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2016 Fall Turkey Season

 

Back in March of this year, I popped for a CAMX Chaos 325 crossbow.  Unbeknownst to me, CAMX was in the process of being bought by a large company which resulted in CAMX greatly reducing their price on their Chaos crossbow.  Had I bought the same crossbow this past month, I would have paid $500 more than I did in March.   I had always wanted to shoot and hunt with a crossbow.  Here in Minnesota, since I am over 60, I can use one during archery season and during firearms season for that matter too.  It was too good of a deal to pass up. 

I spent the summer practicing my crossbow shooting when I could find the time and the weather cooperated.  I have a nice Zeiss Victory PRF Rangefinder that I acquired right after getting my Savage 10 FCP HS-Precision rifle.  While not fully optimized for archery hunting, it is none the less a great rangefinder so I pressed it into service for shooting my crossbow.  

Fall turkey season runs from Oct. 1 through Oct. 31 here at the homestead in Minnesota.  This happens to completely overlap the fall archery season for deer.  I had already purchased my archery license for deer when I realized that I could encounter a turkey while waiting for a deer to come to the archery party.  I stopped by the L&M Fleet store and picked up a turkey tag.  After all, I'd seen a couple of turkeys on the property over the summer and again on one of the trail cams. 

As Oct. 1st approached, the only turkey I was seeing was about 3 miles NE of me on the road we routinely drive going to and from church.  There would typically be about 15 to 20 of them eating out in the field maybe 75 yds from the road.  Lot of good that was doing me.  As Oct. 1st came and went and I was spending more time in the woods trying to fill my deer tag, my turkey count remained at zero.  I was beginning to think that the money spent on my turkey tag might have been better put towards a big Butterball at the local grocery store.  Oh, did I mention I pretty much stink at running a turkey call?  I need to spend more time watching those YouTube videos. 

Fast forward to a week ago.  I got busted by a big doe (for the 2nd time) while hunting from my ground blind tent.  I decided I needed something else since I had no intentions of moving it since the deer 100 yds out in the hay field seemed to care less that it or me were there.  While logging some search engine time, I came across the Ghost blind.  I had enough points at Cabela's (along with a gift card a friend gave me) to cover the cost of the blind.  I ordered it and let things cool down on the hunting front for the 3 days it took to arrive.

Two days before the Ghost blind arrived, I placed a trail camera in the area I was thinking might be a likely spot to put the blind.  I checked the camera on the 2nd day and found I had some deer and coyote traffic.  I got the blind in place shortly after lunch and headed back to the site around 3:45 to get settled in.  After sitting for an hour, I realized I could have done things much better in regards to one of my shooting lanes.  Well, we learn from our mistakes and since this was my first time using this blind, I made a note to myself to spend more time verifying my shooting lanes during setup.

 

my ghost blind as seen from 20 yds

Here is a photo of my Ghost blind as seen from about 20 yards away.  If you are having a difficult time seeing it, then I did a good job in my placement of the blind. 

 

back side of the Ghost blind

Here is my Ghost blind as seen from the back side.  As you can see, it does not offer 360 concealment nor protection from the weather.  Additional panels can be added.  How far you sit back from the panels influences the coverage you have from prying eyes.   The cocking stirrup on my crossbow prevents it from fitting through the slots near the upper part of the panels.  Of course, you wouldn't want the crossbow's arms to smack the panels when you pull the trigger so maybe that isn't such a bad thing after all.  It would be easy to lay the barrel of a rifle through one of those slots.

I'll give you another look at the front of my blind, this time a little closer.

 

my Ghost blind viewed from about 10 yds

You should be able to identify the panels now that you know the tell tail curves along their top edges.  They were visible in the previous photo but if you didn't know that, it didn't help you ID them.  From what I've read, they deer don't know it either so that's a good thing for sure!  <grin> 

OK, back to the hunt.

It was about 5:00 PM, and I was thinking something would most likely happen in the next hour based on the time stamps on the trail camera's footage.  The weather also dictates to some degree just how early they will be coming out to feed on the hay field.   The day had been mostly sunny and it was shining now. 

I looked at my 2 o'clock position and was surprised to see three turkeys sneaking up on me.  Well, not really sneaking up on ME but rather moseying along in my general direction.  They had apparently walked along the side of the field and were now in my field of view.  I grabbed my range finder.....48 yds out.  While I spent some time practicing at up to 40 yds, I had pretty much told myself that I wasn't going to be shooting at deer much past 30 yds.  While debating with myself whether I should switch from deer to turkey hunting mode, the three made a right turn and disappeared behind a large stack of wood.  By the time they would reappear, they would be well out of range, not to mention a lot of brush being in the way too. 

I was congratulating myself on my blind setup when they appeared from behind the wood pile, back tracking themselves....which meant they might yet come into range.  It was then that a large hawk swooped down towards them and lit in an oak tree about 25 yds away.  For about 30 seconds, they stared at each other.  I've not personally fought a turkey but I do remember as a kid a family friend having one on their farm....and it was a mean one which routinely kicked their dog's back side. 

While the turkeys were busy eyeballing the hawk, I ranged them again....about 40 yds...and still moving closer they were!  I quietly shifted myself in my little tri-pod legged chair, working on getting myself into a better position should I decide to shoot.  It was then that the hawk decided to leave the turkeys, perhaps for later, and flew off to the east probably looking for something easier to catch for dinner. 

The turkeys looked right at me....or at least in my direction.  Had they figured out that 410 grains of sudden death (the weight of my arrow) awaited them?  Did they figure out they were looking at a blind?  Was their something wrong with it?  Was my zipper down on my camouflage bibs?  What seemed like an eternity but was probably well under 15 seconds ticked off the clock.  They went back to their pecking and scratching around in the grass.  I was safe....they hadn't made me. 

Two of them wandered away from the third.....and it was at this time that I noticed he had a beard....a tom....a male.  The fall turkey season allows for taking either a male or female but I would rather leave females to make next years turkeys, given a choice.  And a choice is what I had, time to start turkey hunting.

I recalled a photo I had seen online showing where to shoot a turkey.  It was standing broadside to me, more or less.  I remember that because I could see his beard hanging out away from his body.  I don't recall when I moved the safety to the fire position.....I put the scope's 30 yd reticle where I recalled it was in the photo and slowly pressed the trigger.  The CAMX's trigger is great, in my opinion.  No creep and the perfect weight as far as I am concerned. 

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