The Other Wild Turkey

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Our house sits imbeded into the limestone of a small mountain. The backyard is about 15 yards of chokecherry and loose stone on an embankment, the border between private property and BLM a wire fence, beyond which the land climbs abrupt and steep. You can 'walk' up, but you'll have to use your hands at least some of the time. When Carter was five I drug him up the mountain. Won't do that again. Too hard. On the top are the twisted trunks and bent limbs from cold and wind and water of Fir and Ponderosa Pine. Magical, really, beyond the limestone arch of stone that marked the cliff, the top is patched with grass and small plants catching any extra light not found by the taller trees. There were sheep bones in a pile in a dim thicket on the edge, a Cougar kill; and Coyotes will sometimes take the shoulder of the mountain and howl at the little town below. Bart Travis said the Cougars would cross the range further back on the mountain, a mile and half from my home.

Our town has wild Turkeys. Well, they're wild enough to make the terrible trek from one backyard to another where fresh grain has been set for their palates. They've gotten bold enough to walk the road near the end, by my house, but will still clatter and call a great fuss if a vehicle appears.

After feeding at set times each day, the Turkeys march across my lawn and up the mountain behind the house. They roost in the trees there; I suppose from my son's window you could reach some of them with a stone. Now, the male is the only one that gobbles, the rest make a noise not too distant from every other large bird on our planet, a kind of keening, chucking, chirp.

Duplicating it is harder than it would appear at first, being such a silly hen-like sound. We were cooking burgers on the grill and trying to call to the birds. What they think of burnt meat smells rising to their tree top roosts I cannot say. I've kinda wondered how they'd feel about roast turkey.

"Kee kee kee kee ke ke ke k k." Carter tried.
"That sounds like a Turkey Dog." I said.
I tried, not too good, the old throat can't reach the high pitch.

"That was a Turkey Monkey," Carter said. He was right, a real chimpanzee.
And when Keith tried, we agreed we'd heard a Turkey Pup. The birds would fly from the trees to the ground again, listening to our silliness. We kept this up until the burgers were done.

When a storm is coming, or it is going to get real cold, you can bet those birds know and climb behind the house and get into the trees on the protected face of our little mountain valley.

When I think of all the camo I've seen for sale, up to and including a toothbrush, and the special guns, gauges, shot and sights needed to take this most aware of birds, I have to laugh thinking of our town's Toms.

I don't think anyone who lived here would shoot one, but a couple seasons ago some hunters did wait them out, until they left the 'city' limits and bagged a few. I saw the bodies by the dumpster later. These particular hunters, slobs, must have realized a wild turkey is not the fat pot chunk a domestic raise is, and decided it was all too much trouble.



munk
 
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Wild turkeys rock. If 20 years ago I'd have told someone I saw one they would have thought I was demented.

However thanks to restocking by the DNR and the dwindling population they have really made a comeback.

The first year they moved here we were seeing 5 or 6.

Then for several years 19 or 20 in the woods. The folks at the end of the road were feeding them one year and I counted 51! Several flocks converging no doubt, very old toms huge, long beards.

We had domestic turkeys for several years and the wild toms would call from the woods to them.

Last few years less. I know some people poached them, we have some coyotes now, and we had a lot of snow for a couple winters and 2 summers of drought that may have done some in. Also we have had a crappy mast crop last 3 years. White tail kill even down this year.

My dad killed a big gobbler here one year. I have never hunted ours cause I wanted them to increase, I love to hear them talk and walk thru the woods, it is so thrilling for me to be deer hunting and have them walk by. They are still a novelty to me they are so cool!:thumbup:

My pal Kate doesn't like them as well. They came in and ate all her beans one summer:mad: I think there's still quite a few out her way.
 
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Hollow ? If it is possible for a mind to drool , the descriptions of where you live would leave a puddle at my feet ! (Nice image ! )
It seems like you have a good balance of close to wilderness and close to town . The views you must have and the sounds nature gives you must fill your heart with joy , if not wonder .
I have made a couple of turkey calls and they seem to work very well . The most bizarre part is we are not allowed to hunt wild turkeys here and so have only done so on a buddies land with semi domesticated birds .
If you want I could make you a call ? It is made from the wing bones and looks something akin to a trumpet . They are a little tricky to play at first and a good source of amusement for those around you . I happen to have a wing in the freezer and as I said it would be my pleasure .
 
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We live about 45 min from the biggest city in WV. That's not saying much but it is a decent blend. Suburbia is creeping though and I remember the old song by Lynard Skynard.

Well this life that I've lead has took me everywhere
There ain't no place I ain't never gone
But its kind of like the saying that you heard so many times
Well there just ain't no plae like home
Did you ever see a she-gator protect her young
Or a fish in a river swimming free
Did you ever see the beauty of the hills of Carolina
Or the sweetness of the grass in Tennessee
And Lord I can't make any changes
All I can do is write 'em in a song
I can see the concrete slowly creepin'
Lord take me and mine before that comes

Do you like to see a mountain stream a-flowin'
Do you like to see a youngun with his dog
Did you ever stop to think about, well, the air your breathin'
Well you better listen to my song
And Lord I can't make any changes
All I can do is write 'em in a song
I can see the concrete slowly creepin'
Lord take me and mine before that comes

I'm not tryin' to put down no big cities
But the things they write about us is just a bore
Well you can take a boy out of ol' Dixieland
But you'll never take ol' Dixie from a boy
And Lord I can't make any changes
All I can do is write 'em in a song
I can see the concrete slowly creepin'
Lord take me and mine before that comes
'Cause I can see the concrete slowly creepin'
Lord take me and mine before that comes
 

Fiddleback

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I have only seen wild turkeys in a natural setting once. I was in my car at the time. We saw about seven of them crossing the road. They aren't plentiful in Mississippi near my family's place. I wish there were more of them. I see a majesty in them and would love to occasionally come across a few. I don't think I'd hunt them though. I've got it bad enough with deer. I'm not the best hunter around, but I like it well. I don't think I'd ever get a shot at one with my skills.
 
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If someone told me I could only hunt one game animal, it would be the wild turkey. They are so much fun! They have expanded throughout Kentucky now and one sees them just about everywhere.

It is hard to believe that after all these years my heart still pounds at the sound of a gobbler comin to the call. Nothing else like it as far as I am concerned.

Semp
 

Guyon

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munk said:
When I think of all the camo I've seen for sale, up to and including a toothbrush, and the special guns, gauges, shot and sights needed to take this most aware of birds, I have to laugh thinking of our town's Toms.

Try hunting an actual wild turkey before you pass judgment on hunters and their gear.

I wouldn't consider your birds wild turkeys in the purest sense. They've been domesticated to the point that they're basically pets. That is, they've been trained to feed without fear in your neighborhood and to regard people as non-threats. I've seen similar wild turkeys at a nearby golf course, where they feed and are used to seeing humans. I would never shoot one of them. No sport in that whatsoever, and I enjoy spotting them occasionally during a round of golf.

However, if you go out in the actual wilderness and try to march up to a real wild turkey, especially one that has seen some hunting pressure, you're going to be in for quite a different story. And a long wait.

Turkeys have superb sight and can spook if you merely blink at the wrong time. The point of all the camo (guns included) is to try and offset some of the advantage this eyesight gives them.

Nothing special about gauges. Every turkey hunter I know hunts with the common 12 gauge. Nothing too special about shot either. Most hunters use 4 to 6 shot--although some do use slightly hotter loads.

The extra-full chokes give hunters a few extra yards of reach for those turkeys who hang up because of their suspicions. I can't count the number of toms I've had that nearly got within shooting distance but decided that something wasn't "quite right" with that bush/tree/whatever. Again, superb eyesight and an inherent wariness.

The sights, IMO, are just an ethical decision. Adjustable fiber optic sights allow you to put the densest part of your pattern (and patterns vary by shot/load) into the head/neck of the turkey. Cleaner and quicker kill.

Eastern turkeys are often regarded as the most suspicious of the varieties. If you want an exercise in frustration, come on down South and try to get close to a wild tom. You'll change your mind about "wild."
 
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Guyon;

I'm not passing any judgement! "When I think of all the camo I've seen for sale, up to and including a toothbrush, and the special guns, gauges, shot and sights needed to take this most aware of birds, I have to laugh thinking of our town's Toms."

The title of the story is 'the other wild turkey'; it's not just a play on booze, it's comparing a True wild bird to our Town wild birds.

ANyway, welcome to HI forum and Cantina. You're talking to an old handloader, gun nut, desert dwelling crazy and here I'm just another peer. Take a seat and set awhile.


munk
 
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Handloader Eh ! got anything big enough to take shot ? As you can tell from my 44 mag post I must be a closet shotgun junky ! L:O:L

I realise you proabably don,t want to take on any town turkeys . (Unless they hold office ! ) L:O:L The last thing I would do is hunt birds with a handgun unless it had a shotload capable of doing the job . I have a hard time hitting the barnside of a broad with a handgun . That was hard to take when I was supervising cowboy action shooters that were tagging moving targets at fifty yards ! (I don,t get no respect ! ) L:O:L
 
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I'd take a prarrie chicken in a hot second with a handgun. Be fine. Just use my practise self defense lead rounds. 32 mag, 32/20, 30/30, 38,41,44,45

Used to have a 375 Super mag but sold it.

Kevin, tell me more about turkey calls?



munk
 

Nasty

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Turkeys are rare here...would like to see more of 'em!

Nice post munk...
 
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Munk ,The wing bone turkey call is a classic . Its made from the main bones .
It is usually made in three sections that are whittled so one section fits inside the other . it ends up looking like a slightly curved roman trumpet .
It is played by laying it on the bottom of your top lip and let hang almost straight down . Instead of blowing it You suck your bottom lip into your mouth a bit
Its a little how you,d call a dog to you except you use the corner of your mouth . You cup your hands over the bell of the trumpet to make the bell larger and modify the sound . It is a bit of an art. It has been said that when making it you should have one piece slide up and down inside the other to fine tune the cluck and when you get the right tone glue it in place . . I couldn,t tell a good cluck from a bad one so I just try for the cleanest sound . There is a legend that If you see a group of of oldtimer turkey hunters and ask them what they use , they will all say to go buy this slate box call or that rubber band call . If you look inside their jackets they have one of these wing calls hanging on a string around their neck ! Course this is only legend . Like I said it would be my pleasure and if Hollow dweller wants one I can scare up another wing fairly soon . Most people who hunt just throw the wings away as a wild turkeys wing muscles are used for flight and are a good deal tougher . THe primary feathers are prized among those archers with enough skill to trim them out , That is tougher than making a call . b:T:W: a domestic turkeys wing bones are so small it can,t be done and even most of the ones I get are half the size of some of the oldtimer calls I,ve seen . They still work well though .
 

Guyon

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munk said:
Guyon;

I'm not passing any judgement! "When I think of all the camo I've seen for sale, up to and including a toothbrush, and the special guns, gauges, shot and sights needed to take this most aware of birds, I have to laugh thinking of our town's Toms."

The title of the story is 'the other wild turkey'; it's not just a play on booze, it's comparing a True wild bird to our Town wild birds.

ANyway, welcome to HI forum and Cantina. You're talking to an old handloader, gun nut, desert dwelling crazy and here I'm just another peer. Take a seat and set awhile.


munk
Welcome received and thanks.

I got the general gist of your initial post, but I really thought that line meant that you figured all turkeys to be fairly approachable. I see the irony a little better now.

What's this about a toothbrush?
 
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I saw an ad for just such an item several years ago now- camy toothbrush, comb, and other toilet kit.

I know the true wild turkey is VERY hard to hunt.



munk
 

Guyon

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Kevin the grey said:
Munk ,The wing bone turkey call is a classic . Its made from the main bones .
It is usually made in three sections that are whittled so one section fits inside the other . it ends up looking like a slightly curved roman trumpet .
It is played by laying it on the bottom of your top lip and let hang almost straight down . Instead of blowing it You suck your bottom lip into your mouth a bit.
Kevin, I have saved a couple of wings with the intent of making a wingbone call, but I've just never gotten around to it. They're still sitting in a pile of borax out in my storage shed.

I have, however, begun to make some good box calls out of mahogany and cherry. I'll try to post a pic of one on here if I can locate it.

My uncle also makes some nice calls. Here's a picture of a nice gobbler I called in a couple of years ago with one of his boxes, also in the picture. I think that one is walnut. Notice my gun is not all camo'ed out, but I do use a gun with a matte finish so that it reduces glare and blends in a little better than a glossy gun.

munk, if I ever decide I need to primp and preen during a hunt, I'll give you a shout so you can pick me up one of those toiletry kits. Bass Pro and Cabela's catalogs now have camo lingerie in them. I don't want to know what those folks are doing out in the bushes, but apparently they don't want to be seen. :D


turkey.jpg
 
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hollowdweller said:
Maybe I'm wrong, but didn't Ben Franklin want the Wild Turkey designated as the national bird?

I had heard that also. I'd go for it. I like them better than eagles as a national bird.

Good post munk and thanks
 
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