Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chasing Easterns in Alabama

I’m sure you all remember my quest to shoot a turkey with my bow, but failed miserably.

This year I changed my game plan entirely and headed south to Alabama with a shotgun to chase Easterns. I met up with my friend Hilary Dyer of Grandview Media at the Davis Quail Hunts lodge. Our host Field Trial Hall of Famer, Colvin Davis and his wife Maize Davis, greeted us. We all got a laugh at Hilary’s expense when she left her choke tubes at home and had to use the loaner gun – a 10-gauge pump. After that laugh we ate a good southern meal and prepped for the hunt.

There was turkey sign everywhere and I was pumped! However, that feeling was short-lived as Murphy’s Law crept down to Alabama. Next thing I know, turkeys aren’t answering my calls, turkey tracks lead to nowhere, roosting spots disappear and hens are aplenty but toms are absent.

I hunted three times a day with no luck. I sat…I spot-n-stalked…tried every method in the book with no results. On the last morning, determined, I set out with Hilary and Maize. The night before they were able to locate a roosted gobbler not far from the lodge.

We set up our decoys on an elevated field and started calling at first light. Within minutes we heard a gobble probably 300 yards behind us. He was fired up too! However, behind us was another field sandwiched between two ditches. It became apparent that the gobbler was walking up and down the ditch line, refusing to cross over.

If this gobbler wasn’t coming to us, we were going to him! We left our decoys and blind behind, as we knew we had to move fast. We crossed one ditch in hopes our big boy was in the field. After calling again, a silhouette appeared. My stomach turned when Maize confirmed our guy was about 200 yards across the field and on the other side of another ditch!

After strategizing for a brief moment we determined that Hilary and myself were going to army crawl to the other side of the field and set up right along the ditch. Maize would stay back about 50 yards and call. The game plan was to lure the tom right along the ditch line and shoot him from the other side. It was a fail-proof plan.

I took off my pack, clipped my ThermaCELL to the small of my back and started crawling. Hilary and I slowly but steadily made our way across the field. My motivation came when our tom would gobble. We got set up on the edge of the ditch and waited….and waited.

After a long sit we heard crows overhead causing a ruckus. Shortly after that Maize walked up to us and said she saw the crows harassing the tom and he took off in flight. Bummer!

Every Spring I am haunted by Facebook status updates and Twitter feeds – photos of successful hunters smiling while displaying a fan of feathers and long beards. Men, women and children, young and old, experienced and novice all are mocking me for one simple thing.

I can’t seem to kill a turkey. People now have a name for it…the Slayer/Salyer turkey curse.