Heather Lewis: 2010 Turkey, Single – Oakland County – Crossbow – 13 10/16
We had scouted hard throughout the first hunt period of the 2010 spring turkey season.
We hadn’t seen many hunters, which are a good thing, but we weren’t seeing many birds, either. Wexford County usually has some deep snow conditions and we wondered if the bird population had suffered from the winter.
We were scouting mostly state land but visited a couple pieces of private when the weather wasn’t good or no birds were being heard or seen. It was down to the final day before our son Hunter could get a chance to hunt since school and sports came first.
Sunday morning started with a steady rain, keeping birds on the roost beyond 10:00 AM. We continually drove the state land two-tracks watching for birds either on the road or in the forest openings. The occasional stop to make a locator call produced nothing.
We ended up back at our cabin mid-afternoon, grabbed some lunch and decided to scout our property. We had planted several rye strips a couple weeks earlier and hoped they were sprouted.
After a 10-minute walk in a light rain we approached the first food strip. We caught movement near the far end and could make out a small flock of turkeys scratching in the rye. There appeared to be several gobblers in the group but from that distance only one was obvious.
Soon a loud “putt” sounded on a small knoll directly in front of us. The putts continued as several birds made their way toward the other flock. We decided to back out as quietly as possible and maybe try for these birds tomorrow. A large hardwood ridge just north of our property was the likely roosting area as it had been used in years past.
The last part of the afternoon saw the rain continue and the wind pick up. We split up to try roosting birds in several other locations and were met with gobbles in two areas just before dark. We heard nothing on the ridge near our property but decided to put up a pop-up blind on the edge of the rye strip and use it for an afternoon hunt the next day if necessary.
Opening morning greeted us with overcast skies, intermittent rain, and birds that weren’t talking at either of the locations we had set up on. After nearly 3 hours we decided to drive around in the hopes of seeing birds. Our driving eventually led us back to the cabin where we dried out, had lunch, and decided to try the set up on our property and then call it a day. We still had a 3-½ hour drive home.
Hunter remained optimistic about getting a turkey and had been practicing with a new crossbow his father, Tim, had bought. We hoped the birds would show up, be close enough for a shot, and not be spooked by the blind. Hunter and Tim made a quiet stalk toward the food plot, watching for birds to avoid getting busted. They arrived at the blind and quickly sat down, giving Hunter room to maneuver the crossbow and allowing Tim to see farther down the rye strip to let him know if birds were approaching.
Hunter took the lead in calling. He used a box call to make several yelps and clucks about every 10 minutes. After about a half hour, Hunter spotted nine hens about 40 yards away walking straight toward the blind. After reaching the rye and feeding for 15 minutes, the hens left.
After calling a few more times, Hunter spotted motion about 60 yards to the north. It appeared to be several male turkeys. It was three birds—2 jakes and a nice tom. Since the 3 birds continued walking toward the food plot & the hen decoy they had placed in the rye in front of the blind, Hunter stopped calling. The birds were approaching 50 yards from the blind and began feeding on the rye sprouts. The next 10 minutes seemed like an hour! The birds were milling around, scratching, purring, clucking, and chasing each other. The tom began half struts and seemed cautious. The birds slowly moved down the rye strip and were approaching 30 yards, with the tom at the back.
Hunter got the crossbow ready and, heart pounding, tried to control his rapid breathing. He brought the crossbow up and steadied it on the tom. At the sound of the release the other birds immediately jumped to fly, ran a short distance, stopped, and began putting. The large tom was motionless at 32 yards. The Ten Point Defender CLS crossbow combined with the Rage Broad head had done the job—a quick, clean kill.
Hunter didn’t realize how big the bird really was until it was back at the cabin and measurements were taken. It was unbelievable! His first turkey with a crossbow and it would make the record book! It had a combined score of 12 inches.
We all thought it couldn’t get any better than that. But then came the 2010 fall turkey season…
The first day of the fall 2010 turkey season, Wednesday September 15, saw Hunter and Tim heading out to their Oakland County property in late afternoon. All during the spring and summer, they had been seeing turkeys visit their food plots. Usually it was four toms and three hens. As Hunter and Tim quietly made their way to the far food plot, they heard the familiar and unwanted putt of a turkey. Sure enough, they spotted a group of turkeys about 70 yards away, leaving the area. The day’s hunt was over before it even started.
The second day of the season was cool and rainy. Once again, the hunt would start after school and work was over in the late afternoon, and this time Hunter’s mother, Heather, would join the hunt. It had been raining hard for most of the early afternoon but Tim said turkeys would come to the food plot as soon as the rain let up.
As the rain began to slow, Tim, Heather and Hunter quickly made their way to the recently purchased Double Bull portable blind that had been set up in range of the food plot. Once inside, Hunter wasted no time in getting ready. He quickly loaded the Ten Point crossbow, making sure he was in position to get a good shot out the blind’s window.
Just then, Hunter spotted movement in the woods. It was the four toms making their way to the lush food plot. There hadn’t even been time to set up the decoys. The toms steadily made their way single file through the hardwoods. Everyone’s heart rate and blood pressure rose as the birds got closer and closer to being in range.
Within a minute, the birds were in range in the food plot, greedily feeding. With mom and dad looking on, Hunter slowly raised the crossbow to this shoulder, picking out a nice tom to shoot. Once he had the dot of the scope on the bird, he slowly squeezed the trigger. The bolt quickly crossed the 25 yards and the tom dropped to the ground. The other toms only moved out about 15 yards as they watched the large tom flap a wing a few times and then expire.
Hunter quickly reloaded the crossbow and handed it to his mom. Unbelievably, the largest remaining tom walked over to the dead bird and then slowly started to leave. Heather put the crossbow to her shoulder and put the scope dot on the kill zone. She squeezed the trigger but the tom continued to walk away. Heather couldn’t believe she had missed. The tom continued to quickly walk away but after 15 yards, faltered and then fell to the ground, dead. The bolt with the rage tip had passed through the tom so quickly that it had appeared to be a miss.
The hunters walked to Hunter’s tom first. It was a large turkey with a brush for a beard and nice spurs. Next, they checked out Heather’s tom. It was also a nice tom with a large beard and magnificent spurs. Official measurement proved Heather’s bird to be slightly nicer with a total score of 13 -10/16 while Hunter’s bird measured in at 13-5/16. Mom has bragging rights for the fall 2010 season but it was truly a record-breaking year for Hunter with great birds taken in both the spring and fall.
When Tim and Heather had their son, Hunter, 15 years ago, they hoped he would grow up loving the outdoors, fishing and hunting as must as they both did. But they had no idea that Hunter would surpass their hunting success at such a young age.
The whole family including 17-year-old daughter, Randi, enjoy deer and turkey hunting. Hopefully, one day, Hunter and Randi will pass on the hunting tradition to the next generation because it isn’t all about the trophies and records. It’s about the experience of being outdoors together with people you love, experiencing all the wonders that Mother Nature provides.