This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: Missouri’s turkey season opened last week and the best gobbling bird Adam and I heard was several ridges away. Stay tuned to see if Adam and I caught up with that old tom.
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GRANT: As many of y'all know, my dad went through chemotherapy last fall and early this spring due to cancer. He is healing now and I’m devoted to getting my dad out as many times as I can during turkey season.
GRANT: You can shoot 50 yards real easy.
GLEN: Okay. (Inaudible) 50 yards.
GRANT: We’ve had some really enjoyable hunts so far and the next day he’s feeling up to it, we’ll be back out trying again.
GRANT: Last Wednesday Dad didn’t feel like going hunting, so Adam and I grabbed the Winchester and the camera and headed out to Clover Mountain.
GRANT: It didn’t take long for the first gobble to ring out.
GRANT: We scrambled to set up about 150 yards away from these birds, but had some suspicions something wasn’t just right.
GRANT: It was obvious when the volume of their gobbles changed, that we knew they had pitched down off the side of the ridge. We were hoping they’d come back up and enter the food plot.
GRANT: I always have a little anxiety between when I hear the last gobble and hear the next one or see the toms. In this case, it wasn’t long until the birds stepped out.
GRANT: Our suspicions were confirmed. Jakes. These jakes had great sounding gobbles. But just like our deer management plan, we give yearling turkeys another year to mature.
GRANT: (Whispering) Oh yeah.
GRANT: We watched these jakes for awhile, but didn’t do any calling. We were hoping they’d drift off so we could make an approach on some toms we heard gobbling in the distance.
GRANT: (Whispering) Well, that was a great display of jakes being jakes and crows coming in to pester. Oftentimes I’ve located gobblers by just crows staying in one place and just really getting on something after daylight – after the owls are up and going to it and then striking up a gobbler. And now you would see why.
GRANT: (Whispering) I’ve heard another tom four or five times over here. Let’s go see if we can kind of hone in on him and set up. Foggy morning. Not a great turkey hunting morning. Let’s see what we can make happen.
GRANT: We hustled most of the way down the mountain and then stopped to see if we could hear ‘em gobble again. Sure enough, they responded to a crow call and we felt our best setup was near a plot we call Gobbler Knob.
GRANT: We had a Reconyx UltraFire trail camera set up over the Gobbler Knob food plot. But from the frequent videos it’d been collecting, we knew this area was a strut zone and wasn’t surprised that turkeys were in the area.
GRANT: (Whispering) Adam and I started out at daylight on a big ridge back to the east and had four jakes coming in. Boy they sounded good, but they were jakes. Every now and then we hear some birds over this way, so we’ve cut the distance. We think they're still one ridge over, but it’s gonna be really noisy for us to get to ‘em. So, we’re gonna slide up here and see if we can't set up a column across.
GRANT: As we continued our approach, but stopped to listen, it sounded like those turkeys had crossed a valley and were now on Cave Ridge, the adjoining mountain next to Gobbler Knob.
GRANT: One of the most common comments we hear during our Field Days or other tours is, “The Proving Grounds is much steeper than shows up on video.” You need to understand that it’s several hundred feet in elevation change between Gobbler Knob, down to the valley and back up to the top of the mountain. It’s not just a simple little turkey sliding over 100 yards, but crossing a major canyon to get back to us.
GRANT: We have another Reconyx camera on Cave Ridge. It’s a known strut zone. And based on looking at the timing of videos from both Reconyx cameras, it seems the same group of turkeys are using both ridges. So Adam and I were confident we could call them back to Gobbler Knob.
GRANT: We started with some soft calling hoping that’s all it would take to attract the toms. I called for several minutes hoping they’d respond. Adam and I kind of have a little pattern where he’ll call one day and I’ll call the next so the toms don’t get too accustomed to hearing either one of our calls.
GRANT: As the minutes starting adding up, Adam and I were afraid those toms would drift off, be spooked by a coyote or some hens would move in. So, we pulled out a deadly weapon. We started scratching in the leaves to make it sound like a group of hens were feeding where we were sitting.
GRANT: We played this game for nearly an hour with the turkeys gobbling their heads off at almost everything we threw at ‘em. But it was obvious we needed an additional tool. With the toms still gobbling, but not gaining any ground approaching us, Adam decided to go deeper in his bag of tricks. He drifted behind us about 80 yards and started calling to sound like the hens were drifting further away.
GRANT: Their next gobble seemed to be less than 100 yards away and to our right. I had adjusted my Winchester to be pointed to the very right side of the food plot versus the center where we had our decoy set up. But when Adam whispered “hard right” and I wasn’t seeing any turkeys, I knew I hadn’t adjusted enough.
GRANT: (Whispering) I don’t see ‘em.
GRANT: When I finally eased my head around to the right enough to see those red heads, I knew we were in trouble. The toms were 20 yards or less and at 90 degrees to me. I didn’t know if there was any chance I could get the Winchester on the same tom Adam was looking at.
GRANT: Many turkey hunters have experienced that “now or never” moment. And we were in such a moment. I told Adam I was gonna take the rear bird. I grabbed the shotgun and started making my swing. But that bird picked up my movement and stepped off the edge of the canyon. I kept on with my swing and Adam said, “lead bird.” The first red head I come to in the scope – I just assumed that was the lead bird.
ADAM: (Whispering) The front one.
GRANT: We got one. I gotta load my vest. There’s not many turkey seasons I have to reload my vest with shells. But between Rae and…
GRANT: (Quietly) It was perfect for the hunter but not perfect for the turkey. They come in silently off to our far right. And Adam – I wasn’t gonna do anything until I knew Adam was – had the camera on it cause it was a tough move. We had, we had good camo.
GRANT: Well, I, I kept wheeling until I saw a big, red head and I said, “I’m hoping he’s on it.” (Laughter) I put the Nikon on the head and let her fly. I should – because I knew we were so close you could – it could be out of frame easy.
GRANT: Oh yeah. Three year-old. I think he wore an inch of his feathers off strutting this morning. Adam and I have been listening to ‘em gobble and strut on the next ridge over for, I think, at least an hour. I haven’t looked.
GRANT: He’d definitely been doing the strut. We watched a hen cut through, going that way. That’s never a good sign. Probably a three year-old. Looks like slightly over an inch.
ADAM: Dark spurs.
GRANT: Dark spurs.
ADAM: Huge head on him.
GRANT: He does have a huge head. Good, thick beard. Probably ten inch.
GRANT: I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older – ‘cause in the younger days, I’d have been cutting up that mountain trying to get to ‘em. It’s oftentimes easier to call the gobbler to you. We all worry about hens getting in between or a coyote or something. But we were pretty early in the morning. We had hours we could spend.
ADAM: Especially with the camera.
GRANT: Especially with the camera.
GRANT: And, um, these birds came a long ways. Again, down a steep ridge, through a valley, across a little creek and up. We’d have made a lot of noise getting there – two hunters, camera and all that stuff. And they're on top of this little lookout. There’s almost like the, the enemy and the fortress. There’s no way to get there without them picking us off.
GRANT: They tried to flank us, but the Long Beard caught up with ‘em.
GRANT: For me, part of the cleaning process is checking what’s in the crop. It’s more than just curiosity. I call it scouting from the skinning shed. Seeing what that tom’s been eating tells me where to hunt the following day.
GRANT: So, I can feel and actually see a couple here, but this guy is loaded with soybeans. And that’s a great example of how valuable Eagle Seed soybeans are. We planted these almost a year ago. Of course, they made forage all summer for deer and other critters to eat on; made pods. This tom still eating pods out of our food plots.
GRANT: Putting the story together, it appears these toms probably roosted on the mountain; came down through Gobbler Knob, went down past it in one of the food plots we walked through that still has standing Eagle Seed soybeans; ate their crop full; then went up the other side on top of Cave Ridge.
GRANT: It was a fantastic April morning. I can't wait to get back out there and share some quality hunts with family and friends.
GRANT: Pro Staffers Heath and Lindsey Martin don’t miss many opportunities to hunt. So, the opening day of turkey season in Arkansas found them hunting on their home farm.
GRANT: They had lots of Reconyx footage of toms strutting in a beautiful clover food plot where they’d already placed a Redneck hay bale blind. It’s tough to know for sure, but Heath believes this is the same flock of turkeys that roughed up his Miss PURR-FECT decoy last year.
GRANT: They're in the same area and the flock numbers are about the same, except this year, they're two year-old toms.
GRANT: Additional Reconyx footage has showed this two year-old flock of toms being dominant over any other tom in the area.
GRANT: Heath puts out a pair of Miss PURR-FECT decoys and a jake, hoping that jake decoy will stimulate an aggressive response from the toms and bring ‘em right into the setup.
GRANT: At the first sign of light, Heath uses his Hoot’n Stick to make a couple of soft owl hoots and try to locate the toms.
GRANT: It sounds like they roosted only a couple hundred yards away from the plot.
HEATH: Well, good morning. Today’s the opening day of Arkansas turkey season and, uh, we’re in a little hidey hole food plot on the top of the mountains planted in clover. We’ve got our Reconyx camera on that tree up here. I’ve been watching this food plot for the last month or so and there’s been several turkeys just hanging out in here like crazy strutting – running off jakes. So, we’ve got the PURR-FECT Pair and another Miss PURR-FECT out in the middle of the clover. And, uh, I think they’ll be up here before too long. So, keep your fingers crossed and see if we can't get ‘em.
GRANT: I tell you – if that flock of bully birds comes in, all heck might break loose.
GRANT: It’s not long before Heath and Lindsey hear drumming. The toms are obviously close, but not quite in sight. They should pop over the edge and see those Montana decoys soon.
HEATH: (Whispering) You see ‘em? There’s one. (Inaudible)
LINDSEY: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Oh yeah. They're all coming to the decoy.
LINDSEY: (Whispering) Take whatever you want. (Inaudible)
HEATH: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Get over the strut.
GRANT: At only 20 yards away in the super tight pattern of the Winchester Long Beard XR shells, Heath was able to pick out the center strutter and take him down without moving a feather off the other toms.
HEATH: (Whispering) You on him?
LINDSEY: (Whispering) Yup.
GRANT: It’s a hustle to try to get the double, so Heath and Lindsey quickly exchange the gun and the camera.
HEATH: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
LINDSEY: (Whispering) I’m gonna shoot the one on the left.
GRANT: It looks like a clean miss. But Heath’s not giving up. He quickly grabs the Hook’s Assassin Glass and makes a few yelps. Unbelievably, the birds are so fired up, they respond to the call and start coming back. Lindsey might get a second chance.
LINDSEY: (Whispering) Okay.
HEATH: (Whispering) You on the front one?
LINDSEY: (Whispering) I was.
HEATH: (Whispering) Whenever you're ready to kill him.
HEATH: (Whispering) Yes. Yes. Yes. Good shot, lady. Good shot.
HEATH: (Whispering) We was pretty sure the jake would work because there’s two – there’s only a couple of jakes up on this mountain and every time they come in here, we’ve got a lot of Reconyx footage of them pushing them jakes all over this food plot ‘cause they rule this roost right here. This is their, this is their spot. So. And Lindsey just had a clean miss. I mean, it happens. These guns shoot so tight. And even up at the end of the food plot, they're only 25 yards, probably – at the most, 30. Using that Assassin Glass – I think it is – which is the glass over slate – and this yellow wood call…
LINDSEY: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Call
HEATH: (Whispering) And these birds are just still gobbling right there. We can't even get out of the blind ‘cause they're still gobbling. That’s one good point for your turkeys. If you don’t mess with your turkeys – I mean I ain't called to ‘em all year. We don’t ever come up here on this mountain except to check the camera once every week or so. And – I mean they’ve been coming in here every day. So, I was like, there ain't no point in running around the mountain. Let’s get in our hay bale blind here. It’s been set up here. They're used to it. I mean, they – they're not scared of it a bit. I mean, obviously, we shot three times, twice and they still came back in the food plot.
LINDSEY: (Whispering) They're still, and they're still…
HEATH: (Whispering) They’re still 60 yards right out here in the draw gobbling.
LINDSEY: (Whispering) Congratulations.
HEATH: (Whispering) Gotta love it when a plan comes together.
GRANT: That was pretty cool to see those birds put the hammer down on the Jake PURR-FECT.
GRANT: We hear that decoy’s going to be okay.
GRANT: Over the years, Heath and Lindsey have tagged a lot of toms on that clover field at the top of the mountain. Congratulations on great teamwork and sharing another fine hunt.
GRANT: All of us at GrowingDeer were excited to get our hands on one of the new Ghillie 360 blinds from Redneck. It so happens the blind arrived during a rainy day so the boys went right to work putting it together in our shop.
GRANT: From the looks of it, this blind will fit right in. We’re gonna go ahead and put it out and hunt out of it really soon with big plans of tagging a tom.
ADAM: Done? You done?
GRANT: All of us are gonna be chasing turkeys this week and many of our Pro Staff have been sending us pictures of toms they tagged. We’ve got lots of hunts and great turkey hunting strategy to share with you.
GRANT: Whether you're enjoying a sunrise while chasing turkeys or driving to work – it’s important each day to enjoy Creation and more important to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.