Kansas Turkey Adventures

WildWill

Active member
Joined
Jan 10, 2016
Messages
610
Location
SE Oklahoma
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)
I've also noticed a lack of Jake's this year in central Ok.
 

kansasdad

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Jul 30, 2011
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4,068
Location
Wichita
kansasson has come home with Mrs kansasson for an Easter weekend in Kansas. Thursday evening we were in position along the treeline, and saw that the birds were heading towards the river/roost areas. There was a tom at half strut in the corner, red head glowing in the waning sunshine. One thing about the tom though......he wasn't moving. "Decoy", we said to each other.

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The lead hen of the approaching birds made it to within 100 yards and then she slowed down, much like a boat headed towards a dock when the driver throttles back. We stayed until the last moment of legal shooting time, watching birds filter in and out of the treeline, and formulated a plan for Friday.

Walking out we almost stumbled over an armadillo rustling around in the tall grass. As an 8th grader taking biology class in the "Little Apple" (Manhattan KS) we learned that there was an invasion of northward moving armadillos, as it was considered unusual to see them in Kansas in the early 70's but researchers were reporting a significant expansion northward. Roadkill armadillos are not not uncommon north of I-70 these days.

Friday we put a plan into motion to intercept the toms I had been seeing at the upper level of the field.

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Using a different way to reach the field allowed us to slowly approach the ag field edge and settle in to little folds in the underbrush. All afternoon we saw birds emerging from the woods, eat a bit, and then fade away again.

Moving towards us, with two toms in tow, a hen was on our side of the field. As she got even with us, about 30 yards from the edge, she stopped strolling, did two 360 degree turns, and for no perceptible reason began to putt/putt/putt and headed downhill and away from us. The two toms that were following kept coming, and sorely tempted us as they passed at 65-70 yards from our hideyholes. kansasson told me afterwards if I had told him "six-five" with hand signals, he would have had a go. Silly son thinks that any turkey within 75 is in range, as he has nailed running turkeys and flying ducks at that distance.

Directly across from our location there was a jake decoy, which almost had a repellent effect on live turkeys as they traipsed along the field edge. They would approach to within 70ish yards, and then make a wide skirting move away from the edge. This is the first time I have seen "my" birds get decoy shy so early in the season (regular season started Wednesday)

A bossy hen emerged from the sorghum, pulling the two toms after her. Finding a nice strutting spot, these guys started working the fan game hard.

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A few more hens joined from the woodlot edge, and this little flock started to head towards the lake's edge. The leading hen got around the protrusion of trees onto the field and saw the decoy ahead. The entire procession came to a screeching stop. I told kansasson that this was our chance. The hens turned towards the woods, the toms came back to the sorghum. As a sign of hope, I had my 12 gauge on the sticks ready to go should the occasion call for action.

The shadows were lengthening and it had been 15 minutes since I had seen a red head popping above the stubble. A weak gobble came out up the hill. And it seemed to be right along the edge of the field. Yelping, but gobbler yelping followed after a bit. Making sure to stay statue still, trying to see through the underbrush of my hideyhole, I heard a "pffffft-whirl-whirl-whirl" where the "whirl" sounds like an unbalanced washing machine on spin cycle down in the basement.

Drumming!! and getting closer. Looking toward the drumming sound, I saw a fiery red head at the extreme edge of the field. Should he continue, has was going to pass 5 yards in front of kansasson. At about 12 yards, Aaron got his first look at the bird as he was tight to a cedar tree as part of his blind. The bird broke strut, and his head started the little bobble movement of a turkey who is trying to see what's up in the neighborhood. Sensing that something was up, he turned to go back up the hill, and Aaron shot. Aaron jumped up to apply the boot to the neck, and motioned me to come fast. Two more toms were moving slowly through the sorghum stalks, but they were out of range by the time I was able to find them in the field.

104725
 

TLowell02

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Joined
Jul 29, 2015
Messages
200
Location
Sedan, NM
Congrats on finding success! I have found a tough time of it trying to find any birds here in KS. Good news is tomorrow is the final day of my project so I get to commit the rest of the week solely to finding some birds before heading back to NM.
 

kansasdad

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Jul 30, 2011
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Location
Wichita
Sunday night's turkey adventure ended up on a weird note for sure.....

I saw my first jakes in the big flock that came out of the sorghum field along along with a dozen hens and the toms following. Just like Friday night, there was a jake decoy across the field from me (350 yards away) and another one at the lakeside field edge. This group of birds headed down the east side of the field and unlike Friday night the jakes went right up to the decoy, but the toms held back. Watching through the binoculars, I kept expecting to see a head/neck burst into a pouf of feathers, and then hear the (delayed) report of a shotgun. Nothing.

The birds slowly left the jake decoy, and headed towards the lake and the decoy at the bottom of the field. Once again, the jakes made like punks with the decoy, and it seemed to me that the toms were in range if there was a hunter hiding in the underbrush. Watching intently I again was expecting to long distance see one of "my" birds get knocked down. Nothing!

The birds disappeared into the lakeside brush, and as it was only 15 minutes before the end of legal shooting time, I decided I should pack up and head back to the car while there would still be just a little bit of light.

Putting on my pack, I looked down into the field to see the jakes and the toms strutting in the far corner of the field. There was a shot, then a second shot, and birds were flying everywhere. One bird was down, flopping away, and I admit that I was quite surprised when I saw the hunter emerge from the field's edge. It was quite a distance from the south decoy. This camo clad hunter slowly walked over to the bird, leaned down, seemed to pull the wings up, and then pulled on the legs, presumably to check for spurs.

And then the weirdness started. At no time did it seem that the hunter attempted to tag this bird. He walked back to the place where he emerged from the treeline after shooting, and it seemed that he was putting his vest on, and then returned to the bird. And during the examination of the bird, it started to flop a bit, and the hunter backed away as if frightened to see such movements. The hunter then walked into the woods to the east, and was gone for many many minutes. He was gone long enough that I began to suspect that he was going to leave this bird where it laid.

Reemerging from the underbrush, he once again approached the sporadically flopping, wing flapping bird. He pulled out bright yellow gloves from his vest and picked up the turkey by the neck, and attempted to wring its neck as if it was a duck. The turkey gave an extra flop, and seemed to go limp. Then the hunter began to step off the yardage from where the bird lay, back to where he emerged from the woods at the shots. It looked like it was 65 yards by counting his steps. Back in the woods, the hunter went a spot 30 or so yards away from where he emerged from the woodlot, and seemed to be picking up various calls, water bottles, etc, etc. If the turkey was fully dead, he wasn't acting like it. Sporadically I would see more wings flapping.

After walking back to the bird once again, the hunter seemed to examine the bird from various angles. As it was getting darker and darker as the sun had set 15 minutes ago by now, I couldn't tell if he was taking photos of his bird, but I could see that perhaps this is what he was doing. For the first time in thirty minutes, he finally bent down next to the bird, and I hoped that he was putting his tag on the bird, to complete the legal process in taking a bird.

As I had had contact with the Kansas Dept Wildlife/Parks officer to obtain a salvage tag for a deadhead whitetail, I had been giving the officer a play by play of what I has seeing via text message. My last texts to him were observations that the hunter was picking up one of the decoys, after perhaps had actually tagged his bird.

With kansasson Friday night and this hunter Sunday night both taking toms, it seems that this flock of birds may be down to one tom, and a couple of large jakes. Time to get busy with this tom, or find some other birds kansasdad!!
 

kansasdad

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Jul 30, 2011
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4,068
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Wichita
Mushroom pickers and fisherman are moving the birds into different spots than earlier this spring. Not to mention several pastures being burned that in previous springs have been home to many nesting hens.

At least two toms seen on "my" field, and two more were crossing the road when I got there Friday afternoon, so not every tom has gone home for dinner yet. Happy that we have a long season to chase turkeys...all the way through the end of May.
 

ElkFever2

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Mar 4, 2019
Messages
981
Location
Iowa
Good luck!

I'm starting to get inundated by mushroom seekers...makes for an additional challenge for sure. I'm happy to see people enjoying the outdoors even if it pushes the toms I scouted. Have hunted 3 evenings so far and they are all henned up and/or on private. Monday I have all day to hunt so plan to hike in a ways in see if my luck changes. So far my decoys have seen 3 hens, a jake, 2 whitetails, 2 geese, a rooster pheasant, and a squirrel.
 

kansasdad

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Jul 30, 2011
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Wichita
The alarm didn't get a chance to sound off Sunday morning, as I woke up 15 minutes before schedule. Driving out, the temp read 43 degrees, with a nice little breeze keeping things a little "brisk" and fresh.

Walking in, I saw the familiar bouncy white flags of blowing, escaping whitetails, and strained to hear turkey talk in the pre-sunrise morning. Reaching the ag field that history would predict a flydown from the lakeside treeline, I scanned the field for any signs of decoys, and was a bit surprised to find none. The dozen birds waited until 10 minutes before sunrise to flydown and put their feedbags on, scratching and picking and generally horsing around with each other.

Two strutters (or perhaps I should say partial strutters) were with the hens. I mention the partial strutters, as one bird had a couple of gaps in his fan, much like a six year old with missing teeth, and the other tom just wasn't feeling a need to strut much, as perhaps his fan was in need of some turkey fan Viagra. These birds loafed in the corner for over 45 minutes, drifting gently in each ordinal direction, but they seemed to remain at the maximum shooting distance or more from the field's edges. Moving into the sunshine and away from the tree's shadows, I had hope that this flock would drift west, and then north, where I planned to put local knowledge of this flock's pattern of movement against itself.

In the next photo, taken a couple of weeks ago, my bird is the one with the gapped fan, shown where he liked to hang out, and only a few yards away from where I shot him......

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With the flock more than a quarter mile away, I felt confident that I could sneak out to the edge of the field, and tuck my hen decoy into a small gap in the trees, to simulate a hen leaving the ag field, and heading into the adjacent woods. I intentionally put her in a lower spot on the fields edge, as I knew that decoys had been both a draw and a deterrent to turkey behavior/approaching field edges. Gobbling sounded off every so often, and hen talk drifted up the hill to where I has nestled myself into the middle of a cedar tree.

After some time, the flock headed west, and then began to angle up the hill towards my location. The lead hen kept 80 yards off the treeline, and entered the cut sorghum and disappeared from view. It took the toms more than 10 minutes to make it up to the sorghum, and then they both disappeared from my view. Using the binoculars to look through the cedar branches, I could see one of the toms throw up his fan from time to time, or periscope his red neck high above the sorghum stalks. Further up the hill, another fan would flash into view sporadically, so it seemed that my quarry was located less than 200 yards away from me.

Periscope up, then down. Move a few yards, repeat with the periscoping head. Fan up, and it was obvious the tom I was seeing more often was the gapped-fan tom. I haven't called all season using the box call, so to shake it up a bit, I pull it out of my pack. Barely scratching out a "sotto voce" yelp, I thought that I had the periscoping tom's attention. Now it seemed that I was seeing his head more often, I waited. 10 minutes later, I waited for the wind to die down for a moment, and hit the box call once again.

Now I hoped that the tom was headed towards the treeline....... and then I lost him. A fan was seen much higher up the field, and then a couple of minutes later I was watching a fiery red head for sure heading my way. Pushing my 12 gauge through the tree limbs, much like a sniper would put just the muzzle through a hideout opening, I lined up my shot, and consciously pushed my cheek hard down on the stock. Just as began to squeeze the trigger, a leafy branch waved with the next wind gust, destroying my view of the bird/bead confluence. Trusting that my aim was true, and he hadn't moved in the microsecond of eyesight blockage, I continued to squeeze the trigger.

At the report, I saw multiple heads pop up from the sorghum stalks, and one bird attempting to fly. Emerging from my hideyhole in the cedar, I saw that he was flopping with a bit of purpose still in his body. I hustled out to place my boot on his neck, and reached for my phone to send out a "victory" text. After texting, and realizing that my boot work was done, I reached down into my cargo pocket to reach for my wallet so that I could complete my tag info and afix it to his leg. RUHROH!! No wallet. Changing into my camo, I must have failed to transfer the wallet, and thus I was a thirty minute walk away from my tag for this bird.

Taking the bird back to the treeline, I loaded up my pack, and strung up the bird on the carrying sling. I intentionally unloaded my shotgun as I didn't want to be tempted to have a go at some gift turkey found on my way back to the SUV, as having a delayed tagging for one bird was bad enough, I didn't want to have two such birds.

3 million pounds of kansasdad/turkey/gear was a little hard to push back to the SUV. At least I felt like that is how much I was walking out with by the time I got back, and found that indeed my wallet was on the backseat. Proper tagging completed, I then went to look for a spot to memorialize this fine turkey.

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105421

I still have my second spring tag, so I will get back to hunting business in a couple of predicted rainy days and letting the turkey woods settle down.
 

kansasdad

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Jul 30, 2011
Messages
4,068
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Wichita
Not every public land tom has gone home with a turkey hunter yet. Last night they were tucked into the corner of the field, having beaten me to the spot, so I closed to 120 yards and enjoyed the spectacle of a tom showing off his stuff for the ladies. If I wasn't watching him gobble, I might have thought that a hunter was doing a poor gobble imitation, it was so weak and high pitched.

The creek is full with recent rains, so the ability to approach the strutting spot without getting busted will require some serious ninja sneaking skills, kneepads, thick gloves, and lots of Tech-nu before and after to reduce the poison ivy situation. The field edge on the watercourse side of this field is nothing but poison ivy, with a nice handful of ticks thrown in for good measure.

Aaaahhh, the joys of springtime in Kansas, chasing gobblers!
 

kansasdad

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Jul 30, 2011
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4,068
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Wichita
Saturday evening Mrs kansasdad came with me to the public wildlife area to see about intercepting a bird on the way to his roost. Sadly for us, the one truck in the parking area had a turkey hunter who was almost exactly where I wanted to set up. Motioning to us to allow us to see where he was set up, we immediately backed away, and watched a tom strut down the middle of the ag field, and stay far enough away from the field's edge that he was safe.

Driving home, we witnessed a massive car wreck involving a school bus on the turnpike, with more than 10 cars involved with secondary debris damage. (https://www.hunttalk.com/threads/calling-911-tell-us-your-stories.286330/page-2 post #25).

Tonight, I thought that I would try the opposite side of the field, so I started to walk in the "back" way. Halfway to the field, I saw two halves of a turkey egg in the middle of the trail, and then looking to my right into the CRP, I was twelve more broken eggs. 105726


105727


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Arriving at the intended spot, I scanned the field for birds. Seeing nothing in the open, I made my way to a well used exit of the field, and placed a hen decoy as if she was just leaving the field. Settling in to my ground chair, I waited for something to happen.

Scanning every so often with binoculars, I still waited for my first turkey sighting of the evening. And then, there in front of me at twelve yards were two hens. They knew something was up, and turned towards the middle of the field. Five minutes later, a tom in full strut was working his way towards them in the middle of the big field. His strut game was on point tonight.

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With nasty weather approaching (first tornado warnings for my home this spring), I was ready to leave early when a single shotgun blast rang out. Turkeys in flight headed towards the river treeline, with no tom flopping. Watching a little while, it sure looked like the same guy who took forever to tag his turkey after an extra long shot last weekend. At least one tom still lives, and I got to believe he belongs to ol' kansasdad!
 

kansasdad

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Jul 30, 2011
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Wichita
Reporting in from SOGGY SOGGY south central Kansas. Rainfall totals over 10 inches over a 60 hour period have swollen rivers, closed roads and re-routed turnpike traffic as well as caused the lake to rise by over 5 feet from pool elevation levels. This weekend will most likely see multiple areas in the wildlife area where turkeys have been feeding/loafing under water. Gonna have to get my thinking cap on and figure out where they might choose to go if plan A and plan B,C,D aren't available.
 
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