Monday, April 26, 2010

I didn’t get a tom but I am thrilled

© By Othmar Vohringer

Two days before the turkey season opener, April 15 here in British Columbia, we were nicely settled in at the Park Lane Resort & Motel in Christina Lake and ready to do some scouting. This was my quest for a Merriam’s turkey to complete my grand slam. For those that do not know what a turkey grand slam is: To score a grand slam the hunter has to shoot one of each of the four main subspecies, a Eastern, Osceola, Merriam's and Rio Grande. You can complete the grand slam in one season or take as many years as you want.

For this trip I took a novice turkey hunter with me to show him the ropes and it didn’t take long until I found several roosting trees. From here I had to find the route the birds would take to their feeding grounds in the large alfalfa fields. The novice was quite impressed how one could determine traveling routes just by observing the topography of the land. He was even more impressed when he heard a tom gobble not far away from us. With awe in his voice he said; “I never thought that a small animal could make such a big thunderous sound.” Hunting turkeys for over 16 years and still getting goose pumps when I hear a tom gobble I understood what he meant.

On opening day hunters arrived in great numbers, I have rarely seen that many hunters in one place and I have hunted some pretty crowded places in my life. I did not expect to see so many hunters in that area. The presence of all these hunters called for a change in the original plans since the turkeys adapted quickly to the pressure. In a small river bottom I found a secluded place and the obvious place where turkeys would go when the hunting pressure was on. Sure enough the very first morning a tom answered my soft hen calls from his roosting tree, a towering Ponderosa pine near the river. When it was time to fly down the tom did something that I have not anticipated. Rather then fly down into the meadow he flew direct from the tree over the wide river into the forest. The forest was on private land to which I had no access, but I promised to myself that we would be back that evening and wait for the tom when he returned to his roosting tree. He obviously had some very smart genes because he returned after legal shooting light and all we could do is watch how he flew into the tree.

For four days that tom played that game with us and on our last day I decided to use my decoys, setting them up on the small meadow. Usually I do not use decoys in areas where lots of other hunters are present, because it is just not very safe as a hunter could mistake the decoy for a real bird. However, this was such a big mature tom that I had at least to try. Two hours before dawn we sat under a huge pine tree in the small meadow not 40 yards away from the roosting tree. When the tom woke up he had to see my decoy and he did. Right at dawn he flew direct to the decoy, which was within shooting range of my shotgun. I lifted the gun to my shoulder. My partner got a cramp in the leg from sitting for so long and moved. The tom reared his head looking directly at my partner and a split second later was airborne heading over the river to the other side.
“Sorry, but I just couldn’t stand the pain anymore.” My partner said and then quickly added that this was for him the experience of a lifetime. Seeing the bright smile on his face I couldn’t be to mad at him, in fact I was just glad that he enjoyed himself so much in the course of the week, that to me is a trophy too.

Before my turkey hunting trip, and the reason why I neglected this blog a bit, I was very busy with turkey seminars all over British Columbia. When I cam home from my hunting trip and checked my emails I found that several hunters that attended my seminars had sent me turkey hunting success messages and “blaming” me for their success. One hunter wrote; “Thank you Othmar, I have been hunting turkeys for three years without success. After your seminar I went out again and applied my newly gained knowledge. I shot a big tom and dedicate it to you.” I am deeply humbled. It thrills me to no end when I hear stories like that and had a small part to play in the success of other hunters. That is what Smart Hunting Strategy seminars are all about, helping others becoming more successful.

This blog post has been brought to you by Othmar Vohringer Outdoors

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Anonymous said...

Very nice post Othmar. Sometimes the best time is just sitting out there and soaking it all in before you go back to the world.

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Frank Baron said...

Sometimes the most memorable outings are the ones where you get skunked, eh? ;)

And sometimes you just have to tip your cap to the quarry and say "well done."

Othmar Vohringer said...

Rick - I am glad you like the post. At first I was a bit upset that the big tom got away but later that evening at the campfire sharing the experiences with others made it all good again. The novice hunter had the time of his life and that counts just as much for me.

Frank - Nice to hear from you again. How's the fishing? Here the ice just starts to melt and it's time to get the boat ready.

I certainly had to tip my had to the game. Each trip out to mother nature is a learning experience and new discoveries to me made. This is a great part of why I keep going back out, observing and learning.


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