Who Wrote the "Book" Anyway?
Lee, Quaker Boy Game Calls Pro Staff
During all types of events in life
we hear of things going by "the book". This is no
different in the outdoors where we hear of "textbook"
hunts, harvests, or catches. Where did this "book"
come from? Who wrote it? What makes them the expert
to write such a "book"? We will probably never know,
but here is a short version on my "book" for the 2005
turkey season here in the south.
March 19, 2005
degrees is what the thermometer read for the opening
weekend on Florida's turkey season. My good friend
Brandon Dampier invited me to come down and hunt with
him in North Florida and help bring in the season.
We arrived on the private farm before
daylight and eased into the woods between several
fields and creeks. We hit the owl call and it wasn't
long before the woods were alive with gobbling birds.
Quickly we setup off of a field edge and called. Almost
immediately one answered right back. I started pouring
the calling to him after that with my Quaker Boy Old
Boss Hen diaphragm call. The gobbler was closing the
distance and we were getting ready. From the sound
of his gobbling, we could tell that the bird was off
of the property that we were hunting. With seven birds
gobbling though, it was hard to tell them all apart.
So we are sitting there, ready for a long beard to
pop out of the cover any minute when, BOOM, BOOM,
What seemed like a great opening morning
hunt suddenly went south in a hurry. The property
next to us had some hunters on it that opened fire
on some of the gobbling birds with a shotgun and a
.22 caliber rifle (totally legal in Florida). After
that, we only heard a hand full of gobbles far in
the distance. We live and learn, but we don't have
to like it. This morning would set the table for a
tough turkey season for this hunter.
March 26, 2005
Sunrise on opening morning of the
Georgia turkey season set the tone for what would
be an amazing, yet frustrating couple of months. Setup
on the edge of a chufa patch that birds had been frequenting
regularly, our confidence was very high for another
successful morning in the woods. Charles Clark, Mike
Lee, and I had snuck in under the cover of darkness
and were ready for the hunt. Charles hit the owl hooter
and boom! There was a gobbler roosted right off the
edge of the patch. Then several more gobblers began
to chime in and by daylight we had six or seven birds
hammering. This should be easy as taking candy from
a baby right? Nope, not even close.
Just as things were getting good,
some of the heaviest fog I have ever seen rolled in.
We could barley see the decoys we had out twenty five
yards away! The birds were gobbling, so we stuck with
it. The bird that we had roosted close to us flew
down and went the opposite direction, but as soon
as he headed away, another sounded off getting closer.
We would lightly call and he would answer, getting
closer every minute. Finally we saw movement on the
edge of the patch and could barley tell that it was
him. He saw the decoys and went the opposite direction!
Thinking he was spooked we called and the answered
right back with a strong gobble. This long beard was
at fifty yards and gobbling strong, but we couldn't
see him through the fog! Finally he drifted away and
we could tell by the sound of his gobble only, that
he was headed into the creek bottom.
Not a bad opening day, but just imagine
what it could have been without the fog!
March 31, 2005
My good friend Paul Kish and I headed
to the Demopolis, Alabama area for a four day hunt
with Montgomery Smith of Cottonwoods Sportsman's Lodge.
We arrived to severe thunderstorms and heavy rain
for the first two days of our trip. We did manage
to get in a late morning hunt on the first day and
had two birds gobbling pretty strong. They were just
off our property in a cut over and seemed to want
us, the "hens", to come to them as nature usually
does. We setup where the birds could come into several
different openings and called pretty aggressively.
Paul is one of the best callers I know and he couldn't
get these birds to budge.
Montgomery decided to changes setups
and after we moved, we never heard the birds gobble
again. Did they see us? Hear us? We'll never know.
The next day we woke up to heavy rain storms giving
way to high winds and clouds. The woods were beautiful,
but the weather was just too strong for us. We managed
to call in one Jake on the third morning and that
was it. Still a tough season going for me, but there
was plenty of time left.
April 9, 2005
This morning would go down as one
of the most memorable hunts I have ever had the privilege
of being involved in. Charles Clark, Mike Lee, and
I set out once again into the Sumter County, Georgia
woods. In total darkness we snuck deep into a creek
bottom, set up our decoys, and just waited. Not long
after settling comfy onto my seat, the woods began
to wake up. Birds began gobbling in almost every direction
when suddenly one gobbled from an unexpected place.
Right over us! We had setup right under a gobbler
and hen. He hammered at every sound in the woods,
owls, crows, gobblers, hens, anything! Needless to
say we were enjoying this setup immensely. Finally
the gobbler lowered his head and pitch down about
40 yards away from us. As soon as he lit, he began
strutting, but headed directly away from us gobbling
the entire time. A few minutes later, the hen he was
roosted with flew down and hurriedly followed the
same path. With several birds gobbling, we decided
to get aggressive and began a series of yelps and
cuts. Several birds gobbled and a couple even cut
us off. About five minutes later a long beard was
making his way in to the decoys. Charles
raised his Thompson Center Encore and when the bird
got to 20 yards, he made the shot.
This bird sported one inch spurs,
a ten and three quarter inch beard, and weighed over
twenty pounds. We finally broke the ice and a hunt
finally went by the "book". We were proud to get a
bird for Charles and to get it all on video was even
better. Something was missing though, I still hadn't
harvested a bird, and my trigger finger was itching
worse than a nudist colony living in poison ivy!
April 15, 2005
So far in the season, I had hunted
in Georgia, Florida, and Alabama, for a total of over
seven days with no success. Paul Kish lined us up
another hunt in a different area of Florida down in
Osceola country. Trey Wetherington and I arrived on
that Thursday night to get ready for two days of gobbler
chasing with Paul and Kevin Knighton. We were hunting
some private land with outfitter Charles Alvarez of
Lake Butler, Florida with high hopes of calling in
my first Osceola.
The early morning hours came and we
arrived at Hardees on time to meet with Charles to
get out after a bird. The land was mostly planted
pines with pastures and some thick hardwoods along
a small river. It had the look of some prime turkey
habitat. This first morning we setup and called in
a hen right after daylight, then decided to "run and
gun" a bit in search of a gobbling bird. Finally,
after about an hour, we got not one, but two birds
to gobble back at us using a Quaker Boy Gravedigger
boat paddle call. They were gobbling well and we decided
to setup in the bend of a road so we could see two
directions for them to come in on. Paul was calling
and the birds were gobbling for a few minutes and
suddenly they just got quiet. This usually means one
of two things, the birds are close and coming in,
or in this case, they have left.
We got up and peered around the corner
looking down a long woods road and what did we see
but a coyote standing the middle of the road. Our
culprit had been identified and the hunt was over.
We hunted one more day there and got
on some good gobbling birds the next morning. They
were just off the property line where we were hunting
and were coming our way when I saw movement. There
came a bright white head, looking just like a gobbler.
Nope, it was a Jake. He came in a finally figured
that something was not just right. He spooked and
ran right back out into the gobbling birds giving
an alarm "putt" the entire time. Two days down, nothing
to show for it and my Florida hunts were over for
April 23, 2005
The road to Rockford, Alabama was
full of rain and thunder as my dad, Mike Lee, and
I headed to Rockbridge Lodge to hunt with good friends
Bill Spratlin and Jerry Speed. As my luck had gone
this spring, the days after a cold front were upon
us and that meant high winds. I can deal with rain,
heat, and cold, but one thing that totally whips me
when turkey hunting is wind. You can't hear the birds
and the birds have a hard time hearing you. On the
two day hunting trip here at Rockbridge Lodge this
would prove very true. At daylight the birds were
gobbling and we even were able to get close to one
of them. They responded to calling when they could
hear the yelps, cackles, and cuts, but as soon as
the gobblers hit the ground, they got tight lipped.
The long beards had their girls still with them as
well and that made things even more difficult.
Hunting "henned-up" gobblers in the
20-30 mile per hours winds proved to be more than
we could master as we bumped more birds than we heard
gobble. Reluctantly, we headed back to Georgia with
our tails tucked. We did enjoy an awesome time with
the folks at Rockbridge Lodge anyway.
April 30, 2005
By now I hadn't given up on taking
a bird this season, but my feelings were getting hurt
pretty badly. Kevin Knighton and I made a late evening
drive up to Charles Clark's cabin and met up with
him and my dad, Mike. The weather, as usual by now
for me, was predicted to be terrible with strong storms
passing through most of the day. Saying a little prayer
for a few hours of morning hunting, I fell asleep
The alarm clock went off at 5:00 AM
and we drug ourselves up and gathered our gear. Charles
had taken the top section of a shooting house down
and built a ground blind for us overlooking a small
food plot that had already produced a couple of nice
birds this season. We were covered for the rain, but
we needed a long beard to cooperate. Arriving before
daylight and getting settled in the blind was easy
and it was only a couple of minutes until the first
gobbler sounded off. He hammered less than 100 yards
away. I called on my owl hooter and he cut me off!
This bird was getting pretty impressive with his calling.
I gave him a soft tree yelp and the hammered even
harder! By now I'm thinking that this may work out
well for me this morning. After a short wait, I decided
to let the gobbler know that I was for real. Giving
him a fly down cackle along with some cuts and yelps,
he was gobbling his head off. Then dad chimed in with
a fly down and this gobbler was going nuts! We are
now thinking that it is only a matter of time before
he comes in so we quit calling.
Two and a half hours pass and we haven't
heard or seen the gobbler again. Sitting there in
astonishment that he didn't come right in, we listened
as the approaching cold front was bringing some strong
storms our way. Reluctantly, we decided to head for
the truck. Beating the rain so far, dad and I decided
to slip out into the middle of a field that a lot
of turkey sign had been in to look around a bit. The
thunder cracked one time and GOBBLE!! A bird gobbled
about fifty yards away. I hit the dirt right there
in the middle of the field. A few seconds passed and
I thought to myself, "What are you going to do in
the middle of an open field?" I looked back at dad
and he motioned for me to come back over to the edge
of the field with him. We backed up and regrouped.
Dad, Kevin, and I slowly snuck down a road off of
the field edge. The bird was slipping up the edge
of the field and we needed to get in front of him
in a small creek bottom. Things were going good until
the bird gobbled. He was behind us! The gobbler had
decided to cut the corner of the field and ended up
about 30 yards from us. Right there we sat down and
I got my gun up. Then we heard the sound that turkey
hunter dread, "PUTT!"
Dad called very soft back to the gobbler
and told me to shoot when I saw his head. Amazingly
the bird turned back around and presented me with
a fifteen to twenty yard shot and I made the most
of it! I was jacked up! The bird sported a ten inch
beard and one inch spurs. Not the biggest bird in
the woods, but I was dang proud! Especially after
traveling over three states and having terrible luck.
There are a couple of weeks left in
turkey season as I write this, and who knows what
may happen in the woods before it is over. One thing
is for sure though, this has been one of the best,
toughest, and most rewarding turkey seasons I have
ever had. If this is what that first author of the
"book" went through, then I have nothing but respect
for his or her ability and knowledge of this great
tradition that has been passed on to me called "turkey
Good hunting and God bless,
Host - Southern Backwoods Adventure
Quaker Boy Game Calls Pro Staff, Scent-Lok Technologies
information about Quaker Boy's outstanding line of
quality game calls, visit http://www.quakerboygamecalls.com