Kansas Turkey Adventures

kansasdad

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Legal shooting time is one half hour before sunrise for both turkeys and deer in Kansas. Legal this morning at my public land location was 7:04, so I was patting myself on the back that I was in place, ready to go one hour before legal. I suppose the theory is to allow the woods to resettle if it sensed a disturbance in the "force". It also allows one to beat some other dude who might have had the same thought you had about where to set up.

So, "other dude" carefully shut his truck door at 6:59, and stick-snapped down the fence-line towards me, and I just shrugged and waited. Presuming that "other dude" would be armed, and the light was brightening through the overcast sky because it was now one minute before legal shooting time, I turned my headlight to red flashing mode, to alert "other dude" of my whereabouts and stayed motionless and silent trying to not to stir up the woods any more than he already had. Seeing where I was, he paused, paused, and then plowed on behind me and towards my left.

Stick snapping down the trail, he walked about 50 yards, and then I heard the first kersplooosh of turkey poop hitting the stream, and then wings taking flight as "other dude" walked under where the flock was roosted. More poop hitting the stream, and more flights overhead, I did momentarily consider grabbing my shotgun that was laying alongside my right leg and let a shot go at these birds that were escaping overhead, but I remembered my thought for the season.........only crossbow in October, and only a male turkey. As it would be a snap shot, and I wouldn't be certain of gender of the bird, I held off (I'm hedging my turkey crossbow only plan bringing the shotgun along as a backup/finishing tool only).

Within a few minutes, the kee-kee whistles of young turkeys looking for their mom/s were heard across the swollen stream. I pulled out my mouth call that I keep in my bino holder, and kee-kee'd and then responded to myself with a few clucks. The real mom across the way chimed in, and a bit of a battle commenced. She was SE of me, and so she handily beat me for the most southern birds of the year. The birds to the NE of me started my way, and mom and the rest of the flock were also headed my way. Just when I fully anticipated seeing a couple of juvenile turkeys pop up creekside in front of me, everybody went silent. She had gathered her family back together without me ever seeing them in the watercourse bottoms, so there was no longer a reason to continue being vocal.

I waited until after 9 am, hoping that "other dude" might possibly walk out and stir up some deer movement for me, but I hadn't seen him yet, so I loaded up the thermacell and range finder and stood up to leave, only to see "other dude" heading my way. Deliberately slowing my putting on of my pack, I let "other dude" come up even with me. He apologized for "walking in on you", and I replied with my patented wry kansasdad smile and replied, "that's public hunting sometimes".

I made it to the fence line, where there was a dead tree that had come down with the storms of last week. I leaned my weapons on the fence and began to remove the limbs that had been very tricky to negotiate in the darkness, making it more likely that if I head to this same spot later this season, I won't come close to face planting like I did on my way in this O'dark thirty.

Maybe it'll happen next time I get out.
 

kansasdad

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Fall shrub planting chores completed, and KState getting whomped a big one in Norman v the Sooners, I chose to have a go at a fall turkey. I went to a nearby Public Wildlife area (post #209-211 of this thread) where I don't know every bush and turn in the woodlot like my old stomping grounds. I was hoping to find a flock of turkeys like last time feeding on winter wheat and intercept them on their way to roost. What I hadn't counted on was with the lake level up over normal pool, the creek bottom was full of water, unlike last time I was here.

I also hadn't counted on a very unfortunate close encounter with a bullying son and his weather beaten father putting their johnboat into the creek and loudly cursing at each other as they unhooked 7 channel cats off of a trotline. It has been a long time since I have heard so many "F-bombs" uttered, and I have to say that I have never heard a son berate his father so viciously as happened tonight.

Even though I was sitting just a few feet from the creek bank, I don't think they ever knew that I was there. I chose to remain there as once I figured out they were in the stream, I had hoped that they might keep running down the creek to the lake, and possibly push some deer my way (as the sun was just about to set, which means turkey hunting was done for the day).

I remind myself with this story that public land hunting comes with distinct possibilities of plans being messed up by others. And rude ones to boot!
 

kansasdad

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Stealing from Peter, Paul and Mary........where have all the turkeys gone? Lots of shooting today so it must have been youth waterfowlers getting some opportunities to harvest.

Actually I shouldn't be surprised at my lack of turkey sightings as I have really been focusing on getting a second deer, and not been hitting my public land turkey honey holes.

Once the leaves drop and the last combines have hit the agricultural fields, that seems to improve sightings considerably.

Walking back I flushed a doe off her bed, the only deer I saw today. And then it happened.......20 or so bobwhite quail exploded five feet to my left from the unharvested edge left for the wildlife. I laughed out loud at how badly I jumped at their takeoff. That will never get old.
 

kansasdad

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With the passing of the last cold front, complete with south central Kansas first snowflakes, the geese population has burgeoned.

Yesterday morning as I was hoping to find a thanksgiving turkey , I had the most amazing goose concert. Canada's of giant and cackling varieties, white fronted and snow geese were all in full voice. Special guest stars to this concert were the multiple flocks of high flying Sandhill cranes. And maybe just because I so want it to be so, I believe I was overflown by five whopping cranes making a super special guest spot in the waterfowl concert.

Thanks to Ducks Unlimited and the landowner/s who had enrolled their land in the WIHA program.
 

TheBenHoyle

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I just discovered this thread. I do love turkeys and turkey hunting. I'm hoping to get out to "chase chickens" as my youngest daughter calls it. Good luck on your hunts.
 

kansasdad

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I was finally beaten by another car to my parking spot on my public land this morning, so it was Plan B time. Driving on another couple of miles along the lakeside agriculture/pasture/cedar thicket lands I had to slow down so that I didn't hit a little two year old buck crossing in front of me. I told Mrs kansasdad that for a brief moment of buck fever, I contemplated whether I would have punched the accelerator instead of the brakes if I had been driving my old 97 Avalon, instead of the new-to-me SUV.

Parking alongside the highway, I pulled on my camo and headed into the dark forest lining the creek banks. Settling in to the edge of a harvested corn field, I once again was witness to the awakening of a new day. High clouds delayed the brightening of the morning, with Venus winking down for as long as she could. Just as the sun was clearing the tree tops I heard car doors slamming, and the honking of a remote door lock. Shortly, crunching leaves told the story of approaching humans.

Four orange clad, shotgun toting college aged guys didn't see me hiding until I finally moved. Stopping short, they looked at each other to decide what to do, and I waved them to carry on with their plans to push along the edge of the corn field. I decided to try to use these guys presence to my advantage. Gathering pack, shooting stick, and stool, I headed towards the backside of the bedding area. I thought that as the boys circled the field, any deer in the refuge of the cedar thicket might be flushed out, and expose themselves to me if I could sneak into an ambush position on an escape route. As it turns out, my strategy was correct, but I chose the wrong exit trail. A couple of does did leave the cedar thicket and escape towards the creek bottom, to enjoy another beautiful Kansas blustery day.
 

kansasdad

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With the start of deer firearms season, turkey hunting takes a 10 day hiatus in Kansas.

Hoping to find a buck worthy of my tag, I left for the public hunting land at O'dark thirty, and as I was leaving suburbia for agricultural land, I saw a flash of what I first thought was a deer in my peripheral headlights, and then I realized I was looking at a skinny shirtless man on the shoulder of the road. My thermometer said it was 43 degrees and there were lightning flashes on the horizon as a cold front with rain was headed for south central Kansas.

Proceeding onward and passing through the turnpike gates, I finally came to the conclusion that perhaps I should alert the authorities of my sighting. I called 911 and was put through to the correct jurisdictional emergency call center. I learned later that when any phone on our family plan calls 911, my wife's phone is notified of the call (her number is the primary administrator for the family plan). So when she awoke and checked her phone, she was concerned that I had called 911 at 4:48 this morning.

No live deer were seen in the wildlife area today by good ol' kansasdad but there was a gut pile and spinal cord/ribs/hide pieces laying in the corner of the field where I set up. I was hoping to catch a deer heading into the bedding area upwind of where I set up but no dice today. And as an added bonus, I got to meet a nice Kansas Dept Wildlife enforcement officer who checked for proper licensing.

PS: I am starting a thread entitled "Calling 911". Might be some good stories to tell and learn from.
 

kansasdad

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The Wichita Eagle had a story on the state of turkeys in Kansas. The bottom line is that there has been a 15 year decline from the highest populations of the early turn of the 20th century. Last year harvest statistics show that more than 1/2 of spring turkey hunters failed to harvest a bearded turkey, while allowing up to two tags per hunter.

Another issue discussed was biologists/wildlife administration/enforcement recommendations are not being followed regarding stopping fall turkey seasons due to the chairman of the wildlife being personally opposed to the ending of the fall season.

https://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article224470505.html


Fall season goes through the end of January. So far while deer hunting, I have seen one hen while hunting. Gonna have to get my ninja on and get after it on the last weekend of the season!
 

kansasdad

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Kansas allows hunters to purchase a turkey combo license (turkey permit and second tag) during the month of March with a $7.50 savings over buying them separately, or buying them starting April 1st. This applies to residents and non residents alike.

Youth and disabled hunters get first crack starting 4/1, using archery or shotgun, with archery only hunting for "regular" folks starting one week later, and finally shotgun gets rolling on 4/17. Spring season requires the taking of bearded birds only, and ends on the last day of May.

I've gone out in snowstorms, and hunted in triple digit temps, all in the space of one week because, hey, tis Kansas, and if you don't like the weather right now, just wait 15 minutes.
 

F250

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My buddy and I are headed north of Topeka for the first few days of the shotgun season !!
 

NYyotekiller

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Van Etten, NY
I’ve been trying for years to get out to Kansas for the early archery turkey season. Hopefully I’ll be able to go next year and get after some birds with the old stick and string.
 

kansasdad

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I took my own advice and bought the turkey combo this afternoon. Somehow I always draw the least competent employee to get the permit purchasing accomplished.

On a more exciting note, the back-ordered turkey slaying shotgun purchase finally came in to CabelShop's and the wait to get the background check was short and sweet. Waiting to get a second manager to verify what was processed was acurate took longer than the computer process.
 

Mudranger1

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Colorado Springs, Co
I took my own advice and bought the turkey combo this afternoon. Somehow I always draw the least competent employee to get the permit purchasing accomplished.

On a more exciting note, the back-ordered turkey slaying shotgun purchase finally came in to CabelShop's and the wait to get the background check was short and sweet. Waiting to get a second manager to verify what was processed was acurate took longer than the computer process.
Do you have pictures?
 

kansasdad

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AMATEUR HOUR in Kansas......

Monday was the opener for archers, but that also was the March Madness finals and my mom had come to town for dental work and to watch the game.

Tuesday I jetted out of the office, stopped at home and rummaged through the pile in the garage to find some kind of camo, boots and calls,........oh ya, don't forget the bow.....and headed out to the wildlife area. Smoke was gently lifting from the pasture burning, and I saw that some land in the wildlife area was burnt CRP. There were cars parked along the river, which to my relief meant fishermen and not hunters, and I carried on to "my" parking area. My mantra of "nobody, nobody, nobody" worked, as there was indeed no vehicles there.

Much to my disappointment, I had left my binoculars and camera somewhere in the pile in the garage. AMATEUR HOUR!! Adapt and improvise, I did have my 5x range finder so there was that, but my goodness, I felt naked without the 10x's.

Cruising through the ag fields to get to the watercourse crossing, my aching hip was talking to me. AMATEUR HOUR!! Get your self in any shape other than round kansasdad!

Slipping up the hill and coming to the field edge, once again I yelled at myself for not having my binoculars. Cut cornfields with possible birds working a big field are hard enough to scan, but birds on the far end in the shadows are impossible to see when they are screened by cornstalks without magnification. Using the 5x (with horrible optical properties, by the way), I saw a hen heading towards the exit of the field. Using shrubs and hill contour to mask my advance, I spied the unmistakable semi-circles of strutting toms over in the next ag field.

Moving without care of making too much noise, I heard a semi-truck hit the rumble strips and the birds in the field gobbled in response. Having institutional knowledge of "my" birds, I correctly guessed that the birds would be heading down towards the river in preparation to roost. I dropped into the creek bottom, and hustled downstream in an attempt to get ahead of the traveling, feeding, gobbling flock of 2 dozen birds. The noise of hens and toms talking to each other let me know that I was barely going to beat the flock to my hoped for exit spot from the field. Reaching the well used trail, I slowly eased up the bank to get a fix on the birds location. Thinking that I still had a few moments to get into position for a ninja ambush......AMATEUR HOUR.....

Several hens were already at the field/grass edge just 30 yards away, and although they didn't for sure see me, their turkey spidey senses were tingling. They looked at each other, then back towards where is was, then back towards each other, and then it happened.....putt! Putt!! PUTT!! Nervous head bobbing, and I could feel the flock's attitude change. Feeding slowed and every head was up and looking about.

The farthest away hen decided that something was wrong enough, that heading west was a better option for herself and her flock. Sadly for me, she was indeed correct. Moving away slowly, and calling to her group, they started to move away. As per usual, this group traveled with the hens first, jakes second, and finally the toms. I still held out hope that the last two straggling toms might still decide that they didn't want to cross the wide field. My gentle yelping caused a half gobble from across the field. Fans popped from the closest toms. They were considering it......and the boss hen scolded them from across the field. Properly scolded, they folded the fan, and turned away.

AMATEUR HOUR over, I headed back towards the parking lot. What an evening Kansas had given me. I went in unprepared......no permethrin sprayed clothes, no binoculars, not cool enough camo (it was 85 degrees as I was driving), and about 5 minutes late to the ambush spot, I still came within 20 yards of legal birds on my first hunt of the season.

......and just as I thought AMATEUR HOUR was over, my brother Daniel (of the Alberta Bear Adventure thread) called me, asking me if our mom would be flying right now. "Indeed she should be", I replied.

She wears a "Help me, I've fallen, and I can't get up" necklace, and she decided that 30,000 feet it would be a good idea to see if they could receive her distress call! OMG, SENIOR AMATEUR HOUR!!

PS: flushing quail still get my startle reflex like nothing else
 

kansasdad

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Friday afternoon was a nicer attempt at getting a bird. The big field had birds on the far side when I scanned the treeline shadows. Fanning and occasionally gobbling, they sure looked pretty. Hens moved past the strutters, and they decided to follow, heading up into the standing soybean portion of the field. Finding a good display spot, these two boys hung out for most of the rest of the evening. For some reason (I'm looking at you Mother Nature!!), these turkeys hadn't got the message that the boys are supposed to where the girls are, instead of the other way around. I stayed until it became obvious where the flock was going to roost.

Heading out a few minutes before legal hunting time was over, I heard more gobbles closer to the parking area. These birds were most likely on "my" side of the river, and a plan was made to have a go in the morning.

Saturday:

The big flock of Tuesday night seems to have split into two roosting areas. I chose to go to the shorter walk roost, and was nestled into the wild rose thorns that ring the ag field well before the first field bird sang his awakening song. 100's of gobbles from at least four different birds rang out from the woods behind me. I don't remember hearing any hen tree yelps, so I was hopeful that my plaintive yelps and clucks would soon result in toms heading my way. Sunrise and shortening shadows yielded a big fat zero sightings of toms.

Around 9 a.m., a crow called, and toms gobbled. A rumble strip roar produced more gobbling. I called, and got double gobbles. Binoculars up, I could see movement in the tall grass in the well worn entrance to this field. I at first didn't see any hens, and I busied myself to make sure all was prepared for the shot that was soon to come. Fans popping, and shock gobbling a couple of more times, all was proceeding as hoped.,,,,, until she yelped at my decoy. Two hens were ahead of the toms, and they were too good to be fooled. They were so close, that as they passed my ambush spot, I couldn't see their entire body in my scope. Coming closer to the decoy, the lead hen slowed down, and started to give off the "something's not right" vibe. The toms were trailing about 30 yards behind, and never got close enough to clear the shrubs that were my natural blind.

Those boys were almost led to their doom by the hen, and then they were saved by the hen. Until next time worthy birdbrained turkeys.
 

kansasdad

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Four days out in the field, and I have yet to see a jake. Tons of hens and multiple toms, so something is a little strange in southcentral KS.

Last night I decided I would wait in ambush at the ag field edge and get one as they headed to the trees to roost. This was great in theory, sadly I chose an exit closer to the corner, and they exited more in the middle, so I could only enjoy the antics of silly turkeys.

Had I been deer hunting, it would have been a 20 yard chip shot, as my ninja holding still skeeelz served me well, and this deer must have been unusually dull of smelling, as she never spooked, but knew something wasn't quite right.

PS: blind=vision impairment, deaf=hearing impairment, mute=inability to speak......are there common words for no smelling or no tasting? (I know the Medical/Scientific word for inability to smell is "anosmia", and is closely linked to the inability to taste)
 
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