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Turkey Time 2024

It has taken me quite a few days to recover from my turkey hunting experience this year. The more you care, the harder it becomes. The story should begin with something I read last year. It was an email from California Fish and Wildlife stating that turkey hunting is one of the best opportunity for new hunters to get into hunting. After this year, I have a few thoughts... For many, turkey hunting may not make sense. First, in southern California many people have never seen a Turkey, or in Northern California, they seem so common in urban areas, people either think they are dumb birds, or maybe even worse, is they consider them pets.

At the end of duck season I got excited for turkey hunting. I got new diaphragm calls, and practiced quite a bit in my car coming into the season. The next step is finding access. In Southern California, turkeys have actually in many cases learned to thrive, but are found in a grid of private property throughout the rolling hills of SD. The public hunting is not impossible, but extra difficult. That being said, my good friend Eric Chan, gave me a call about half way through the season and 3 days before I left for my turkey hunting in Northern California to hunt on the property he has been hunting for years. I gladly accepted. Eric is a very accomplished turkey hunter in Southern California, which is saying a lot. Eric is a great mentor, and you can tell by the calling that sounds good in the video, he has been at it for a long time. Yet, mid season, we did not see any toms, and the jakes we did find, were timid. They visibly were disturbed by the jake decoy and stayed clear. You could tell in a moment, they were afraid to be beat up. Not once did the 3 jakes gobble or strut. Perhaps there was a big tom that was beating up on them nearby, but we didn't see it that day... (Eric later closed the season with another nice tom).

Going up to Northern California I was fired up, I learned a lot from Eric, and now had a better understanding on how to call a little better for turkeys. I haven't gotten a turkey since the '21 season. Over the last few years, the properties I have hunted at with my dad have changed quite a bit, so this year, we were switching it up and trying something new. For this opportunity we were able to hunt at a property that only would allow to shoot with bow. While I have been practicing a lot over the last year with my bow, shooting a turkey with a bow takes a lot of things to go right. We had no ground blind, so even if the turkey's do get close enough, drawing on them without them seeing will most likely be the biggest hurdle, next to the fact that their vitals are extremely small. This would be a test.

To be honest I was really nervous about hunting with my bow, I knew that this was the opportunity, but I really wish I could have used a shotgun. This wouldn't be my first hunt with a bow, but if I got this animal, it would have been my first animal to harvest with a bow.

We left mid morning on Friday, due to me getting to my parents very late the night before. With some positive scouting done by the property owner, we were very hopeful. While pulling up the to property, we looked over to the neighbors and their were two toms strutting near the driveway. We pulled into the property parked in the back and I set up the bow. I walked down into a small break in the trees and began calling. The toms gobbled back. Within about 15 minutes the toms were on the property and moving our way. By 45 minutes the toms were at 30 yards. I decided to shoot. I drew back, fired. missed. I nocked another arrow, settled, seemed ready, and shot. I hit feathers, a little back, a little high. The turkey jumped, but other than that wasn't phased. But I had no more arrows in my quiver at the moment. I watched them slowly walk away...

That night I could barely sleep. I was still shaking. I felt like a failure, I let doubt creep in. But I wrestled with doubt. I decided that if I'm going to hunt with my bow, I must be a killer. As morbid as that is, I must be sure of myself. I need to hunt with a big heart. I can't waver in my feelings.

With hopefully much hunting in my future, this is I think is my most important lesson. I can still work on my archery, and being a better hunter, but most of all my mindset must be solid. this is where shooting at an archery range vs t"he hunter" must grow. I have to mentally change, mentally grow. I must be prepared and in the right mindset when I put on my broadheads on.

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