Monday, September 21, 2009

Year of the Jakes Part 1

I have some catching up to do. This blog serves several purposes. One happens to be a personal log for future reference. If I don’t write this down now it’ll probably never get documented.

The Annual Traditional Colorado Hunt and Spring Break at Lazy A Ranch.

Day 1

My friend Steve and I have been talking about hunting turkeys with bows for years. I got a wild hair this year and bought a bow. With two weeks of practice, ready or not it was time to go hunting. Opening morning was we took out a friend for the first time. He heard about a group of turkeys from a local horse ranch manager. Our previous night was spent checking out the likely roost and a place to setup for the morning. We setup before light about 100 yards from the roost. It wasn’t long before we were able to spot several birds roosted in the large cottonwoods. Minutes later, we heard birds flying out. Ther were about a dozen birds were working up the hill towards our setup. I had just pulled out the rangefinder and was starting to range the birds, trying to get a feel for how the archery thing was going to work out, when all of a sudden BOOM!! Our friend decided to take one of the Jakes. He was excited, Jake #1 was on the ground.

It was still early, so we decided to head to another location. With a lot of effort and patience we had a few hens come to our decoys, and managed to call a nice tom within 30 yards. Steve was calling to a flock of turkeys across a canyon with a 200 yard divide. Each hen call from Steve produced a bunch of gobbles and hen talk across the way. This was going on for about a half hour. Mother nature called, so I took a little walk up the hill. Within minutes, Steve is quietly yelling at me to hurry. I literally got caught with my pants down. A tom had flown across the divide and landed on the sidehill of the canyon less than 50 yards away. He hit the ground gobbling. I hurried and grabbed my bow then started towards the gobbles, looking for a place to setup. Steve kept calling. With each gobble I knew the bird was getting closer. The problem was getting to a location without busting him, and being where he was willing to go. For about five minutes I inched closer. He decided to stay put. I couldn’t move for fear of busting him. His patience ran out, he lifted off the canyon rim and flew back to the other side. We had several other gobblers across the canyon still vocal. We tried to move our way around, but ended up busting them out of the area during the process. We called it good for the day and headed home.

Day 2

We headed out to a friend’s ranch for the morning. The spot where I took my Colorado turkey number 2. Birds were seen in the roost. Thirty minutes after light they flew down. The hen made quite a racket, but they wouldn’t come to the calls. We circled them hoping to get a reaction from a different location. We ended up calling a different hen into the decoy within 10 yards. I practiced drawing my bow on her a few times. We thought we’d change elevations to see if birds had moved up higher. We had a good view of the ranch, a few elk skirted out of the cedars below us. There was one decent bull in the group. Boredom settled in and Steve talked me into a little physics experiment. How far can you shoot one of those arrows? He picked a single tree in the middle of a large sage brush meadow. I flung the arrow and it immediately disappeared. We were surprised and immediately began to laugh! We decided to drop off the mountain. Approaching the solo tree in the meadow, I noticed a green and white fletched arrow at a 45 degree angle about 40 yards short of the tree. Another laugh, I grabbed the arrow and we proceeded to the truck. About 100 yards from the truck we heard a distant gobble, and took note of the location. Off to the next ranch. Steve’s friend, the ranch owner wasn’t home, so we decided to go back and hunt the ranch in direction of the distant gobble we heard earlier. We split up and hiked to the main ridgeline of the mountain. It wasn’t long before we had some hot gobblers responding to every call. We shut down the calling and headed their direction. We found a nice clearing and quickly set up. Within a minute the birds were right in our laps. Two jakes hot to trot. I saw them moving to the left, so I adjusted my position. The next thing I knew, I had them about 10 feet to my right. Unable to draw I let them walk up and away to about 30 yards into some sage. This is where the archery education course 101 took place. I ranged them at 35 yards. Well, the tree they were standing by was about 35 yards. I flung an arrow, it landed about 2 feet short. It didn’t faze them one bit. I quickly knocked another arrow and adjusted range accordingly. “Turkey Fever” kicked in. I was so fired up and excited, nervously shaking, my finger hit the release and I sailed arrow number two over their heads. They still didn’t have a clue. I figured I’d be patient, take a breath, calm my nerves and wait for a closer shot. They started walking towards me through some taller sagebrush. I picked an opening at 30 yards that they were walking towards, and I drew back patiently waiting. They stopped five yards short! I decide to let down my draw. Halfway through the process my finger hit the release. Thud! My arrow was embedded in a pine tree six feet in front of me. I start to laugh and look over to Steve about 30 yards to my left. He’s telling me to shoot. I’m signaling with my best sign language that I’m out of arrows, except for my thumper small game arrow. I leaned over and grabbed hold of the embedded arrow in the tree. He recognizes the situation and starts laughing. The birds move to another clearing about 20 yards away. He tells me to shoot my last arrow. I settle my 20 yard pin on center mass and release my last arrow, it skims the bird an inch under the chest right in front of the legs. Arrow and miss number four! We let the birds walk away to give me some time to regroup and gather my arrows. After about 5 or 10 minutes of laughter and discussion we proceeded after the birds. I found one arrow and took the shotgun from Steve as backup. We called them in again, but they hung up under some pines at 50 yards. They gobbled and strutted for 10 minutes, and decided to walk out on us again. I closed the distance quickly and Steve was able to get them gobbling one last time at 35 yards. I put my 30 yard pin right on his head hoping the arrow would settle on his body. I gently squeezed my release and the arrow zipped less than an inch from his noggin. Miss number 5. They had seen enough and started to trot away. I dropped the bow and grabbed the shotgun. I quickly headed to try to cut them off at the pass. I saw the first bird moving quickly through an opening, without hesitation I dropped to one knee and pulled the trigger on the second bird as he made his way through a small opening in the trees. Jake #2 was down! This wasn’t the biggest bird I’ve shot, but it definitely will be one of the most memorable! Steve nicknamed him Nubbs.

Check back for 2009 Turkey Hunt #2

1 comment:

Karen Thomason/Sure Thing Gordon Setters Kennels said...

We're not into turkey hunting, but, we do enjoy reading about the dogs and bird hunts. Really nice pictures! We have Gordon Setters and have a website called Gordon Setter Crossing. We'll be adding a link to your site, on ours. Hope you'll visit!

Best Regards & Good Hunting!

Karen Thomason