This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
>>GRANT: [Whispering] It knocked our decoy over.
>>GRANT: It’s turkey season and turkey hunting is a great way to get outside and enjoy Creation. And if you tag a tom, you and your family can have some great tasting, nutritious, wild turkey meat. In fact, one tom will make several meals.
>>GRANT: Turkey season has been open in several states and will open in other states soon. You may wonder why there’s so much variance of when turkey season opens state to state.
>>GRANT: But most states set the opening of turkey season to coincide with a certain portion of the turkey’s breeding season. For example, here in Missouri, the turkey season traditionally opens during the third Monday in April.
>>GRANT: That was originally set by turkey biologists that wanted turkeys to be well into the breeding season before the hunting season opened.
>>GRANT: Man, I love turkey hunting and we’ve been preparing for turkey season for several weeks. We’ve been moving some Redneck blinds into areas where we know turkeys frequent. We’ve even been out trimming the vegetation in front of those blinds so it will be nice and short and a perfect strut area.
>>GRANT: We’ve also spent some early mornings out on ridgetops listening for gobblers.
>>DANIEL: [Whispering] There’s a tom right there.
>>GRANT: All this information, paired with images and videos from our Reconyx cameras give us a pretty good idea where turkeys were using here at The Proving Grounds, especially during the early morning.
>>GRANT: One area, this MRI, most recent information, had determined turkeys were using was a food plot we call Tombstone.
>>GRANT: Based on those observations and what we’d learned, I decided to start opening morning at Tombstone food plot. Light was just breaking over the Ozark Mountains as Daniel and I skirted the edge of the plot.
>>GRANT: As we were moving to where we thought we’d set up, we heard several toms gobbling in the holler to the east. Between us and where the toms were roosted is a fairly large area where we’d felled a bunch of cedars. And I knew the toms probably wouldn’t come directly through those cedars.
>>GRANT: When turkeys are in thick cover, like a bunch of felled cedar trees, they’re very vulnerable to predation. And they tend to go around one side or the other.
>>GRANT: [Whispering] I think this is where we’re going to want to set up. They’re going to work this field at some point.
>>GRANT: Not knowing exactly which route the toms would take, we decided to stay on the ridgetop in the food plot and try to call the toms to us.
>>GRANT: One thing I really like about turkey hunting is all the strategy. And it seems it can change minute by minute.
>>GRANT: Hearing several toms gobble, we decided our best bet might be to put out a single decoy – an Avian-X hen. Oftentimes when you hear multiple toms, one of the first turkeys into the setup may be a subordinate tom – almost like a satellite elk.
>>GRANT: They’ll kind of bust off and try to get there, get to the hen before there’s a threat or another tom around. And if you’ve got a jake sitting, looking over that hen decoy, that subordinate tom may flare off.
>>GRANT: We quickly set up with a big oak to our back.
>>GRANT: The toms answered, and I was pretty excited. However, once they hit the ground, it got quiet.
>>GRANT: Typically, when toms have been gobbling on the roost and they hit the ground and get quiet, that means they’re with hens or they’re on the move.
>>GRANT: Every now and then we’d hear a gobble. It seemed to me they were drifting a bit further away, but they weren’t going anywhere really fast. And I assumed they were with hens.
>>GRANT: Instead of calling and, potentially, if they were with hens, those hens taking the toms even further away from another hen, I decided to sit there quietly and be patient.
>> ANNOUNCER: GrowingDeer is brought to you by Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s. Also by Reconyx, Green Cover Food Plots, Winchester, Avian-X Decoys, LaCrosse Footwear, Thlete Outdoor Apparel, Morrell Targets, Summit Treestands, RTP Outdoors, Fourth Arrow, HuntStand, Scorpion Venom Archery, Case IH Tractors, Burris Optics, Bloodsport Arrows, Code Blue, D/Code, G5 Broadheads, Prime Bows, and Redneck Hunting Blinds.
>>GRANT: Suddenly, a tom appeared just to our left about 50 yards. He barely came out of the timber. I thought he might turn and come closer to our setup, but, unfortunately, he turned and went back into the timber.
>>GRANT: Based on previous observations and my understanding of turkey biology, I assumed that was not the dominant tom in the area. It seemed he came out to the plot, scanned around to see if there was a hen he could get to fairly easily, didn’t see it, and went back into the trees.
>>GRANT: I remained sitting there quietly. I didn’t want to call then because I didn’t know exactly where that tom went into the timber. And while I’m sitting there – about 15 minutes later – I spotted a white head about 200 yards away at the end of the field.
>>GRANT: [Whispering] Is it looking our way?
>>GRANT: This tom was headed away from us, but I could tell he was scanning the area hard.
>>GRANT: [Whispering] Just the one?
>>DANIEL: [Whispering] Yeah.
>>GRANT: [Whispering] Tell me if he starts looking.
>>DANIEL: [Whispering] He’s not.
>>GRANT: The tom gobbled and turned our way.
>>GRANT: The tom was about 70 yards away when I caught some fast movement out of the corner of my eye.
>>GRANT: I couldn’t believe it. A hawk had swooped in and tried to kill what it thought was a hen turkey. It hit our decoy hard. It knocked it over and it was loud. I’ll bet it hurt that hawk’s talons.
>>GRANT: Seeing movement and hearing that loud thump startled Daniel and I and it seemed it made the tom pretty uneasy.
>>GRANT: I thought that tom might tuck his tail and run, but instead he kept on coming – kind of skirting the area where the hawk had tipped over our decoy.
>>DANIEL: [Whispering] [Inaudible]
>>GRANT: Amidst all the confusion Daniel and I were trying to estimate how far the tom was.
>>GRANT: As the tom continued skirting our setup, I was waiting for his head to get above the forage so I could get a clear shot.
>>UNKNOWN: He’s down.
>>GRANT: Holy cow. Man, that thing’s out there. [Laughter]
>>GRANT: Holy mackerel.
>>GRANT: I knew that tom was out there. But I’ve got to admit, when I stood up and started walking toward him, I realized that tom was a bit further than I had thought.
>>GRANT: 48 yards. Folks, I just got to tell you, that’s exactly why I’ve been shooting Winchester’s Long Beard XR for several years. I mean, it’s two dollars a shell and a thumpster. Because I was using a .20 gauge with No. 6 shot and thumped that thing at 48 yards.
>>GRANT: It was about 7:45 A.M. opening morning of Missouri’s turkey season and we had an Ozark Mountain tom on the ground.
>>GRANT: I love that .20 gauge.
>>GRANT: Standard nine, ten-inch beard. Rascal come in. So, awesome morning, man. We had – I think I heard five different turkeys. There was definitely three behind us. That’s what we were working. Coming out in this great blend here.
>>GRANT: There was one straight across and another, you know, way on yonder out there. Like he didn’t want to walk to that one. And when that one started firing up, I thought, “This is great, boy.” Right in the middle of the obvious strut area.
>>GRANT: I figured we’d have to wait until the dew is off. You can see all the water sparkling out here in this clover and all the blend stuff out here.
>>GRANT: I thought I saw something. Gosh, it’s 200 yards up there and the hill rolls over just a little bit. And I saw the fan. I got – in hindsight, I saw the fan and then I finally saw that white head sticking up over the crop.
>>GRANT: Called just a little and put that head up. Cut the distance and here we are. Opening morning tom down in Missouri.
>>GRANT: I always enjoy looking over toms when I tag one. And it was obvious this tom had several breast feathers missing. That’s an indication he’s been actively breeding hens and probably for quite some time. He’d worn those breast feathers off.
>>GRANT: That’s a really good indication of the portion of the breeding season we’re currently in here in southern Missouri.
>>GRANT: Now, you may recall that during the early turkey season in Florida, I tagged a tom and almost no breast feathers were missing. They open their season much earlier during the turkey breeding season at that location.
>>GRANT: As I reflect on this hunt, I think there are several observations that might help other hunters be successful.
>>GRANT: Putting some time in before the season opens; looking for fresh sign; using trail cameras; or even getting out early in the morning listening for toms is a great way to find some areas where they’re active.
>>GRANT: Once you’ve identified some areas that turkeys are active, it’s also important to know the portion of the breeding season when you’ll be hunting.
>>GRANT: I’ve shared that during this hunt I opted to use a single turkey hen decoy. And I did that because I knew there were several toms in the area. I didn’t know if a dominant or subordinate bird would come in. And I knew that a jake decoy might be a bit much – a bit aggressive – and cause a subordinate tom to flare off.
>>GRANT: Based on this tom’s behavior, he was likely a subordinate tom in the area, and I believe the setup we used was just right to tag a tom.
>>GRANT: I’d also like to point out that the food plot had a great stand of clover as well as several other forage species.
>>GRANT: Now that blend of forage species was planted late last summer. And it attracted and fed deer through the fall, fed deer through the winter, and we saw several deer feeding in there the morning of that hunt.
>>GRANT: It also, obviously, was attracting and feeding turkeys. It’s important to use a blend that does more than just one mission. And in this case, the food plot blend I had planted had fed critters for months and is also actively improving the soil’s health.
>>GRANT: If you’d like to learn more about the forage blends I’ve designed for wildlife food plots, check out greencoverfoodplots.com. With all that said, one of the coolest observations was that hawk trying to take out our decoy.
>>GRANT: This was just one example of turkey predation or in this case decoy predation.
>>GRANT: But I’ve got to tell you, I’m hearing from lots of my buddies and viewers that they’re not hearing or seeing as many turkeys as they have during past seasons.
>>GRANT: And several state agencies are reporting a decline in turkey populations. Some are adjusting seasons; some are even changing how they manage turkeys.
>>GRANT: I want to get in this in more detail and I’ll really dive into the current status of turkeys and what we should be doing in an upcoming episode.
>>GRANT: Hey, stay tuned to our social media pages as we continue through turkey season as we’ll be sharing several tips and strategies as the breeding season progresses.
>>GRANT: I’ve got to admit, chasing turkeys is one of my favorite ways to get outside and enjoy Creation. But this time of year, there are lots of options.
>>GRANT: No matter how you choose to get outside and enjoy Creation, make it a priority every day to be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you and His will for your life.
>>GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.