May 9th, 2014
Day 1 – Eastbound
The week leading up to this trip was quite hectic, and when Friday afternoon rolled around I found myself sitting at my desk working, with not a thing packed. I finished up conference calls, paperwork, and the last minute household chores I promised would be done before I left, then head into the hunting room and collect my gear. Kisses for my wife and kids, hugs for the dog, and I am backing out of the driveway by the time 4:30 rolls around.
I make good time on highways 101, 11, 17, and hit the 417 well after the Friday night party goers have made their exits. I pick one of the several open lanes and finish the drive. It’s 12:30AM when I roll into mom and dads, and waste no time getting unloaded.
I quietly make my way through the backdoor, despite the fact that I know mom will still be up watching T.V. ensuring I arrived safely. A brief greeting is exchanged, and before long my head is hitting the pillow. In just a few short hours, dad will be giving the wakeup call.
Day 2 – Gobble, Gobble!
Only a few short hours after my head hit the pillow, I hear the sound of dads voice from the doorway, its turkey thirty AM. We quickly get ready and then it’s off to join up with my brother, and one of our good friends and hunting partners.
We pull into the farm as far as we can, and then walk the rest of the way. The decoys are setup in the field, and we get comfortable along the bush line. As the sun starts to come up, we get a few distant gobbles, but for the most part, silence.
We wait out the sunrise, and with nothing happening, decided it’s time to make something happen. We head into the woods for a spot and stalk, calling as we slink our way through the woodlot, when all of a sudden we hear a gobble. We settle in with our backs to the largest trees we can find and start to work the calls.
By this time, the gobbles are getting louder, and closer. All of a sudden a shotgun blast rings out, followed by a second, and a third. We check in with each other, confirming what we already knew, there was another hunter sharing the woods, and seems his turkey was taking a liking to our calls and making an exit before he shut the door.
With the woodlot now busted, we decide to continue our way to the next field and see if anything is going on. As we near the fence line, we are motioned to get down. Now on our hands and knees, we belly crawl as close as we can to the fence line and see a half dozen hens, accompanied by a Tom and Jake.
We get the slates out and start calling, shortly thereafter, the Jake breaks away from the flock and is coming in on a rope. I get into position, and shoulder the gun. With a caller on either side of me, the Jake makes a zig zag pattern on the way in, trying to find the lone hen in the woods. All of this commotion has caught the attention of the Tom, and he also breaks away and starts in on the chase for the hen.
I hold off for as long as I can, hoping for a shot at the Tom, but with the Jake closing in, and about to hop the fence line and bust us, I draw a bead on him and send the shot down range dropping him on the spot.
As my Jake drops, the Tom runs in to pounce and claim his dominance, when to my right, my brother gives the trigger a squeeze sending another shot into the field, cutting the Toms victory dance short.
My brother and I head into the field to claim and tag our turkeys before making the walk back to the farm house for celebrations and photo’s.
By this time, the sun had only been up for a couple of hours, and with plenty of morning left, we decided to head across the road into another field. Our hunting partner had farm chores to tend to, so it was just dad left with a tag to fill, and it doesn’t take long.
We get the decoys out, and dad settles into a makeshift blind while my brother and I sit in the woods to work the calls, and after about 20 minutes or so, we find ourselves surrounded by gobbles. With at least two behind us, and one out front, we continue to call, as each bird makes their way closer. Finally, directly across the field from us, a young Jake breaks the tree line and is running down the hill directly at us.
Dad takes a bead on him and follows as he comes down the hill, and makes his way from right to left, heading towards the decoys. When the bird passes, the third shot of the day rings out, and the third bird is down.
Dad hops out of the blind to get and tag his bird, and by 10:00 AM all of us have tagged out for the day.
Day 3 – Robin Hood, I Am Not!
When dad comes into the room, I am already awake listening to the sound of pouring rain. With our first tags used up, the pressure is off and we decide to get a few more hours of sleep. By mid-morning, the rain had tapered off. My brother had prior commitments for the day, so dad and I headed over to our buddies place to see what the game plan was.
As the rain was still coming down off and on, we decided to head out on a scouting mission. We put on the miles, but it seemed the birds decided to sleep in as well. We head over to a few of our goose hunting fields and watch the snow geese work in and out for a while before heading off for breakfast.
After breakfast we head back to the farm house and I get my bow out for a little archery practice on the 3D targets. As I’m shooting my compound, our buddy gets out his long bow and teaches me how to fling arrows the traditional way. After a short lesson, I am up. I draw the bow back as far as I can, and aim at what I think will be the target and send one down range. It sails about 5 feet high and through the shed wall.
I promptly decide that’s enough for me, and hand the bow back, along with an apology. We finish the archery session and dad and I head off. With the weather still being uncooperative, we head out to an old quarry for some more target practice. Compound and Crossbows, as well as shotguns and new turkey loads.
We head back to mom and dad’s place for a delicious meal and a relaxing night, followed by an early bed, as I had to be up at the crack of dawn to head a bit further south to join up with a friend for a hunt on one of his properties.
Day 4 – Kingston, Pembroke, Renfrew
Over the past few years, I have had the opportunity to form some great online friendships with fellow hunters through various platforms, and have even had the opportunity to share the fields and woods with several of them and on this trip, I would get to add one more to the list.
My good friend John had been inviting me down to his Turkey hunting grounds in Kingston Ontario for the past few years, and I was finally able to take him up on his offer. It was 2:00 AM as I headed down the 401 and two hours later, I swing the headlights into John’s driveway to see him already loading up. I got parked, and hopped out for a long overdue handshake.
I transferred some of my gear into John’s Jeep and we were back on the road and off to a farm he had lined up for us for the morning. The horizon was just starting to light up a dark blue as we arrived, and got suited up. We made the 15 minute walk across a few pastures and got setup on a knoll that was lined by a woodlot. We placed a few decoys and got setup under a big old tree that offered plenty of cover, and took to the calls.
As the morning progressed, and the sun started to come up, it was still very quiet. Finally, off to our left I spot a Tom coming out of the woods, and heading into a field, followed by a few hens. We call, but to no avail, and watch them head off and out of sight. We sit a bit longer, and then decide it’s time to switch to a spot and stalk method as nothing was coming to us.
We put on the miles as the sun continued to rise higher, and the temperature climbed. By mid-morning we had a good sweat on and no birds to show for our efforts. As we made our way down to another field, we spotted the Tom from earlier in the morning, and tried to call him in. He seemed to have other things on his mind, as he continued on a rope in the direction he was headed, paying no mind to us. We continued to put on the stalk and tried to catch up to him, but each time he gave us the slip, and the last one was for good as he went out of site.
With only an hour left in our day together, we setup the decoys for one last set, but it was not to be. As noon came we packed up the gear, and made the trek back across the property to the vehicle and loaded up and made our way back to John’s.
I loaded up my truck, and we shook hands on a good days hunt. We may not have tagged any birds, but it was nice to finally be able to meet and share a hunt. As I drove off and gave a final wave out the window, I knew this wouldn’t be the last hunt John and I share together.
I updated the GPS coordinates and was now on my way to Pembroke, for a meet and greet with Go Hunt Birds founder Marc Lapierre. Marc and I also came to know one each other through online social media, and had yet to meet in person since joining their field staff team.
A few hours later I was rolling into the McDonalds parking lot, and for the second time that day, exchanging a long overdue handshake. Marc and I had a great chat over a couple coffees and then it was time to hit the highway again. Final destination, Renfrew, where I would meet back up with my dad, brother, and our local friend John who would host the last three days of our turkey hunt.
I arrive in Renfrew about a half hour ahead of my dad and brother, and figure I would take a quick detour and change out of my hunting clothes that I had been in since 2 that morning before we headed out for dinner. I pull off the highway, onto what looks to be a quiet dirt road and get out and start to change. By this time, I have my shirt off, and am in the middle of pulling my pants and underwear down when I hear voices in the distance. I quickly glance over the roof, and what do I see? Three young kids out for a walk with the family dog, and mom in tow.
I frantically toss on my clean shirt and start to kick my pants and underwear off of my ankles to get the clean ones on and avoid the upcoming indecent exposure charge, when I accidently step on my remote start that is still in my pants pocket and activate the panic alarm. The lights start to flash and the horn blows as I jump into my clean underwear and hike up my jeans. I don’t even look to see what’s going on with the innocent family outing that is taking place on the other side of my vehicle as I toss everything in the car, jump in, and high tail it out of there.
I meet up with the rest of the gang for dinner, which they can hardly eat from laughing so hard as I re-tell the story from the previous hour. We finish our meals and then head back to the house for a much needed sleep.
Day 5 – Renfrew Day 1
We were up and on our way, well before the gobblers would start sounding off for the morning. With the decoys set, we settled into our preferred spots, and started calling. As the light came, we still had no signs, or sounds, of turkeys in the area, and soon found out why.
As we looked across the field, a coyote was making his way out, looking at our decoys as a potential breakfast. He hung around for a bit and then quickly turned and ran back into the brush line as he picked up our scent. With the set being busted, we pulled our decoys out and headed for a drive to see if we could put together a spot and stalk.
We drove around most of the day stopping at various locations but weren’t able to put anything together. The day came to a close without a single turkey sighting, but tomorrow would be another day.
Day 6 – Renfrew Day 2
This morning we headed to what one local refers to as “the greatest turkey hunting land in all of Ontario” and with a title like that, hopes were high. We were a little late getting in, and the birds were already sounding off in the trees, just a few yards from where we were setting up. We got hid as best we could, and for the next half hour there wasn’t a moments quiet, between our calling, and their answering.
We could hear them fly down out of the trees in the dark, but with no idea where they landed we were on high alert. As legal light came, the guns were loaded and shouldered. The calling continued and it sounded like the birds were getting closer. We could tell we had a Tom or two on their way, and the local hens were not happy. It soon became a battle of the calls, as the hens were fired up at this new competition.
This went on all morning, but ultimately, we could not compete with the real thing, and the hens lead the Toms away. Feeling a bit defeated, we decided to stalk up the hill to try and pursue them. As we made our way along the stone fence wall, we got our first look at 3 big beautiful Toms, a Jake, and a harem of hens. We tried our best to get close for a shot, but the more we moved, the more they did.
We worked on them for a few hours, but gave up the chase as to not completely push them out of the area, and ruin a future opportunity at them.
Later on that afternoon, our local hunting partner who is also a local trapper, and by-law enforcement officer, among other things, received a call that a dog has been hit and has made its way onto someone’s porch and is showing signs of aggression. While this is not his area of concern, and the person who is in charge of these types of situations is on holidays, we decide to forgo hunting for the rest of the day and see if we can help this dog.
We arrive at the address given to find an older husky curled up on a porch, with a face full of porcupine quills. The two male occupants of the home, are too scared to come out, and are not being of much help at this point. John gets the neck noose around the dog, and he starts to walk about. As he gets up we can see he has a collar, and is someone’s pet but it does not have any tags.
As we are discussing what to do with the animal, the home owners finally come out, and are not willing to help, and just want the dog gone from their property as they are in fear of it, and have been locked in their house all day. I line the back of my vehicles with towels to contain the blood and we assemble a makeshift ramp, which the dog instinctively walks up. We remove the noose, and the dog calms down.
A few pets of reassurance and we are off to the vet. Once at the vet, the dog hops out of the back of the vehicle and heads inside with us without issue and is handed over. He will spend the night there, and get some much needed medical attention, food, water, and rest.
Which is exactly what our plans for the rest of the night include, minus the medical attention.
Day 7 – Renfrew Day 3
We decide to give “the greatest turkey hunting land in all of Ontario” one more shot, and the morning plays out just like the one previous. My brother and I are setup along the stone fence, and dad and John are down at the bottom of the hill where we all were the morning before.
The calling starts off right away, and before I know it I hear a bird take off, I look up, realize I sat down right underneath a roosted bird. I watch him land a few hundred yards away and can see him working his way to dad and John. I sit and watch for what feels like ever, waiting for a shot that never comes.
The rest of the birds make their way into the woods in other directions, never showing themselves and we decide it’s time to head down and see what’s going on with the other two. As we get there, I ask why no one bothered to shoot the Jake that walked through, and came to find that he walked right through where no one was sitting, tough break!
As this was my last day, and I had to be on the road by noon, we quickly packed up and headed to one last spot. I got settled into a brush pile, with my brother sitting on a wooded hill across from me. Dad and John setup on the back of the field and started calling. Immediately, we could hear the turkeys in the field across the road to my right, and it wasn’t long before they showed themselves. One big Tom, and two Jakes were making their way over to the fence, and started crossing the road. I quietly got my gun up, and into position.
The first bird crossed the road and was heading into the trees towards my brother, when all of a sudden he stopped, turned, and ran the other direction, causing the rest of the birds to follow suit. I get up, puzzled at what just happened, to see John and my dad walking across the field. Ah, that’s what happened, we were busted.
They didn’t hear any calling for quite some time, and thought the birds had left the area so got up to have a peek, only the birds spotted them first and it was game over. And with that, my 2014 spring wild turkey season was over.
We shook hands, and parted ways and as I made the long drive back North, had lots of time to reflect on the week, and even though I was headed home with one bird in the cooler, and one tag left in my pocket, I felt extremely accomplished, and happy with the week, and am already looking forward to next season.
I called John a week or so later, to find out how the dog was doing. He did just fine at the vet, and was well on his way to becoming fully healed, however they were not successful at finding his owners. He was placed into another home, and is doing just fine.
Link to photo gallery: