NJ Turkey Hunting is one outdoor activity that I really get excited about doing each Spring. The days are longer, the air is getting warmer & the Gobblers are gobblin` at daybreak! Getting up at 4am to hunt couldn`t be easier. But just don`t ask Sharon how I can get by weeks C & D from lack of sleep! ha! ha!
I always put in for a couple of permits during the “Lottery” and usually get them. However, the day that the over-the-counter left-over permits go on sale, I am on-line right at 10am that very day, attempting to score permits for each week A,B,C,D & E(for Saturdays). The reason I try to get all weeks is simply because I don`t always know when I`ll have a chance to chase `Birds with work & all. And because I`m a disabled Vet, all of my fishing, hunting licenses & all permits are free in New Jersey. So why not right?
Last week was “A” week in New Jersey & it didn`t start out real well for me anyway. Monday was opening day & I planned hunting a couple hours before work. Now usually right around 5:30 to 6am, right at daybreak, I start to hear the first gobbles of the morning. But that first morning, not a single turkey was gobblin` anywhere even remotely close to where I was hunting in Warren County. Called it a day & headed back home by 8am to get ready for work.
As per Sharon`s suggestion, I decided to hunt every other day rather than get up every single day at 4am, so that I could catch up on sleep a bit every other day. She`s a smart gal & knows I get a little cranky from lack of sleep this time of year. So the next time out was Wednesday & the Springtime morning air was very cool & crisp as I shuffled out the door at 4am. Now another reason why I was really excited about Turkey hunting this year, was the fact that I had a Brand New Browning A5 3.5″ Shotgun to use! I`ve never had a new Browning in my life as I`ve always hunted with my old Belgium Brownings. I was really anxious to crack an old “Tom” Turkey with it!
I decided to try a different spot that morning a couple miles past where I was on Monday. I hiked way out into the darkness across several fields, stopping & listening. Hoping to hear the first gobble open up the morning air. But nothing. By 7:30 I was beginning to question what the heck was going on. “How the hell could this be?”, I thought to myself. By 8am I was on my way back to the truck……… & about 75 yards from the truck I hear “Gobble Gobble…..Gobble Gobble” – A turkey! Well within working distance. So I set up & decided to have a go at old Tom. Well I worked that bird for an hour & a half & at 9:30, he had decided that either something wasn`t quite right or he caught up with a hen & wasn`t interested in me anymore. He probably came within 60-70 yards then just walked away…….gobbling as he went further & further from me.
The third time I planned hunting was this past Saturday. I decided to stay in Warren County, but go to a new spot and really hike way out in this new territory. It had rained the night before, so with the wet leaves I decided to play “Run-and-Gun” rather then set up decoys, knowing I could move very stealthily through the woods that morning. “Which might just give me a little edge at daybreak”, I thought as I walked out to my truck that morning.
I arrived at my spot & scurried across the wet fields making my way to a wooded lot. As I approached the last field, I heard my first gobble at 5:20. It was still dark enough that I made my way to the treeline barely at first light. Then another gobble! Now I had a couple birds probably within 300 yards. So I sat up against a tree in a clearing……. and waited till it got lighter out. At about 6am I lightly worked my slate with a very light yelp. Gobble Gobble! A response!………. Still a good distance out. So I waited for them to fly down before I called again. About twenty minutes later, another gobble a good distance to my right. Old Tom was on the ground and started talking. As I worked a few light purrs & clucks, the Tom Turkey stated really getting excited and was turning towards my direction. Within thirty minutes, he was closing in fast on me! The last gobble was easily within 50 yards of me. However I still couldn`t see him. He was coming through an area thick with wild roses, so he`d have to step right out in the open in order for me to have a shot. Another gobble! This time he seemed right in front of me in those wild roses. I put down the call & raised my gun…… anticipating his next move being right in front of me. I waited…… & waited. Gun raised towards the roses……. nothing. No more gobbles…. “Where the hell is he?” I thought to myself. Then he gobbled the opposite side of me, probably 80 yards away! I quickly put down the gun & grab my slate & started clucking a bit wildly, trying to see if I could bring him back in.
And it worked! He turned back & was bee-lining right towards me again!
This time I kept clucking a tad faster as he got closer, then switched to a couple light purrs. And this brought the Tom right in. At 30 yards he showed, I slowly raised my Browning and BANG! I dropped the old Long-Beard in his tracks!
My “Run-and-Gun” tactic in the wetness had paid off & the morning NJ Turkey hunt had turned into quite the adventure indeed. **Scroll down to see all of the pics.
Dingo, our Aussie Cattle Dog wanted to be part of the “Wild Turkey-Photo-Shoot” too!