Turkey season is great. The weather is nice, and new birds and sounds come back to Iowa. Compared to whitetail hunting, in which you freeze your hands and toes while sitting uncomfortably in a tree stand, turkey hunting is a walk in the park. Except when you can’t find turkeys, which was the case for a good portion of my season. Here is my story.
The season began with several hunts in which I didn’t see or hear a single bird. Finally, I decided to leave the stand early and shoot my bow in order to get some benefit from waking up at the ass crack of dawn. As I shot I heard a gobble and was able to find a group of turkeys in a nearby cornfield. The next morning I set up as near to the field as possible, which meant sitting against the fence that divides the public and private land and calling towards the private property. I had almost given up when I caught a glimpse of some tail feathers about two hundred yards out. As the tom turned in the field he caught sight of my jake decoy. His feathers collapsed, and he began sprinting towards me. I fumbled with the camera and my bow as he quickly closed in. He must have seen me turning on the camera. Just as he came into range he took several unsure steps then hastily deserted his decoy companions.
Several more hunts followed with no close calls, so I decided to scout a new public hunting spot. On the way I saw a dark object in a field. I pulled my car to the side of the highway. It was what I had hoped, a tom in full strut roughly two hundred yards out. I quickly drew my bow and steadied my aim. Actually, I waited two days, went to about six different houses in the area and finally gained permission from a couple brothers that farmed the land.
On the first hunt I could hear turkeys gobbling all around me while walking in. It was turkey heaven, and I was about to make it turkey hell # win. All jokes aside there were a lot of turkeys. I decided to set up between the two groups and hope that one of those toms would come to my setup. Instead, a hen appeared in the field right at daybreak, and I watched two toms chase after her while completely ignoring me. It felt a little like sitting on the sidelines at a high school dance.
On the next hunt I decided to get as close as possible to one set of gobbles and ignore the others. I placed my decoys in a small pasture and sat across the creek behind a downed tree. As I called I could hear the gobbles coming closer and closer. Finally, the tom popped up from over the hill and began to strut. Once he saw my jake he quickly scuttled his way down the hill and through the pasture. By the time he came into my sight again he was well within range. I raised my gun and dropped him.
When turkey hunting goes as planned, it feels very easy; however, when it doesn’t it is incredibly frustrating. By shooting that tom I completed the Iowa Slam, and now I am beginning to prepare for the fall season. There will be an episode chronicling the turkey season and blogs offering tips for better hunting in Iowa coming soon.
Thank you for reading,
Stuart Hoegh is the owner and guide for Three Brothers Outdoors guide service in Sunriver, Oregon. He will hunt antelope in Wyoming, elk in Colorado, mule deer in Nebraska, and every animal in Iowa this year.