That’s ‘5’ as in ‘5 years now, and counting.’ I’m not done this year, but at this point, I’ve started thinking about turkey hunting more in terms of ‘how far am I going to hike with my Remington 1100 today?’
I hit Paulding Forest both days last weekend, Saturday I hunted north of highway 278, Sunday I headed south of the highway. I didn’t hear a bird on Saturday, but I did find a couple of sets of tracks and dust wallows. I also practiced with my handheld GPS: I’ve had the unit for years (it’s a Garmin eTrex about eight years old,) but never really used it or studied how to use it properly, so shame on me for not learning how to use a good piece of gear. I also took my Remington 1100, a pair of VERY CHEAP decoys, a slate-style call and water.
Saturday, I followed the WMA ranger road for roughly a mile, calling softly every few minutes to see if I could get a gobble, with no luck. At the end of that particular road, I hiked out to a point where I could sit and call into the bottom.
After an hour and a half, I used the GPS to navigate back to the truck using the most direct route. I had started my fitness app on the phone when I left the truck, and paused it every time I stopped, at the end of going up and down all of those hollows, my fitness app told me I burned 2,190 calories. My legs told me they wanted a divorce. (If you don’t know me personally, I look like the result of Sasquatch going on an all pizza diet for a decade. Yes, I can probably curl an economy car, but anyone who can sprint would easily get away if I was chasing them. 🙂 )
So, I consulted with my Paulding Forest WMA expert, and he said ‘you look tired.’ *insert drumroll here* – Just kidding, he said to scout SOUTH of 278 because the hunting pressure is much lighter on that side of the highway. So Sunday, that’s where I hunted.
After finding a WMA marker (which is somewhat difficult in places), near a small power line, I decided to pop out of the truck and walk into the woods for a bit.
I would like to point out, both days I entered the woods after dawn – I like to get into the woods an hour BEFORE dawn, but when I don’t know a location, I don’t like taking the risk of an injury, or screwing up somebody else’s hunt, or even ending up on the wrong side of a property line. Being safe, courteous, and legal is more important to me than what time I get in the woods.
So the power line was a small one, single pole, maybe three actual cables, it doesn’t show up on the WMA maps I printed, and it wasn’t what we think of as a power line cut here in Georgia, which are usually large enough to park an aircraft carrier inside of without touching the trees on either side. I started walking down the hill, and immediately found wildlife.
Just after taking the photograph, I heard a gobble, and my heart started thumping. Working quickly and quietly, I moved to a bend in the cut and set up my hen and jake decoys, then found a patch of thorn bushes to sit behind where I could see and shoot if I had the opportunity.
I hit my slate call with a few clucks, and three gobblers responded. Three. One across the road behind the strip of woods behind me, one down the hollow that was a fair distance away, and one that sounded remarkably close. I waited forever (three or four minutes) and hit the call again, more aggressively this time, and again, three gobblers responded immediately. I should point out that my skill at using a turkey call is minimal. As in ‘I can get it to make noises that sound turkey-like.’ For all I know, what the gobblers were hearing is ‘Bug water tree rock! Fat leaf dirt dirt!’ instead of ‘Hey big boys!’
Based on an hour and a half of calling, and an hour and fifteen minutes of gobblers responding, I’m pretty sure I confused all three of the birds to no end. Yes, I’m sure these weren’t other hunters, the chances of three other hunters ONLY using gobble calls, in those three directions, are very slight.
An hour after the gobblers stopped responding, I decided to pick up the decoys and wander down the hollow to see if I could either tease a gobble after moving a few hundred yards, or locate some tracks or other game sign for information. I did find some interesting spots in the little creek bottom, but no sign of turkey or other critters.
But there’s always next week.