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It’s All Good, Right?

Photosz_post_oct_17_bow_hunt At least that’s what some of my turkey buds like to say . . .

Friday, October 17, 2008. Bowhunt: Strafford County, New Hampshire.
A month into the season, I found 21 archery-only turkeys on a field edge not long after fly-down (early-hatch, good-sized birds). Got within 10 steps (seriously!) after S-L-O-W-L-Y moving 100 yards in a half hour inside the dense post-rain woods. Had an okay arrowing opportunity, but some cover was in the way. Wanted a better shot. One bird putted, and a 42-eyed chain reaction followed. Put my Hoyt compound bow down where I could find it again, and rushed ’em, a tactic that relies on separating gregarious birds to call them back.

Set up. Waited. Called. A brood hen (one of a couple in the group) set up behind me. I repositioned in the woods, closer to the yapping hen, called in a young bird from the other way with kee-kees. Drew the bow (turkey at just five yards now!). It didn't step out from behind cover like I wished it would, but putted, hustled away. I called, got responses from other birds that worked in to me. They got together in a swampy creek bottom. Heard ’em regroup. Saw the flock gathered now, slowly moving away. Put my bow down again, and got a super break in that swamp, the wad of birds flying in all directions.

Waited 10, 15 minutes after the action. Called, one answered. Then another. Got ’em fired up, and this audio included gobbling, but one of the brood hens eventually beat me at that game as they often do, and yelped most of them in by the end of that wild session.

Had remembered seeing a young gobbler fly the other way on my second flock bust. Walked in that direction through the woods, called (kee-kee-runs). Got a response. Bird worked in to me, close, but hung up, clucking behind cover. Brood hen called agitatedly, across the fairly deep creek. Fall jake kept coming to me—coming hard, yelping and gobbling now as best he could do being a bird of the year, likely fired up by the rowdy calling. It appeared to my extreme right (reddish head, standing tall, just 25 steps or so. I'm ready to draw my bow when it goes behind a tree, and walks even closer to my setup). Thing is, it didn't like not seeing the turkey I'd been imitating, so it did an end around in front of me, toward the brood hen, putting now, hurrying.

Then it got REAL quiet. I'd misplaced my seat cushion during all the action, and returned to my setup spots until I found it. Minor success!—Steve Hickoff


Steve Hickoff

Any of you Strut Zoners seeing some bowhunting success on the big birds this fall? Send word when you get a sec. We'd love to hear from ya . . .



I keep finding sign, but still not seeing any birds. I guess I'll just pick one spot and keep going back and hopefully I'll find them one of these days. There are acorns along the field edge, and there's rain in the forecast so if anything will make them visible that ought to be it.



What sort of call do you use to make a realistic kee-kee? I don't have a lot of experience hearing that call in the wild. I've experimented with two, three, and four reed mouth calls and get very different sounds.

Steve Hickoff

Hey Justin,

On Monday 10/20 I cold called in a Maine brood hen and her flock of a half-dozen birds of the year (decent size). Did it without flushing the group.

Mama hen came to a glass call (my soft hen yelps and clucks), and that bird talked to me first from far off, then on the way in.

Several young birds also kee-keed and offered kee-kee-runs to my Quaker Boy double-reeded "Kee Kee" diaphragm as they approached.

Hope this helps! Keep us posted . . .

By the way, I let these particular birds walk, and chalked it up to "catch and release" turkey hunting. Truth is, I've got my eye on a some gobblers in that same area. Only need one to fill my tag, but they're pulling every trick in the book! Not saying I won't take any legal bird on the last day of course (10/24).


Steve Hickoff


The 10/20 hunt I just mentioned? I set up based only on the nearby scratchings and turkey droppings. Hang in there near the freshest sign and I'm betting you'll make something happen!

P.S. Those rain showers and wind will definitely put turkeys in open fields. Saw it today in Maine--not MY field, but one over where I couldn't hunt.

Stay tuned for future reports on the SZ.



Steve, you should just come to Missouri this weekend and you could show us both a thing or two, I think Justin and I are going to join forces and try to tag a few birds.

Steve Hickoff

Rain check?!

Hunting Maine turkeys through Friday, then I'm off to Vermont for the Saturday gun turkey opener . . .

Definitely keep us posted!