This past week I was blessed to be able to have spent the majority of my time hunting with a great friend of mine in New York. We met while at North Carolina State University and have been hunting buddies ever since. If you follow my blogs, you will remember the name Andrew Arbes. We have collaborated on turkey-related blogs for the Management Minute before.
The pact was made years ago. I, the deer hunter, would assist Andrew Arbes in taking his first deer if he, the turkey hunter, would return the favor for me during turkey season. Our first year we did just that. He tagged a nice 4 point buck and I got a bearded hen. This year I decided to hunt New York and see what we could make happen.
The first day of hunting was unsuccessful from a harvest standpoint, but we saw a hen or two and the scenery was amazing. Since New York laws prohibit hunting after noon, our afternoons were spent catching bass at a pond on his property. Later that night we got in contact with a guy I had yet to meet, but knew Arbes very well. Believe it or not, his name was also Andrew.
The next morning consisted of Andrew Arbes, Andrew Warner, and myself (Andrew Walters) attempting to get within position of my first male turkey. After sitting on the edge of a beautiful, foggy, cut corn field and experiencing no activity we move spots. By 7:15 am we were glassing a field planted in field peas roughly a foot tall. To our right was a major highway and to our left was a large rolling hill. While glassing, Warner spotted four jakes. They were banded together and the dense fog made it tough for them to decipher what we were. We slowly backed out of sight and derived a plan that consisted of us circling around the birds and crawling up the hill. If I was lucky this would put me within range, if the jakes didn’t leave. I made the decision without hesitation.
Being my last day to hunt, and four jakes that would more than satisfy my urge to tag a bird, we began the stalk. Warner was to my left and Arbes to my right. They backed off so I could crawl over the crest of the hill alone, minimizing the risk of scaring off the jakes. The field peas were soaked with a heavy dew and I was forced to crawl on my stomach for roughly 40 yards. By the time I saw the jakes, I was soaked from head to toe. Luckily, my stalking did the job, as well as my Mossy Oak Camouflage. While the jakes knew something was amiss, they couldn’t quite figure it out. While crawling, I couldn’t help but to laugh a little at the fact three Andrews were stalking four jakes! With Arbes unable to clearly see the jakes at this point, Warner noticed the birds were a bit anxious so he let out a purr call and calmed the birds down momentarily. I singled out a jake and pulled the trigger. He flopped at the report of the Remington 870 and the rush to the bird began.
I was moving much faster mentally than I was physically. This resulted in me taking a tumble on the way downhill to the bird. I will blame this on my excitement and the fact I am not used to running up and down steep dew-covered hills! Regardless, Arbes reached the jake first and I soon followed. When we all got the jake we realized that I had made a 65 yard shot. The rolling hills were tough for this flatlander’s depth perception, but it was a fatal shot nonetheless. The Winchester Longbeard 3 inch shells and Arbes’ Remington 870 did the trick. As much as I’d like to take credit for it, it’s truly a testament to properly patterning your turkey gun. As the photos can attest, more than a few pellets reached the jake’s head.
I had to travel to New York in order to tag my first male turkey, but it was completely worth it. To top it off, I was hunting with two great guys who were no greenhorn turkey hunters. As it turned out, Arbes had tagged out the previous weekend killing two longbeards. Andrew Warner, also a New York native, had killed two longbeards in North Carolina where he currently resides. The first time I met Warner was the morning of that hunt. He had yet to purchase a New York hunting license. Both of these guys helped me tag a bird that morning knowing they couldn’t legally tag a bird themselves. That’s what hunting is all about. It wasn’t a record book tom, it was just a decent sized jake, but who it was killed with and how we killed it are what made the hunt so memorable.
May 14, 2015