Steve Hickoff is the Realtree Turkey Hunting Editor and Blogger. He’s been beaten by more birds than he can remember. Still he kills enough to eat well, and fool with beards, spurs and fans until the next season. Pennsylvania born and raised, Maine is his home base now. A full-time outdoor communicator with a couple university writing degrees, he chases spring gobblers and fall flocks around the country. It's "all turkeys, all the time" on the Realtree Turkey Blog.
The Turkey Hunters: Meet Corey & Randy Chipps
The Turkey Hunters is an ongoing realtree.com series of hunt stories by turkey hunters just like you. If you want to submit yours, please send it to hickoff [at] comcast [dot] net with the information you see in the following post. Thanks. - Steve Hickoff, Realtree Turkey Hunting Editor & Blogger
Turkey hunter's name: Corey Chipps
Occupation/job title: Gray Loon Project Manager
State of kill: Indiana
Time of kill: Wed. April 25th. 6:05 a.m.
Turkey load: Spectra Shot White Lightning - 3", 1 ¼ oz., no. 6 shot
Turkey gun: Browning BPS - Advantage Wetlands (also my waterfowl gun)
Gobbler's weight/spur & beard length: 20 lbs., 20 mm (0.787401”), 9 ⅞" beard
Must-carry turkey gear item: Quaker Boy Easy Yelper™ This call is nice and easy to carry - don't use a slate call, because I can do everything with the Easy Yelper™ and I don't have to worry about losing the striker. Also you can use it with one hand.
Hunt story: I headed to my favorite farm, and only farm to hunt, to scout before the birds headed to the roost and put them to bed. I was greeted by the newest hunter to the farm, who was running back up the access lane through the field in plain clothes. You can imagine I didn't see anything out in the fields…I ended up not hearing a gobble either.
I knew there was a chance I would run into other hunters, so my plan was to get there early. Well that didn't happen…I woke up at 5, and the sky was just starting to get light. I hustled to the farm, which I had all to myself on the west end, and went to a popular roosting location. I had no response on the hoot owl call, but the first crow I heard helped me out! I heard a gobbler about 125-150 yards off to the west on the edge of the ridge. (Remembering your article on the Outdoor Life site, Steve, the leafy coverage made the bird sound farther away then he really was, so I made sure I didn't get too close to the roost, as it was light enough to get busted.)
I picked out two large oaks, with my back to the field, looking right at the roost. Once I sat down I ended up hearing at least two maybe three gobblers in the same roost. They hit the ground and started moving northwest by the sound of the gobbling...past the property line. I couldn't go anywhere so I just quit calling for about 10-15 minutes, demoralized as I thought my morning was going to be a long one.
I grabbed my Easy Yelper™, and gave a few loud yelps, surprisingly making the bird gobble at about 60-70 yards to the south. (I think one split from the group or looped back around.) He came in to about 40 yards and strutted for a few seconds, then when he didn't see the hen that was making all the racket, he kept coming…right at me. At twenty he stopped, and lifted his head, then I put it back down!
Two key elements: I wasn't using a decoy, so once I saw him at 60 yards coming right at me, I quit calling. I think this helped to bring him in close for the kill, and not getting hung up. Also, several times during my call sequence, I like to take the Easy Yelper™, and face it the other directions, or even completely hold it behind the tree I'm sitting under, to add the effect of the hen(s) moving around and away.
P.S. My dad [Randy Chipps] killed that night - 3 minutes before legal shooting light ended. And get this: after telling me the story, we came to the conclusion he killed his bird by sitting directly under the same tree I did that morning!
What are the chances?