Author Topic: A number of firsts today - Airgun Turkey Hunt  (Read 317 times)

steveoh

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A number of firsts today - Airgun Turkey Hunt
« on: April 14, 2018, 07:44:12 PM »
Today was an epic day for me even though I didn’t personally successfully kill a Turkey, or at least I don’t think so.

Left Benicia at 6am and landed at Steelhead’s (Kevin) place a little before seven for day of Turkey hunting. This is my first Turkey Hunt and it was awesome. Weather is beautiful and we start the day at 41 degrees. Brisk but once we start hoofing it, we warm up. Kevin took us to his top secret hunting grounds crawling with cattle and quite a few wild turkeys. Right off the bat we saw a large group of Turkeys heading from one patch of trees, across open pasture to another set of trees. Those Turkeys sure know how to move when they have a destination.

We set up next to a fence line pretty soon and Kevin sets out a decoy hen, and commences to work his Turkey call(s). We can hear gobblers doing their thing. I give it a go with my brand new Turkey box and I am rewarded with a response! I find this incredibly satisfying. I guess it's not unusual for me as I often chirp to the birds, squirrels and hoot to the Great Horned Owls in my backyard, and often have them respond. Now I want to build my own chatter boxes to continue the conversation. :)

After a while we have no activity and we hike to a new area. We see Turkeys and set up shop. We call and call and we get responses, but no visitors.

We move a few more times and same thing. We did seem to have one big Tom mesmerized but he was hundreds of yards away in range only for a guided missile and certainly not my Marauder or Kevin's Airforce Texan .308. We finally headed back to the truck, but on the way scared up four Toms. Kevin took a shot but missed. They were deep in the woods, and maybe it was a Hail Mary. Handheld Texan! Good Grief that thing is a canon. I try to head the boys off at the pass, but the Turkeys took a short cut through the woods, and by the time I rounded the corner they were off in another field, way, way, way out of range.

We covered a lot of miles on this one hunting ground, and every step was through wet grass that hid fresh, slicker than eel snot, cow patties, and babies head size rocks. Climbing over old stone fences topped with barbed wire was fun. The land holds all sorts of ancient human history and intervention. At one point we set out a decoy on edge of the woods where we'd just seen a couple of gobblers. We settled down under some oak trees, and got to the business of talking to the Toms. I was blown away by the scenery and felt the stress of weeks of sitting behind a computer melt off me. And strangest thing, I focus my eyes all day long, day in and day out at a close distance to a computer screen. I struggle with dry eyes, and focusing, but sitting under that tree I realized that my (glasses enhanced) vision was better than it had been for years. Just being out there looking for those dark specs in the distance seems to have sharpened up my eyes.

We head to another farm, and drive around looking for signs of Turkeys. We see them all over the place in the very far distance, out of reach, but not out of mind. Kevin points out a farm road way the heck out, says look there's a Turkey on the road. I take a look through the binoculars, and yep, that's a Turkey strutting his fanny down the road like he owned the place. A few seconds later Kevin says, whoa look at that, there are now a whole bunch of Turkey's all walking the road. Funny critters.

We head to the exit, but stop alongside a ravine, where a happy creek babbles away. I call, and we get a response way off in the distance. We decide to head back to the truck, and fetch the rifles. We hike parallel to the creek for a ways, stopping, calling, and getting gobbles back. We continue for quite a while, before realizing the Turkey(s) are actually on the other side of the Creek. Now we are in stalk mode and head down the steep wooded wall of the ravine, cross the creek and head up a grassy hill. Kevin spots two jakes a few hundred yards away, and we hunch down and make our way toward them. At one point we're on our hands and knees and inching up another small hill, and Kevin sets up with the Texan. Says he sees them, and that he's within range. Guestimates perhaps a 100 yard shot.

Meanwhile I'm breathing hard, and my heart is pounding from the hike down the ravine and up the ravine, and I'm overheated. That 41 degree start of the day is now in the 60's, and I peal off a layer. I really want to strip to the skin to cool down. But... Turkeys would see that white ass beached whale of my body, and run away laughing their fool selves silly. So the camo went back on. Kevin asks about how confident I am taking a 100 yard shot with the Marauder, and I say not at all. I'm used to killing rats at 25- 35 yards from the comfort of a tripod in my back yard. Now I'm on my knees in hard adobe rutted with cow hooves, and I can't catch my breath. Argh!

Kevin decides to go for it, and takes the shot, and bam! Turkey Down! Man that is exciting. Second Jake is still hanging around, and Kevin says use the Texan and said aim 1 1/2 mil dots under. I am struggling as I look through the scope, and can't at all get comfortable. Rifle has a long bipod, and I'm wobbling, and it's wobbling, and my heart will not slow down, rather it is pounding. I reverse what Kevin says for some reason and aim 1 1/2 mil dots over. I take a shot and miss. Take a second shot, and we both thought I hit the Jake. It's limping, and my heart hasn't slowed, and my breathing is still heavy, and I swear my whole body is shaking. I take a third shot and miss, and the Jake walks away. Funny, I'm not devastated, but more concerned that I've wounded the bird. So I go in search, but in vain, because I see no more of him, and no evidence that I hit him.

We admire the Turkey that Kevin shot. It's been a while since I've seen a Turkey up this close and personal. They are interesting critters to say the least. Actually beautiful, and terrifying at the same time. The hugeness was not lost on me, and the business end of the Turkey, the feet, with teenage spurs not quite in, are prehistoric looking. Mind you I have chickens and they aren't far off the evolutionary trail of the Turkey. But my biggest girls are minuscule compared to Mister Turkey.

We make a few photos, and head back to the truck. I carry the turkey for a while, but I'm still struggling. I've lost the conditioning I had since pausing Jujutsu a year and half ago, and I'm feeling the consequences of being a desk jockey. Kevin takes the Turkey, and I do my best to keep up with him as he marches down the ravine, crosses the creek, and motors up the up the ravine's steep wall. I down two bottles of water when we get back to the truck, and start to feel a bit better.

Kevin sends me home with the Turkey, and some frozen venison, and trout ready for smoking, and I am more than grateful. What a great guy!

I have a lot of rethinking to do about this airgun fetish, and the reasonable capabilities, and hunting the brilliantly difficult Turkey. I have learned so much in one day, and preconceived notions are contrary to what I learned. Carrying a heavy scoped air rifle and backpack in the terrain we crossed was an enormous task for this out of shape fellow. The stalk was an amazing experience, and the calling Toms was just so much fun. I could make a habit of stalking Turkeys and calling them, without the goal of shooting them, but rather photographing them. I think that would be thrilling, though a little less than actually engaging them with a weapon.

I want to get my son and daughter out, and try setting up a blind, and calling the birds in, so they can at least experience this part.

Thanks to Kevin for sharing his knowledge and hunting grounds with me. This is a life changing experience that will stick with me for the remainder of my life. Kevin is an amazing fellow who is so generous. I'm pleased to call him friend.

« Last Edit: April 15, 2018, 08:20:28 AM by steveoh »


  • Benicia, California
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mobilemail

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Re: A number of firsts today - Airgun Turkey Hunt
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2018, 04:29:40 AM »
I would love to see airgun turkey hunting in Illinois!  Go get that bird!
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Briar Patch

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Re: A number of firsts today - Airgun Turkey Hunt
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2018, 08:46:31 AM »
THAT was awesome!  Thank you for taking the time to write it up and share it. 

Some of the best hunting memories I have are of times when I've done similar things. Crawled on hands and knees through underbrush, dropping off ledges, hiking up steep embankments,covering a lot of ground, attempting to head off critters - sometimes in good shape, sometimes in terrible shape.  Experiencing all those things with good friends. 
Most of the time when I've gotten really close to animals I've been solo.  It's a big rush too to be hunting and have the wrong gender withing spitting distance - and them not aware of you.  Listening to the difference sounds doe and fawn make communicating to each other - things like that are cool.
It's just good to get out and enjoy nature like you guys did - having quarry just makes it that much more exciting.

That was a great write up - I could visualize the whole thing in my head as I read along.  What a fun trip!
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kkarmical

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Re: A number of firsts today - Airgun Turkey Hunt
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2018, 11:17:25 AM »

That's an awesome story.  I was supposed to get out the other day, but got called into work right after I loaded everything up in my truck.  Planning on using a sick day as payback.
  • Fairfield, Ca

caniborrowsomeammo

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Re: A number of firsts today - Airgun Turkey Hunt
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2018, 11:55:46 AM »
Great write up Steve. Hope you kept the Fan, dry it up and make yourself a Turkey Reaper.
Buncha BB guns that I don't get to shoot as much as I like. Building duck boats now that I'm "retired".

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Re: A number of firsts today - Airgun Turkey Hunt
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2018, 01:01:05 PM »
So what is the proper airgun shot on a turkey, head and neck only?  'Cause they got teeeeeeny little brains.
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Steelhead

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Re: A number of firsts today - Airgun Turkey Hunt
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2018, 04:02:04 PM »
Excellent description and nice pictures. That was truly an amazing hunt. Covered a lot of ground, probably saw 50+ birds, and just enjoyed a great morning. Both Steve and I are new to turkey hunting so everything is a new experience. We were SO CLOSE to closing the deal on an amazing hunt with Steve getting the second bird. I didn't help much with me trying to give holdover/under instructions. A nasty little hike up the hill, using an unfamiliar gun, and having a falling air pressure on the Texan wasn't helping. I swear that Steve's second shot hit that bird just by the sound. I will grant however that we were shooting at the birds as they were in a wet spring and the 'thunk' of the bullet hitting mud sounded much like flesh. Steve did a thorough search of the trees and I stayed on the outside to see if I could find it walking away. No dice.

Truly a pleasure to just kick it outdoors with a guy who's game to just nut it up and go for it. If not for Steve's calling (his skills are better than mine) and having the birds answering we'd have never closed the deal. Truly a team effort like a good net/boat job by your fishing partner or turning a double play. It makes a hunt that much more memorable.

I will say one thing on a personal note about being out of breath. I have weight/dietary/food addiction issues and I've yoyo-d between 200 and 300 lbs. for years. I've been in way better shape and I've been in a lot worse shape. I'm a work in progress!  Walking up and back to 200 yards at my backyard range on a hot day and then immediately shooting is revealing. Sometimes I jog it to simulate a hard hike and then just sit down and shoot. I have to say that it has made me a better shooter, especially when in the field hunting. You have to force yourself to breathe deep and slow and (try to) control your heart rate. It's great practice, it counts as good quality exercise, and it's the best excuse I have to shoot often.

As far as proper shot placement, I think you have to separate slug shooters/long range guns and .25or .22 pellet shooters. With me Texan .308 I aim upper chest. That gives me the most leeway for elevation. I should note that I will shoot at long range also so I want the biggest target area I can get. Also the 132 gr. cast bullet is forgiving if the shot is little off. If I'm using my .25 Armada I aim for the base of the neck where it meet the chest and nowhere else. If I can't place that shot on a bird (basically I'm confident to 50 yards with that shot) then I won't shoot.
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steveoh

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Re: A number of firsts today - Airgun Turkey Hunt
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2018, 09:30:03 AM »
Kevin, you sure seemed like a seasoned turkey hunter to me!

The whole hold under thing was my own fault. It's not the first time, I've interpreted under as the reverse. The brain is a terrible thing.  ;D

In the last year and a half my health issues have changed... Broke my foot, a sesamoid bone at the base of the big toe of my left foot. The bone never did join and so now I have two instead of one of those bones there. My foot is aching this morning, but it's a hell of a lot better than I thought it would be.  My blood pressure has been elevated, and am now taking meds for that, and to top it off my pre-diabetes is now genuine diabetes in spite of changing my diet. Oh, then there's the asthma I've had for many years. That exercise thing is obviously much more important. I think I just need to go hunting, or act like I'm on a stalk for 4 days a week. Now I just need to get a note from my doctor to give to my wife and my boss.  8)

Kevin, you have that Texan figured out, and dialed in. It is a foreign but intriguing beast to me. Now I can't get it out of my head that I need to get a 100yard gun, set it up and practice with it over and over again at all distances, before Fall Turkey Season. Let's see... what do I need? I'm still thinking head shots, though I now see that this would be mighty fine shooting. Right now I don't seem to be able to hit the side of barn with a .308 Texan, but that can change. I'm positive of that.  ;D

It was an awesome day, and I aim to get back into reasonable shape to do these sorts of stalking hunts on a regular basis.

Oh one more thing I learned... plucking a young Jake is not like anything I've ever done. Chickens, doves, pigeons and other dinky birds are easy.
I have a whole bird in the freezer with one hole in a thigh, and an exit hole just below the breast on the other side, and it's corresponding wing. Ouch! :o

Excellent description and nice pictures. That was truly an amazing hunt. Covered a lot of ground, probably saw 50+ birds, and just enjoyed a great morning. Both Steve and I are new to turkey hunting so everything is a new experience. We were SO CLOSE to closing the deal on an amazing hunt with Steve getting the second bird. I didn't help much with me trying to give holdover/under instructions. A nasty little hike up the hill, using an unfamiliar gun, and having a falling air pressure on the Texan wasn't helping. I swear that Steve's second shot hit that bird just by the sound. I will grant however that we were shooting at the birds as they were in a wet spring and the 'thunk' of the bullet hitting mud sounded much like flesh. Steve did a thorough search of the trees and I stayed on the outside to see if I could find it walking away. No dice.

Truly a pleasure to just kick it outdoors with a guy who's game to just nut it up and go for it. If not for Steve's calling (his skills are better than mine) and having the birds answering we'd have never closed the deal. Truly a team effort like a good net/boat job by your fishing partner or turning a double play. It makes a hunt that much more memorable.

I will say one thing on a personal note about being out of breath. I have weight/dietary/food addiction issues and I've yoyo-d between 200 and 300 lbs. for years. I've been in way better shape and I've been in a lot worse shape. I'm a work in progress!  Walking up and back to 200 yards at my backyard range on a hot day and then immediately shooting is revealing. Sometimes I jog it to simulate a hard hike and then just sit down and shoot. I have to say that it has made me a better shooter, especially when in the field hunting. You have to force yourself to breathe deep and slow and (try to) control your heart rate. It's great practice, it counts as good quality exercise, and it's the best excuse I have to shoot often.

As far as proper shot placement, I think you have to separate slug shooters/long range guns and .25or .22 pellet shooters. With me Texan .308 I aim upper chest. That gives me the most leeway for elevation. I should note that I will shoot at long range also so I want the biggest target area I can get. Also the 132 gr. cast bullet is forgiving if the shot is little off. If I'm using my .25 Armada I aim for the base of the neck where it meet the chest and nowhere else. If I can't place that shot on a bird (basically I'm confident to 50 yards with that shot) then I won't shoot.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2018, 09:37:12 AM by steveoh »
  • Benicia, California
Quackenbush .58 Outlaw
Shooting Chairs
Vallejo Ferry Schedule
Sam Yang 909s .45
Sam Yang Sumatra .25
RWS Diana 350Magnum Compact Pro .22
QB-79 .177
Crosman 1322
Crosman 1377 - HoRodded 10 FPE
Diana Model 27 (childhood airgun)
Tolman Skiff