Sunday Morning, I decided a little bit earlier than usual to call it quits and come in. I had just had a ball playing with a mess of jakes. I could have all of them, many times over, but held my fire. These were probably the same bunch I had seen all season. Next year I should have a good cohort of 2 year olds to hunt. I had taken the same spot near Midway that I had been seated the day before. They had run down the freshly seeded field. This scenario had played out several times this season. When they left and nothing else showed up, I decided it was time to go.
From that point on it took six hours before I was back in town, taking my place in the recliner. It takes that long to break down Turkey Camp and get home and stash the gear. I still have work to do before the shotguns are put away for the year. However, I can start collecting my thoughts on what worked and what did not. What to do again, and what to stop doing.
What did not work:
I have been pre-positioning blinds using die-cut blind material for about a decade. Every year the wind and the spring thunderstorms tear one or two of them up, leaving me shreds. This year, I hardly used them. I think it is time to face the truth that this is a wasted expense. I can put up a blind in under 10 minutes if I carry the components with me. The tactic worked great when I had young sons in tow, but I some where in the past 15 years I have aged to the point were I can sit still enough for turkeys to peck at my bootlaces.
The new butternut/kwila box call from SS GameCalls for all its beauty and style did nothing for me. I do not blame the call, however. There was a threat of rain most of the days I would have used it, and the few days that I did the chalk got in the way. This is a fine call and it set me back a good bit of money. However, it is going to take some breaking-in, and some getting used to– more of the latter than the former.
I am making an official warning: DevCon 5 minute epoxy will not hold up to the demands of a pot call. I built several pot calls early on using that glue and every one of the calls has since failed. This one lasted the longest, 9 years. The aluminum plate fell off playing with the jakes. The best suggestion I can make is using Liquid Nails construction adhesive. That is what I will use to repair this call.
I took my Toby Benoit Rebel Yell box call out in the worst of it, and managed to bag a nice bird. However, even Toby would tell you his calls are nothing to look at. They just plain work. I was facing 35 mph winds that day, and I knew the Rebel Yell could cut through it. In similar conditions, I have called birds from 600 yards out. The hen that plopped down and came running to do battle this year was at 200-250 yards, and she brought the gobbler with her. Just for grins, I had Angus on the walkie-talkie and tried the Rebel Yell at full volume. Angus heard it from the front porch of Turkey Camp. I was at the Honey Hole, over a half-mile away. He said it sounded like a hen calling from about 200 yards out. I miss Toby and Brian and the rest of the folks at Heirloom Calls. I have not heard from them in a coon’s age.
I picked up a milsurp Goretex rain jacket over the winter, it was in British DPM camo. It worked wonderfully for me in drizzle as well as couple of downpours. I have always liked DPM for a turkey hunting pattern. I really did not have a chance to outwit a gobbler’s eyes with it this year, but I can attest to clothing my sons in DPM in their early years, it seems to hide movement well. DPM stands for Disruptive Pattern Military. It definately disrupts the minds of turkeys.
The one-piece diamondwood striker from CustomSawing.com really worked. It became my go-to striker for my copper and aluminum pot calls. I just checked; they were out of them. Try again next winter. The other strikers that I made over the winter all came from the same place. They all worked, on one call or the other. The trick here is to carry a bunch of strikers that all give different effects. It leverages one or two pot calls and it ends up like you are carrying a dozen.
The B-Mobile Gobbler from Primos is still a good full-sized gobbler decoy. I originally bought it so little Mooselette could see what a real turkey was like. However, I kept it and a few of my old FeatherFlex hens locked in the blind at Midway and used them a couple of times. I still say dekes are a 50-50 thing at best and tie a hunter down too much. However, having what amounted to a padlocked closet in the middle of the turkey woods made it practical. The B-Mobile was on sale in places for under $50 this year. It may be cheaper at the end of the season. Both times I used the B-Mobile, I had turkeys come in.
Put in honorable mentions for the following:
Smartwool socks and sock liners and Hi-Tec Altitude IV hiking boots– I think I have finally found a pair of turkey boots that stay waterproof more than 1 season. I’ve got two seasons on mine now.