Turkey Hunting: Henned Up Mountain Toms (Episode 491 Transcript)
This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: The turkey season in Arkansas opened April 8th, a bit earlier than it has the past couple of years. Pro Staffers Heath and Lindsey Martin have had some great turkey hunts on their family farm through the years.
GRANT: Last year Heath tagged a nice mountain tom on top of a big ridge in a small food plot he had created.
HEATH: (Whispering) Right there.
LINDSEY: (Whispering) Yep.
HEATH: (Whispering) Well, got a big, ole Arkansas bird on the ground.
GRANT: A few weeks before season this year, Heath put a Reconyx camera over the plot to see if turkeys were using it and, again, picked up a lot of action.
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GRANT: Based on past successes from this plot and what the Reconyx videos were showing, he decided that would be a great place to start opening day.
GRANT: That morning he decided to put out two Montana Miss Purr-Fect decoys and a jake.
GRANT: From this location Heath can hear really well and that morning he heard a tom sound off and some hens. But, unfortunately, they went down the mountain.
HEATH: (Quietly) Well, good morning. Today is the opening day of turkey season here in Arkansas. And we started up here on the mountain where we killed a lot of turkeys out of this food plot ‘cause we’ve got some game camera, you know, video of some gobblers, obviously, using it like they always do.
HEATH: (Quietly) However, right now, we’ve got a whole flock between here and the house. Sounds like they’ve already flew down in the fields and they’re just cutting and plucking and gobbling and putting on a show.
HEATH: (Quietly) There’s been a bird in here sometimes early in the morning – late. I figure we’ll wait here just a little bit. But we may have to go down in the bottom fields and see if we can figure out where these birds are going.
GRANT: Heath and Lindsey stayed tight knowing that eventually there was a good chance turkeys would show up in that plot.
GRANT: That afternoon they decided to return to the same Redneck Blind.
GRANT: While they were walking in, Heath heard a gobble from the plot.
GRANT: He decided just to hang back, let the tom, hopefully, drift off and then ease up to the blind. Heath didn’t see the tom, but the Reconyx did.
GRANT: Heath believed that there was a good chance he could call the tom back in or the tom would just circle around looking for hens that afternoon.
HEATH: (Quietly) Well, it’s about two o’clock. We just got back to the blind here. I’m hoping we didn’t spook this bird. We snuck up; he quit gobbling. He was up there gobbling from the food plot like he’s supposed to, trying to find a hen. So, we put that ole, lonely hen out and, well, we’ll go over here to the edge and do some calling and see if I can get him to gobble eventually.
HEATH: (Quietly) If not, we’ll sit here for the rest of the evening. He’s back in here off and on throughout the evening. He’s here looking for hens, so we’ll kind of see how that goes.
GRANT: Heath and Lindsey are like a lot of great hunters. They’ve got to work a regular job also. Fortunately, sometimes they can work from their laptops. So, they brought their laptops to the blind and when they felt it was a bit slow, whipped ‘em out and got some stuff done.
GRANT: Even though Heath tried to fire that tom back up, he never showed that afternoon.
HEATH: (Whispering) We set up on a hot bird this morning. It’s now crack of light. Hope it will get him to come off the mountain. He’s up on a steep ridge right now. Can’t get to him. Maybe we can call him down here.
HEATH: (Whispering) He’s gobbling a little better now. Getting warmed up.
HEATH: Well, ole, big bird just pitched out of the tree, oh 20 minutes ago, I guess. We were close. I mean, we were within 60 yards of him this morning. But, he flew the other way.
HEATH: On these ole, steep mountains, you just can’t always get in the right spot. So. Ain’t over yet. See if we can circle around and get in front of him.
HEATH: Well, we just walked up the hill here. I’ve actually got a food plot just a couple hundred yards across the creek over here. We figure the turkeys are gonna end up in that food plot and I saw one hen pitch off the hill and land. Well, I assume she landed in the food plot. That’s what they do.
HEATH: I think we’re gonna go up actually to the house ‘n glass and see what the birds are doing and then figure out. We’ve got a creek on both sides of this field, so there’s access from either side. We gotta figure out which creek to get in. And how to put the stalk on it.
HEATH: So, he’s already quit gobbling. He must be with another hen. They’re pretty henned up right now. The season is a couple weeks earlier than normal here in Arkansas and they’re henned up pretty bad. They’re not doing much. I wish it was a little later to be honest with ya. But.
HEATH: (Quietly) Well, hey, it’s about 11:30. We got up here on our food plot. We call this the Middle Mountain food plot. We’ve killed a bunch of turkeys in here over the years. You’ve seen this. It’s just a really cool spot. It’s the only food plot on this whole ridge system here.
HEATH: (Quietly) Turkeys know they can get in this low food plot and gobble and they can hear all the ridges around us.
HEATH: (Quietly) And, uh, we’ve got some Reconyx video of a gobbler or two different ones, but one gobbler at least. He’s pretty regular coming in here strutting, gobbling, looking for hens, at least for a little while. So, that’s kind of our game plan. We’re gonna get in the blind here.
HEATH: (Quietly) We’ve got one hen set up in the food plot, hopefully just to keep his attention and draw him in close enough for a shot if he comes in looking.
HEATH: (Quietly) And if he gobbles, you know, down the road just a little ways and we can call to him, he’ll probably come on in midday like this. ‘Cause he’ll be looking for a hen anyway and he knows these hens like to hang out in this food plot as well.
GRANT: Hunting with a decoy is not only to attract toms. Oftentimes, hens will come to decoys also.
GRANT: Attracting a hen to a decoy is a great bonus. Now, there are two decoys.
GRANT: Suddenly, Heath caught movement at the edge of the plot.
HEATH: (Whispering) Well, I’ve got a turkey down here on the second day of turkey season. Just like I said, it’s about 1:30 — just a few minutes ago. And, uh, sure enough, we saw him coming down the road coming in here.
HEATH: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Like that with a couple of hens with him. I wasn’t sure, you know, if he was just gonna periscope the food plot and go off or if he was actually gonna come in.
HEATH: (Whispering) He wasn’t gobbling or anything. I wish he would have gobbled down the ridge and I could have called him. He would have probably come right on into the decoy, but I wasn’t 100% sure.
HEATH: (Whispering) So, when you get a good shot — I’m gonna tell you. We’ve got that new Nikon Spur on these shotguns. Man, that’s awesome. Put that red lead on the head. He was 40 yards, probably. Just dropped him right in his tracks. Don’t get no better than that.
GRANT: The Long Beard XR got it done again for Heath and Lindsey — this time on the second day of Arkansas turkey season.
HEATH: We got in about 11:30 and sure enough, about 1:30 — same time he was in here yesterday, roughly. He came sneaking up the road into the end of the food plot here.
HEATH: And, uh. You know, I had the decoy set out and he come in and saw the decoy and very likely he was gonna come into it. But this ridge here is just a few yards wide. And all he had to do was take a couple steps right here behind me.
HEATH: Poof! And he was gone off the end of the hill. So, I decided to go ahead and take the shot while we had the opportunity. So, anyway.
HEATH: It would have been fun if he would have gobbled, but hey, he didn’t gobble today. So, sometimes that’s what it’s all about. Just gotta get it done.
GRANT: Living and hunting in mountain country where hills often roll quickly and a turkey can get out of sight at the drop of a feather, I agree with Heath’s strategy.
GRANT: If you get a bird that seems to be periscoping and it’s a bird you want, you better take the shot because, “boop” and that turkey could be gone.
GRANT: Heath believes that turkey breeding season was in full swing when he tagged this tom. That morning and the day before, toms were with hens.
GRANT: That afternoon, the hens seemed to be looking just a little bit. But, when he got his hands on the tom, he noticed several breast feathers were worn off and the wings had been worn off an inch or more from dragging.
GRANT: This type of information can make planning a strategy for the next hunt much easier. You can predict how the toms are going to behave.
GRANT: Heath didn’t waste any time cleaning the tom. The Old Timer made quick work of that process and Heath was headed for the kitchen.
HEATH: And that right there, folks is why we hunt — from mountain top to table top. I can assure you, you can’t find this food anywhere in a restaurant. This is as good as it gets.
GRANT: Missouri’s turkey season opened yesterday and after a long cold winter, I was eager to chase some toms.
GRANT: Daniel and I had packed our turkey vests several days before and early that morning, we loaded our gear into a Yamaha and headed to 50 Acre Ridge.
GRANT: A few weeks ago we did a prescribed fire on the south side of the 50 Acre Ridge.
GRANT: Turkeys seem to love areas that were recently burned because there’s lots of insects and they’re easy to find.
GRANT: The short vegetation resulting from the fire also makes it a great strutting area.
GRANT: The north side of the slope and beyond is a large contiguous block of mature timber. So, it seemed turkeys would be roosted to the north, possibly crossing the ridge and heading into the burn.
GRANT: Years ago, we created a small hidey hole food plot in a saddle, or low spot, in the ridge. That’s usually a place that critters like to cross. So we put a Reconyx camera there a couple of weeks ago to see if turkeys were using the area.
GRANT: When we reviewed the videos, sure enough, there was a tom using the trail on top of the ridge.
GRANT: It seemed he used that area about mid-morning. So, Daniel and I decided to start opening morning at that small hidey hole food plot.
GRANT: (Whispering) Opening morning of Missouri’s turkey season and I’ve known for a couple of weeks I’d probably start by the 50 Acre fire we did recently.
GRANT: (Whispering) When we were getting in here heard a couple toms on the tree just off to the north; the birds to the south.
GRANT: (Whispering) We’ve got a jake right behind a hen about 20 yards in front of us. I think the toms are on the ground now. I’m gonna do a little bit of calling and see if one responds.
GRANT: In the videos the tom most frequently came from east to west. So, we set up on the west side, but hoped they’d come early ‘cause we knew once the sun was above the trees, a lot of our cover would be gone while sitting in direct sunshine.
GRANT: If no tom showed by the time we were highlighted with the sun, we planned on moving to the east side.
GRANT: Around sunrise, we heard a couple of toms in the distance but nothing close and nothing sounded very active.
GRANT: About 8:00 a.m., we heard a gobble on the ridge to the north about halfway up the slope. Knowing there was a good distance between us and the tom, it seemed like a good opportunity to get around to the east side of the plot and reposition in the shade.
GRANT: It sounded like the tom had moved closer. But I wasn’t certain if he was responding to the calls or just happened to be moving that way.
GRANT: A few minutes later, he gobbled again. I assumed it’s the same turkey and this time it was much closer.
GRANT: Daniel and I were trying to decide which side of the plot the tom would appear. There was about a four-inch tree in front of me that I needed to lean back and get my gun on one side or the other.
GRANT: (Whispering) That seemed a little bit more left to me. But I can’t, I can’t tell.
GRANT: When he gobbled again, we knew he’d closed the distance and Daniel felt he was on the left side of the tree.
GRANT: For about 30 minutes, he gobbled on and off. We knew he was close, but still, we hadn’t laid eyes on him.
GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah, he’s over the hill somewhere. You see him?
DANIEL: (Whispering) There he is.
GRANT: He was in an area that was behind about a three-foot oak between us and him. Every now and then, he’d drift to one side or the other where Daniel or I could see him.
GRANT: He would kind of half strut and gobble on and off.
GRANT: I was enjoying the opening morning show and felt strongly at any moment, he’d break and come into the plot.
GRANT: He was out there about 70 or 80 yards and I’m thinking, “Goodness, a lot of time is goin’ by.” And that makes me wonder what this tom is up to.
DANIEL: (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: Finally, the tom turned and I thought, “This is it.”
GRANT: He started moving to our right. He’d go in and out of view for both Daniel and I. And then he was out of view behind a large log.
GRANT: I talked earlier about periscoping and mountain country. And here’s another good example.
GRANT: We watched this tom for 50 minutes, relatively close range, periscope and no shot.
UNKNOWN: (Whispering) You can see him right there.
GRANT: Even though we didn’t bring back fresh turkey for lunch, it was still a great and exciting hunt. I learned a bit more and I’m ready to go out again soon.
GRANT: Probably let that tom rest for a day or two. But you can bet one of us will be back on the 50 Acre Ridge before season is over.
GRANT: If you enjoy the tips and techniques we share at GrowingDeer, please subscribe to the GrowingDeer newsletter.
GRANT: A longtime friend and one of the producers of GrowingDeer, Blake, lives in Wisconsin and he was sending me pictures of snow while we were out turkey hunting. And here, the redbuds and even some dogwoods are in bloom.
GRANT: No matter where you are, get outside and enjoy Creation. But, most importantly, take time every day to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.