After a full week of rain each day last week, I was really looking forward doing some NJ Turkey Hunting this past Saturday morning. The weather forecast wasn`t the greatest, but better than anything I had heard the last several days. So the alarm was set and my day began at 4:00am.
Now anyone that has ever chased “Thunder-Chickens, knows how the early hours wear on you as the weeks progress. At least my girlfriend always reminds me about my lack of sleep and my crankiness during Turkey season! She keeps me in-check.
So this particular morning, since I had gotten a Gobbler the week before, I decided I would roll the dice a bit and see if I could indeed “Go PRO” a Turkey Hunt. After I shot that Long-Beard the week before, several guys had asked my from various hunting forums, “Do we have a Video Ken?”. “Between calling and setting up the Go PRO, this would be rather challenging”, I thought as I headed out to my truck in the early morning darkness.
I arrived at the State Land where I hunt and made my way out across a few fields at 4:30am, heading towards a wooded lot. I like to try setting up in an area that will give me a fairly decent view within a 30-40 yard radius. Which can be tough when you`re hunting in wild roses. I cleared a spot and sat up against a tree and waited. A roosting turkey that was roughly 300 yards away, broke the cool morning air with a gobble at 5:25am on the nose. Then another much further away also gobbled back.
As it got a little lighter, I really liked the looks of the area I had chosen, even though the turkeys that were gobbling, weren`t really all that close. See I think a good number of hunters like to move in closer to a roosting turkey, and perhaps that works for them. Me on the other hand, I prefer to set up in a spot and see if I can hopefully coax them towards me as the morning progresses. Hey whatever works for you. Right?
However, things got a little “interesting” at around 7am, as another hunter had walked in and started calling within a hundred yards of me. Now this would really bother some hunters, but I really don`t mind it if it happens, because I always figure a different bird may come in from behind him and walk towards me.
He called several times using a mouth call and the turkeys never gobbled back. Then I lightly yelped and they responded to my calling by gobbling eagerly back. The birds were going back and forth way up on this hill that had to be a good 3-400 yards away. And they gobbled back and forth till around 8:30am…… Then the gobbling stopped completely and I didn`t hear the other hunter calling anymore either.
“I`ll bet he`s trying to get closer and moving in on those birds….let`s just sit tight and see how this plays out”, I thought to myself. As I worked a few clucks on my call, a gobble! And another! Two different birds were answering me and they appeared to be running together looking for a sexy hen(me!) – Now they were within 200 yards and definitely coming towards my direction.
I purred lightly as I knew I had the pair of Long-Beard`s attention. Sending them into a Gobbling frenzy!
As the birds circled a bit around to my right searching for that “hen”, I clucked lightly turning them directly towards me. They were now gobbling their brains out less than 100 yards out and coming in fast!
At about 50 yards the gobbling intensified even louder! I slowly put down the call……….. and raised my Browning A5……
Now…… without any further ado, here is my first Go PRO Turkey Hunting Video for you all to enjoy. If you think this was easy to do, put the call down, put the Go PRO on my head before the turkeys got to me, then pick up the gun,……think again gang! This one was tough to do! So turn up those speakers, as I think you`re really going to like this.
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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!