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Kentucky-Georgia Turkey Success

omegafooomegafoo Posts: 3,127 Captain
A buddy and I took a trip out of state last week for a little turkey R&R. Never turkey hunted in Kentucky before and we were given a little info on where we might find some birds on a couple different tracts of public land. After the first morning, it wasn't so much R&R as it was A LOT of hard work.

We were in far eastern Kentucky and it was mountainous!







Day 1 was the best weather of the trip. Mild, sunny and an overall beautiful day! It ended with 7 miles on the boots, 20K+ steps and 85 floors climbed (per my iPhone) BUT, I got lucky with a HEAVY Kentucky gobbler! Wish I had a scale to be able to weigh his fat behind, but we didn't.

We happened to sit down in the right spot around the corner from him. From the time he gobbled until the time he was within range was maybe 3-5 minutes. Problem is that he came in behind some stuff and I couldn't initially see him. He made his presence known because he started putting, presumably because he wasn't seeing the hen that he expected because I know we didn't move. As he started moving up one of the mining slopes to the next bench I finally got a glimpse but he was hugging the back edge and quickly disappeared. I started purring at him and when he stepped back up close enough to the edge I let the 20ga bark and quickly had my Kentucky bird down.



He had beard rot and a 3.5" beard but he was a fat, old boy with rock worn 1 1/4" and 1 1/8" spurs.  A local we talked to said with the terrain there most birds have 7/8" - 1" spurs.



We got on another bird later that afternoon around 1-1:30 but didn't have any luck due to a super steep rock ravine between us (we think). We left around 2:30 to get my bird on ice and rest with a plan to get back on this bird fist thing. We thought we had heard him first thing that morning gobble a few times before the rest and had tried to get on him first.

Day 2 in the mountains was 180* from day 1. The morning started 48* with light wind but by 9AM it had dropped probably 10* and the wind was blowing 15. We knew the forecast wasn't promising and we were going to have to work hard for a bird, most likely.

We got back to where we wanted to be but the bird didn't say a word that morning. However, at 8AM like the day before, the birds on the other mountain fired off extra hot. Over the next hour we tried to get around from where we started over to where we were in play for the birds on the other mountains. By the time we got there the weather had changed, temps dropping and the wind picked up. The birds had also shut up so we slowed down and started calling for 45 minutes before moving on. We got to our marker on the mountain and the birds hadn't said a word.



The terrain didn't look promising for them going North and we were scratching our head when my buddy called. A bird answered...from the other mountain...

After 15 minutes of occasionally gobbling directly across from us we head that way, back down the mountain, to the road. We got to the road below them and they didn't say another word. We spent the next 2 hours trying to find them from below but they never said another word. We were tired and hurting from the climbs down the mountains when we reached the top in the road. I didn't want to but I suggested we go ahead and go back in from above since we were already at the top and there was no additional climbing to be on that bench we started on both yesterday and this morning.

I snapped this picture just before we entered the hardwoods once again. Int he background, above my hat and to the left, there is a patch of green. About 1/3 down from there is where we killed my bird. Before we got to that point, we had come from the hardwoods you can see close on my left, around a large, open, bowl and walked a road up top on that mountain and past that spot before returning close to the green and finally dropping down onto the benches below.



We slipped into the hardwoods and called from maybe 125-150 yards in. A gobbler quickly responded and we scrambled to setup. I had my back to them and thought they were on the bench with us around the corner. My buddy said they were below us. We set up to cover both and I set the video camera up to record the bench. A little soft calling and raking in the leaves found the birds (3) closing the distance in less than 2 minutes. He nearly slipped on the slope he was sitting on which put the brakes on the birds at 40 yards and he quickly took a shot at the one bird in clear view.

After we got off the mountain and back down to the pond. 10 1/4" beard and 7/8" rounded spurs


Even though we both still had a tag remaining for the next day, we were tired and knees and backs hurting from lugging birds off the mountain through slick leaves, Friday morning was slated to be around 30* so we decided to sleep in, grab a breakfast at Huddle House (not much else in the town) and get an early start for Northwest Georga. We were both content with a bird each, which was our goal, in that terrain.

We got to Georgia early afternoon and got to do a little bass fishing on a private lake. The first fish I caught was a new personal best for me. She was easily 10lbs, still without a scale, and was released to spawn in the coming weeks.



The next morning was fantastic. We called in a pair of longbeards first thing but our setup was wrong and they got behind us and spooked. Slipping out of there we were trying to find other birds when we found that the pair were ready to talk again so we slipped back from a different spot and within 30 minutes managed to call them in. Unfortunately we were only able to take one of the pair but, fortunately, it was me that was able to get the shot.



An hour or so later we managed to get on 3 more gobblers and, unfortunately, our host and my buddy both missed. Long story there...

Overall, it was an incredible trip. Still have a few weeks left in the GA season and hope to fill one more tag for my 6 yo son before it's all said and done.

Replies

  • micci_manmicci_man Somewhere in FLPosts: 14,849 AG
    Great trip, congrats.
    Common Sense can't be bought, taught or gifted, yet it is one of the few things in life that is free, and most refuse to even attempt to possess it. - Miguel Cervantes
  • joekat46joekat46 North PortPosts: 2,651 Captain
    Great story and pics.  Hunted the Daniel Boone often when I was a lot younger.  Not sure I want to tackle it again.  Just maybe :*
  • PinmanPinman Posts: 3,042 Captain
    edited April 2018 #4

    Awesome story and pics!  Someday want to get up there and get on a bird (or one of those re-introduced critters) in the home state of my Moms side of the family. 

    That bird looks huge. A 25 pounder is a spring chicken up there.

    Bring back a few cases of Ale-8's next time!

  • omegafooomegafoo Posts: 3,127 Captain
    joekat46 said:
    Great story and pics.  Hunted the Daniel Boone often when I was a lot younger.  Not sure I want to tackle it again.  Just maybe :*
    I tweaked my knee slipping in the leaves while carrying my bird out. Felt like a knife was being shoved into the outside of it every step coming down by the second afternoon. At that time I would have refused to go back and do it again. Now that I’m recovered, I think I do want to go back a small do it again. Beautiful country and plenty of birds, just more work than I initially expected. 

    Pinman said: 

    Awesome story and pics!  Someday want to get up there and get on a bird (or one of those re-introduced critters) in the home state of my Moms side of the family. 

    That bird looks huge.

    I keep applying for a permit every spring and never have the luck to get drawn. Feel like I’ve got a good base, after this trip, on where to start if I ever do get drawn for one of those coveted permits! My buddy I went with got drawn last year for archery cow and after this trip I told him he wasted his permit!

    And my bird was huge! I pick up the average 18lber from north Florida/South Georgia and don’t think much about it. I picked him up and first thoughts were “holy <crap> he’s heavy!”
  • Florida BullfrogFlorida Bullfrog Posts: 4,304 Captain
    Nice trip and pics!

    Dig the ASAT too. 
  • joekat46joekat46 North PortPosts: 2,651 Captain
    edited April 2018 #7
    You've really given me the Kentucky itch again.  Still not sure it is the place any longer for two old guys but it is fun to think about.  You gave a big clue with the "Huddle House".  Guessing you were around xxxxx but there are a few other options for the s/e Daniel Boone. Only 29 Huddle Houses in KY.   I can keep a secret.  
    With the KY spring season ending 5/6 it is doubtful I could get everything together for a 2018 spring hunt - but - fall turkey starts in Oct and there is no better way to scout the land than in Oct.  Just falling down the mountains chasing squirrels is fun stuff. Thanks to good GPS units I no longer worry too much about getting "turned around".  Before GPS I did get turned around up in Rowan County's sections (not near as steep as where you were).  Lucky I'm not still there.  Eeek! 
    Again - great post and pics.
  • H20dadH20dad Posts: 2,487 Captain
    joekat46 said:
    You've really given me the Kentucky itch again.  Still not sure it is the place any longer for two old guys but it is fun to think about.  You gave a big clue with the "Huddle House".  Guessing you were around xxxxx but there are a few other options for the s/e Daniel Boone. Only 29 Huddle Houses in KY.   I can keep a secret.  
    Wonder if they’ll have company in those parts next year?
  • omegafooomegafoo Posts: 3,127 Captain
    H20dad said:
    joekat46 said:
    You've really given me the Kentucky itch again.  Still not sure it is the place any longer for two old guys but it is fun to think about.  You gave a big clue with the "Huddle House".  Guessing you were around xxxxx but there are a few other options for the s/e Daniel Boone. Only 29 Huddle Houses in KY.   I can keep a secret.  
    Wonder if they’ll have company in those parts next year?
    I've got two comments to that:

    1) If they go through all the leg work and find out where the huddle houses in KY are, find public land around those areas and then kill a bird on said land, good for them! It's NOT easy terrain and will test your conditioning and will to push on
    2) If, in their research, they happen to find the same ~150 acres that we were hunting on among the vast amount of land that was around us - guess 'crap' happens then ;)

    There really is A LOT of public land in Eastern Kentucky - a quick look on my onxmaps app puts it somewhere north of  15k acres. The only thing is that it is not easy hunting. It's steep and covered with leaves and if they have the will to endure and do that type of hunting, good on them! 
  • H20dadH20dad Posts: 2,487 Captain
    omegafoo said:
    H20dad said:
    joekat46 said:
    You've really given me the Kentucky itch again.  Still not sure it is the place any longer for two old guys but it is fun to think about.  You gave a big clue with the "Huddle House".  Guessing you were around xxxxx but there are a few other options for the s/e Daniel Boone. Only 29 Huddle Houses in KY.   I can keep a secret.  
    Wonder if they’ll have company in those parts next year?
    I've got two comments to that:

    1) If they go through all the leg work and find out where the huddle houses in KY are, find public land around those areas and then kill a bird on said land, good for them! It's NOT easy terrain and will test your conditioning and will to push on
    2) If, in their research, they happen to find the same ~150 acres that we were hunting on among the vast amount of land that was around us - guess 'crap' happens then ;)

    There really is A LOT of public land in Eastern Kentucky - a quick look on my onxmaps app puts it somewhere north of  15k acres. The only thing is that it is not easy hunting. It's steep and covered with leaves and if they have the will to endure and do that type of hunting, good on them! 
    Fair enough. But if I was the guy who told you about this area and I still turkey hunted. Then, I might not be thrilled with the post. But yeah I grew up just north of there and wouldn’t drive a day to hunt turkeys there. At least you don’t have to worry about pot grows that time of year just tweekers stealing your truck. 
  • spanglerspangler daBurgPosts: 2,738 Captain
    Congrats!!  Nice bird and pics.  I love the mountains but I'm kinda glad I don't have to deal with them hunting in florida lol
    There will never be a really free and enlightened state until the state comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived.
  • lookinlookin Posts: 1,399 Officer
    Incredible trip....great pics too.  Congrats to you guys.
    God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy
  • SloughSlough S.w. Ga./ St. JamesPosts: 5,585 Admiral
    Good dill, Foo
    I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you
  • ChonggChongg Posts: 755 Officer
    what a trip! nice birds, and great story. 
  • joekat46joekat46 North PortPosts: 2,651 Captain
    Take a look at the Daniel Boone National Forest.  About 2 zillion acres.  Most of it too rough for most flatland hunters.  I hunted it often in my 40s and 50s.  Doubt if I'll try it again in my 70s.  As usual this forum turns a nice post into an argument.  Too bad.  
  • dannosdoormatsdannosdoormats Posts: 181 Deckhand
    Great. report, you earn those birds the hard way! My 1st yr hunting there 1980 I believe the total statewide harvest was around 300 birds! Quite the success story, & now the Elk restoration, today Turkey harvest is around 35,000. Next time try Land Between the Lakes for a "CAST & BlAST" hunt  in the mornings then Croppie fish  in the afternoons{Specks} on either KY Lake or Barkley. Much easier hunting those river bottoms. Lots of birds.
  • omegafooomegafoo Posts: 3,127 Captain
    joekat46 said:
    Most of it too rough for most flatland hunters.  I hunted it often in my 40s and 50s.  Doubt if I'll try it again in my 70s.  As usual this forum turns a nice post into an argument.  Too bad.  
    What I bolded above is the darn truth. Whoever thinks they're going to do this hunt had better look at a topo map and see what they're in for. It's not easy walking unless you just plan on killing your birds in the road, which I'm sure is possible, but we didn't see many tracks and only a couple of birds (2 hens) actually in the roads. They stayed in the timber on the side of the mountains 99% of the time.
    Great. report, you earn those birds the hard way! My 1st yr hunting there 1980 I believe the total statewide harvest was around 300 birds! Quite the success story, & now the Elk restoration, today Turkey harvest is around 35,000. Next time try Land Between the Lakes for a "CAST & BlAST" hunt  in the mornings then Croppie fish  in the afternoons{Specks} on either KY Lake or Barkley. Much easier hunting those river bottoms. Lots of birds.
    You're right, Western Kentucky would be MUCH easier than what we endured. Funny thing is my buddy hit me up today about what else was still open that's close to home and relatively cheap. I think we might be leaning towards North Carolina but doing it the hard way again. My wife's Grandmother has a house near the Nantahala National Forest. We might be asking for the same trouble (some of those peaks are around 3k feet), but when it comes to turkeys we're just gluttons for punishment.
  • joekat46joekat46 North PortPosts: 2,651 Captain
    Good luck if you do NC.  We'll be living vicariously through your post and pics.  If anyone does want to do a Land Between the Lakes hunt in the KY portion (60,000 ac of LBL is in TN) PM me.  I lived within sight of LBL from late 1995 through 2003 and hunted it often.  LBL has separate rules and seasons and some "dreaded quota hunts" but is pretty country and much easier terrain than eastern KY.  Much easier.  Murray KY even has a Huddle House >:)
  • smhsmh Posts: 313 Deckhand
    Thanks for the neat story and pics!  Congrats!
  • Central PA SportsmanCentral PA Sportsman Posts: 42 Deckhand
    Great story and pic's. If you ever think of hunting PA, drop me a line, I own a campground adjacent to 200,000 acres of State Forest land in central PA.   Would love to host you, or any of the  other guys who read this post.  Love making new friends though the sports we all enjoy.
    Spring Gobbler opened today (no luck for me or they guys hunting with me) my buddy called in 3 jakes, his 7 year old knocked one down hard but it got away seemingly no worse for the wear. Also, called in what he described as a slob of a gobbler (the biggest he's ever seen) but his son couldn't get off a clean shot, so no shot taken.  No Sunday hunting but I know where I'll be Monday morning.  By the way I'm hunting with a 100 plus year old black powder hammer gun, double barrel 16 gauge.  Won't take a shot of more than 30 yards, would prefer 20 yards.
    Also, trout season opened a few weeks and guys have been hammering the trout.  Plenty of great trout streams all around us.
    Good luck with all your adventures.
  • joekat46joekat46 North PortPosts: 2,651 Captain
    Thank you.  My wife has first cousins who live in the Poconos with State Game Lands around them here and there. They only chase deer.  Another State for my turkey bucket list.
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