So here we are, it’s the first week of the 2017 Kansas turkey season and I can’t quite explain why I haven’t been chomping at the bit as usual. For some reason I’ve just been feeling ho-hum about the whole turkey hunting experience this year, so much so, that I wasn’t even sure if I would get a permit and hunt. A fellow deer hunter at church who has never hunted turkeys before told me if I decided to hunt, he wanted to go along. So thinking that might just be the motivation I needed, Thursday morning I went early to a property, intending to see how many turkeys are there this year and where they are roosting. The property is a long narrow hay field bordered on one side by a pasture and woodlot, the other side by a pasture with a pond and with crop ground behind it. I misjudged sunrise and arrived just in time to hear one lone gobble and the unmistakable sounds of turkeys flying down from their roost over the neighbor’s pond, then all was quiet. I mentally took my pulse and sensed a slight uptick in enthusiasm. The neighbor guy told me he was seeing just a few hens with a couple gobblers so I decided to hang around and try to get a count and to see where they were headed.
Beyond the neighbor’s pasture was cropland clear to the nearest road. I pulled into a driveway overlooking that field and got out the binoculars. A wide grass waterway runs across the back of his property behind the pond and winds its way across the entire field. In that waterway, bobbing in the breeze I could see the fanned out tails of strutting toms and the dark specks of hen turkeys. More and more appeared until a group containing half a dozen mature gobblers, a handful of jakes and numerous hens totaling 20 birds in all slowly flowed across the open field. I mentally checked my pulse again and now the hunt was on!
I picked up my friend and the two of us put up a blind at the corner of the pasture overlooking the grassy waterway where the turkeys seem to turn and head across the crop field. About 4:00 that evening my friend, his son and myself situated ourselves in the blind to await the flock as they headed back to roost for the night. Two adults on folding camp chairs and an 11 year old boy on an overturned 5 gallon bucket pretty well fill up my blind. Two decoys, one a hen and the other a jake (a young one year old gobbler) with a tiny beard were set out in front of the blind in the middle of the waterway. The wind was howling, flapping the sides of the blind and causing us to use an extra stake to hold down the jake decoy. Knowing my luck, the decoys would take off in the wind like the Wizard of Oz about the time several turkey dinners were approaching. My friend occupied the “shooter’s seat” facing the decoys, and his son and I provided eyes and tried to stay out of his way. Talk was about the weather, Sunday morning church, turkey hunting and everything else guys talk about in a blind. Somewhere after 5, I happened to glance directly behind us to find a lone gobbler slowly making his way back across the field toward us in the wind. As we sat there I had called a couple times just out of formality and the gusty south wind could have carried my pleas to him I suppose, but after all the birds I’d seen it seemed odd for just one old tom to show. In time, the old guy was just outside the blind 15 feet away, doing his best to hold his tail erect in the wind as he strutted, trying to impress our rubber lady and take her away from her friend, the rubber jake. My friend’s young son sat in front of the side window and could see the entire show as the old gobbler strutted his stuff, twirling and stomping trying to win the affection of our hen decoy. My friend was turned as far sideways as he could to see the gobbler, and finally the old tom’s love-sick shenanigans became his undoing and my friend harvested his first ever Kansas wild turkey.
Over the hill more of the flock were coming behind the old tom, but the shot spooked them and we hadn’t seen them again when we left. Early Saturday morning amidst rolling thunder and lightning flashes we again made our way to the blind to try and help my friend’s son harvest his first turkey also, but in typical spring turkey fashion, they managed to elude us. We’ll keep trying as were just gettin’ started, but what I did manage to do was to hook both my friend and his son on spring Kansas wild turkey hunting; after all isn’t that what it’s all about!…Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors.
Steve can be contacted by email at [email protected]