Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cold, Wet Turkeys and Rural Retreat Virginia

I have to start by saying my title is kind of misleading. The truth of the matter is the cold and wet turkeys I’m going to tell you about are Dad and myself and we were actually hunting in Bland VA, but let me explain.

The plan for opening day of spring turkey season ’09 had been to start off on a farm that Dad and I had permission to hunt on. The only problem with that was the fact that several other people had permission as well. We were planning on getting up really early to beat the crowd and be able to get to “our spot” first. The only flaw with the plan was the fact that I didn’t set my alarm properly. By the time I woke up on my own around 5am and made my way to Bland our “early” arrival had turned in to a “just in time” arrival. We sloshed our way through the muddy fields until we got to the junction of roads that would lead us to the destination we wanted to go and there we were disappointed in the fact that there were fresh tracks in all of the roads. There are several fields back in each road but not knowing where the other hunters would be, we decided to just back out of there and not risk messing up a fellow hunters set up.

After not getting the spot we wanted we decided to head up in to some National Forest land. I knew of an old semi-hidden road that I had deer hunted on last year that seemed like could be a good destination for turkey. We patrolled the road a time or two just calling, listening, and waiting for an hour or so. We decided that while it was likely turkey did use the road sometimes there just wasn’t enough fresh sign to stay there in the rain. We were giving up on turkeys in there that day but as is my luck this year we had seen plenty of deer sign and had added another potential deer hunting hot spot to our list.

The farm we had wanted to hunt on was a newer one to us so we decided if the hunting wasn’t going so well then the best thing we could get done was some “yelp track” scouting since we didn’t have time to get to any of our other hunting spots. If you don’t know what “yelp tracks” are then you haven’t read “The Truth: About Spring Turkey Hunting According to Cuz” by Ronnie “Cuz” Strickland and I suggest you go out and buy it soon. “Yelp tracks” are signs of other hunters on properties you hunt. Dad and I decided to head back to the farm we were going to start on now that the sun was up so that we could see where the other hunters were parking at so we would have a better idea the next time we were there as to where to go. On our arrival we were greeted by the pleasant surprise of not seeing a vehicle parked any where near where we wanted to hunt! We quickly grabbed our gear got in to the field and made ourselves a homemade brush blind. The next two hours or so were pretty uneventful. We would call every now and again and just quietly talk and glass the rest of the time. It was getting cold and despite waterproof clothing it was pretty damp out as well. We were determined to stick it out though and we did. The only real excitement happened around 11:40AM or so when behind us in a field below us we heard a turkey sound off a single beautiful note. I looked at Dad and quickly let off a response call. We knew that we were talking to a hen but for 15 minutes we went back and forth with her. At times I was afraid it was another hunter but if it was I was determined to meet them and get some lessons as their technique was nearly flawless. The two fields were separated by about 20 yards of thick wood lot and a fence so we had to walk around to a gate before we could make sure that it was a lone hen like we suspected. As legal hunting hours ran out our curiosity got the better of us and we snuck around and were able to confirm that it had been a real turkey that I had been conversing with. While the day had not resulted in us giving a turkey a ride home we had a good time and I felt a lot more confidence in my calling since the hen had continually talked back to me for that length of time. I don’t ever see myself winning any championships but at least I’ve improved to be just good enough to fool a real turkey for a little while! The thing that made me worry though is the real deal couldn’t even get a gobbler going that day; I hope they were just napping and not busy running to another county because of us hunters stomping around their territory.

As for the Rural Retreat part of the title… I’m pleased to announce that my family and I will be moving to the beautiful town of Rural Retreat Virginia next month! Barring a failed home inspection Jessica and I are closing on a home on May the 4th! I hope you all are well, hunt hard and aim well!

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