About a decade ago, I decided I wanted to shoot a turkey in every state of the nation that had a huntable population of birds. I also committed to doing my best at capturing each hunt on film. As of early spring 2015, I’ve managed to cross Kansas, Nebraska, North and South Dakota, Missouri, Minnesota and Iowa off that list—most of which have videos to compliment.
This story—along with several to follow—will be sharing in that adventure. Kansas is where we’ll start.
A very good friend of mine, Tom (yes, we get the funny part about two Toms out to shoot toms...) and myself went to Kansas in 2011. We arrived a day early, located a few likely roosting areas and set up camp. After a good tip from a couple of turk-killing comrades who had been there the year prior, we found birds that were very killable. We were instantly very excited for dawn the following morning.
That’s a good point to consider, by the way. If you are headed to hunt an unknown area, I suggest taking at least one extra day to scout—especially if it is a day before the season opens. You won’t be tempted to hunt, rather put some quality scouting time in as you search for the right spot. Also, once you've located a spot you want to observe from, make sure you are well camouflaged and your silhouette won't be sky-lined. Set up beneath the crest of the hill that might be behind you. This approach has served us very well over the years.
Interested in Kansas turkeys? Here’s a good place to start.
The early part of the Kansas season is reserved for bowhunters and we were there to get it done with a sharp stick powered by a fast string. If you have bowhunted turks, you know that adds an extreme element of difficulty. We’ve found that ultra-realistic decoys make this game possible, so we go with the best. Dave Smith Decoys.
We should have tagged out on 4 toms the first morning, but if you follow this series, you’ll learn that I miss turkeys, every year. No excuses, I’m just a pro at blowing it. But, I usually find a way to bounce back.
We set up near several 100-year cottonwoods, which were roost for nearly 75 turkeys. They flew down into the field and began their morning ritual of calling, fighting, loving, fighting some more and even a little more lovin’. As one of the toms became separated from the rest of the flock, something caught his eye.
A jake was enjoying the company of my DSD hen, a little too much for his liking, and he cam running into our set up. The longbeard began throttling the younger bird making for some excellent footage. The video below tells the rest of the story:
Later that same morning, I managed to mess up a pretty easy opportunity, but came back with a perfect shot that afternoon.
That night, with a few remaining of minutes of legal shooting time, an eager-to-die gobbler showed up and Tom put his beak in the dirt with a perfectly placed arrow. The next morning the turkeys showed up, but I did not… Again, no excuses, but good video footage and another laugh at my expense. You’re welcome.
I had to try again. Tom and I went home happy with three awesome kills on film, plus lots of other interesting encounters and exciting footage. I was happy, until a couple days had passed and that remaining Kansas tag began burning a hole in my pocket.
Interestingly, the hunter who moved in on our final morning became an unlikely ally, a friend in fact. The video explains how we met, and how we ended up sharing the blind that final morning of my 2011 turkey season. But one thing is for sure, tag soup is no fun and I hate loosing.
Watch my final Kansas turkey hunt, which ended up with my best bird of the season.