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GRANT: We will celebrate Memorial Day soon and it’s so important to make sure your family knows it’s much more than just an extra day off work.

GRANT: Memorial Day was set up to honor those that had fallen and given their life to protect the freedoms of our nation. This Memorial Day, join the Woods family. Take some time to sit down together and talk about the tremendous sacrifices and the blessings we now have to live in a free nation.

GRANT: This spring I punched one of my Missouri turkey tags during opening day. In Missouri, hunters can only tag one tom during the opening week. So, if you tag a tom during that week, you have to wait until the second Monday to hunt again.

GRANT: I was excited to get back out the second week and chase some toms.

GRANT: Missouri’s turkey season occurs during the breeding season and, often, depending on whether you’re in the northern or southern portion of the state, can occur during the peak of breeding season. And that can make hunting conditions relatively tough.

GRANT: During the peak of season, toms will sit on the limb and gobble; hens will come to them – they’ll fly down and be silent because there’s no need to gobble once they have hens with them.

GRANT: When this happens, I almost always start on a ridge top – the best vantage point for me to hear from – so when that tom gobbles, I can quickly figure out my strategy and move toward hunting that tom.

GRANT: During that second week of season, I hunted hard and had several encounters with groups of jakes.

GRANT: I really enjoy seeing groups of jakes because that’s evidence there was a good hatch the previous spring.

GRANT: Turkey populations are down in many states, but here at The Proving Grounds we’ve had good hatches year after year. And I believe that’s due to the hard work we do to trap and remove predators and improve turkey habitat.

GRANT: Even though it was great to see the jakes, I was looking for a tom.

GRANT: During the early morning of May 7th, Clay and I returned to Boomerang Ridge and started near a food plot we call Boom Back.

GRANT: It was a beautiful, clear morning, but we didn’t hear many gobbles.

GRANT: We heard one gobble across the holler where I had tagged a tom during opening day, but decided we’d wait and see if one fired off a bit closer.

GRANT: We remained at Boom Back until we heard a tom and a hen just down the hill from us and they were moving south.

CLAY: (Whispering) (Inaudible)

GRANT: (Whispering) Yeah. So, we’ll (Inaudible). Let’s think this through. He’s – we’re not gonna call him away from that hen, so we might as well wait a little bit. Ideally, as soon as he’s finished with that hen, we’re gonna start calling.

GRANT: We decided to cut around them and go south and see if we could call that tom in.

GRANT: (Whispering) Clay and I started about a half a mile away on the ridge to the north of us and heard a tom over here who was actually closer and heard a hen on this ridge. We could just listen as that tom went to the hen. We didn’t even call since we don’t know exactly where they are now. We’re set up here. We’re gonna listen a little bit and probably call after a while and try to bring the tom in here.

GRANT: We sat there until about 9:30 and called every now and then, but never heard or saw from the tom or hen. We did hear a tom gobble two ridges to the north and finally decided to hop in the Yamaha, cut the distance and go after that tom.

GRANT: I knew from past hunts and Reconyx videos and images, that toms tend to work down that ridge going west to east looking for hens during the mornings.

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GRANT: Once Clay and I arrived at the east end of Cave Ridge, we walked up to the ridgetop and set up on an interior logging road putting the Avian-X decoys out in front of us.

GRANT: (Quietly) It’s about 10:45 and Clay and I have had several setups this morning. Pretty much quiet on the ridges we were on, but we heard a tom a couple of times on another ridge to the north; so we think we heard him up here a good ways. We’re just going to sit here a little bit. See if we can pick him up and then start calling. Hopefully, he’ll come off the higher elevation down in this flat and come into our setup.

GRANT: After sitting there about 45 minutes and not hearing the gobble, I spotted a head coming through the brush.

GRANT: As toms often do on this ridge, he came down this side slope where he could barely see up, but once he locked on the decoys, he was coming right in to challenge that jake.

CLAY: (Whispering) Are you kidding me, Grant? That thing had some hooks on it. Oh, my goodness.

GRANT: Man. Clay and I have just – there’s a few days of Missouri season left, but we’ve had an incredible year, starting in Florida and working around. Just had a text a little while ago that Daniel just tagged a tom. So, just an incredible spring.

GRANT: But this particular hunt, Clay and I actually started on the ridges way back behind us, and Clay walked out on a point over this way and threw out a big, ole’ call over here on the Redeemer and struck a bird way over here, and said, “Yeah, let’s ride all the way around.”

GRANT: So, we hopped in the Yamaha and went all the way down the creek, all the way around and then parked and walked up the point of this ridge. And I did a little calling; Clay did a little calling, really slow. And we’re sitting here, and I’m looking, and Clay saw the red head come over the slope right there and I was ready. And I was just watching the show.

GRANT: He wasn’t going to make it out here at that point. But I wanted to watch it and he come in, and sure enough, you’d see him looking, all bowed up.

CLAY: Oh, yeah.

GRANT: Long story to say what a thrilling hunt. Man, he come in. That was a mature bird. He looked at the hen a little bit, but looked at that – the jake, folks. The magic of our season has been – just putting a hen there, the tom wants to stay off and make the hen come to him. But when you put the jake and the hen together and create that competition. And the magic to the Avian system is, it’s so life-like, but it’s a real subordinate-looking jake. And those toms just come in and say, “I’m gonna whip.” And he – you see him jump up and put that spur down on there?

CLAY: Oh, man.

GRANT: That was slow motion in my mind. Man, he jumps up and goes, “Bam!”

CLAY: Yeah.

GRANT: And then he kind of turned around. Again, I had that shot and then he turned again. And I said, “You know, there’s not gonna be pellets in the breast on that one.” Boom!

GRANT: We’re blessed with a great hunt, fresh meat for the family and memories. Man. Clay and I have had a lot of memories this spring.

CLAY: That’s awesome. That was awesome.

GRANT: Yeah. Clay tagged one the other day in Missouri by himself and we both tagged a couple down in Florida and we just – and a lot of other people tagging.

GRANT: Good habitat work, folks. You look here. I mean, look – I’m sure it’s probably showing right behind me. We just burnt this. There’s – Clay and I when we first sat down, I saw, like, there’s all kinds of browsing here and all kinds of goodies coming up. And, obviously, ideal turkey habitat.

GRANT: Before we burned this, of course, this was just brown leaves. It was just covered in leaves. So, habitat management. People wonder, “Grant, well, why are you so into habitat management?” Because, man, I’m a hunter. I mean, I’m driven to hunt. I’ve been getting up at early, early for a long time – since we started in Florida – a few days off, of course.

GRANT: And I manage habitat because I love really fun hunting in a target-rich environment. And to have a target-rich environment, you need good quality habitat.

GRANT: Let’s go check that thing out.

CLAY: Yeah, I want to see that thing.

GRANT: I’m gonna unload.

CLAY: Text Daniel.

GRANT: Whoo! Clay, I didn’t think he was gonna weigh much, but for a mountain bird at this late season, he’s – yeah, he is.

GRANT: Clay and I really enjoyed this hunt. And there’s also a good lesson. If you recall, we moved to an area we thought we could call that tom in, but heard another tom gobbling.

GRANT: And when a tom is gobbling, he’s looking for a hen. The tom we were hunting was with a hen and we weren’t making any progress with that tom that we knew of. So, we took a gamble. Took several minutes to move around, set up in an area where we thought a tom was actively seeking hens. And it paid off with fresh meat for the Woods family.

GRANT: Patience was another key to this hunt. Once we got in the area, the tom never gobbled – even after I called. But we sat there quietly, and sure enough that mature tom come in looking for the hen.

GRANT: When toms are with hens, they’re probably not gobbling much and won’t be responsive to calls.

GRANT: Research studies have shown that toms in an area where there’s a lot of hunting pressure, a lot of calling, tend to not gobble as much. So, no matter whether you’re hunting on public or private land, if it’s late in the season and there’s been a lot of calling, that’s another time you need to be patient and wait for those silent toms to approach.

GRANT: If you’re hunting in areas where there’s significant elevation changes and you don’t have a tom patterned, it’s often best to start on the ridgetop. You can hear much further, cover more ground on the ridgetop and then plan your strategy if you locate a tom.

GRANT: Typically, the weather is warm enough that we’re planting food plots while we’re turkey hunting. But this year, it’s been so cold and wet, Missouri’s turkey season has ended and we’ve yet to plant the first plot, except for broadcasting some clover.

GRANT: Turkey season is closed now and I’m hoping it will warm up enough this week for us to start planting and I look forward to sharing some of those tips and techniques with you.

GRANT: It’s important to sit still and be quiet during turkey season. But it’s much more important for our lives that we find some time every day to be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to us. Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.

GRANT: Sometimes you just want to – it seems, you know, like we’re not killing time, but we had it down to the short. I don’t even know if this makes it in there, but you just want to sit here and enjoy it. You work so hard for these moments.

CLAY: Yeah. Yeah.

GRANT: You just want to kind of let it soak in.

CLAY: Yeah.

GRANT: Let’s see how many, I wonder how many stairs I’ve climbed this morning on the ole – probably not that many, but. I don’t have that showing. 2.6 miles so far this morning. And I didn’t go jogging before we went hunting, so.