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Four years ago while out hunting the eastern wild turkey during the month of May, I was a victim of a poaching incident. My decoys were setup in their rightful spot. Just twenty-five meters in front of me on the edge of my friend’s farm field. I was tucked away nice and low inside the tree line facing south with the dirt road just fifty-five meters away.

I had been in my shooting position well over two hours and managed to call in two hens and a large tom. Once the male turkey was within shooting range, I had slow pushed my safety off and was only milliseconds from taking my shot. The turkey had a long beautiful beard; unfortunately this is when another shot rang out and hit my bird which caused it to jump into the air yet only wounding the bird, it leaped and disappeared into the woods to the east.

The poacher had total disregard for my safety and I know he saw my decoys, additionally it was on private property, and his shot was right in my direction as he was hidden behind a dead tree to my front on my left. He took a shot from a distance of only forty meters. Luckily for me he was a poor shot but my season was a total bust as it was nearing its end, and I could no longer take any more days off, as for the turkey he was injured and I went home empty-handed.

I still get very mad when I think about the incident but this blog entry is not about the poacher and my lost turkey but rather the proximity of the danger and yet I was able to go home alive and un-injured that afternoon.

Turkey hunting and waterfowl hunting share some similarities and one of them is the fact that hunters are not obligated to wear the orange safety vests. Birds can see very well in color, therefore not wearing the vest gives us hunters an advantage. However this adds a whole new level of risk and potential for danger because if you are concealed in camouflaged attire and you find yourself moving around in the woods or open fields, a hunter can mistake you for game.

During the turkey hunter’s awareness course, they teach us to avoid wearing red, white or blue which are the colors of the male turkey head. We are also instructed on methods used to carry your decoys into the field either using a large bag or other safe methods of transportation such as bins, so that the plastic birds do not attract shots from other hunters.

Some experienced hunters suggest setting up your decoys the night before once you have located the roost using crow or owl calls and chosen your spot. This way you can avoid the risk of being shot during their setup and layout in the early morning hours often done in the dark. Additionally if you see another hunter approach your chosen shooting position, yell at them to alert them of your presence, do not stand up or wave your arms.

Another safety item I wanted to write about is methods on how to carry your successfully harvested game out of the field. Now that the hunt is done and you have successfully harvested your game, we should also take into consideration safety of transporting your harvest for registration. (This applies to turkeys, deer and moose) For more information on game registration please visit the ministry site.

I have often seen proud hunters, once they have harvested their bull moose, if they are in a remote area, they will often cut the moose into quarters which may be a necessity depending on where you are hunting but then the hunter will also attach the moose antlers across their backs attached the backpack. To an inexperienced hunter you could look like a moose moving through the bush and be shot. A good friend of mine’s father built a very light carrying wagon with bicycle wheels as an alternative, this way he avoids damaging his back muscles but also he can also place his game on the wagon and cover it with a tarp. Using this method the hunting party is much less of a moving target because the large body parts of a moose or deer are not exposed to the eye to see.

Once your hunt is done you may also want to consider putting your orange safety vest back on and maybe even carry a second pair which you can then attach to your turkey or game. The location of your hunt can also be a positive player toward your safety, for example if you are hunting at an outfitter who has exclusive hunting rights on that particular piece of land, then the likelihood of you being shot could be reduced, however in my case I was hunting on private property and was still shot at by a poacher.

Using motorized vehicles such as four wheelers and other such vehicles can also be interesting, when removing game from the hunting grounds. The sound of the motor will alert other hunters to be careful and make them aware that they are not alone in the bush.

Crown land during deer season can be a very dangerous place, because there are a lot of new eager hunters that are ready to harvest their first ten pointers during the first fifteen minutes of their hunt. Always be vigilant and practice safe hunting, know where your partner is at all times, maybe you can carry two-way radios to help with this. Know what is beyond your shot. I was out boar-hunting a few weeks ago, and I had many opportunities to hit my wild boar but I waited for the pig to be in a perfect shooting position with a ridge as a backdrop to catch my bullet, which was by the way through and through, therefore had to potential to hit another game or worse.

Always practice safe hunting techniques, whether it be handing of a firearm, setting up your decoys, or carrying your game out of the field. I was once told a story about a bear hunter who harvested his game and carried it out of the bush on his shoulders; he was shot five times and killed by other hunters. I know his cousin very well.

Please practice safe and ethical hunting and do not rely just on your hunting and wild turkey safety courses, conduct research, spend as much time as you can in the field, talk to experienced hunters, guides and outfitter owners and get informed, never stop learning.

When you are dead there is no cool factor, people who practice safe and ethical hunting are great hunters indeed and have my utmost respect.

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When you are out hunting turkey in the Spring or in the Fall depending on which country or province you live in, there are some colors that should be avoided..which colors are they?

Easter Wild Turkey Head

RED, WHITE, BLUE and BLACK!

For more information about turkey hunting visit the following sites:

The National Wild Turkey Federation

La Fédération québécoise des chasseurs et pêcheurs

Le ministre des Ressources naturelles et de la Faune

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Quick Tom

The truck drove slowly up the long dirt road between the north and south-western hay fields carefully avoiding the mud holes. The creaking sounds of the suspension faded into the country music that was playing low on the radio. Once we reached our spot, the driver put it into park and stopped at the top of the eastern ridge on the forest edge.

It had been raining for a few hours now and the temperature was starting to drop at about six degrees Celsius, we had lowered our windows, so that we could hear the nightly sounds and hopefully get a gobble or an owl hoot. I then carefully swung my door open, stepped out into the mud and moved my way to the back to the truck, unzipped my hunting bag and grabbed my crow caller.

It had been dark for about thirty minutes now and we were slowly sinking further into darkness. I cupped my hands around my mouth and started with a few owl calls and then waited a few minutes, then called again with my crow caller. This went on for a few minutes and would stop, listening with my hands cupped around my ears, and then I would start calling again. I was anticipating a call back from a gobbler but instead I heard crickets, geese from the lake nearby and some other nocturnal animals. The farmer had said that the field on our left was full of turkeys during the week and so we were attempting to find their roost.

After a few failed attempts, we packed up and made our way back to the cabin for the night. It was going to be a short sleep because we wanted to be back on site about half an hour before sunrise in order to get the best setup. Since I had not located the roost, we decided that in the morning we were going to still-hunt along the edge of the fields just like Ray Eye had done in his book. You must exercise a great deal of discipline while moving through the woods and fields, know your terrain, be patient as well as have a good eye.

Turkeys can hear and see extremely well and it is absolutely critical that you know and understand the game you are pursuing.

It was now five in the morning and I awoke to some nice song birds. Within minutes we had eaten breakfast, which was a few pieces of toast and a cold glass of milk, and then we loaded the gear into truck and drove back to the very same spot. My good friend was carrying my decoys in a bag, along with green mosquito netting for cover. I had my Quaker Boy slate caller around my neck, a set of binoculars and my pump-action Remington 870.

The hunt was on and we were extremely excited, we slowly moved our way east through some copse of trees between the east and western fields and as we broke the forest edge two deer leapt into the tree line to our right and disappeared. We decided to go up the left hand side of the field north-east of the truck and then cut across about half way through as there was a crest in the field leading to a point which offered a great shooting spot.

As we slowly made our way up the forested edge of the third field, I went down on one knee and completed Wade Bourne’s Fly down Cackle hitting my hat against the tree bark and boy it sounded authentic.

I must have alerted some animals nearby because within an instant of finishing my call a coyote came trotting along the field to our right and then when he saw us he disappeared just as fast as the two does. We did however find his meal left over’s which was a porcupine carcass. Several minutes had gone by and now after having seen some wildlife our senses were set to high gear and then almost every dark object in the fields looked like an animal.

We must have taken around forty more steps and had stopped by a pile of logs when my friend tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to our left. We instantly took a knee and stared at the large black mark in the center of the field down in the low ground. As we looked on, I noticed that it was lifting and lowering its head but it was too far out to make out what it was. I whispered “It looks like a coyote” but my friend was not so sure, so I handed him my binoculars and he focused on the animal. He was several hundred yards away down in the low ground. Behind him was a beautiful valley and on its crest there were very large trees mixed with pine and aspen, oak and birch.

To his north there was a very large hay-field and a small lake behind some more trees which formed a sort of barrier between the two features. To his south there was another field and it was on its southern edge where my point and best shooting spot was located. By the time my friend handed me the binoculars to have a look, he had already whispered back that it was a very large tom and he had a huge smile on his face. It seems that my calls had worked and he was spreading his wings in a feathered dance then moving slowly into the direction of my calls. He was all alone with no other turkeys in sight.

We kept very low and slowly moved back toward the southern edge and decided to place the two decoys twenty-five yards from the brush. My friend walked back to the logs some thirty yards to the west providing me with a safe and wide shooting arc. Ideally, I needed to be further east on the point but I could no longer move as the tom was closing in on my decoys and would have instantly seen me.

I tucked myself into the bushes on the edge of the forest my back facing south with my decoys slightly to my left to the west about fifteen yards out. I carefully placed my Remington 870 aiming directly to my front and lifted my slate caller and let out a few cutts, yelps and purrs. I would then lift my binoculars, look for the tom’s position and reaction.

At first I could see him moving toward me but then he would fade into the low ground, and I thought to myself “Damn! He saw me.” Then I would see this very long neck pop up like a submarine periscope and then disappear again behind the grassy knoll. It was quite comical. What I found very neat is that he never once communicated with me, not even a few clucks or a gobble.

There was one thing which was clear and this is that this tom was quick and he was in a hurry to see my hen decoys. He was now fifty yards out to my right, I had tucked myself away into a ball and pulled my camouflage hood over my head, I looked like a Real Tree bush with just my eyes moving, he was moving quickly but cautiously towards my two decoys. He would complete another feather dance which was just breath-taking and you could see his beard dragging along the ground. He would then tuck his head back in and move forward a few more steps, then stop and move yet again.

My heart was racing like crazy and I kept on going through my shot scenarios and wanted to insure I chose the best time to take my shot, so I waited for him to walk directly to my front, I slowly raised my Remington 870 and unlocked the safety using the slow push technique which Wade Bourne had shown on his video. It made no sound at all, took my breaths and when he was twenty-five yards out, I lined up my bead sight with his head and neck and let out a shot of number four.

It struck him by surprise and made him jump into a winged frenzy, I instantly leapt out of the bushes and while on my second step toward the bird I fired a second shot. Upon the second impact he spun around and the twenty-three pound beast fell to the ground. I had just harvested my turkey on the second day of this year’s season and it was all over in less than two hours. Brilliant!

I may never meet Wade Bourne, Ray Eye and Preston Pittman in my lifetime but they were all present during my hunt. Thank you!

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I don’t know about you but when ever I come back from a hunt, all I want to do is share my experiences in great detail to my family and friends. Even if sometimes they may be pretending to be interested but are not really listening, as long as they say “Really” or “Neat” once is a while that works for me. After all not everyone understands hunting.

When I post a hunting story of mine on my blog, I want the readers to be there and share the experience with me, breathing in the fresh air, being surrounded by the elements. Now imagine yourself learning about turkey hunting at its best and yet at the same time feeling that you are also right there with the author.

This is the way Ray Eye’s book on practical turkey hunting is written. Being a turkey hunter and having successfully called in several Tom’s in various weather conditions, this book is awesome and the strategies are extremely practical.

I only have five chapters left and I find it very difficult to put the book down. Throughout the chapters, Ray demonstrates his true character and his perseverance to learn and master the art of turkey calling and hunting starting from a very young age. He is without a doubt a seasoned veteran and a well-respected turkey hunter. 

The book: Practical Turkey Hunting Strategies: How to Hunt Effectively Under Any Conditions is a must read. Ray has been very generous in sharing his knowledge. I can not wait for the spring turkey hunt to start now and add his flavor to my hunt.

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