This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: The earliest turkey season in the states opens in south Florida the first Saturday in March.
GRANT: Last week I shared that Clay and I went to south Florida to chase hogs for a couple days while we were scouting for turkeys.
GRANT: Fresh pork and I’m getting ready to put it in the cooler.
GRANT: While Clay and I were chasing hogs, we were constantly looking for turkey sign, turkeys and listening.
GRANT: Not only were we looking for areas where turkeys were bugging or toms were strutting, but we were trying to see turkeys and watch their behavior to determine what portion of the breeding season they were in.
GRANT: (Quietly) Is he breeding her?
GRANT: It seems that when turkey season opens in this part of south Florida, the toms are just starting to break out of their groups.
GRANT: (Quietly) Full fan strutter out there – several hundred yards. About 600 yards. But good to see. We’ve pinged our map. He seems to be in a little strut area; we know the time; tomorrow morning we may be set up over there.
GRANT: Depending on how many jakes we see and if we see toms with hens will determine our decoy and calling strategy.
GRANT: Last year we used a Jake Purr-Fect to bring a tom within Winchester range.
GRANT: (Whispering) Stop him.
CLAY: (Whispering) Okay. Kill him.
GRANT: Clay and I were excited to see some turkeys and develop a strategy for opening morning.
GRANT: (Whispering) Looks like a jake with two hens.
GRANT: Thursday afternoon and throughout the day Friday we saw some turkeys and heard some gobbling.
GRANT: During one of our stalks we watched some bully jakes chase some toms across an interior ranch road, around a hammock and into a pasture.
CLAY: (Quietly) Those are jakes. Those gobblers are getting run off.
GRANT: From our observations, it seemed like there was a great hatch last year — lots of jakes — and probably using a jake decoy would not be a good strategy.
GRANT: With all of this information, I believed we should return to this area and I was excited for the opening of the 2019 turkey season.
GRANT: Opening morning the skies were clear and the wind was still.
GRANT: Clay hit the Hoot’n Stick to see if a tom would gobble.
GRANT: The mosquitoes may have been louder than the gobbles.
GRANT: The first colors of the sunrise were beautiful and on top of that, we heard the first gobble.
GRANT: As often happens, that tom was across the road from where we started. He was certainly fired up more than any other turkey we heard, so we decided to go after him.
GRANT: It was an easy approach to this tom, as there was a long, skinny hammock between us and him. We could walk down the edge of that hammock and make sure he didn’t see us while he was still in the tree.
GRANT: Once we made it to the road, it was obvious the gobbler was close. We used the road to cut through the hammock and I decided to get a bit closer.
GRANT: There was about a 60-yard pocket of pasture sticking into the far side of the hammock and the tom was just around the point of that small area of pasture. I decided we should go around the edge and try to get to that point.
GRANT: As we were moving toward that point, the tom fired off and he was extremely close.
GRANT: (Whispering) Come on; come on.
GRANT: Clay and I hustled to get into some cover before the tom rounded the point. Within seconds, the tom walked out. (Whispering) (Inaudible)
GRANT: We had been caught off-guard and not prepared, so we let the tom walk off and hope we could call him back.
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GRANT: The tom drifted off and once he was out of sight, I slid out about 20 yards and put up a Wiley Tom decoy. I chose this decoy because it seemed we were in the core area of this tom’s range. He seemed aggressive and probably wouldn’t tolerate another tom in this core.
GRANT: Once I had the decoy in place, I made a soft call and he responded.
GRANT: I knew we were still in the game.
GRANT: The tom kept responding but it seemed he was in a strut area as the gobbles were all coming from the same place.
GRANT: I continued to call every now and then and finally, one of the gobbles was closer and the next one was even closer.
GRANT: Clay and I were confident the tom was coming.
GRANT: Suddenly, the tom appeared and he was headed our way.
GRANT: The tom was almost jogging down the road and I believed that any time, he’d veer off toward us.
GRANT: I was very surprised when the tom kept going down the road past our setup.
GRANT: (Whispering) He’s apparently on a mission to be on the other side of this hammock so we’re gonna pick up; ease around real quietly; set up again; give it another try.
GRANT: In hindsight, I made some rookie mistakes. I should have stopped sooner and set up in a more open area, knowing that sometimes toms don’t want to come in to a confined spot.
GRANT: Once the tom passed us and was out of sight, I should have moved to the point where the tom first appeared. We knew he was comfortable there and a big part of tagging a turkey is being where they want to be.
GRANT: We’ve moved a couple hundred yards this way to where Clay had some cool cell phone footage of some jakes and toms yesterday in this area. That was about 10:30 while we were scouting. We’re thinking they’ll come back so we’re in the shade; got the Miss Purr-Fect out there — Montana Decoy — got our setup on the edge of a road. We’re inside a ranch, so they can — turkeys on the other pasture can see her.
GRANT: These Florida turkeys tend to travel a lot. If they see a decoy, they’ll cross these big pastures. So, I feel good about our setup; we’re in the shade; not many mosquitoes. We’re gonna give this until 10:30 or 11 — the time we saw the birds yesterday — see what happens.
GRANT: During this set, Clay and I did not see or hear a turkey, and I assumed the toms were with hens.
GRANT: After lunch and a short break, we decided to try a different portion of the ranch where we had seen some toms while scouting.
CLAY: (Whispering) Big gator. He just went sliding right in here.
GRANT: This area of the ranch has a large hammock backed by a swamp and a large pasture on the front side — a perfect habitat combination for turkeys, deer and hogs.
GRANT: While easing into this area, we saw a group of turkeys.
CLAY: (Whispering) Where at? Where at?
GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah. Yeah, there’s some turkeys over there (Inaudible) really big live oak — yeah, there’s a couple turkeys; several turkeys under that really big live oak.
GRANT: (Whispering) Let’s back up and get (Inaudible) (both talking at once).
CLAY: (Whispering) Okay.
GRANT: We knew that a direct approach probably wouldn’t result in tagging a tom.
CLAY: (Whispering) I think if we go; if we just slide down, back and around, we’ll be able to pop up.
GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: We continued working through the hammock until we got to the edge of the pasture where the turkeys were on the other side.
GRANT: We quickly found a tree to set up on – a few trees back from the edge so we’d have a bit more cover – and Clay eased out and put up the Miss Purr-Fect decoy.
GRANT: Almost as soon as Clay returned to the tree, we spotted a group of toms and jakes heading across the pasture toward the swamp.
GRANT: Clay and I both started calling, trying to coax the gobblers back our way.
GRANT: Having two callers is a great strategy as it mimics a group of turkeys.
GRANT: The toms and jakes seemed to get back together and continue heading toward the swamp.
GRANT: But, with a bit more calling, they re-entered the pasture.
CLAY: (Whispering) They’re coming this way.
GRANT: I had a good view, but there was a large live oak that was blocking Clay’s and the camera’s view.
GRANT: (Whispering) He’s gonna come in to the left side of this front oak.
GRANT: Then the group turned and cut back to the right. It seems they had seen the Miss Purr-Fect decoy.
GRANT: (Whispering) I’m gonna kill that tom.
CLAY: (Whispering) Standing up?
GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah.
CLAY: (Whispering) Okay.
GRANT: (Whispering) I’m not on him yet.
CLAY: (Whispering) I’m on him. The one on the right (Inaudible) on my right?
GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: I settled the dot in the Nikon Spur on top of the turkey’s head. I’d already ranged the area and knew he was about 50 yards.
GRANT: (Whispering) Afternoon turkey hunt in the Florida (Inaudible). Man, that was awesome.
GRANT: The other tom and jakes checked out the fallen tom. This is a common behavior and it is believed to be caused by that instant change in the hierarchy.
GRANT: (Whispering) When I saw (Inaudible), I thought they were gonna (Inaudible).
GRANT: We enjoyed watching and listening to the tom and jakes and a hen that fired up just to our right.
GRANT: (Whispering) Did you hear that hen?
CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah.
GRANT: Man, he’d been strutting. You can tell that from here. Oh, my goodness! Clay. Look at those sharp daggers!
CLAY: Oh, my gosh.
GRANT: Look at that! Inch and a half at least. These Florida birds, Osceloas, have a little bit longer than an Eastern, but those are sharp. Look at those. Those are weapons, my friend.
GRANT: If there’s any doubt for Florida hunters that you think they hadn’t started yet, this ole boy has been doing some strutting.
GRANT: Now, he’s strutting, but not missing any feathers — maybe just a couple on his tummy. When they’ve been doing a lot of breeding, they’ll wear these feathers off.
GRANT: And we haven’t been seeing a lot of hens with toms. When we first spotted these, the tom was strutting — maybe this one and one hen in the middle of all them. I know she was feeling uncomfortable.
GRANT: Clay was doing the, you know, the navy SEAL under the barbed wire with live fire because that’s what those turkeys’ eyes are like live fire. And he crawled out there and got Miss Purr-Fect up while I guarded the camera in the tree to make sure, you know, the alligator didn’t get it.
GRANT: He crawled back and we started doing a little calling. Clay and I both would call and just try to fire ‘em up and it worked out. Not the way we thought. We thought they’d come straight in, but turkeys being turkeys, they cut all the way over behind that big live oak, down behind the brown grass, back around the palmettos. And when they did that and they really could see the decoy. Chhh, chhh, chhh. Here they come.
GRANT: They cut in the brush about 40 yards where I had no shot and Clay certainly couldn’t get any footage or not much. I’m thinking, “This gig’s over. Gosh darn it.” Come back out; circle around that oak and I let the Winchester eat Thanksgiving dinner.
GRANT: Hunting is such an emotional ride. You’re going, “Oh, I hope he comes out. I hope he comes out. I want to get one.” And about as soon as you pull the trigger maybe a second later, you’re going, “Doggone it. My hunt’s over.” So, it’s really an emotional ride.
GRANT: But I gotta tell you, that emotion is a little bit cured when I’m looking at that right there. That’s — besides fine eating and a beautiful, just memorable hunt — folks, that’s a trophy right there.
GRANT: And I’m not a trophy hunter as you know. I’m a meat hunter. But, that will do it right there. Holy mackerel! There’s John. What’s up, John?
GRANT: Look at that fan. Look at the coloration. It’s different than the Easterns we’re used to.
JOHN: Not much white on him.
GRANT: No. Look at that. Look at that
GRANT: Look at that sun reflecting on here.
JOHN: Yeah. All that green. You don’t see that (Inaudible).
GRANT: You know, I love this. You just don’t get enough of this feeling.
JOHN: That’s right.
GRANT: Like I say, that emotion. That’s — I’m most alive when I’m a predator, when I’m hunting. You know, my senses are going and — but it was — oh man. It was fun. That was an exciting hunt. That wasn’t like a see one — boom — done.
JOHN: Textbook deal. You know, you had to work at it.
GRANT: Yeah. That was a hunt, man.
GRANT: This is the first year I’ve used this Nikon Spur. I didn’t know, you know, the difference between patterning and out here on a turkey head. But, I gotta tell ya — I settled that thing on that turkey head and made sure I told Clay I was ready; gonna take one. And like I say, it obviously worked.
GRANT: I couldn’t be happier to tell you the truth.
JOHN: Neat. Neat. Yeah.
GRANT: Just the way it worked out.
JOHN: Oh yeah.
GRANT: That is a pretty bird.
GRANT: And you can tell the shot’s on the head ‘cause its feathers are just not messed up.
JOHN: Oh yeah. No. He’s a perfect bird.
GRANT: Look at that. I mean, that’s just clean.
GRANT: Is that a second beard right there?
JOHN: Yes, sir.
GRANT: He’s got a double beard.
CLAY: Double beard, huh?
JOHN: Yup. Double bearded. Yup.
CLAY: How about that? Have you ever shot a double beard?
GRANT: I have, but not in Florida.
GRANT: When you slow down the video, you can see the shot pattern as it goes to the tom. Watch how tight the pattern stays of this Long Beard XR #5 shot as it reaches the tom at 50 yards.
GRANT: The tom’s neck, literally, crumbles due to taking that many #5s.
GRANT: Although this was a very nice tom with two beards and great spurs, the real trophies were the experience and the fresh meat.
GRANT: Clay and I had a thrilling hunt; saw lots of different types of critters and really enjoyed that part of Creation.
GRANT: I was blessed with fresh pork and turkey again this year at the La Hamaca Ranch near Venus, Florida. I’ve already asked if I can hunt again there next year.
GRANT: If you’d like some information about hunting this beautiful ranch, email my friend John at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
GRANT: A lot of bucks are still holding their antlers here at The Proving Grounds, but while I was in Florida, Tyler found two sheds.
GRANT: If you’d like to learn our techniques for finding sheds, please subscribe to the GrowingDeer newsletter.
GRANT: Turkey season will be opening soon in more states. I hope you have an opportunity to go turkey hunting and get outside and enjoy Creation. But more importantly, I hope you take time every day to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.