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Opening day

 | By Seamus on 4/19/2024 7:47:00 PM | Views (29)

 

Opening Day

High expectations with consistent turkey sightings on the trail cameras including a pair of brother velociraptors with beards dragging the ground.  I’m on the middle ridge, they’ve been roosting on the ridge above me.  Frankenturkey is deployed.   Oh, Frank, he hunted with me 5 days this week.  One of the charter boat captains collided with Frank, who is actually a hen turkey,  with his F-150 somewhere on HWY 158 around Scotland Neck, NC.  When the captain pulled in the parking lot of the Weldon boat landing where we were meeting to go hickory shad fishing,  he pulled her out of the broken grill of his truck and threw it into the back of mine.   

 

When I returned to the cabin in Virginia, unpacking the truck, there was Frank.  Her breast were inside her body cavity and was a guts-turkey breast hamburger combination, so I left that alone.   The legs were salvageable and made it to the crock pot.  Her body is laying in the yard and I’m thinking about what a tragedy it would be for her to go to waist, something had to be salvaged, so I skinned what I could off the carcass, skinning her up the neck to the skull, replacing her spine with a coat hanger.  I wrapped her skin around a pre-existing turkey decoy, stuffing the head of the decoy up along the doubled up coat hanger protruding from her mouth.

 

I salted her down, stapled her to the turkey decoy and tied the wings in place, wrapped her up in a trash bag and put Frank in the freezer until turkey season. 

Day 1, Frank is deployed, proudly standing on my ridge, clearly visible from the ridge above, but hidden from the ridge below.  

 

At first “shooting light”, I heard a gobbler, way off in the distance to the right of me on another ridge with a valley and creek in between us.   Then another gobbler, the other velociraptor, he was just to the left and a long ways away. 

 

 I’m not much of a turkey caller, I’ve never killed one, so I thought less calling was better than more calling, but it sure was hard to resist clucking to those gobblers every time they gobbled.  I clucked a few times and about sunrise they must have gotten off the roost and it was quiet.   I’m there.  I might as well stick around for a couple of hours, maybe one will walk by, but there doesn’t seem to be anything in my immediate vicinity so a country ham and swiss with Duke’s mayo on white bread is in order.    About half way into it, I hear a gobbler, same direction, but much closer.   I give it a little, eeech, eech, eech….and he gobbles back, this time closer.  I put the call down and another gobble, this thing must be running down the ridge to me, but it’s on the lower ridge, behind me where Frankenturkey is not visible to him.   Another gobble, within 100 yards but I can’t see him.  He’s over my right shoulder, but don’t dare move.  He crosses the old logging road behind me because now the gobble is directly behind me.   I’ve got to turn around….slowly….in position and he gobbles again so I must not have spooked him.   Another gobble and another.   Nothing.  Never saw him.   I give it a cluck, cluck and nothing.  I’m in the woods all alone as the gobbler must have gotten with a hen or strutted off down the hill.   I gave it another two hours before abandoning the hunt.  

 

Tomorrow, I’ll be on the first ridge where he crossed with Frankenturkey in a little clearing, if he does the same thing, a load of # 4’s is waiting on him.   But turkeys don’t seem to do the same thing each day.   Day 2 I heard no gobbles but did have a hen come check out Frankenturkey, scratching within about 15 feet of me.   I now know what a turkey scratching sounds like.  

 

Day 3, I get in the bottom to the right of where I have been hunting with the ridge that turkey was roosting on day 1 above me.  About crack of light I hear a gobble from exactly where he should be.  A little cluck and I hear him fly down off his roost in the bottom to the right of me.  About 15 minutes I hear some scratching to the right but I’m not exactly facing him.  He’s walking right to left and a big white oak is between us.  I think it’s a gobbler, I’m not too sure because I can’t see his beard, but I can clearly see his bright white head.  I later learn that gobblers often have a white head and his head sure was white, he stuck it right up and looked at me before he walked behind that big oak tree.   Now was my time to shift position and at 30 yards when he walks from the other side of that oak tree I’m going to blast him.   Waiting.    Waiting.   All quiet.  Not a leaf stirring.  Waiting.  Waiting.  Where is he?  Five minutes go by and I’m motionless.   That turkey walked behind the oak tree, with the tree between me and the turkey and he literally evaporated.  It was as if it stepped through a porthole into another dimension.  After five more minutes I stood up and looked around to confirm that I was indeed in the woods all alone.

 

That afternoon, sitting on the porch and watching the wood ducks come into the pond at the bottom of the field, my phone notifies me of a trail camera photo.   The photo is of a giant gobbler on the ridge about where I started on day 1.   The use of this kind of technology should be immensely valuable to hunters and it is…..but it in no way guarantees success, but at least I know where Frank and I are going to be hunting in the morning, right where I started on day 1, the ridge just below where this bird is roosting and Frank will be in full view 20 yards away from my blind.

 

Day 4.   I have high hopes.  Twilight and nothing but whippoorwills.  Shooting light and the song birds are in full chorus.  I give a little eech, eech, eech on the box call.   Nothing.   Never heard a gobbler.   My ham sandwhich is gone and I hear something.  No question about it.   That is a turkey scratching and it’s just on the other side of the ridge I’m sitting on.   I get in position waiting for him to stick his head above the ridge.   He is within 50 yards, just over the crest and the scratching is loud.   Any second he is going to stick his head up and I’m going to blast it.   Fainter gets the scratching so I give a quiet purr on the call.   No reaction, just more fading scratching and I am again all alone in the woods.   

 

A couple of times last year I saw turkeys on trail cameras next to where I was hunting, but an hour after I had given up the hunt.   I gave it 30 more minutes, maybe he would work back my way.  Then another hour to make sure that I was indeed again alone in the woods.   I never saw that turkey, but when I picked up Frank, I saw where it was scratching.   Maybe a gobbler, maybe the hen I saw the day before.    I’ll take Frank back down the hill tomorrow….if she/he’ll make it.  There is a cloud of flies now hovering over his head like Pig Pen from Charlie Brown.

 

I pick up Frank,  shake off the flies, carry him back and put him back in the freezer to thwart any further decomposition.

 

Day 5, on a road next to the river, above me where those turkeys have been roosting.  I saw nothing.  I heard nothing, but above me I hear a bird land in a tree.   Oh shit.   It’s a turkey.  Or is it?   It looks like a turkey.  It’s got a red head, but damn, that thing could be a buzzard and not only is it illegal to shoot a buzzard, it could just be that buzzard is grandma. 

 

When walking with grandma as a pre teen, hand in hand down her long driveway to the mailbox,  I point out the buzzards standing on the fence post, wings stretched, airing their wings and Grandma says.  “If there is anything like reincarnation, I would like to come back as a buzzard”.  

 

“ But Gandma! A buzzard?  Think about what they eat!”

“Well that’s just what buzzards eat.”

“Why in the world would you want to be a buzzard?”

“So I can fly around and keep an eye on all my children and grandchildren and so that every time you look up and see a buzzard you will think of me checking on you.”

 

I could not shoot this bird if there is any chance that it is a buzzard.

 

If turkeys could smell, I don’t think I will ever have a chance of killing one.   I can barely get close enough to a deer without getting busted.  Turkeys have ten times the eyesight but they apparently cannot smell you.   A buzzard on the other hand, could definitely smell Frank, which I removed from his plastic decoy frame and left for the buzzard.  Although I didn’t kill a turkey, Frankenturkey fed Grandma for another day.

 

Day 6

There is a big pine tree on that ridge from where the turkeys have been calling and I’m going to be close to it in this morning.   I get out early, in position by 515, an hour before legal light.   Twilight.  More whippoorwills.  Shooting light.  Song birds.  A cluck, cluck on the call.  Nothing.   Sunrise.  Nothing, but I’m comfortable leaning against this big pine.   I’ll give it another hour.   Now 830 and nothing.  Screw it, I’m out of here so I pull up the hood of my mask and light my morning end of hunt ritual cigarette.   A full drag and blow out the smoke and the giant gobbler sitting in the tree on which I was leaning busts out of there showering pine needles raining down on top of me.   It had been sitting there watching me all morning.  Busted and I never knew it and never thought to look up.

 

Day 7. Nothing. Nothing.  Nothing.   I think I am educating these turkeys so I go for a walk down the road.   Every 100 yards or so I sit down, get comfortable and make a call.  Nothing.   After about 4 sitting and an hour later, I’m over it, stand up and a giant gobbler takes flight about 50 yards away.  He never made a peep, but I guess I sounded enough like a turkey he was coming to check me out.  

 

Tomorrow is day 8 and I hope that gobbler wakes up in my vicinity, just not under the tree I’m sitting.

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Catch Information

Species:
Hickory Shad
Hickory Shad

This Fishing Report was submitted on 4/19/2024 7:47:00 PM by Seamus and last updated on 4/22/2024 12:59:55 AM.


Location

1907 Paulette Road
Morehead City, NC US


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