Turkey Hunting Skills Tested With Tough Conditions: Tagging Toms! (Episode 494 Transcript)

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GRANT: During the second week of Missouri’s turkey season, Clay and Tyler met up and hunted a farm Clay asked permission to hunt about 30 minutes northwest of The Proving Grounds.

GRANT: It was a rainy and foggy morning, but Clay had a good idea where a tom would be roosted and that he would fly down into a large hay field rather than pitch down in the wet timber.

CLAY: (Whispering) He’s gonna come right out of this edge right here. Come down to the field.

TYLER: (Whispering) He’s gonna come around the edge. Do you think he’s gonna come…

CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah. He’ll probably come down the edge. How about we just sit right here? And just sit right here. Let’s just sit down. We may just see him coming.

CLAY: (Whispering) Well, it’s wet morning this morning. Tyler and I came out trying to get on a few turkeys, but we heard a bird probably 200 yards back in the timber in here. So, we’re just gonna kinda stick it out and see what happens.

GRANT: It wasn’t long until two jakes and a longbeard were easing down the edge of the timber.

CLAY: (Whispering) I’m gonna go for this front one when he gets closer.

CLAY: (Whispering) Are you good? Are you good? Ready?

CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah.

GRANT: It was only 7:05 and Clay had a tom down.

CLAY: (Quietly) That happened pretty fast. I’m glad we came out because we could have very well just set there and. I mean wasn’t gobbling or anything. But, I mean, that’s kind of hard to argue with when they come walking down like that.

CLAY: Oh, man.

TYLER: Dude, that was perfect.

CLAY: That was awesome.

TYLER: (Inaudible)

CLAY: He’s gonna be soaked. Pretty good beard on him.

CLAY: Well, Tyler and I had a fun hunt this morning. We were able to get up close on this gobbler even though he’s soaking wet. He was still on the move and out looking for hens. Didn’t gobble a whole lot. I knew with it being rainy like this, they’re probably wanting to be out somewhere in the open trying to air out a little bit if they can and so Tyler and I just stayed put and tried to keep dry.

CLAY: Covered up the camera. And sure enough this guy and pretty good sized jakes coming down the edge of the field to us. We just kind of let ’em work our way.

CLAY: I made a few calls and early on, I just kind of wanted ‘em to come looking. And that’s exactly what they did. Just kind of pecking along as they went.

CLAY: He got to about 10 yards and wasn’t going to let him go any further. So, I took the shot and hammered him.

GRANT: Congratulations Clay and Tyler on a perfectly executed hunt.

GRANT: Many researchers have found that toms don’t gobble as much on cloudy, rainy days. But that doesn’t mean you have to sit on the couch. You can still get out there and tag a tom.

GRANT: Clay’s strategy worked perfectly. He knew where tom was likely roosted and knew where he’d go given the conditions.

GRANT: We all love it when we hear a tom on the limb. Let him pitch down, call a little bit and he starts gobbling, comes in strutting and putting on a show. But that doesn’t always happen. It’s still good to get outside, use those woodsmanship skills, tag a tom and provide some quality, natural meat for the family.

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GRANT: Pro Staffer Luther Roweton recently gave us a perfect example of learning turkey behavior and using those observations to tag a tom.

GRANT: During the first week of Missouri’s turkey season, Pro Staffers Luther, Bjorn and Matt teamed up to chase toms. They saw several groups of toms, jakes and hens, but they would fly down in big fields and spend the day not coming close to the timber.

GRANT: They tried several decoying options to bring the toms in.

GRANT: Luther even tried getting out in the field behind a decoy and reaping a tom, but the toms drifted the other way.

GRANT: After hunting during the first few days of Missouri’s turkey season, they felt they had a good idea of how turkeys were using the property.

GRANT: Based on what they’d learned, they decided to crawl up one side of a hill to a fence; peep over to an area that turkeys had been frequently using.

BJORN: (Whispering) We can’t pull them off the hens, so we’re going to them. 80 yards. We’ll crop the distance (Inaudible). This gun will shoot 60 good, so we’ll try to cut them off here.

LUTHER: (Whispering) Man, you gotta get on him.

BJORN: (Whispering) I’m on him. (Inaudible)

LUTHER: Got him. Yeah. Oh, man.

BJORN: Boy, doesn’t that feel good? Man.

LUTHER: Gosh. Big ole boy.

BJORN: Oh, my gosh.

LUTHER: (Inaudible)

GRANT: Luther believed he’d tagged the dominant tom out of that flock.

GRANT: Turkeys have a dominant hierarchy or pecking order. And when a tom is removed, especially the dominant tom, all the fighting and sorting out that pecking order starts again.

GRANT: In Missouri, hunters are only allowed to tag one tom during the first week. So, Luther had a few days to continue scouting and studying the flock to see if removing that dominant tom had an impact.

GRANT: While he was scouting, it seemed the toms hadn’t yet sorted out the dominance; he decided to use the Wiley Tom decoy and see if that would draw the toms in to face the challenger.

GRANT: It was early when a hen appeared.

GRANT: The hen came in, milled around the decoy a bit and then went back the way she came.

GRANT: Luther looked to where the hen was headed and saw three fans coming over the hill.

LUTHER: (Whispering) There’s still birds in the trees. I’d still like to hang out. See what happens. I could kill any of ‘em right now as you can see. They’re just hanging out right there. If he gives me a shot, I’m gonna take it.

GRANT: The hen Luther had seen earlier started working back toward his decoy and brought the toms in tow.

LUTHER: (Whispering) Man. Oh. (Inaudible)

LUTHER: Good morning. Nasty, foggy. They didn’t gobble until real late. But, I’m okay with it. He was the other dominant bird and he’s dead now. (Inaudible)

LUTHER: There he is. He is a whopper. Man, he was walking around that (Inaudible) strutter. But, we got the shot, we got the bird, we’re tagged out in Missouri.

LUTHER: As you can see, we got it done this morning. Three of these birds — there’s two left of them in that group — split after we’d killed the dominant bird out of there the first week of the Missouri season. So, the old birds kind of step back up and claimed dominancy over the flock.

LUTHER: So these three were actually split off instead of just kind of being in charge now. And they were kind of running away from the group. There’s one hen in there with ‘em.

LUTHER: You saw her. She was all over the decoy. Totally comfortable around it.

LUTHER: One of the key things that really made us successful today was scouting last night. Putting the time in. We call it scouting over hunting. It’s where you will seriously spend more time scouting and less time hunting.

LUTHER: The hunt this morning, it lasted all of 15 minutes. I’ve scouted these birds six of the last eight nights. I know exactly where they’re going. They roosted right behind me and they’ve been pitching down into this field and walking through these yellow flowers to go and roost of an evening.

LUTHER: So I set up right on, right on that line. And as soon as he stepped out of there, I didn’t let him stick around too long and strut. But, you know, I couldn’t ask for a better morning.

GRANT: Well done, Luther. Self-filming is always tough. But it’s especially tough when filming turkeys because they are so sensitive to movement.

GRANT: Luther’s success can be attributed to all the time he spent scouting and the years he spent refining his woodsmanship skills.

GRANT: Luther was tagged out in Missouri so him and Bjorn loaded the truck and rode to Kansas.

GRANT: They went out to some public land and spotted a large group of jakes, hens and one tom. They set up, tried to call the tom in, but we all know it’s tough to call a tom away from a bunch of hens.

GRANT: All they could do was enjoy the show.

GRANT: The next morning Luther and Bjorn spotted a tom in a field.

GRANT: There was good cover, so Luther hit his belly and tried to crawl within range.

GRANT: Suddenly, the tom drops his strut and takes off running.

LUTHER: What was that about?

BJORN: Oh, dog. See it running across there?

GRANT: Luther and Bjorn returned to the barn to catch a nap. When Bjorn woke up, he stepped out on the porch and heard a tom fire off. They quickly gathered their gear and went toward the tom.

BJORN: Well that happened fast.

LUTHER: Holy cow. Dude. Nice ear balls. That’s the way to hear, pal. That was all you, dude.

BJORN: Woke up from a nap; not feeling very good about myself.


BJORN: Walked out on the front porch here and heard a gobble and came a running inside dancing like, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”, and five minutes later, I’ve got a dead bird.


BJORN: Go check him out.

LUTHER: Let’s go get him.

LUTHER: We actually just woke up from a nap and felt really good. We’ve both kind of been on low sleep for the last two or three days. So, a good two-hour nap, power nap, per se, was much needed and paid off.

LUTHER: But, I’m gonna be running the camera now. Bjorn is gonna be hunting – finally. He’s probably tired of filming. So, we’re gonna get a gun in his hands before he, uh, he goes stir crazy.

GRANT: That evening a big storm rolled in and they received 11” of rain.

GRANT: After that storm cleared the area, they thought the toms would be out in the fields and they’d see a lot of action.

GRANT: It was early when they heard the first gobble.

GRANT: The birds pitched down right in front of Bjorn and Luther.

GRANT: It seemed the boys were in the game.

BJORN: (Whispering) That’s a good one. Got him?

LUTHER: (Whispering) I’ve got him.

LUTHER: (Whispering) Careful.

GRANT: They watched this group for a long time, but the toms never came within range.

GRANT: The turkeys worked over the hill and drifted the other way.

GRANT: The guys hunted hard most of the day and had several encounters.

BJORN: (Whispering) These birds are moving fast. (Inaudible) In that field that we chased them in yesterday. And I really doubt we’re gonna have enough time to get to them. Especially when we’ve got a Mississippi River to cross here.

BJORN: (Whispering) These birds will not gobble. They won’t work and they won’t leave the hens. And so, I’m trying to get as close as I can to ‘em. Those turkeys are just down. I’m trying to make it to that downed tree right there to give me a little bit of crawling cover.

BJORN: Well, you can tell that didn’t work out. (Whispering) Just like all day. They’re usually a step ahead of us.

GRANT: Unfortunately, none of the encounters worked out.

BJORN: (Whispering) We’ve got three longbeards behind where we’re staying. And we’re in this big wheat field trying to pull a circle on ‘em because we know where they’re going to roost. We made our jog all the way around.

BJORN: (Whispering) Slip in the brush here and see if we can’t get eyes on them. Just popped out behind that pond. We set up just in time. Hopefully they work close enough to us. We’re going to try to pull them in with that decoy. But, they’re moving hard. They’re going to roost.

GRANT: Just after they got set up, two heads popped over the hill.

BJORN AND LUTHER: (Whispering) (Inaudible)

BJORN: (Whispering) We got him.

LUTHER: (Whispering) Hold on, hold on, hold on.

LUTHER: Man, that is a stud bird. Holy cow. What a stud.

GRANT: Luther, Bjorn and most of the GrowingDeer Team had success using Montana Decoys this year. If you’d like to join in on the fun, Montana has agreed to give GrowingDeer viewers a 25% discount just for using this code. Check it out and know that the code expires May 25th.

GRANT: The heavy rains that Luther and Bjorn experienced moved west and also hit The Proving Grounds.

GRANT: During just a few hours, we had over 3 1/2 “ in our rain gauge. The next day we went out to see how much damage had occurred.

GRANT: The main creek that runs through The Proving Grounds had risen way out of its banks.

TYLER: You can see Owen standing in a hole. He’s 6’3” tall. It’s up to about his neck and his chest of how deep it is and washed out. This is in the main road that goes through the property. You can see a food plot on both sides of Owen. It’s been laid down where the water came through, but it’s not washed out or anything.

GRANT: Though it’s expensive to repair the roads, I was thrilled that, within one foot of this massive erosion having water several feet deep going over the food plots, no damage was done to our plots.

TYLER: And if you get down and look, you can tell and see the soybeans I’ve planted. And they’re still here. You can actually kind of row ‘em. This was just planted not too many days ago.

TYLER: But you can see the rows of soybeans. If we had disced this field all this would be gone. The soybeans would be washed away ‘cause there’s nothing here to hold it. But with the Buffalo System, everything is still intact. Water just came over the top, knocked it down, but our soil and our seed is still here.

GRANT: We experienced the same results a couple of years ago when we had a 10” rain. There’s no doubt the Buffalo System worked perfectly. It saved our soils – literally.

GRANT: The living roots from that standing crop kept the soil in place even though feet of water were running over the plots.

GRANT: It also protected the seeds and seedlings that were under that flood. Without that system in place, there’s no doubt we would have literally lost hundreds of tons of soil. Not only would that flood have been devastating to our fields, but we would have deposited lots of soil downstream.

GRANT: Just a week before, our spring intern, Ricky Grimes, had done an infiltration test. Ricky’s test compared the infiltration rate in a new food plot, one where we used a dozer to remove trees and straighten out the soil. So, it’s like that field had been disced versus a field where we’d used the Buffalo System for years.

GRANT: In the new plot that we call Tombstone, it took almost an hour for 2” of water to infiltrate. As expected, when Daniel went to Tombstone after that rain event, there were puddles of water all over the field. It couldn’t soak in.

DANIEL: Tombstone was created about two years ago. It used to look like this back behind me – just covered in eastern red cedars and it wasn’t productive. That soil was very poor and we’re trying to build that up with the Buffalo System, but right now, we’re still at the beginning stages.

DANIEL: Right here, there’s standing water and that’s because the soil structure doesn’t have pores. There hasn’t been a lot of micro-life in the soil. There hasn’t been organic matter built. And there’s nowhere for that water to go.

DANIEL: The water is just sitting on top. It’s gonna be evaporated and lost.

DANIEL: Well, we’ve come to a food plot where we’ve been using the Buffalo System for several years. And there is no standing water out here. The 3 ½” rain, it’s in the ground.

DANIEL: We looked at the soil structure at Tombstone, but when I pull up a root here, where the Buffalo System has been in place, that moisture is in the pores. It’s been infiltrated down and it’s being utilized and maximized to its full potential.

DANIEL: For tractor drivers and food plotters, this is absolutely incredible. At Tombstone, we’re gonna have to wait until that water dries.

DANIEL: But here where the soil has taken up the water, even 3 ½” of rain has gone through this soil and soaked it up. This isn’t that bad. We can be planting in this very soon.

DANIEL: If we would have disced or tilled the field, it would have been a muddy mess.

GRANT: If you like the information we share on GrowingDeer and would like to see more, please subscribe to our free newsletter and encourage your friends to do the same.

GRANT: Many states were impacted by the recent storms. Our thoughts and prayers are with those people who had severe storm damage. Hopefully, better weather is coming this week and you can take time to get outside and enjoy Creation.

GRANT: But most importantly, no matter what the conditions are, take time every day to slow down and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.

GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.

UNKNOWN: Well, that’s interesting. You said they could pop out of nowhere.