Turkey Hunting: New Tools for Patterning Guns and Gobblers (Episode 383 Transcript)
This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: (Whispering) The one on top, Dan.
GRANT: I recently kicked off the 2017 turkey season in south Florida with my good friends from Flatwood Natives. It was a fun hunt and I enjoyed the challenge of learning how to hunt a citrus grove, but I’m ready to hunt these Ozark Mountains, straight oak trees for your back, and turkeys that know how to gobble.
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GRANT: If you’ve ever chased turkeys in mountain country, well, you know how heavy a 12 gauge shotgun can be after a couple hours of going up and down the hills.
GRANT: I have found that by carrying the light and collapsible Montana Decoys and switching to a 20 gauge, it’s a lot lighter when you’re standing on one ridge and that tom fires off on the other ridge.
GRANT: So, Daniel and I recently went to Bass Pro to pick up a brand new Winchester SX3 20 gauge. Once we’d completed the paperwork, we headed downstairs to the gun shop and had a Nikon scope mounted.
GRANT: Hey, Steve, I’ve got a new Winchester 20 gauge. I want to get a scope on here. Kind of help me get it bore sighted. Can you do such a thing for a shotgun?
STEVE: Yup. I sure can.
GRANT: Let’s get her bore sighted and I’ll take her home and pattern her up.
STEVE: Alright, sounds good.
GRANT: I often get the question: “Why do you have a scope on your turkey gun? Why don’t you just point the thing and shoot?” But, if you’ve ever shot the Long Beard XR shells from Winchester, you know how tight they pattern. And if you’ve got a bird in there at 20 or 30 yards or even 15 yards, you could miss easily if you’re just using a bead. And if you’re at 40 yards, you want to make sure you’ve got it right on the neck. You’re not just kind of one side or the other of the bead – drop him right in his tracks. That’s why I use a scope.
GRANT: That’s good right there.
GRANT: I’ve had lots of my guns tuned up at Bass Pro, so I knew they did a good job bore sighting the shotgun. But I wanted to pattern it in on paper; maybe make some small adjustments and feel 100% confident before turkey season opens. We’ve been preparing for turkey season – practicing our calls, getting our decoys ready, but something that’s just as important is making sure our shotgun is patterned.
GRANT: This year, trying something different because Winchester just came out with 20 gauge in Long Beard XR. I love the idea of toting a 20 gauge over these Ozark Mountains. Cutting a couple of pounds off the gun can keep me chasing turkeys a lot longer. Well, let’s see how it patterns.
GRANT: Fire in the hole.
GRANT: Oh, man! Wow! What a tight pattern! Adjust the scope a little bit. This baby’s ready to rock.
GRANT: I recently made a post on Facebook about putting a Nikon scope on my turkey gun. And I gotta tell you there were some good questions on there like, “Why would you want to put a scope on a turkey gun? Don’t you just point a shotgun?” But these new Long Beard shells pattern so tightly, as you just saw, that gosh, if I whiff just a little bit or I didn’t have my cheek all the way down the stock, I’d have missed that bird. But a scope keeps your head down and you know exactly where your point of aim is going.
GRANT: I call that dead. Took a few shots to get it sighted in perfectly at 20 yards after having Bass Pro bore sight it. Goodness gracious. Look at that hole right there in the neck bone – center of the turkey. I don’t know. I can’t count – 100 plus pellets right in here. This is number six. Long Beard XR 20 gauge – 20 gauge, folks. Decapitated that turkey.
GRANT: Looks great at 20; but I want to check it at 30 and 40. You never know if maybe a gun is gonna pattern slightly different at a longer distance.
GRANT: Tyler moved the target back to 30 yards and we’re ready for another shot. Oo, oo, oo. It’s a dead turkey.
GRANT: I am thrilled with this 30 yard pattern. It’s about the size of a pie plate or so. It looks like I need to slide slightly left just a little bit, but there are 12 pellets just in the brain and over 20 in just what’s marked as spine. Not the neck, just the spine bone marked on the target – there are over 20 pellets. So, obviously, no floppage; no pellets down here in the breast, so it’s all good for the Woods’ family to eat. And a dead turkey.
GRANT: Sometimes turkeys just get hung up a little further than you want, so I wanted to give it a try at 40 yards. Even though it’s a 20 gauge, this gun’s patterning so tight, I was confident it would hold a killing pattern at 40.
GRANT: Another dead turkey at 40 yards – really happy with how this gun’s performing and I love the load. Gosh, that’s a lot of pellets in the vitals. This shotgun was patterning so well, I was curious how it would look at 50 yards.
GRANT: Wooh. It’s another dead turkey. Whoa. That’s still a good pattern. Now, I’m probably not gonna take a 50 yard shot at a tom with a 20 gauge. But it’s good to know in the heat of the battle, if I misjudged the distance or tom takes a few steps out there after I use my rangefinder and he ends up at 50, I’m still good to go. I’m impressed.
GRANT: Of course, the red means brain; this color means in the spine. Several, of course, in the small part of the neck. But what I’m really impressed about – even after looking at the shots in this cardboard at all the ranges – this is, like, from here to here is 90% of my pellets out of all those shots. So, maybe 14/15 inches total.
GRANT: I’m used to the old days before Long Beard XR, at having a three foot pattern or more. But, I’ve got a 14/15 inch pattern at 50 yards. That’s incredible how tight these new shells shoot. I am ready for turkey season. This is clearly a winning combination and I can’t wait for turkey season to open up here at The Proving Grounds.
GRANT: We’ve been preparing for turkey season for quite some time. We’ve frost seeded our clover plots to make sure they’re green and lush come turkey season. We’ve been doing a lot of prescribed fire and we recently moved all of our Reconyx cameras from scrapes and trails monitoring deer to likely strut areas so we can start getting a pattern on those toms.
GRANT: This time of year when turkeys are changing dominance and really sorting it out, their patterns can change almost daily. But, I’ve got a new tool in my turkey vest this year to help me stay up with those changing turkey patterns.
GRANT: The new tool – it’s called BoneView. And it’s a reader that plugs into any brand of smartphone. It’s simple. Walk up to a trail camera, take the card out, you just put it in your smartphone and you can scroll through the pictures with all the power of your smartphone. Looking at that big ‘ole screen.
GRANT: Tyler and I are out working on The Proving Grounds today and I want to see if any turkeys been in this general area. So, I’ve got the BoneView with me. Not Tyler, but the actual application. We’re gonna pull out the card. Now, I can see the pictures on the Reconyx screen. But with this, we can email back to the office or download ‘em all, just take a quick look and then put the card back in and move on. Much easier than going through all the buttons if you’re in a hurry. Especially, if you just want to pull the card and walk over here and get in the turkey blind – kind of know what’s going on.
GRANT: If you’re like me, you’ve walked by a trail camera on the way to a stand or turkey blind a bunch of times and have been curious what’s on the camera. Now, here’s an inexpensive way that you can rapidly tell what’s been in front of that camera hours before you were there.
GRANT: So, the great thing about BoneView is we’re scrolling through dozens or, I don’t know, a hundred pictures quickly ‘til we can get to where we start seeing turkey. Because we know the pesky deer coming in here to the Trophy Rock.
GRANT: But, we’re gonna scroll through for those daylight pictures and look for turkeys because that’s what I’m interested in right now. So, we’re just gonna download some pictures; we can get out of here without much disturbance to the area and I’ll be satisfied to know if turkeys are using this spot.
GRANT: Turkey season opens in Missouri soon and I’ll be checking cameras as I’m working on the property between now and then. Hopefully, I’ll have a plan waiting for opening morning.
GRANT: Last week, Daniel and interns Jessica and Tyler traveled to Hermann, Missouri to help Mr. Orf with property he’d recently purchased.
GRANT: We really enjoy all the habitat improvement projects I mentioned earlier, but we also enjoy helping other people with their Proving Grounds.
GRANT: Their mission was to help develop a habitat management plan to improve the hunting for Mr. Orf and his son. So, when the team arrived, the first thing they wanted to do was discuss his management objectives.
GEOFF: (Inaudible) We’re seeing deer. We’re just not seeing any big deer.
GEOFF: You know? What I want to do is just do whatever I can in what I can control.
GEOFF: To try to help myself out a little bit.
DANIEL: Hmm. Hmm.
GEOFF: You know?
GRANT: After thoroughly discussing the goals and objectives and studying the map, it was time to put some boots on the ground.
DANIEL: Well, we’re up around Hermann, Missouri with the landowner, Geoff Orf. He’s got about 70 acres – mostly timber with a powerline coming through the middle. And one of the first things that we noticed once we got on Geoff’s property is that there’s a long ridge.
DANIEL: He’s got crop land all around him. Of course, late winter all that food is gone. So, we’re gonna clear this ridge, Geoff, and we’re gonna add about a two acre food plot right here. You can’t hunt the side ‘cause it’s so steep. The wind is swirling. You’ve got several saddles. You know the deer are coming through.
DANIEL: But, we’re gonna go ahead and clear this and you can actually hunt up on top of this ridge. You’re adding food; you’re making your property huntable. And so, that’s a big thing that we’re doing for Geoff’s property.
GRANT: Daniel felt that Mr. Orf had very realistic goals and objectives. He wanted for him or his son to harvest a three-year-old or older buck at least every couple of years. We felt with some habitat improvements and proper hunting techniques, that was an achievable goal.
GRANT: The areas surrounding Mr. Orf’s property was primarily ag – beans and corn. So Daniel, rightfully so, wasn’t very worried about summer nutrition. Mr. Orf would be much better to focus his resources on providing the best food in the area during hunting season and develop some cover.
DANIEL: We’ll focus on a fall plot. Um, plant Eagle Seed Broadside, turnips, winter wheat. I’m excited about this food plot. I think, I think you’re gonna see big things out of here.
DANIEL: Because you can’t – you can’t hunt the, you can’t really hunt the slopes because they’re so steep, thermals, wind swirling; you’ve got to get up on a ridge and, and you’re gonna have the only winter food in your area.
GRANT: The primary feature of Mr. Orf’s property was a big ridge right in the middle. So Daniel wisely designed the food plots on top or close to the top of the ridge where the wind is much more stable and we can draw deer into it, making it easier for the hunter to approach right on top; not being seen and with a known wind direction versus where it swirls on the side.
DANIEL: Well, we’ve moved over on the powerline that we’re talking about earlier. And, of course, the food plot ridge is, is right behind us. And, of course, we’re talking, talking with Geoff thinking you’re probably going to take the Missouri Department of Conservation level one burning class.
DANIEL; Maybe learn how to burn; probably go on a few burns, see how you burn. And then, hopefully, ideally, we’d want to come in and burn this; encourage native grasses and forbs to come in – kind of act like a bedding area. And it’s gonna be kind of a sanctuary.
DANIEL: Of course, we look out all around you. Both sides of your property – your neighbor’s property – is just open timber. And so, we want to try to get deer in this area, feel safe, have, you know, quality cover.
DANIEL: You’re also burning. You’re gonna have, you know, native grasses and forbs – you’re gonna have great food.
GRANT: Cover is another critical part to Mr. Orf achieving his objectives. Once all those crop fields are harvested, that’s a lot of barren land and deer are going to seek cover, especially during daylight or hunting hours.
GRANT: Mr. Orf’s property lends itself well to that because on the side slopes and an existing powerline, where it could be managed for thicker cover, we can allow deer to bed there and then stay on this property and ease into the food plots on top of the ridge.
DANIEL: I’m really excited about this. I think, I think you’ll be happy. Of course, during, during rut, you’ll probably want to put a tree stand somewhere up here where you can look down the entire length. (Inaudible) Because deer are just gonna be crossing. There’s a little saddle in the middle. Great travel corridor. It’s open. You’ve got a shooting lane cut. You can see a long ways. And I think, I think you’ll be happy with this.
GRANT: (Whispering) There we go, right there.
GRANT: There’s a similar looking powerline that runs through The Proving Grounds. You may recall a couple of years ago, I harvested one of our hit list bucks, called Butter Bean, in that powerline. We use it as a hunting and habitat feature.
GRANT: We typically blow lines on both sides of the powerline in the hardwood leaves and use prescribed fire to convert that area to native grasses and forbs – making it a feeding and cover area.
GRANT: Remember, Mr. Orf’s property is 70 acres and that will provide him and his son some great hunting opportunities. You don’t have to own the King Ranch to have great hunting. You need to look at the surrounding area, look at your property, figure out what the missing resources are – in this case, food during hunting season and cover. Put those pieces of the puzzle on your property, hunt it appropriately and enjoy Creation.
GRANT: This time of year we’re getting more footage than we can share at GrowingDeer. So, don’t forget to check out the clips tab at the top of the GrowingDeer web page and see footage that we don’t use on the show.
GRANT: During the next couple of weeks, we’ll be headed to Illinois, Oklahoma and Louisiana, helping landowners in those states develop habitat management plans. Probably, one of those properties will be similar to your Proving Grounds. So, stay tuned, pick up some tips and improve the hunting where you are.
GRANT: Whether you’re turkey hunting or doing habitat work or just taking time to get outside and take a walk, slow down and enjoy Creation. But the most important part of every day is finding the time to be quiet and listening to what the Creator is saying to you. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.