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Old 04-10-2018, 01:10 PM   #1
SwampRabbit
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Default Spring Thunder

(Warning... you know me... this is going to be a long read... but we haven't had a lot of stories lately so I figured I'd write one up.)

A few years back, I was sitting in a blind on my lease during deer season and nothing was moving and I happened to text a fellow TBHer a trad question. I can't even remember what it was about, but I just happened to have his number in my phone from a trad group hunt and I knew Jeff would have the answer. Turns out he happened to be sitting in a deer blind at the exact same time (given what I know now... the odds were pretty high that would have been the case.) From then on, we'd keep in touch whenever either of us were in the blind... killing time waiting to kill critters. When I had mentioned one day that I was looking to book a turkey hunt he invited me to come up for a weekend and we could see if we could kill a bird and if they didn't cooperate, do some bowfishing. Both sounded great to me and I jumped on the offer. That year, I heard my first group of toms gobble to the sound of a pot and peg and I eventually dropped my first thunder chicken that weekend. I let Jeff watch me botch a ton of shots on squirrels, and we stayed out to 4am killing carp and gar with our bow fishing rigs, and I got to hang out with his amazing family and it was just an awesome weekend!

This past weekend I made my annual trip up during the Spring to hang out with my good buddy Jeff and his family for yet another couple of days of killing time and killing critters. The top of the list is always turkey because, well, it is turkey season. Spring Thunder has become, by far my favorite hunting season of the year because of these trips. There is just something special about sitting in a blind and feeling you have an active role in talking to these birds and bringing them in. They don't always gobble, but when they do... it is something special. But beyond that, the pressure of a long and hard hunted deer season is behind you, the vegetation that you watched die off as you grinded it out late into WT season is now coming back to life. The fish are shallow, and the rabbits are back out. It might be hot, it might be cold, windy, sunny, or storming... In fact, it could be all of those things! It is a time to relax and hang out.

After my 5 hour drive up from Houston, I get there and Jeff has all his stuff ready to go for the next 1.5 hour trip out to his lease. The weather looked good and we thought we'd try out there first. Get to camp, pop a beer and it's off to do some work. Need to pull cards, fix a few things, check a few others, corn some roads, clear a couple shooting lanes and figure out where we are going to sit. We decided to split up so we'd both have a chance at getting a bird. In years past, we'd sit together and Jeff would call and I'd try and get a bird. We'd switch once I had one down.. but of course, he'd still do the calling. This year we were going to try something different. We would sit separately and I'd have to call my own birds in. While driving around, we saw a group of turkeys near where I was thinking about sitting and all of a sudden that switch turned on and I was ready to start getting after them.

Just like every trip... there is so much I could tell... so many details... and this year was no different, but I'll do my best to just summarize the events that led to each bird. I will say, while I killed 3 birds... I found myself out of arrows more than once. And that is all I got to say about that

Bird 1:
After Jeff dropped me off at my spot, and getting into the blind and situated with distances ranged, I get out the pot and peg and start calling. My first few notes were terrible. I always practiced starting off with some light purring just in case something is nearby and then build to some cutting and yelps if I don't get anything back. But light purrs are the hardest and it was the real deal this time! I laughed it off and got into a rhythm. I checked my watch to make sure I didn't call too often. 5 minutes between the first, 10 minutes, next, another 10 mins. I didn't hear any gobbles, but I had learned before that meant very little. After a while and kind of all of a sudden, I see a tom coming from the field in front of me into my spot in a clump of trees where a series of cuts and drainages snake their way leaving small peninsulas of flat shaded ground. He begins strutting and I can hear him spitting and drumming as he works his way in closer to the feeder. He isn't hungry, he is clearly looking around... for me! I'm too nervous to try and purr on the call, which was fine, but he ended up cruising through and only stopping in spots where I didn't have a shot. Eventually he worked himself behind me and I got up the courage to put off a few purrs. He didn't gobble, but I heard some gobbling off in the distance. A few moments later he comes back around to my right and I reach for my bow and get ready for the shot. As I waited for him to clear the window, I hear the sound that I didn't want to hear "putt! putt!? putt... putt... putt" as he starts scooting off. I had been busted! I grabbed the call and start purring and cutting with a yelp or too to drown out his alarm and I can hear the gobblers from earlier storming in closer. I was hoping it worked. A few moments later, I was rewarded with a group of hens that came storming in and the group of toms that came in and followed. Out of the group, I'd mess up again. I'd get on the call and put out the "every thing is clear, reassemble" yelp sequence I had heard about and they came back in... where I'd finally get one on the ground. It was a broadside shot on a tom that was leaving after one of his buddies starting "putting off". He was too slow to heed his companion's warnings and he got an arrow for it. I decided to get out and put a follow up shot on him because I'd lost a bird that flopped out of sight once before. It was a good thing I had, because he wasn't fully down for the count... unable to fly, but not really down. They are tough critters with pretty small vital areas.




Between the time I had spooked my first bird, and missed one, Jeff had killed a tom. But since I had found his bow light in my blind, he drove over and we headed back to camp. After cleaning our birds, we packed up the polaris with our rabbit arrows and set off to chase some rabbits. Rabbits are so much fun to hunt, especially with two people. At night, one guy holds the light, the other guy shoots... or you both race to see who can grab their bow first and get a shot off at the rabbit. One poor rabbit had two arrows flying at it at the same time from 2 different angles! During the day, you chase and bump rabbits to each other all day long. It was a blast! Oddly though, there were not as many rabbits as we've seen in the past, so we didn't quite stack em up like usual. But there is always something to make up for it. You can kill time, you can kill critters, but you just can't kill the fun.



Bird 2:
The next evening I sit in the same place were I got the first bird. The wind was howling and the temps were way cooler. The birds had been gobbling that morning (I messed up on a couple opportunities and didn't get a bird - long story omitted) but with the uptick in wind throughout the day, I wasn't expecting any gobbling. I wasn't expecting much at all actually. Just like the first night, I did some calling and tried to keep it somewhat infrequent. I had some hens come in and I decided to have some fun with them. Late in the morning hunt, I got to play around with calling over some hens that had come in and got to watch them fight each other out trying to figure out who was cutting them off. There was one particular yelper that just kept yelping... I was sure she didn't watch the youtube video warning about over calling (no toms came in to her over yelping so there is that!) So I would purr and cut and light yelp just to mess with these hens. They eventually started coming closer looking for me... circling the blind with their feathers rubbing up against it. One almost poked her head through a window... it was pretty funny. My goal was to keep them around long enough for maybe a tom to come through... but that didn't happen and they eventually left. I kept up with the calling every 10-15 minutes apart and it started to get darker quicker with the overcast. I went to pick up the call and gave a short purr when I was greeted with a very loud gobble not 10 yards to my right. I had a bird coming in and he was close! It didn't take long for me to grab my bow and him walk in. He wandered around in front of me, gobbling his head off looking for that hen. But he got broadside and the only thing resembling a turkey nearby was the fletching on my arrow. He ran off through the trees and headed towards the field flapping his wings, but not quite dropping. I reached for my binos and lost track of him beyond the thin line of trees. I wasn't sure if he dropped into a cut or was down... or had run off. About 20 minutes later I get out to look. I had previously jumped a bird that I had made a non-lethal shot on that flew off for 400 yards never to be seen so I was being very cautious and slow. He had only gone 40 yards though and was piled up just out of sight of the blind. I was excited to say the least. This was the first time I had every got 2 turkeys in any one season.




Bird 3:
The night before, was chill... and by chill I mean it was pretty relaxed and friggin cold! The wind had picked up and it was cold. We did drive around looking for rabbits, but only saw one and called it quits and fell asleep before midnight this time. When morning came, the wind had died down some... but it was 29 degrees outside and it was time to head out. I chose to go back to the same spot as the previous evening just because it was out of the wind more. I didn't expect to see or hear much, but I was greeted with rabbits and squirrel (which I would miss twice) and all sorts of song birds messing around. A group of 2 gobblers came in quietly and I missed one by sending an arrow over its back. I thought it was at 15 yards... when it was really at 15. I watched the pair run off and didn't see any signal that I had hit it and decided to jump out and grab my arrow and double check. Clean arrow. I wanted to double check to make sure I didn't burn all 4 tags because I had an opportunity still to hunt my new place and thought it might be cool to take a turkey off of there if they cooperate. The unfortunate thing about that decision came when a rather large, lone hog decided to come in. I had my bow up and ready and was waiting for him to clear a tree when he sniffed where I had walked to grab my arrow and spooked!!! It was still early, so I just hung the bow back up, waited a few minutes and started doing some more calling. A small group of hens came in along with 2 toms. One tom was strutting, the other feeding. I had to wait several minutes until one of them finally gave me a shot... the non-strutter put his back to me and I sent one right at his back. He fluttered, ran and flew 10 yards over a cut off to my right, with the arrow hanging down... he kept running as did the hens and the other tom. Just as he reached the far tree line I heard the distinct sound of a turkey taking flight! I tried to get an eye on him, but couldn't. The other tom stopped and kept wandering around over where I last had seen the hit tom. At this point, I wasn't sure what to think... I was hoping he was down... but him going into full flight after reaching the edge of the tree/field line had me anxious. I waited 20 minutes and got out. As I walked over, I saw some blood on the ground... A good sign I thought. But I kept to my binos and kept looking forward for an injured bird. It took a minute or 2 to cover every 5 yards. I reached the final cut/tree line and nothing. Nothing down in the cut... the blood ended there at the edge. So I started walking slowly around the area looking for a sign of an injured or dead bird. I thought he might have flown down the tree line.. so I checked there. nada. I came back and checked the other side of the cut... nothing. So I started doing grid searching through the wide open field that had sections of tall grass with a bunch of logs that always look like dead turkeys. I walked, glassed, and glassed. I spent a good hour and walked about 2 miles looking for the bird.... nothing. The whole time I heard gobbles off in the distance. After searching a few acres, I surmised it was a non-lethal shot since it wasn't nearby and went back to the blind. I figured I'd look again, but if I killed a 4th bird, that would be okay too. Because they were gobbling and being vocal, I tried calling them in. I was successful, and to make a long story short, I called in a lone gobbler, but missed him at 11 yards as I shot over his back. I'm sure a little bit of that was due to my mind thinking about that other bird. I text Jeff and let him know that I'm ready whenever he is and that we have a bird we need to look for.

I get out of the blind again and go back to last blood. I stick an arrow in the ground, walk down the cut to the other side and continue looking on the ground with a more laser focus. I find a small feather. But there isn't any blood on it. I do very small circles and find another... still not bloody, but now it is along the cut in an odd direction... but a direction I had looked anyways. I continue walking and see nothing. I can hear the truck in the distance getting closer. I had looked back at the opening in the tree so many times to see if this is a direction the bird would have flown through unobstructed, but this time I was right at the tree line and I was at a different spot and that is when I saw it... My arrow standing up out of a clump in a tree that was a dead bird! Within a few seconds I went from being shocked, in disbelief, to incredibly happy! How the... what the...? I had stood at that spot and never, ever bothered to check a tree. He had flew straight up and died 5 feet from the final spot of blood! Tag 3 burned!





We drove back to the house that afternoon, and I had to make a tough choice to drive home a day early due to some stuff that popped up while I was away. I had made that call the day before... We still had some hogs nearby to chase... I still had a turkey tag that I might have burned on the right bird (any bird that might come into the decoys I brought.) I still had some beer... I had plenty of catching up with my buddy's family I was looking forward to... but I was out of time to kill... What should have been a 10 minute quick bite to eat before hitting the long road home, instead lasted over an hour.

I always miss my family when I am off on these trips and this trip was no exception. I get home as quick as I can; the trip seems longer, but actually takes less time. I won't lie, I love it when they want to hear the story of the hunt. What happened? what did I see? Now that I finally have a place I can take my family in the Spring, I can't wait to share with them what my good buddy Jeff has shared with me... the rolling sound of Spring Thunder in the turkey woods of Texas. Stay tuned... the kiddos are gonna get their chance in the next couple of weeks.

Last edited by SwampRabbit; 04-10-2018 at 01:25 PM.
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Old 04-10-2018, 01:27 PM   #2
SwampRabbit
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Her were the calls I used. I mainly used the Cody II slate, but broke out the Primos Jackpot later in the hunt for a change of pace. The purrs on the glass had a similar note to the hens that came in.



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Old 04-10-2018, 01:29 PM   #3
SwampRabbit
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Pair of turkey/rabbit killers with more than a few tags punched.



It was cold!



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Old 04-10-2018, 01:39 PM   #4
SwampRabbit
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I didn't measure the spurs on my birds... Bird 2 was the longest and had a slight hook to them. I did measure the beards and they all came out to 9" with bird number 2 having 2 strands that went to 11". The best number is the nine bags of turkey meat I put in the freezer!



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Old 04-10-2018, 02:33 PM   #5
Featherflinger
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Good times!
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Old 04-10-2018, 03:25 PM   #6
Mexico
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Nice write up! Congratulations!
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Old 04-10-2018, 03:27 PM   #7
Thunderwolf13
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Awesome love spring time turkey hunting
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Old 04-10-2018, 04:00 PM   #8
MASTERS
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Congrats, love me some turkey killing!
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Old 04-10-2018, 04:49 PM   #9
Hunter Todd
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Congrats on the birds!!
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Old 04-10-2018, 05:12 PM   #10
Rwc
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Good read and congrats.

Rwc
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Old 04-10-2018, 07:08 PM   #11
hot_rod_eddie
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I didn't read it all because I am lazy, but congrats and cool pics.
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Old 04-10-2018, 08:58 PM   #12
KenWood
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Congrats again! Great story!
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Old 04-10-2018, 09:51 PM   #13
Dry Bones
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Scott great write-up and thanks for taking the time to post it. Congrats on the three-peat.
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Old 04-10-2018, 09:55 PM   #14
Bisch
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Congrats again to you guys!!!!

Bisch


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Old 04-10-2018, 10:12 PM   #15
spidermonkey
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Congrats Scott and Jeff! Good going brothers! Good Huntin, and God Bless, Rusty
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Old 04-10-2018, 10:18 PM   #16
SwampGhost
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Your on a roll! Congrats
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