Mock Turkey Hunt

Turkeys were spread out in smaller groups yesterday – a good sign if you’re a turkey hunter. With the big flocks divided up, it’s a lot easier to find a callable bird.

For me, it was not a hunt. But, I couldn’t resist bringing my box call. I stopped above camp and made a few calls. Nothing.

When I reached camp, I again pulled out the box. One set of yelps and a gobbler answered from the property to the west. I moved to a controlling position overlooking where the gobble had come from and sat down.

Then I yelped again. The gobbler answered immediately. He wasn’t far away. I waited. He gobbled on his own twice. He was coming.

After a period of minutes, I yelped and he answered. Now closer. I scratched the box softly a couple times. He didn’t answer, so I waited to see him.

He appeared at about 50 yards and walked up hill directly towards me. He came to 30, then 20. I had my camera up, but since I was nearly laying down, grasses twigs were preventing me from getting a good focus.

Finally at ten yards, I got a pretty good focus and snapped a decent photo.

DSC_0962 wanna fight

Mr. Ugly and a serious fighter, this bird looked like he’d been to war.

Then, because he couldn’t get through the fence next to me, he turned and walked down the hill about 40 yards to a better pathway. There I got some good photos as he strutted and wondered where the calling hen had gone.

His harem of four hens followed about 30 yards behind him.

DSC_0995 member of the harem

At this point there wasn’t much left to do, except wait for him to leave so I could begin doing the chores I was there for. After I while he continued on this way looking for the mystery hen.

Apparently the four hens that followed him didn’t need his services any more on this day. Not sure why they were hanging out with him.

 

It’s Strutting Time

Turkeys in bunches. The breeding season is in full swing. This is the time that often frustrates turkey hunters. You can hunt all day without finding a callable bird.

The turkeys I found today were in two groups. Got a few decent photos. Should have got more, but things kept going wrong.

To get really good turkey pictures everything has to go right. These are the best of the day. The best shots came in the late afternoon when the sun was lower in the sky.

In a couple weeks, the gobblers will be easier to call in. Maybe I’ll get out the camo and box call. Haven’t shot a turkey in a few years.

 

Gobbler Flock

After finishing my hike this morning, I pulled out of the parking lot and ran smack into a large flock of turkey’s. I pulled my binoculars out and examined the group. They were all gobblers and many of them were very old with long beards.

I had only my cell phone for picture taking so I did the best I could. Most of them are in this photo.

Gobbler flock cropped

I counted at least 24 gobblers in this flock.

Springtime Tom Time

Once again the turkeys are doing there thing. Drove the vineyards this morning and found a few birds along the edges of the vineyards south of town. Here are a few of them.

Here is where I found them. Not far off Vallecitos Road.

Here is where I found them. Not far off Vallecitos Road.

These guys were mimicking each other.

These guys were mimicking each other.

Looking big.

Looking big.

Here's a trio.

Here’s a trio.

Photographed this hen earlier at the VA hospital.

Photographed this hen earlier at the VA hospital.

Gobblers Galore

The gobblers were out this morning. I couldn’t stop taking pictures. Here they are

Here's the bookend strut.

Here’s the bookend strut.

This guy couldn't figure out where the hen was.

This guy couldn’t figure out where the hen was.

Reverse double.

Reverse double.

This is a face off.

This is a face off.

Definitely a show off.

Definitely a show off.

Nice profile.

Nice profile.

You take the one on the left.

You take the one on the left.

OK, shoot.

OK, shoot.

An audience.

An audience.

What's up?

What’s up?

Retreat!

We’re out of here!

Fence Gobbler

Here's a vineyard turkey in full strut.

Here’s a gobbler that stopped on a vineyard fence to strut his stuff. Turkeys are active, but following hens which often makes them difficult to attract. Click to get a close up view of him and the nearby black phoebe.

This time of the year, hens are receptive to the toms and will lay one fertilized egg each day until they have completed their clutch, which is normally about a dozen eggs. Once the eggs are laid, the hen will set on the eggs and incubate them. With luck, the polts will hatch out in about 30 days. By beginning incubation at the same time, the eggs will hatch nearly simultaneously.

When, in another week or two,  when the hens begin to sit on eggs, the unsatisfied toms will become more vulnerable to hunter’s calls and decoys.