The turkey woods, in the spring, are a very special place.
As quickly as I start missing our upland season that ends in February, I begin looking forward to hunting turkey in the short coming months.
While the month or so of no hunting and all business gets old real quick, I believe in the age old saying ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’ and it makes me that much more excited to be greeted by gobbles as the dawn breaks on a silent spring morning.
I’m blessed to have many many good friends who live in some amazing places. One such individual is my friend Brian, who resides in California.
Brian, being the incredibly kind and well connected individual that he is, has graciously hosted me in his home for the past handful of seasons and let me scratch my hunting itch on some of the ranches he has access to, for turkeys.
I made my annual trek from Utah and enjoyed the beautiful drive through Nevada, dropping pins on OnXMaps every time I saw somewhere I wanted to come back and check out during chukar season lol.
While the drive is some 14 hours long, it usually goes fast and a good chunk of podcasts, complemented with a few good music playlists provides sufficient enough entertainment to distract my mind until the trip is complete.
Upon arriving to Brians, we cruised down to the sporting goods store and scored my tags and licenses for the upcoming days.
As soon as we got home, we hit the hay. 4am always comes early.
After breakfast and some coffee, we jetted to a close property where I shot one of my birds the previous year.
Brian expressed concern that he hadn’t seen the birds in their lately, likely due to a neighbor baiting illegally, but that during the summer he’d seen a grundle of birds and it was only a matter of time before they became pressured or meandered back.
They are turkeys.. And like all wild birds/animals.. Old habits die hard.
A long hike in the dark to get to an strut area the birds enjoyed flying down into and sunning for the first hours of the day was plan A for the day.
As things began to get light, I glassed up into the large cottonwood trees up the hill and could see a handful of roosted turkey silhouettes. As I continued watching, gobbles erupted from the trees.. We were in business.
Fast forward to fly down and inevitably the birds pitched opposite of us and we spent the morning watching them in the wide open, flaunting their fans reminding us that no matter how pea brained we think they are.. They usually make the right move.
After what seemed like hours, the birds began to scratch and move their way up the large draws where they like to hang out and nest for the warmer part of the day.
After watching the last bird make it up the road, we picked up and began slowly working our way after them.
As the road weaves and bends, we slowly worked and called, hoping to strike up one of the longbeards we’d seen early that morning.
We continued tip-toeing up the road and as I glanced ahead, around the next bend, I saw 3 big toms just feeding. I immediately grabbed Brian and like a big brother getting ready to lay down some WWF smackdown, moved us botht to the ground. Brian hadn’t seen them.
We peeled back 40 yards or so, put up the breeder hen decoy from my FINAL RISE Turkey setup and called.
And waited.. And waited..
You’ve gotta be kidding me?
I slowly got up, peeked the corner and the birds were gone.
Clearly these birds had zero interest in what/who we were. Afterall, they’d stopped gobbling about as soon as they’d hit the ground.
They clearly had felt the pressure of the first week or so of the season.
We continued on and slowly moved up the road.
We’d gone another 100 yards or so when I caught movement out of my right eye, on the hill above us.
Sure enough.. Bee-bopping through the tall grass were two big longbeards.
Fortunately upon seeing them, I hit the deck and was concealed by a fairly large clump of brush.
Peeking through the brush, I knew the birds were in range.
I no sooner mentally acknowledged that the birds were in ethical shotgun range, than I slowly stood and put the front bead of my Franchi 28 gauge at the base of the rear bird’s neck.
Just like that, bird numero uno was on its way to my Summit.
After some pictures and laughs, we made our way back to the truck and because California limits you to a single bird a day, something I’m in favor of in multi-bird states, we decided to run out to a cattle ranch in search of some hogs.
Long story short.. We killed two great hogs and filled the freeze full of some of the most delicious pork you’ll ever eat. So good!
Back to turkey hunting..
On the morning we could hunt, before I needed to head back home and get back to the normal job, and of course keep things cranking at FINAL RISE. We struck up a bird on a new area that Brian hadn’t been to in a long while.
The bird hit the ground and couldn’t keep his mouth shut. He gobbled from 20 minutes before he flew down to the second I was staring at him down my barrel. You wanna talk about exciting.. This was it!
Here’s how it went down..
After setting up in the dark on a sign trodden trail in the corner of a vineyard, we started with some soft calls to see if any birds had roosted along the river. A bird fired up but of course he had to be on the wrong side of the river, where we unfortunately did not have permission to hunt.
Hopeful he’d find a gap and maybe fly across to us, we stayed put for a little over an hour and patiently worked the calls.
Multiple times the bird came to the rivers edge but he just didn’t want to do it. Must have commitment issues..
He eventually began to wander back down towards a bridge that was a good 500+ yards
With hopes he’d walk across the bridge and onto where we could hunt, we took the scenic route around the entire vineyard and looped back down in front of where we anticipated the bird would be headed.
Fortunately for us, he let us know right where he was the entire time. GOBBLE.. GOBBLE..GOBBLE!
We made it to the bridge where the bird needed to cross, put out a breeder hen decoy in the road where it was easily visible and called..
Ol boy was coming in hot!
This bird no sooner saw that decoy than popped into full strutt and skirted his way on over.
With a fairly poor hide, I didn’t let him get any closer than necessary. A soft squeeze and primer punch later, from the top barrel of the 28 gauge, and it was lights out.
What a fun morning!
The celebratory high fives and fist pups ensued, followed by some quick pics and a quick grub at good ol Chic-Fil-A..
Fast forward to a few weeks later, I’m getting better at staying up on these blogs now, and I get just as excited writing about the hunt as when it happened! I even have the two 28 gauge empty hulls sitting here at my desk with me..
For those of you that are out chasing, dreaming of being out there or stumbled on our website through some wormhole in the internet, we wish yall all the good and success this turkey season and the seasons coming.
Our Utah general hunt opens this coming Monday.. God willing I’ll be back in this chair telling another turkey story soon..
Stay blessed guys!
- Matt Davis / Owner
PS - If you'd like to outfit your SUMMIT or LEGACY vest for turkey hunting, checkout this link to all our turkey hunting accessories.