© By Othmar Vohringer
Ken Coulson of Liberty Lake, WA sent me his entry for the 2008 Spring Turkey Hunting Contest. Reading his story reminds us all that turkey hunting is no picnic. At times it is hard work and it doesn’t always turn out the way we plan it. However, if we keep at it and keep going out to pursue our dream it will be rewarded.
Here is Ken’s picture and story. Enjoy
After a terrible weather report for this weekend Saturday afternoon wasn't to bad. Decided to go hunting Sunday morning (April 20, 2008). Nathaniel couldn't go, studying hard for a big AP test in a couple of weeks. He was also gone for the last couple of days to jazz competition in the Tri-Cities so was feeling even more pressure.
Again I got a slow start in the morning. I was going to go to Mt. Spokane but it was completely covered with a big black cloud and Mica Peak was out in the sun so I decided to go that way. Went up to some Inland Empire Paper Co property that we've been to before (the same place Chuck and Roger got birds last fall).
I parked in the normal location at about 9:30 and started walking in.
Going up first hill I knew I had too much long underwear on. The sun was on me and I was getting pretty hot. I got to the top of the hill and stopped to cool off and watch some white tail deer just in front of me.
They just looked back. Then all of the sudden a turkey flew away only 20 feet away! I hadn't even seen it! I thought it was a hen but wasn't sure so I went back downhill looking for it. Didn't see it again. Started back up hill again. This time looking more carefully for sign, which I did see.
Continued walking north and entered into an area that was pretty logged.
Not much cover, it was all pretty open in the area. I had been making occasional calls, no responses. Then in the distance I heard a gobble.
I worked my way slowly to a spot where I could see further ahead.
Spotted a group of 6 or 7 birds. They were still lots of hundreds of yards ahead and there was very little cover. They did not respond to calls other than a couple of toms displaying. What to do? They weren't coming to me so I had to go to them. I was in downed trees so I started using them to get to a little gully that had a bit of brush cover in it. I climbed over a tree and a tom flew away right next to me.
Got to pay better attention!
I could see the group ahead of me still and had a bit of cover. They had move up to higher ground so I had some chance to sneak up. I moved forward with what cover I had, getting closer to ridge top. They then moved to other side of ridge and they were out of view. This was good. I was able to quickly move to close to the top of the ridge without being seen. (I think they had already seen me even though I was a long ways off.) I got close to the top and there was next to no cover. I crept in and was getting close to range when two of the birds went left along the ridge and five flew off.
They went quite a ways, but I could see where they went. It was some of the only standing timber in a creek drainage (they have to leave some for watershed protection). Which way to go? I had already picked out what I thought was big tom; it was one of the two that went along the ridge on foot.
I decided I'd better look for those two first. This was again difficult as there was basically no real cover. I crept along and spotted the two and I was in range, about 35 yards. Boom, they were both still moving, boom! At this point they were slightly downhill and I couldn't see them.
I sprinted over there. No bird. I was sure I'd hit one. Keep looking around. Found one of them in a little bit of brush about 40 yards away.
Luckily it was still flapping a bit making it easier to find. This was a nice sized bird. Was looking around and spotted two more groups of birds, both 6 to 7 in number way in the distance. Looking good for further hunting!
Took a couple of pictures, called Roger, and then started the mile walk
back to the truck. Luckily I was pretty close to the main logging road
running through the area so the walk was pretty easy, though a big bird
starts getting heavy quick! Back to the car and home.
Talked to Tamara, who was over at a friend's house (Jensens). Gary was excited to hunt also. I told him I'd be glad to go again. He rushed out to get license/tags and his gear together. We headed back up there at about 2:30.
We went to spot where I had seen one of the groups of 6 or 7. We were in this steep valley when we spotted them up towards the top on the hillside.
I told Gary was what we should do is have one person go up and the other stay in the bottom. If they fly, they are going to fly downhill right towards the bottom. Gary decides we should both go up the hill. We worked up the steep hillside. Again this is Inland Empire property and is pretty logged.
Not much cover. After not much time I spot the birds. A group of 7. I'm in a good spot, a little group of small trees and am out of sight.
They have not acted as if they've seen us. I radio Gary to not move, the birds are just ahead about 50 yards. (Chuck the radios are great!) I've got the scope on and the safety off. They are a long shot but marginally within range.
I'm thinking to let Gary try a shot and it's a long shot so I'm holding off.
He gets to antsy and moves. They all fly off down the valley. I almost shoot, but it was a long shot so I hold off. I told Gary they aren't going to stay down at the bottom of the valley, they can't fly very well out of there.
We wait a few minutes and then continue moving along hillside. Just a bit later I spot 4 birds ahead. It was amazing how fast they came back up
(I'm assuming it's not a different group). This time they are nervous and know we are there. We are now in a snow squall with thunder and lighting!
We try to work towards them (no response to calls this entire hunt).
They move ahead of use, out of range. Finally they drop out of sight over a little drop. I radio Gary to get up there super fast, they can't see us.
I quickly move up to gully top and peer over. Four birds just ahead. 40-ish yards. Gary is still 40 yards behind me and not moving to fast. I decide I'd better take a shot they are in range. 3 of the 4 are toms. Boom.
Doesn't drop. Boom. They fly off. We pull back to regroup and try again.
By now it's getting a bit late and we end up having to leave. Near freezing with occasional snow. I'm convinced the RedDot scope is a piece of junk. Just too much parallax error.
Back home. 22 1/2 lbs before cleaning. Tamara and I plucked and cleaned.
This was a big tough bird. It had fighting spurs and a 8" beard. Very nice fan, going to keep this one. The gullet was completely empty. Hmmmm.
Stomach had grass and small pebbles.
Tags: Spring Turkey Hunting Contest, Turkey Hunting Team, Turkey Hunting In Washington