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Hunting Turkeys Using Blind Luck
It had been a long morning. That was the bad news. The good news was that it wasn’t going to last much longer, as the close of shooting hours was less than an hour away. I had put my decoys out well before dawn and had put my Ameristep blind up within feet of where I place it each spring. I was along the edge of a small pasture where I have taken many toms in years past. The hens like to peck and scratch for bugs in the open pasture and if you have hens, in time the toms will show up to display. Knowing the past successes I have had in and around that pasture kept me from getting too depressed when I didn’t hear a gobble at sunrise. In fact I don’t think I heard a gobble, even a distant gobble, all morning. But I was comfortable in my blind and sitting in a banded chair that was also very comfortable. The sun was hitting the right side of the blind so it was warming up like a nylon oven and I was the baked potato, so to speak. In my turkey vest, I had a couple diet sodas, as well as a bag of jerky so I could have stayed put all day if it was legal.
With less than an hour to go and with nothing to lose, I took out my box call that is loud enough to be heard at longer distances and cut loose with some excited yelps. I nearly jumped out of my skin when a gobble exploded on the ridge top to the right and behind me. At most the tom was less than 100 yards. I laid my Browning A5 across my lap and waited, but the tom never showed. After checking cautiously out of my side windows, I called again. The silence was deafening. I called again, nothing. After ten minutes or so had passed, I gave those same excited yelps and hoped that I wouldn’t spook the tom. Once again I received no response. I peeked out the side windows again and saw nothing in the pasture I then looked out to check the decoys and there he stood. The tom had entered the pasture silently and somehow made it to my decoys unseen by me. He was now at about 25 yards – strutting in between my Avian X breeder hen and my Avian X jake decoy. I slowly slid the barrel of my shotgun out through the mesh window and when everything got lined up I dropped the tom at around twenty yards. He had no idea that I was even there.
There is nothing like sitting on your butt or on a padded cushion and having a tom come into your calling when you’re sitting out in the open with your back against a tree. You feel like your slightest movement will give you away. It’s just a very cool feeling and requires a great deal of nerves as many times the tom must walk past you in order to get to your decoys where you can take the shot. It’s very easy to get caught moving by a tom that you never even knew was present until you moved to kill the mosquito that got in your facemask. The only way you found out it was there is when it gave an alarm putt before getting out of Dodge before you can take a shot. Running and gunning is an exciting way to hunt turkey and you are constantly moving in order to get close (but not too close) to a tom you may have heard earlier in the morning. While my gunning day days are still here, I fear my running days are over. Instead of chasing toms all over the country, I prefer to make them come to me, and if they don’t then there is always the next day.
Turkey blinds or hub blinds have changed my style of turkey hunting just as it has for most turkey hunters. It’s a more relaxed style of hunting, as well as a more comfortable way to hunt. I have mentioned countless times how great they are when hunting with young hunters, but the truth is that they are an easy way for everyone to hunt. The only drawback is packing in all the gear, but most blinds will weigh around twenty pounds and then you have a comfortable folding chair with a back on it and you’re all set. To be honest, that chair is just as important as your blind because you may be sitting in it for hours. I have tried several, and while my Banded duck hunting chair is very heavy it’s worth the weight after a couple hours. Perhaps the biggest question, is where to place your hub blind. For the most part when I put my blind up in the pasture in my opening story it may seem that there was no rhyme or reason behind it. But there is a small raise in the elevation along that side of the pasture, so my decoys are visible from anywhere in the pasture and behind me and to my left is a washout where the toms can fly across if the wish, but they normally choose to enter the pastures from the corners and then go to the high ground to strut. There are also some gooseberries that leaf out early and I can place my blind behind them to conceal the blind for the most part and although it’s really not needed as the birds pay no attention to it.
The past Keokuk, Iowa Police Chief Ray Eller was a very good family friend and I worked with Ray a little on turkey hunting. After a couple successful years in a row, I said to Ray that he must have got that calling figured out since he had taken a few birds on opening day consecutively. His response was, “What calling? I just figured where they roosted and where they ate and made a blind in the middle between the two locations and when a tom walked by I shot him!” The same can be done with your hub blind. When not in the pasture that I normally hunt, I like to take my blind and go back on the farm where two wooded ridges come the closest to touching on a pasture. The narrow gap between the two ridges is often an area where toms will travel. These areas are called pinch points and often toms will travel them as the pasture narrows down much like an hour glass. It’s just a great place to put up your blind and wait to intercept a traveling tom looking for hens that are out feeding. Of course, the more scouting you do the more you can pattern that tom as far as where he roosts and where he struts and the route he uses to get back and forth between the two locations. I have two hub blinds and often I will take my older blind back into the timber prior to opening day and leave it, so I don’t have to pack it in if I plan on hunting my second choice location. Crawling into a blind already set up makes for an even easier hunt.