and a half hour later he was walking out of the woods with a big Tom. I stopped to talk to him on his way out and he told me the birds were gobbling their heads off at the top of the hill, he had taken this bird and took a shot at another, but missed. The hunter was on his way to a second spot to try and fill his second tag – obviously he never read that part of the NYS Hunting Regulations that states you’re only allowed to take one bearded bird per day during the spring turkey season.

Monday morning I was back in Connecticut to chase after the one that got away from my brother. As soon as I stepped into the woods I heard a gobble and quickly went towards it to find an area to set up the blind. I set up on the edge of an old logging road, quickly set the decoys and was ready for the bird to fly down at any moment. I went back and forth with the gobbler until he finally flies down at 6:20 a.m. He lands in full strut and continues to gobble. The only problem is that there’s a creek between me and the bird and I really don’t know if he’s going to cross it or hang up. I let out a few soft yelps and he’s on his way, crosses the creek and pops out on my side. The bird turns out to be a Jake and as he makes his way in he sees the decoys and keeps is distance from my setup as if he’s afraid to challenge my Jake decoy. As the bird walked by at 30 yards I could tell he had no intention of stopping. I came to full draw and tried to get a shot off as he passed my clearing at 30 yards, but it was a clean miss.

As the bird walked by at 30 yards I could tell he had no intention of stopping. I came to full draw and tried to get a shot off as he passed my clearing at 30 yards, but it was a clean miss.

Thursday I headed back to New York and set up on top of the ridge. The morning was quiet, but I stayed patient and finally heard a gobble around 7:00 a.m. I started calling and the gobbles started coming closer. Unfortunately it was very windy and the blind was like a sail in the wind making a lot of noise. As the birds crested the ridge they saw the movement of the blind and all I could do was watch as the two longbeards passed at 60 yards.

Friday morning it was back to Connecticut and after setting up on a gobbler I heard right outside of the truck and having no luck calling him in, I walked the area until I finally heard a gobble almost an hour later. I set up the blind against a fallen tree and brushed it in a little. I put a single hen decoy out in front and started calling. A little while later I caught some movement out in front as a Jake circled the blind at a distance. As the Jake passed by I heard a second gobble behind me. Soon enough I caught movement from my right as the longbeard worked his way out in front of me. I tried to coax the bird in, but he wouldn’t come closer than 45 yards and I had no shot opportunity.

Saturday morning I was in Connecticut and planned on setting up where the two birds had crossed just out of range the day before. On my walk to my setup I heard a gobble off to my right and made a last minute decision to go after the bird. I set up just off a trail in the hardwoods and just as I got settled in the blind, the bird popped up in front of me in full strut. The bird was gobbling, spitting and I could feel him drumming as he worked his way in. I had the two corners of the blind open and soon realized this was not going to work. I had to let the bird walk by me within 25 yards twice before he circled and gave me a chance to zip up one window and unzip the second window in front of me. For the third time the bird circled in front of me and was putting on a show at 25 yards. This time, however, I had the right window open and when the bird stepped behind a tree I drew back and settled between my 20 and 30-yard pins. I released the arrow and the bird dropped to the ground. He tried to get up, but fell back down and then went over the small hump in front of me. I could tell he was hit and it looked like I took out at least one leg.

I nocked a second arrow and got out of the blind. Quietly I snuck to where I last saw the bird and saw him another 25 yards away from me. As I drew back for a second shot the bird started to scurry away and I let another arrow fly. The arrow hit the bird taking off some feathers and leaving it with a superficial cut and I watched to my amazement as the bird flew away. I was shocked that the bird was able to fly after that. I went back to the blind to pack everything up and circled around to the top of the hill where the bird was headed. Unfortunately, when I got to the top of the hill a turkey got up and flew 80 yards ahead of me. I went to the are the bird took off from, but there was no sign that it was my bird. I searched the bottom of the ridge where the bird had landed, but couldn’t find a single feather or drop of blood – I had lost the bird.

One thing is for sure – it’s been a very exciting and frustrating first week of the season. I’ve made some adjustments since the first week. I recently upgraded the seat I was using in the blind to the Primos Qs3 Magnum blind seat which has made it much more comfortable to sit all morning in the blind and has saved my lower back. It also gives me the freedom to easily get up and shoot without anything getting in the way. It’s been a real help. I’ve also changed my broadhead choice. I’m a fan of using large mechanicals for turkey and switched from the Rage broadhead, a 2-blade mechanical with a 2″ cut, to the Spitfire Max, a 3-blade mechanical with a 1 3/4″ cut. I also have on order a set of Trophy Ridge Tom-A-Hawk broadheads which is a 125g 3-blade mechanical head with a whopping 2 3/4″ cut – this should be the ticket and put the birds down fast. It’s now week two and I’ll have another update at the end of the week. Good luck to all of you who are chasing spring turkeys!

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Turkey Hunting

Spring Turkey Season Opens May 1 in New York

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Bowhunters take to the woods this spring after weary old gobblers in New York.

It’s my favorite time of year after deer season – the spring turkey season (probably because it’s the only other time I’m out hunting with my bow). Following suit of previous seasons, the 2014 spring turkey season opens May 1 in all of upstate New York lying north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary and the annual youth turkey hunting weekend is April 26-27. The youth turkey hunt is open in all of upstate New York and Suffolk County.

Not nearly as popular as deer hunting, there only 100,000 turkey hunters expected to head afield this spring. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone can’t get excited about calling to a bird and have it respond and watch it work its way in. It’s a very interactive hunt.

According to the DEC, hunters must have a turkey hunting permit in addition to their small game hunting or sportsman license (if purchased before Feb. 1) or hunting license (if purchased after Feb. 1).

  • Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day.
  • Hunters may take two bearded turkeys during the spring season, but only one bird per day.
  • Hunters may not use rifles or handguns firing a bullet. Hunters may hunt with a shotgun or handgun loaded with shot sizes no larger than No. 2 or smaller than No. 8, or with a bow and arrow.
  • Crossbows may not be used for the spring 2014 turkey season.
  • Successful hunters must fill out the tag that comes with their turkey permit and immediately attach it to any turkey harvested.
  • Successful hunters must report their harvest within seven days of taking a bird.

One thing that caught my eye is that the state’s enacted 2014-15 budget includes language authorizing the use of crossbows for hunting under certain circumstances. So while hunters cannot use crossbows to take wild turkey during the 2014 spring season, they might be able to in 2015. It will be interesting to see if the changes go through for next year and what affect that would have on the number of hunters taking to the field for turkey hunting.

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Turkey Hunting

Bowhunting Turkey in New York

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Teresa took this big longbeard on the opening day of the 2012 Spring Turkey Hunting Season in Orange County, New York. This is Teresa’s first turkey kill and she got the job done with a heart-pounding 23-yard shot. Congrats to Teresa on an awesome longbeard!

Did you have success this spring? It was tough with the warm weather we had in April before the opener.

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Turkey Hunting

NY Bowhunter Takes Turkey During Fall Archery Season

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Last Friday morning my cousin Ken had the day off to enjoy a day afield. He was set up in his tree well before first light, but the morning was really slow and Ken only saw one deer. The tall spike came down the hill 50 yards to his right and kept on walking to wherever it was that he was going.

With no rubs or scrapes in the general area, Ken and his father Nick decided to hunt a different area that afternoon. On the drive to their hunting spot that afternoon they spotted a flock of turkeys and ten deer out in a field just a few door down from where they would be hunting.

Ken headed to his stand at the top of the hill and waited in anticipation for the deer and turkey to leave the field and move back into the hardwoods. Around 5:00 pm the woods exploded with noise and movement and the deer and turkey came barreling through the woods. Shortly after, Ken heard a lady yelling at her dog who must have decided it would be fun to chase the deer and turkeys out of the nearby field.

Then Ken heard a single turkey coming towards him from the bottom of the hill. Ken got ready and drew back with the bird at 20 yards. The bird took two more steps and Ken made a chirping sound to stop it and let the arrow fly. The bird only made it a few more yards before going down.

Congrats to Ken on taking a turkey with the bow, that’s never an easy thing!

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