Youth Turkey Season (Episode 124 Transcript)

This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.

GRANT: Monday, April 2nd, I had a great weekend taking Raleigh and Rae turkey hunting during youth season and Adam and I continue working on the habitat, so future seasons will be even better, here at The Proving Grounds.

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GRANT: Raleigh didn’t return until early Saturday morning from a track meet, so Rae was first up to bat Saturday morning, as Missouri’s youth season opened.

GRANT: Sure enough, about twilight, we started hearing those toms gobble, about 70 or 80 yards back behind the blind and slightly down the hill.

GRANT: If you’ve been a longtime watcher of, you know my youngest daughter, Rae, is an intense hunter.

GRANT: You nailed it.

RAE: Yes.

GRANT: Huge gobbler.

RAE: Yes.

GRANT: Huge.

RAE: My first one.

GRANT: Incredible.

GRANT: And that excitement continued to build, as those toms gobbled and gobbled and responded to our calls.

GRANT: I felt a little stumbling block along the way, as the birds got about 20 yards behind the blind, and we’re calling, and strutting, and strutting, and drumming, but it seemed like they were held up there, and were not making progress to get in front of the blind.

GRANT: After an extremely long period of time for two experienced turkey hunters, like Adam and I, let alone for young Rae, we got the word from Adam that they’re coming our way and to get ready.

UNKOWN: (Whispering) (Inaudible)

RAE: (Whispering) Are they both males? (Inaudible)

GRANT: (Whispering) You can shoot any one you want.

RAE: (Whispering) Okay.

GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible)

GRANT: I really had difficulty reading their reaction. I consider myself fairly good at reading the reaction of turkeys responding to calls. The only thing I could really come up with is these jakes had gotten too close to a hen with an adult tom around, because they were clearly interested, but scared to get too close.

RAE: (Whispering) We’ve seen two jakes so far, but something odd happened with them, so we’re hoping we can see some more.

GRANT: One thing that made this hunt really enjoyable was I had Rae’s shotgun on a DeadShot FieldPod. If you’re not familiar with them, and you’re taking youth hunting, or you’re going hunting, I strongly suggest you check them out, ‘cause Rae would have had to hold that shotgun for literally more than 40 minutes to be on the ready while those turkey’s were literally 20 yards behind us, but by having that shotgun right there in position, Rae was ready to just swing and move, as soon as Adam gave us a sign they were coming around the blind.

GRANT: To protect Raleigh and Rae from too much recoil, I’ve outfitted them with a 20 Gauge shotgun and patterned it using 20 Gauge Winchester dove shot loads. The last thing I want to do is make a hunting experience unpleasant for my daughters and recoil from a shot is one of the fastest ways to make a hunting experience unpleasant.

GRANT: Ho-holy mackerel. That is a dead turkey.

GRANT: The thing I love about the orange peel targets, you don’t have to walk down there, use my Nikon to see where you hit. You can tell from turkey range exactly what happened and that baby ain’t flopping, it’s just dropping.

GRANT: We’ve used that combination in past years with great success.

GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible)

RAE: He’s dead.

GRANT: He’s dead.

RAE: He’s dead.

GRANT: He’s not going anywhere. (Fades Out)

GRANT: So I just wanted to recheck it this year. I use that Lead Sled, which means daddy’s not even getting any recoil, and we knew at 20-25 yards it was a dead turkey with over 40 pellets on average in the kill zone.

GRANT: It wasn’t a lot later, to a few hundred yards away, I saw a black body crossing one of our trails, headed up to our ridge.

GRANT: (Whispering) It’s a big bird.

GRANT: (Whispering) Oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yeah.

GRANT: Camera’s rolling, Rae’s ready, and I’m on the call and everything’s working like a charm.

GRANT: Once those two toms entered the field, we could tell they had swinging beards and mature birds. I’m thinking, I am so glad those jakes left the field because we putting some big spurs down, here in a few minutes.

GRANT: Just like on a rope, they started coming up the food plot, right towards our blind.

GRANT: I didn’t like the fact that those turkeys, at about the same spot, about 60 yards away, started doing that side strut, looking back and forth, and not showing a lot of forward progress.

GRANT: Whatever the reason, I couldn’t close the deal for Rae on those two adult toms.

GRANT: Sunday, the next morning, I had an opportunity to take Raleigh out, before we went to church.

GRANT: Right at the crack of daylight, I hear a mature tom gobbling approximately 100 yards down the ridge to our right side.

GRANT: Once I had three or four sure enough good responses, where he’s cutting my call, I put the call down and got ready for him to come on out.

GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible) He’s gonna come up here.

GRANT: He’s gobbling, looking our way, and carrying on, and I had great confidence he’s gonna come on up there and it’s gonna be shoot and tag.

GRANT: For reasons probably only understood by turkeys themselves, right in the middle of a great hunt, that turkey drops his wings, kills the strut, turns the other way, and trots out the other end of the field.

GRANT: Raleigh looked at me like, Dad, what did you do? And I’m asking myself, “What in the world did I do?”

GRANT: In Missouri, kids can hunt during the regular adult season, so we’ve got plenty more weekends coming up, but I got to tell ya, this is gonna be an odd turkey season. With leaves out already, temperatures in the 90s, we’re getting very dry and I’m not hearing a lot of hens. I’ll keep you posted and I hope your experiences are more successful than what we’ve seen so far.

GRANT: A lot of my buddies that are now, you know, way up in state agencies or universities, whatever, are having struggles getting a prescribed fire in the spring because of the heat early on, and spring green up, and high winds that’s been occurring throughout much of the whitetails’ range.

GRANT: So I just really want to take a second this morning and send a message to those landowners, and practitioners, and state agencies, that you have other options. If you think about most natural wildfires, they occur in July, August, September, when it’s dry, and, and really hot out, and there’s advantage to that. There’s kind of a natural system. We never do better than God’s plan. I want to take a moment this morning to talk about the advantages and the results of a fall, or late growing season, fire.

GRANT: At this location, we did a prescribed fire last August, on a day that was about 101 degrees.

GRANT: Did fire that time of year for two reasons. That’s when most natural wildfires occur. That’s when it’s hot and you get lightning strikes and the vegetations dry, lo-low moisture content in vegetation. You know, if we really think about that whole natural plan, that’s when birds are not nesting and young of the year are big enough to move out of the way. There are a lot of advantages to a late growing season fire.

GRANT: Another huge advantage to a manager like me is all these hardwood saplings that are trying to encroach in and shade out this forbs and native grass, their carbohydrates are up in the form of leaves and the stem, so when you kill the plant at late August, or so, it’s not gonna re-green up and make enough energy to survive the winter. We did a awesome job of setting back the hardwood sprouts and promoting these legumes, forbs, and native grasses to create a 35 acre food plot.

GRANT: This is a result of late growing season fire and it is perfect. This stem, of course, is brittle, dry. It’s gonna return to organic matter, building soil on the ground, and not a high percentage of ‘em have sprouts coming up from the basal area. That’s would be called stump sprouts. Of course, you want total death to allow these forbs and this green carpet, that’s just perfect, to be able to come on. Now, if this whole carpet was fescue, or sericea lespedeza, some noxious weed, I wouldn’t be excited, so you have to think about what seed base is in the ground before you set it back to early succession, or ground zero, and allow that to come on. You can’t just burn out a sericea lespedeza field and expect something else to return, ‘cause sericea likes fire and just more sericea will replace it. But here, I knew from the remnants that I had a great native seed base, and now we’ve got 35 acres of native vegetation, with a few trees left scattered, or what we call a savannah, and it’s a perfect wildlife habitat.

GRANT: Another objective to our prescribed fire program is removing, or lowering, the density of ticks.

GRANT: That doesn’t mean that the fire itself kills the ticks. Usually, they sense the fire coming and can move below ground level and avoid death by the flame.

GRANT: Ticks must have moisture and so, when you remove all this ground cover that holds a little moisture in there, and turn it all black, there’s no moisture. When a tick comes back out, trying to find a blood meal, they’re gonna desiccate or dry out and die. Fall fires are, when I say fall, August, late growing season fires, are a great time to reduce the tick density on a property.

GRANT: Regular turkey season won’t open for two weeks, so it’s time to be doing some management activities, looking for mushrooms, and all things enjoying Creation. Thanks for watching