Friday, October 17, 2014

Del's 2014 Bull

Here's an elk story from our friend and hunting partner, Del Jolly. Del is hell on elk, and he shot a great bull this year, again, in the first few days of the season. Here's Del's story in his own words:

This year I was lucky enough to draw a great tag. I have never had much of a desire to hunt a trophy unit, but with a large accumulation of points, and my hunting partners drawing elsewhere, I thought I'd put in.

My early scouting trips got me pretty excited. There were elk everywhere! I usually hunt with llamas, but my good friend was using them on the opener, so I was living off of my back for the first week of the season. I packed about 2 miles into the Weminuche Wilderness. When I got to timberline I heard a big bull let out an awesome bugle. Nothing like hearing a bugle the day before the season starts! I watched that bull come up the mountain with about thirty cows. I thought it was a bit strange that he was herded up so early. I paid no attention and got to my pre-planned base camp.

A few elk from one of my scouting trips.

Do you know anybody who has ever found a dead mountain lion in the woods? I found this cat on the way into one of my elk hunting spots.

The next morning was amazing. I got into a ton of elk and had tension on my string two different times. Once, I got to within 10 yards from the biggest bull I've ever seen, up to that point. I worked very hard to go straight up a mountain just to be pinned between two trees and this bull. He came in bugling and stopped just ten yards away, but through a bunch of branches. I knew he couldn't see me so I started to rake the heck out of a tree. He proceeded to do the same. I stopped, got my bow up, and waited for him to emerge. As he started towards me, a soon to be re-occuring theme happened - the wind hit the back of my neck. Little did I know, this would be the first of many times that I would be within 40 yards of good bulls and have the wind blow it, literally and figuratively.

As the days passed, and the wind kept taunting me, frustration started to settle in. I decided to leave the bowl I was in and hunt another area. I went to a burn area I had scouted earlier in the year, I was immediately into elk.

The next morning I bugled at the top of the burn and had an immediate response. It was very far off so I started towards the direction of the bull. I had not traveled more than 100 yards when I spotted a cow heading my way. I was in the middle of these blackened, toothpick trees that had no horizontal branches. But as luck would have it, my back was almost directly against a tree and the sun was out of my eyes. A herd followed that lead cow, and a good 6X6 was in the rear. I always like it when cows pass by first, it gives me a chance to see where my possible shots might occur once the bull comes through.

As the elk filed along I saw a small tree that would give me the cover I needed to draw my bow. The bull followed suit, and I thought for sure that this was going to be the end of my season. I watched in dismay as my arrow flew just under the bulls chest. The herd erupted in a cloud of ash and dirt. I believe I misjudge the distance due to the openness of the terrain.

The next morning I was greeted with a throaty growl that only big bulls make. I cow called and two rag horns came running right to me. The raghorns ran into thirty yards before they caught my wind. The commotion drew out a massive bull, the biggest I've ever put my eyes on, and he was MAD! He screamed and started heading straight to me. He was coming down the same line as the raghorns. I knew I had to do something before he hit my wind. I made my move and dropped to my knees so I could shoot under some branches. Right as I reached full draw the bull pegged me. I could feel the wind hitting my back. I knew it was now or never, and forced a shot faster than I like. I was sick to my stomach as I saw my arrow fly right over his back. In my haste I didn't pick a spot.

I was dejected. In the past 24 hours I missed more elk than in my whole hunting career (with a trad bow). Two great bulls, one of them the bull of a lifetime. I was looking for my arrow when a bugled popped off several hundred yards away. I did my best to shake off the miss, and started working towards the bugle.

I closed the distance as fast as I could. This bull was a little bit more leery. He came to within 50 yards several times, but since he never saw another elk, he wouldn't commit to coming any closer. As he turned to leave I opened up my Montana Decoy and moved in on him, I felt I had to take the chance or the bull would be gone.

With a swirly wind, and the bull at 50 yards I held up the decoy and moved to a better position. The bull saw me moving and started walking towards me. It seemed to work!

I set the decoy down and got ready to shoot. I stopped the broadside bull with a short call and let go of my arrow. I saw my arrow in flight for a short time, but lost it when it hit an overhanging branch. Since I wasn't 100% sure of the shot location I waited a full five hours before beginning my search.

The bull was in the center of this frame when I shot.

I started to get a little nervous as the blood trail dwindled down. Then I experienced one of the strangest things that has ever happened to me in the woods. A small hawk swooshed right by my head, startling the heck out of me. The hawk landed thirty yards below me and started to bob his head at me. Then he turned to his left and bobbed his head three times. The hawk flew straight at me, again, I took a step back because he was coming right for my face, only to make a sharp turn five yards from my head, and then he was gone.

As silly as this sounds, I felt that the hawk was telling me something. I walked down to the spot where he landed and looked in the direction that he pointed. Sure enough, there was my bull!

The bull was a decent 6X6, and my second biggest to date! I was very grateful for the experience. The elk action, and the close encounters with big bulls, will make this a very painful 11 months as I wait to do it again.

I shot this bull with my 48@28 Spirit longbow, Carbon Express Heritage arrows, and VPA Terminator broadheads. I do not think that I would have killed this bull without the Montana Decoy.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Is It Over Already?

I really don't want to wait another 11 months before we can chase bugles in the Rockies again. But it's not like we have another choice. I live for this short time of the year. I'll spend the next 335 days anxiously awaiting the chance to do it all again.

My cousin, Chad, came out for the last 9 days of the season. The action started off intense. I had a number of massive bulls within shooting distance, but that always elusive shot just barely evaded me. There was always one branch, one small rise, or a bad angle that prevented me from loosing an arrow. 

My brother, who already tagged out on a dandy, joined Chad and me to do some calling. The three of us snuck our way through a beautiful aspen grove on Sunday afternoon, one week before the season ended. We made our way to the top of the hill where, on the other side, it turned into a steep and gnarly north face ridge. Lots of blown down, dark timber. The perfect bedding area for elk.

Here's Danny double fisting the calls. He sounds good, but unfortunately on this set up a big 6X6 came from behind us instead of in front of us. Danny could have shot him, but Chad and I were in the wrong spot!

Chad taking a peek at a group of elk who were interested in our calls, but not committed to coming in.

Five years ago I would have never dreamed that I would pass an opportunity to shoot any bull elk. But this year I was really hoping for a chance at a good bull. Several times this season I had smaller bulls in range that I just needed an excuse to let go. I probably would have shot any of them if I didn't have an excuse, but each time I let them go to my hunting partners, or got winded before I could get an arrow off my bow. Don't get me wrong, I would have been tickled pink if I ended up killing any of those bulls earlier in the season. But as we were sneaking our way through that aspen ridge, with one week left in the season, I was questioning my lack of urgency at the beginning of the year. My standards were about to get thrown on the window!

After Danny, Chad and I made our way to the top of the ridge we threw out a couple of bugles. We didn't necessarily expect anything to answer us so early in the afternoon, but on September 21st anything can happen.

As we sat there contemplating our next move we all heard a big branch break below us. Now in the old days, when we were still 'wet behind the ears elk hunters', we would not have thought twice about that branch and then been dumbfounded when an elk walked right up to us. I know that because the three of us have done that exact thing about 1,000 times in our elk hunting careers. But we're older now, better. Without looking at each other or saying a word Chad moved right, I moved left, and Danny dropped back over the hill.

Chad and I had this elk covered, no matter how he came in. I set my knees on the ground and lifted my head just in time to see antlers popping over the rise. The bull's head emerged, and his eyes locked onto me just as fast. I was wondering how he could possibly see me, and right then, Danny let out a little tiny bugle over the ridge from us. The bull immediately started walking right towards us.

I was about ten yards closer to the elk than Chad, and even though he had a shot opening before I did, he chose to let this elk walk into my opening. I pulled my bow back as the bull walked behind the double tree in the center of the picture below. He emerged on the other side, still walking, when I let go of the string.

The elk thundered off. Danny came over the hill at the same time Chad and I gave each other a high five. The shot was spot on.

Finding this elk was a lot more difficult than we anticipated with the shot placement. It had rained hard for a couple hours before I shot this bull, wet pine needles are tough to follow a bloodtrail on. We found this bull on a ground search less than 200 yards from my shot.

Danny, Chad and me.

I shot this elk with a 60@28, 58" Wapiti recurve. I was shooting CX Heritage 350 arrows with 200gr VPA Penetrator broadheads.

A bone-in hind quarter and the head on my Kifaru. Easy as pie.

The elk action slowed down for a few days before picking back up in force. The last few days of the season were everything elk hunting should be. Danny and Chad saw two different fights, tons of incredible elk behavior, and heard non-stop bugling. Chad had his chances, he's as good as anybody in the moment of truth, but it didn't happen this year. 11 more months...dang it. The pain will go away a little bit once I get into the whitetail woods next week. Good luck to everybody this fall.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Elk Update

Our action has started to pick up a bit, but it is still hit and miss. We are still running into groups of cows all by themselves.  I have typically found that somewhere between Sept 15th-20th the big bulls start to get real serious about finding all the straggling cows, and those days are magical when you hit them.

After those magic days, when the bulls have their cows, they don't want a thing to do with another bull. They'll bugle back until they lose their voice, but each bugle gets further and further away. Once that happens you'll need a jetpack to keep up with the herds. If you can get out now, get out now!

My brother has amazed me twice this season. I'll tell you how.

Danny, his girlfriend Ashley, and I snuck our way in front of a group of elk last week. We heard the bull bugling from an aspen ridge in front of us. We quickly hurried around them and got on the back side of the ridge, where we figured they would be going. We were right. The bull bugled a few more times allowing us to get set up in the perfect position. Danny and Ashley sat together, and I was 50-75 yards off to their right. Ashley only has a cow tag this season.

Danny and I each gave a few very soft cows calls, not to call the elk in necessarily, but hopefully just nudge them in our direction. It worked like a charm. Within a few minutes Danny and Ashley had cows milling all around them. The bull was rounding up the back, and he was a dandy. Ashley started to get out of Danny's way so he could take a shot at the bull. 

This is the first time Danny amazed me. He did it with his selflessness. That bull was a stud, as big as the one my Dad killed this year. A massive 6 point. We've hunted our entire lives, and we are finally good enough to play this situation exactly right and get a bull like that in shooting distance. When Danny saw Ashley getting out of his way he instructed her to stay put and take the first shot that presented itself. The bull and a cow both started walking into an opening 20 yards away. A shot at either or both was imminent, and Danny told Ashley go ahead and shoot at the cow. 

I was out of sight of all of this, so all I heard was the thundering of hooves. I waited a few minutes and made my way over to them. Ashley was visibly dejected, she missed. I got the whole story, and before Ashley could apologize again Danny cut her off and said, "Hey, it's just a stupid elk, don't worry about it". Amazing act of selflessness. 

And now for the second time that Danny amazed me this season.

The following day we had some rain and fog roll through. The perfect time to get out all day. Danny was hunting by himself and planned on hitting a few aspen ridges that the elk frequent. 

As he was sneaking his way through the forest he stepped on the smallest of branches. Movement from his right caught his eye, and as he looked he saw a huge rack swinging around. A big bull was bedded just 20 yards away, facing the opposite direction. Danny was pinned down, but thankfully a giant log was covering him from the bull's view. All Danny could see were two big antlers poking around both sides of the log. He was in a compromising position but he held still. Danny glanced at his watch, 5:05pm. He never really believed that shot would present itself. The wind never holds out, and the bull obviously heard him step on that small branch. But finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the big bull turned his head and looked the other direction. It was now 5:35pm. That bull did not move for a full 30 minutes.

Danny slowly brought his feet together and did a few small knee bends to get the blood flow moving again. He worked an arrow out of his quiver and took a step to his left in order to get a good view of the bull's body. He studied the bull for a few minutes. Initially, he didn't think that a shot was available. But after closely looking at the bulls position he saw where he could place an arrow. Ever so slowly Danny contorted his body in order to get his bow back.

I mention Danny's shoulder a lot in this blog. It's been 3 years since he has had a functioning shoulder. Twice, in his awkward position, he yanked on his bow string to try and get his light weight compound pulled back. Finally, on the third try, he painfully got the bow to full draw. 

Danny shot. The bull took a long time to get to his feet but once he did there wasn't a tree or stump big enough to slow him down. The bull ran through EVERYTHING to get out of there.

Danny glanced at his watch again. 6:10pm. It took him another 35 minutes to get an arrow out, take a step, study the bull, and get a shot off. Over an hour after he first saw the animal. 

A short bloodtrail later and Danny found his elk. The bull was too big to move with one arm, Danny made his way to an area with reception and called Dad and me to come give him a hand. We both left immediately. Three and a half hours after his phone call we hit the closest trailhead and started our long night of cutting and packing. 

Danny's selfless act, and his ability to slip in on a big bull in his bed, have added to his legend in my mind. My little brother always blows me away in the woods.

A big thanks to Aron Snyder and the guys at Kifaru for getting Danny and I set up with new packs this year. A hind quarter never felt so easy! I still love my Hornehunter, like what my Dad is using in the picture above. But I am a small guy and the Kifaru fits me properly. I never would have guessed what a difference it would make.

I drop my wife and kids off at the airport in a few hours, they are going to visit my in-laws in Wisconsin. Since my Dad and brother have both killed nice bulls this season, and my family is out of state, there ain't a force on earth that will keep me out of the woods for the remainder of the season. Good luck everybody! I sure hope to have one more good story this elk season.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Big Bulls on Opening Weekend

I'm going to share my version of the events of the opening weekend. I'll try to talk my Dad into sharing his version at some point. I want to know what was going through his head, what he thought and felt, and get his story in writing. I'll leave out the details of the shot and the moment of truth so that he has the chance to write it himself.

It took forever, but elk season finally arrived. Last winter my brother, Danny, made a comment that he was going to live on the mountain this summer trying to find the biggest herds of elk, and of course the biggest bulls. He wasn't lying. Danny had the elk pretty much pinned down throughout the summer. He got pictures of around 15 different BIG bulls, and countless smaller bulls.

Danny looking for elk at around 12,500 ft.

The mountain below is one of our favorite scouting perches. This summer we saw a lot of big bulls where I was standing when I snapped this picture.

Thursday evening my cousin, Chad, our buddy Blake, and I drove up the mountain so that we could be in position to do a little scouting on Friday morning, the day before the season started. We were not let down, we saw around 90 elk between two of the mountains that we were planning on hunting.

One group of 30 elk was on the mountain that my Dad planned on backpacking into with my Mom. Blake had his eye on a close by spike with super long tines that he wanted to fill his tag on, but Chad and I couldn't take our eyes off of the herd bull across the valley. He was impressive. All morning he would run around the cows with his head tilted back. Of course we were too far to hear him bugle, but we watched him stretch out his neck and cut loose every few minutes. 

Chad, Blake and I hurried off the mountain so we could catch up with my Dad before he packed in. We got out our topo maps and showed him where the elk were. The cows all bedded down in the wide open, but at 9am that herd bull got them on their feet and pushed them through a saddle. Since we have hunted this area quite a few times in the past we knew that on certain years the elk get in a pattern where they pass through that saddle twice a day. My Dad knew exactly where to be the next morning. We all wished each other luck and headed out to our separate camp sites for the following morning's hunt.

Opening morning came, Danny and I headed to the drainage where we saw the majority of the big bulls throughout the summer. Chad, Blake, and two other hunting buddies headed to another drainage where we saw 60 elk the day before.

Danny and I crept through this beautiful area with that morning's elk sign all around. We must have barely missed them because we didn't see a thing and nothing bugled near us.

We all carry Garmin Rino GPS/Radios with us these days. It is fun to be able to check in with each other, or get coordinates to another's position with the push of a button. We all agreed that we would check in on the hour if it was convenient, but that we would make a real effort to check in at noon.

With the morning hunt mostly over Danny and I found a beautiful spot to take a break and eat a few snacks. 11am rolled around and I turned on my GPS to see if anybody else had theirs on. I was just about to turn my unit off when I got a half a second of static. I called back, anybody out there? A garbled message came back, something about a "bull behind the shoulder". I looked at my GPS, it was Dad! 

"Come again Dad, what did you say?"

"I hit a bull right behind the shoulder. I thought it was a heart shot but I don't see any blood. I'M FREAKING OUT!".

My Dad asked how far away we were, and we told him it didn't matter.

I asked back, "Was it the big bull, and do you need any help?"

"Yes the big bull, and yes I need help."

Danny and I gave each other a big high five, we were PUMPED! Dad is color blind and cannot see red hardly at all, so him not finding blood didn't concern me. We gathered our things and started walking. We had a long, long, looooong way to go. 

A half hour into our walk and we could finally see the mountain that dad was on. 

Here's a zoomed in shot of the picture above. You can see the small saddle that the herd went through.

Five hours of straight walking, 1,000 ft down, and 2,000 ft up later, we walked up to my Mom and Dad taking a nap. My Dad just shook his head and said, "You guys are studs". I told him I didn't feel like a stud, and as I set my bow down I lurched to the side so I could yak in the bushes.

My Dad apologized for making us walk that far. He couldn't find any blood and spent the previous 5 hours zigzagging through the trees looking for tracks, blood, elk, anything. He said it was the biggest disappointment in his hunting career, and that he was flabbergasted. He thought that the shot was perfect, he saw the bull run away with only a small bit of his arrow sticking out in the crease of the front leg. 

Even though Dad was bummed out I knew that we were going to find him. My brother is special, he has a sense, he has uncanny woodsmanship, and he's a total bloodhound on the trail.  I said, "Don't worry about it Dad, you got Danny here now, we'll find him". 

My Dad told us the entire story and showed us the last drop of blood, if you could call it a drop. 

Danny found a scuff mark a little ways down the hill from the blood. "Here you go Dad", he says. My Dad didn't think it was from his bull and told us that the herd ran the other way. Danny insisted on following the track. He reasoned the next few steps and walked through some bushes. "Here's another speck of blood!" Danny called out. Unreal, he doubled back?

Danny finds another speck of blood and then turns the corner around some trees, and there he was. My parents were napping within 50 yards of the elk. The bull didn't even make it 75 yards from where my Dad shot him.

Talk about going through some highs and lows in the span of a few hours. My Dad went from the excitement of knowing that he killed the bull of a lifetime, to confused at the sign, then utterly disappointed, and then back to elation. 

My Mom was 3ft behind my Dad when he shot the bull. I'm so glad she was with him.

The bull as he lay.

My Dad did shoot this bull right through the heart. You can see the entrance in the picture below, and the exit in the next. In the entire 75 yard long track we found a total of 6 droplets of blood. He just didn't bleed through the legs like he obviously would have if the arrow went through his ribs.

The tip of the VPA Terminator was just barely poking through when we rolled him over.

This guy has some great mass.

Me, Danny, Mom and Dad

Danny was within 50 yards of the biggest elk he's ever seen, twice. The season has just begun and the best stuff is all ahead of us. Good luck everybody. More stories to come!

My Mom is TOUGH. It took us 4 hours and 45 minutes to walk back to the truck that night, mostly in the dark (we walked out to call for help for the packout). We kept having these nasty little storms come over the mountain and hammer us with sideways rain and hail. She had a hard time walking through all the rock fields and busting through the stunted pine. Not one time did she ever make a comment about how difficult it was. I was miserable, so I know that she must have been too. 

Here's a parting shot of a sweet 7X7. I hope we can find him again!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

2014 Nebraska Turkeys

We drove out to Nebraska for the opening weekend of the turkey season. We always get out there and invade my cousin Chad's house to chase birds.

Friday afternoon we rolled into town. The scouting report was good! There were hundreds of turkeys, still in their big winter flocks, hanging out on the property we have permission to hunt. We didn't bother them that evening, instead a couple of us built a gate and some fence for our rancher buddy, and the others chose to try and get on a few of the birds on some nearby public ground.

The only turkey we managed to call in was this hen. I could have reached out of the blind and touched her. She hung out for an hour, and I thought surely this live decoy work out perfect, but a bearded turkey never materialized. No biggie, the next morning was going to be epic...or so I thought.

We got into the field in the pitch dark on Saturday morning. We sat in the blind making coffee. I was waiting for the thunder of 100 gobbles that should have started any second. I waited, and waited, no turkey sounds. What the heck? It was finally light enough to see the main roosting area, about 700 yards away. I pulled up my binos, no turkeys. WHAT THE HECK! Where do 400 turkeys go?

Come to find out, the landowner was chasing some trespassers that he saw on his property. They must have walked right under the roosts that night, as the birds had been in the same trees every night for a few months, and were now gone. 

I busted out the new Avian X strutter decoy...unfortunately I never got to find out how it worked.

My brother was set up a couple hundred yards away. At about 2pm he finally saw his first turkey of the day. The tom was not interested in his calls or his set up, but still happened to walk within bow range. Well...compound bow range anyway! ;)

That is Danny's most killenest arrow. He killed an elk, two deer, and a hog with it. He missed another hog and lost the arrow, only to have it found by another group of Colorado hunters the next week. They found it by chance on a 20,000 acre ranch. Finally, after all that action, the arrow was broken by this turkey.

My cousin, Tyler, brought his wife and two young boys out with him a few miles to the north. They had a great time, and Tyler made a fantastic shot on this gobbler. Ty's wife had to put her hand around their younger son's mouth as the turkey came within range. Good times! Ty shot him with a Chargin' Bull recurve.

Tyler's brother, Chad, was with Andy to the NW of us a few miles. Chad and Andy had a great morning. These guys are killers, two shots, two dead turkeys.
Andy shoots a Bob Morrison recurve. Chad shoots a Chargin' Bull recurve that he makes.

Here's a video of Andy's tom. Great shot! (shot at 2:42)

Now don't get me wrong, our group killed four turkeys on Saturday, but it wasn't the turkey shootathon that we thought it would be. With all of the birds gone Kelly and I drove to one of my public land honey holes for the next few days. There were lots of turkeys but they were using completely different fields and different roosts than I've observed in the past. The first day we heard them all around us, but never got anything to commit to our calls. We were always on the wrong end of the field, wrong side of the creek, etc.

Monday morning's forecast called for brutal winds. We've hunted this area enough to know where the turkeys go to protect themselves from the wind. Kelly and I got all set up on the edge of a milo field with a bluff behind us. 

The weatherman was right. The wind was crazy! Our spot at the base of the bluff protected us from the hardest winds. Several hours into the morning we had yet to hear or see a turkey.

The day before, in this exact spot, a group of hens started yacking up a storm. Six gobblers coming from every direction were soon strutting in the field. That got me thinking...Ten of me couldn't make as much noise as the real turkeys were making the day before. But by God I was going to try! 

I got my box call in my hand and put my diaphragm call in my mouth. Over the next five minutes I got to work! YAP! YAP! YAP! I HAMMERED AWAY, as loud and hard as I could. I had to penetrate the wind.

Ten minutes later I got bored and picked up my box call. YAP! YAP! YAP! I looked out into the field. Uh-oh. I'm calling like an idiot and there are two big ol' toms in full strut just 50 yards away.

I set the call down and got my bow ready. The two toms were perfectly content to just stand where they were. Over the next hour the toms made their way to the base of the bluff behind us. They just sat there, strutting, occasionally gobbling, but making no hint at moving towards our decoys.

The birds were only 15-20 yards away, but behind a a mess of branches. Kelly started telling me that there was an opening. I said no way. Kelly insisted that if the bird took three more steps to the left that there was an opening. I studied the branches, he's right! I got my bow ready.

The turkey took the three steps we were hoping for. As I reached full draw I completely lost focus on the bird. My eyes studied the branches, I aimed for the opening, I could still see the turkey in my blurred vision. This is going to work!

The Snuffer on the end of my cedar arrow barely fit through the tiny opening. I missed the branches completely and the arrow zipped right through the turkey. The tom ran up the bluff and out of sight. After a very short search we found him underneath a cedar tree, dead.

The turkey was about in the middle of the frame when I shot.

Chargin' Bull recurve, cedar arrow, Snuffer broadhead.

My first double bearded tom (you have to look close but that second beard is there!)

4 Key Strategies employed on this hunt:

This is mostly common sense, but hunting usually is. Observe animal behavior under the conditions, and use those observations to anticipate their future location/mood/vocalizations/etc.

1) Knowing an area is invaluable. Having observed turkey behavior in high winds, in this area, we had a good idea where to intercept a tom. The bluff we were set up on is long, maybe a half mile. We knew we had to be patient, they'd be somewhere along this bluff for sure, and eventually they would be near us.

2) Patience: The turkeys came to my calls at 11am. I am willing to bet that, even with the high winds, they were within ear shot of my calls before that. Toms are not going to leave their hens early in the morning. Knowing this gave us the patience and confidence to sit tight. Turkeys are quite pattern-able in this area at this time of the year. If they know you're there, they will usually come check you out at some point.

3) Make adjustments: On the first day in this area we positioned ourselves in all of the "right" places, based on previous experience. This year was different. We observed the turkey's behavior and adjusted for the following day. I've killed a bunch of turkeys in this area, but never from this spot. It is usually not a good place to be. We put ourselves where the turkeys were.

4) Calling: Everybody has their own thoughts on calling. The day before we heard hens calling IN FORCE from this corner of the field. We observed toms congregate on their calls. As a matter of fact, every single year we hear hens going crazy wild early in the season. We called like the turkeys call. Our calling was insane, loud, and long...exactly how live birds call this time of the year. Will I call that way in May? No. But in March? You bet!

I wish I was going back out this year but I've got a baby girl coming soon. It's time for me to stick close to home. I should have one or two more good stories from the RMSGear crew though. Good luck turkey hunters!