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Hookspur's 2016 Spring Tour

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Hookspur's 2016 Spring Tour

Old 06-08-2016, 01:44 PM
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Spike
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Default Hookspur's 2016 Spring Tour

I can't believe it's over so soon. Does anyone else feel this way? Seems like it was only last week when the first of these pictures were taken. Man, I think that I may have a turkey hunting problem...at least, that's what my ex-girlfriend told me in our last text. She may be right, but I can live with that. The gobblers may've been more silent this spring than in years past, but come rain or shine there was no way I wasn't gonna be out there in hot pursuit of 'em!

As y'all know, I always start out guiding in FL. Once again I went down early to scout, but after 5 days I hadn't found much to get excited about. After 15 years on these properties you'd think I'd have known better than to be worried, because once opening day arrived the turkey killin' commenced just as it always does. In the next 8 days all 7 of my guys got their Osceolas, and it only took that long because the final tom was an evil old rascal that fooled-n-schooled us for 3 days before sneaking in silent right before an intense thunderstorm that drove us from the woods.

The first 3 fellers were actually from my home town in Indiana, and we had BIG fun both in the woods and in camp. Here's Heath, his dad Gary, and Brian with Gary's unique tom (check out his tailfan...the middle feathers are shorter than the ones on the outside).


I didn't get a pic of Heath's opening-day bird, but Brian's arse-kicker of a tom is the next photo....he killed this bird in exactly the same spot as Gary's.


Next up were a father-son team, and they were also a ton of fun to hunt with. John insisted that his son Chad was to get the first shot, and the hunt couldn't have transpired in a better way. If people tell you FL doesn't get cold, then they don't know what they're talking about, because the three of us had to stand around for 20 minutes after the kill before we could stop shivering enough to take pictures! The next morning John shot his tom from the very same ground blind, and that gobbler walked within 10 feet of us before attacking my DSD strutter.



Next up was a 13 year-old young man out to get the 3rd leg of his Grand Slam, and we had a classic hunt where we roosted a tom that walked away gobbling the next morning, then had to work hard and stay after it until calling in a pair of toms at 11 a.m. Gregory then shot his tom as he stuck out his neck in mid-gobble...as verified by the excellent video his Dad Greg was shooting.


My final client Bradley and we had a great 3-day chess match of a hunt which culminated in a memorable final episode and another very fine limbhanger.


The next few pictures are of FL also, as I traipsed around on public land and dealt with those evil, hainted Osceolas that I so-much love to hate. I'm telling ya, there isn't anything else quite like FL turkey hunting, and I eventually shot a couple birds in gorgeous surroundings after working my tail off to get it done. It only took 13 days of hunting.....yes, public land hunting can be tough, but oh-so rewarding!


As I was leaving FL I stopped to see if my Grandparents old house on the St John's River was still standing. This was a very special place in my life while growing up, and the flood of memories was almost overwhelming when I walked down the long driveway to find that it hadn't been bulldozed-in and replaced with a million dollar mansion (as most of the neighboring places have been). My Dad and I built what's left of this old dock out into the river, and he actually died in this house, so I'm sure you can imagine the thoughts and emotions that were running through my head. It was hard to see the old house in its present state, but it also felt like I was coming home.


Next stop was Virginia, where I guided for the VA One Shot Turkey Hunt (my 9-year-old hunter should've killed a bird, but his "ace" guide failed him by not bringing a blind...thus forcing a fidgety kid to try and sit still long enough to get a shot in very open hardwoods. Five spooked gobblers later, I was really kicking myself for that boneheaded lapse in judgement!). It was a great event though, and my little guy won a gun at the post-hunt banquet. I also gave him a book, so he is definitely hooked on this turkey hunting thing! After that event I got down to some serious hunting with my two good friends, Doug Pickle and Ken Greene. We had a ton of fun in some of my favorite countryside in the nation, but I was only able to shoot 2 of my 3-bird limit before having to travel a whopping 2 hours to DE, where I had drawn a Season C permit. The first picture is Doug and I with birds we killed the same day in different spots, and the next picture is Ken and I with a tom we sorta lucked-into. There's no other way to explain a tom gobbling on his own at 75 yards in the middle of an extensive pine plantation, when you haven't heard anything else for an hour. The 3rd pic is of a nest Ken found near the last picture site that had 17 eggs.


I wrote in my book that Delaware is one of my least favorite states to visit, but that's not because of the actual hunting! No, I've had a number of wonderful adventures in her turkey woods, and I've met some really top-notch people, as well. 2016 would provide more of the same, and this fine old gobbler would prove to be icing on the cake for yet another memorable trip to the land of chickens and garbage. The feathers at the base of the tree are something I do quite often...sort of a tribute to the bird. The three shotgun shell brass driven into the tree are a tribute to my screwing up the initial shot, then having to shoot him again as he ran by at 10 yards. Despite a hole punched through his side at the top of the legs, he still had his head up after going down so I administered a coup de grace. Oh, well......shappo happo.


From there I hurried back to VA for my final bird, where Ken and I got to experience a spectacular afternoon hunt on the first day when you could hunt past noon. At 3 p.m. he pulled the trigger on a tom that gave us a great show, and an hour and a half later I did the same. Then, we forgot to take pictures!

Finally, I came home for a brief 3-day spell. There is something absolutely invigorating about walking out your own front door to go turkey hunting, and it gets even better when you spend the next 4 hours dueling with a fine old tom before finally calling him in and pounding him in the face. The ridgeline I shot this bird on is also just about the prettiest place in the whole world! I don't own it, but it's public land that borders my own little homestead.


Up until this point my season had gone pretty well. Little did I know that things were about to change and I would soon hit a virtual wall. A return trip to Rhode Island was my next stop, and since I hadn't been there in 7 or 8 years, I was anxious to visit with my old friends Mark and JP. I figured it might take 3 or 4 days to get a bird on this state's heavily hunted public land, and then I could go on to hunt MA, VT, NH, and ME before season's end. Well, Rhode Island might just as well have been the twilight zone for me, because in 12 days of hunting I heard exactly 3 gobbling birds....and one of these was a group of 5 jakes that I called in on the 4th day! Finally on Day 11 I found a tom willing to gobble and act right, but another hunter boogered him as he was headed toward a showdown with my Benelli. The next day it was 9:30 before he gobbled from private land, and 11:00 before he worked his way across the road to ground that I could hunt. At my first yelp he raced in, only to swing out around me so fast, and in laurel so thick, that I couldn't get a shot despite a range of just 15 yards! After he kept going on a hard march (gobbling like crazy the whole way), I was so depressed and frustrated...I thought my only chance in 12 days was over and done with, and I might have to end up eating tag soup....something I really don't enjoy! But, there was some time left on the clock before I had to quit for the day at 1 p.m., so there was still a glimmer of hope. It sounded like this tom went directly toward a trackhoe moving boulders, although as he neared this heavy machinery I could no longer hear him gobbling. I strongly suspected that he went on around it and up onto the public land ridgeline above, which was scratched to pieces. However, I couldn't be sure so I sat waiting for confirmation. Finally, the trackhoe operator quit for lunch at 12:20 and within a minute of his machine shutting down I could hear the tom gobbling....right up on that ridgeline like I'd suspected. A quick sprint and a couple calling sequences later, I had my RI tom. I shot him at 12:45, with 15 minutes to spare! The second picture is with my good buddy John P Smith (JP, or The Jeep'er). The hunting was tough in RI, but we had a great time hanging around and eating LOTS of icecream in hopes of bringing us good luck!


Rhode Island took up far too much time, so I had to then alter my plans a little. Last spring I found a great farm along the Connecticut River Valley in Vermont, so that's where I headed and once I got there it was not a problem to find turkeys....just ones with long beards! Every day I saw anywhere from 16-22 jakes, but for the first 3 days I couldn't find any toms. Then, I got on a bird that flew out onto an island in the river and gobbled all morning from there. I figured he'd come back eventually, so I left him alone and later that morning I found another tom north of there about a mile. I shot him after a short, intense hunt, and later that afternoon I got to finally shake hands and visit with none other than the famous Cove, who had just finished up his own US Slam in NH the day before. We had a great time talking turkey and driving around looking for birds, and then we stayed up way too late in camp continuing to yack about the sport that so-drives our very souls. It's good to occasionally find other people who are as crazy as I am, and this man is certainly turkey-nuts!! The next morning I shot my island-hopping tom and headed for Maine, while Dave stayed around and harassed those VT gobblers. Here are my two toms from that trip:



With time running low, I then chose to finish up the season in Maine. Here are my host and hostess with the most'est....Henrick and Marivi, along with Alex the Dog. They are great folks, good friends, and we share a lot of laughs. Marivi is also an aspiring huntress, so I was really hoping to help get her first turkey. I shot my two toms in the first 2 days, then spent a day hunting with another great friend of mine, Les Peters, a fellow turkey man (I say that as a high compliment) who works at LL Bean. Then, with only 1 more day to go before I had to leave, Marivi and I gave it a last great effort. At noon, with the temperature up around 88 degrees, we finally got a tom gobbling and coming in, but he hung up directly behind the stone wall we sat against, on someone else's property. He was only 15 yards away from us, where he gobbled, spit, drummed, and carried on for 25 minutes before wandering on down the wall and finally crossing into land where we had permission to hunt. But, he wouldn't come back to us, and eventually faded away. I asked Marivi if she got excited when the tom was gobbling in our back pocket, and she told me that she thought her heart was gonna pop out of her chest. Maybe we didn't kill that tom, but there's no doubt that we have another turkey hunter amongst our midst!!!


So ended the 2016 season. I spent 68 days out in the turkey woods and yet again confirmed for my soul that there is absolutely nothing else in the world I'd rather be doing. I can only hope that I'll be around next year to try it all again.......
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Old 06-08-2016, 03:27 PM
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Nontypical Buck
 
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As always, I thoroughly enjoyed your post. Seeing that it took you thirteen days to tag out on Floridas public land makes me feel better. lol. We kept an eye out for you this year but our paths never crossed. Congrats on a great season.
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Old 06-09-2016, 05:33 PM
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Congrats bud ! I found the birds seemed to be down in Florida this year, did you notice that ?
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Old 06-12-2016, 02:38 AM
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Spike
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Oh, yes....I definitely think bird numbers were down in FL. WAY down!!
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Old 06-12-2016, 06:18 AM
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Wow, what a spring!
-Jake
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Old 06-15-2016, 03:22 AM
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Spike
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Originally Posted by RPD63 View Post
As always, I thoroughly enjoyed your post. Seeing that it took you thirteen days to tag out on Floridas public land makes me feel better. lol. We kept an eye out for you this year but our paths never crossed. Congrats on a great season.
Stop by our Rockridge came at GS WMA anytime!
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Old 06-22-2016, 08:26 AM
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Spike
 
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Thanks for your post, they are nice pictures
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Old 06-22-2016, 01:27 PM
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That, without a doubt, was by far the best post on hunts with fantastic pictures that I've ever seen on any hunting website. Congrats Sir!
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Old 06-26-2016, 02:09 AM
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Spike
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Thank y'all. It was a blast and can't wait to do it again!
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Old 08-03-2016, 05:52 AM
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Way to go to a fine season!!!
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