Monday, May 15, 2017

The Silver Bullet

I have been fortunate to harvest several gobblers over the past ten years. Being at the right farm with the right people has helped tremendously. Skills have been developed and experience has paid off in a big way to become a successful turkey hunter. This year the story writes differently.

I selected the third season to hunt in Hancock county Illinois this year. There was a variety of reasons but probably the most significant was the availability of my favorite hunting spot. The farm that I hunt is owned by a dear friend who is very gracious in our selection of places we can hunt.

"Kill hill" as I call it, has harvested countless mature Tom's over the years. I was quite certain that this year would be no different. In week one, I filmed for outdoor writer, Mike Roux. He killed a Jake at the same place we always have success. There was no reason for me to believe that I was not going to have the same fortune.

My first morning was on a Friday. I was pumped to begin the weekend on a turkey hunt. Everything went as planned that morning. I identified birds on the roost early and they were everywhere more than any place else. The gobbling stopped as the Tom pitched off the roost but that was not surprising. It has happened many times and did not effect the final outcome. The short story is that I did not see a turkey in the field all morning. It was not time to be discouraged, for I had five more days to enjoy one of my favorite pastimes.

Day two began and ended much like day one. Early gobbling... once off the roost.... silence. I was committed to staying put in my honey hole. Taking so many birds in one spot at the very highest point of the farm is a formula a guy does not want to mess with. Day three and four were similar to the first two days. The birds would just not come to the field like the last several years. It was time to change it up on day five. I spoke with Mike Roux on the phone. I shared my dilemma and he gave me a few tips. The advice was no silver bullet but at least it gave me a plan.

The harvested bird is on the right.
Steve Wollbrink, a fellow hunter and leader in the church where I pastor, texted me around nine on Monday evening. He asked if anyone was filming my hunt. I responded with a "no" and he said I will be at your house at five a.m. The next morning Steve and I were talking on the way to the farm about the plan for the morning. He thought it would be best to go right to the creek at the bottom of the property from the very beginning. I could not argue the point, being that his father owns the adjacent farm and he had hunted the bottoms for years himself.

We arrived and made quick work of getting set up. It was no time before we heard a Tom gobbling on the roost about fifty yards away. I thought to myself "this is gonna happen and happen as soon as he pitches off the roost." I hit my Mountain Screamer box call. It wasn't but a couple reps before he cut me off. I decided then to just sit still and wait for that moment. He gobbled for the better part of a half an hour before we heard both him and two hens pitch off the roost.

The story repeats itself again. Once the birds got to the ground they became silent. I attempted a few purrs and clucks but to no avail. Steve whispered, "I would move but I don't know where to go." I had heard another gobbler up the hill early just after we set up but it was on Steve's dads farm. I asked Steve if we could cross the property boundary and hunt on his dads farm. He said yes!

We quickly snuck our way up the hill and to the edge of a unplowed corn field. As soon as we arrived I heard a gobble. It sounded like the bird was at the top of the hill and in the middle of the field. I set up my three decoys. I use two hens and a jake. Steve and I made our way to a super large tree with great cover and got ready. I hit my box call, followed with a quick round on my slate call. A minute or so later a big ole Tom began to strut in the middle of the field.

It was an amazing display for the next five minutes to watch this guy come down the hill, pirouetting, strutting, spitting and drumming! I let him come towards me at ten yards before taking him.

Some times you need something extra - favor, blessing, or a silver bullet....the filming guys dad's farm!!!

The Silver Bullet