Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mr. O. Calls Update

My new site is up and running! At mrocalls.squarespace.com you can find great custom calls made just for you. Each call is different, but they will all sound great, and bring game in close.

You will still be able to find my latest posts here, but I hope you visit my new site as well. Whether you're looking for a new call, a special present for the hunter in your life, or a good story I hope you visit mrocalls.squarespace.com 

I'll see you in the field.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Turkey Adventures

I've been seriously turkey hunting for two years now. So far I have not killed a single turkey. I've not even pulled the trigger other than to kill a coyote that scared away the Tom I was calling. So far this year I have dealt with gully washer rains, unresponsive turkeys, and a trespasser.

This post and possibly future posts chronicle my Turkey Adventures for the 2013 season. I hope you enjoy!

Opening day of season and the temperature is a brisk 38 degrees. I spend most of the morning huddled against a tree, hearing absolutely nothing. Around 9 o'clock I hear a series of shots fired. After walking out and heading home I called a neighbor that hunts that property.

He told me that he hunted somewhere else and that they didn't see a thing. But he heard the shots as well. So I knew we had a problem immediately. I hoped the trespasser would just move on before I had to do something.

I spend the next two weekends hunting with one of my older brothers. We hunt hard, often hearing the gobble of a Tom, but never seeing a single turkey. The only turkeys we see are the ones in the fields as we drive to the next property. At this point, we're getting very discouraged. I mean, we're doing everything by the book aren't we?

We both patterned our guns before season. We mix up our calling, and we try not to over call. We set up before daylight, and we stealthily set up! Oh well, I guess we're not patient enough because before long we just start running and gunning.

Course that doesn't work out great either.

But we are learning a lot from our mistakes.

The one weekend we don't go hunting together, my brother shoots a great Tom! He has a 10" beard with 3/4" spurs. A very nice bird that will taste wonderful after I grill it. Either way, on to the latest news.

My brother's Tom
The last weekend of April we get over 5 inches of rain in a 36 hour period. So, to say the least we watched it rain from the comfort of the couch. It rained and rained and rained. I could've gone hunting on Sunday, but I was exhausted from watching all that rain fall!

So here we are, with just a couple more weeks of TN turkey season left, and I still haven't killed a bird. But I have a month's worth of memories, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

I'll see you in the field.



Thursday, March 21, 2013

TN Turkey Facts & Tips

Jake from 2012
The weekend of March 23-24 is Tennessee's Juvenile turkey hunt. The regular season opens on March 30 and runs til May 12. A hunter can take one bearded bird a day, and up to four birds a season. Oh, and did I mention that our turkeys are the big Eastern variety?




Well they are, and thanks to the efforts of the NWTF, pretty much any hunter can see a turkey. I'm only 25 years old, and it wasn't that long ago when turkeys were rare. About the only people in my area of TN that hunted turkeys went to the Land Between the Lakes WMA Quota area. And if I remember correctly, you weren't supposed to call to the turkeys!

All right, enough history and on to the present. Now the Eastern turkey can be found in pretty much every county in Tennessee. You can hunt them with shotgun or bow/crossbow. Mouth, tube, pot, pull, and box calls are all allowed to sing sweet music to Big Tom's ears. Electronic calls are not allowed however, and you may not kill a turkey with a rifle or handgun.

Other than that, you can go after a Tom or Jake pretty much however you want. Ground blinds are great options for hunting, especially if you plan to take children out. The ground blind gives you more room to stretch without giving yourself away. Don't get me wrong, a turkey will still look inside that blind, see you, and run away, but a ground blind is very advantageous to use.

I like to do things the hard/cheap way. This usually consists of sitting on a very short stool up against a tree. You can buy vests that have pads and they work great too. I try to find a spot that has a lot of cover, preferably where I can rest my shotgun to easily take a shot. If I don't find a spot I like, I brush one up with whatever I can find. This method is very taxing on your back, but it is the best thing in the world to have a turkey 3 yards away and be sitting on the ground.

Decoys can be a wonderful aid to your setup. I hunt with a feeding hen decoy, and sometimes I just lay it on top of the ground to imitate a hen that's ready to breed. Areas where the toms are aggressive, jake and tom decoys are great tools as well. Mix up your setup every other time you hunt, and over time you'll figure out what works. There is such a thing as too many decoys, and you want to attract the big Tom, not scare him away.

Just like when hunting anything else, you need to know your limits.  If your gun shoots reliably at 45 yards, then don't take a shot at 65. Buy a good full or extra full choke, and try out different types of shells and see what you like the best. Shoot at different ranges and know your pattern. This step will greatly help you when that tom comes strutting.

I write all of this to tell you that hunting turkeys is something very special. I hope that you enjoy the woods and fields as much as I do, and be sure to share in that love of the outdoors.

I'll see you in the field.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Weekend Hunt

For the first time in a while I managed to get in the woods. The bucks are dropping their antlers, but I don't expect to find any with all the varmints around here. So I pack up my MOJO Critter, 17 HMR, and a hand call and head to the bottom.

I set up on the edge of a big field that I usually turkey hunt. The critter is on and flailing about. The sun is shining on me keeping me warm. As I fall into a stupor, I remember I should be calling. So I place the call to my lips and begin to scream like a dying rabbit.

Nothing comes in the first few minutes. After a couple more minutes of calling, three buzzards fly over head and circle. I take this as a good sign of my calling. I stop calling and wait for just a few more moments. Then I pack up and move 100 yards south of my first stand.

I'm not a patient man when it comes to predator hunting. I like to move. Either way, on this stand, I place the critter on top of a knoll on one side of a ditch. I lay on the ditch bank with my arms and rifle supported by the ground. It was actually very comfortable, but limited my movement. I called for 15 minutes and left.

I moved to hunt in the cypress tree swamp I was skirting. On the way in I spook a giant swamp rabbit! Man those things run fast! That experience really made me want to get a rabbit dog. I miss the sound of baying Beagles and Basset hounds. I apologize for getting distracted!

I then decide to place my mojo critter on an old, rotten stump. I climb up an old deer stand, and I wait. I call and call. A possum ambles over, disinterested. Then I catch movement out of the corner of my eye. Not on the ground, but from a tree 10 feet away.

There, on a branch above my head, sits a red-tail hawk! To me he seems to be looking at the mojo critter with hunger in his eyes! I didn't quite know what to do! So I waited on him to make the first move. Eventually the hawk flew off and I climb back down the stand.

After I hit the ground and start towards retrieving my decoy, I catch a flash of yellow. It's a large, blonde coyote sneaking through the swamp. I immediately hunker down behind a tree and wait. But the coyote must have smelled me, because I never saw it again.

About ten minutes later a much smaller coyote comes meandering by, and I can't get on him quick enough. So he slips away. You can't be ready for every situation! After this I make the twenty minute walk back to the truck and head home.

I love being in the woods and fields. Just getting to watch the animals interact with each other and go about their days is amazing. I always have just as much fun hunting whether or not I pull the trigger, and I try to leave the woods with a little more knowledge than I came in with.

I will see you in the field.