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Thread: NY Youth Weekend rundown...no grip 'n grin pics

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Southern Vermont
    Posts
    3,188

    Default NY Youth Weekend rundown...no grip 'n grin pics

    NY youth weekend tags are cheap, and there are plenty of birds to be found, so for the 2nd year in a row we made the trip over. There's no dead birds in this thread, but it was an adrenaline filled disappointment.

    I took Friday off and brought my 2 younger ones snowboarding. It was like the middle of winter at 3000ft. Great snowboarding, but my mind was on Turkeys. We headed west in the afternoon and out to try and roost one. Up on a high field edge we hit the hooter and he lit up in an area we knew he might be in. We left him alone and headed back to the turkey lodge. (my parents house)

    Saturday morning we snuck into position, plenty of time to set up the decoys. One quick hoot and he let us know we were in the right spot. We were in a very steep strip of woods, dividing 2 fields at different elevations. The top one was probably 75ft higher in elevation, and thats where he was. We didn't sneak up to the top because would risk getting skylined, and we wanted to try and get him in the woods instead of the field. The plan worked great as 4 hens came down off the hill, calling the entire time they walked past us. We could hear him up on top gobbling, closer every time....he was coming...until he wasn't.....we heard a gunshot ring out above us, then silence. The hens continued to yelp and cut right in front of us for an hour, and we never heard another gobble. It was tough - thats the 2nd time someone has shot a nearby bird that was on the way in to us. But, he understands the privilege of hunting open access land, and the compromises that come with it. Later in the morning we had 3 more hens in front of us, but couldn't get a gobble anywhere.

    Saturday night was silence. We couldn't roost one, but we knew they were there. We headed back to the same general area, because its a patchwork of farm fields, with big pines and hardwoods dividing them. We snuck in the dark through the Mettawee riverbottom, balancing across a log. We got in a little late after trying a few times to get one to gobble on the roost. As we headed up a steep bank towards a field, I peeked my head up and around a tree with the binocs and could see a hen periscope over the hump in the field, looking back at me from around 200yrds. We took a chance that there was a tom nearby, and Ethan belly crawled past me to the edge of the field after she put her head back down. He set up, with me at the break of the hill on my stomach, and my cousin below me. He called, and a tom answered, but he couldn't hear it well, since he was in the leaves, over such a steep bank. I used hand signals below the break in the hill to tell him what direction to scratch/call in. I couldn't see the tom, but he was pacing back and forth just over the hump in the field. He gobbled closer, and I could see Ethan start to get the shakes - even though I couldn't see the bird, I knew he could. The tom didn't call much, and was very hesitant....exactly why we didn't want to hunt the field edge the day before. I saw the safety get clicked off, and with the bird to the off side of a right handed shooter, a quick swing and a shot. Ethan jumped up, and before I could get up off the ground, he sent a follow up shot, and I knew the situation wasn't great. We ran to the other side of the field where we saw the bird fly low into the woods. I could see him running on the other side of the ravine. We checked for feathers and couldn't find any sign he'd been hit. In hindsight, it was pretty long shot, but Ethan said he saw the tom stop coming, tuck his wings back up and turn, so he took a chance - but said he wouldn't have done it again if he knew the yardage.

    Back to the truck for some coffee and regroup. However....as we get to the truck, a coyote jumps from the brush and we watch him for a few. We look up and in a high field across the road, there's 4 strutters and 2 hens. They noticed us as we watched the coyote and then got into the truck, and they walked off. We could see them in an overgrown pasture, way up on a steep sidehill. After some coffee and planning, we decided we'd roll the dice and give it a shot.

    I have OnxMaps on my phone, so I knew exactly where the property line was, and we'd have to hug it to get into position, but we never crossed it. It wasn't posted that I noticed, but we didn't ask permission from that landowner and I wasn't going on it. As we walked up the side that we did have permission on, I noticed a ground blind on the other side. We stopped and looked at it as we crow called to make sure the birds hadn't moved over the top of the hill. We noticed it was caved in, and assumed it was a deer season blind, so we kept walking. We set up in a brushy area and started some aggressive hen calling. Lucky for us, it actually worked, and the hen started coming down off the hill, but though the woods, not through the fields. That was fine with us, and we hoped they'd come out into the field in front of us. As they got close, the hens started putting. There's no way they could have seen us and we were a little confused. A hen popped out into the field at 40yds, then ran right back into the brush. Something had her spooked. The toms had run back uphill, away from us, and stopped gobbling. Soon, all 4 toms were at 100yrds and the hens were closer, but they were so nervous. I was on the wrong side of my son to watch as they got closer, so my cousin was coaching him. One of the smaller toms seemed like he was coming in, then immediately got nervous, so my cousin told Ethan to take the shot now. The birds took off, no dead ones. Here's where it gets really frustrating...

    The moment he shot, I said "stay put, there's something still here in the woods" - I could hear it in the leaves. It was a person, on the posted side of the property. He came onto our side, asked if we had permission and walked away. We now knew exactly what had spooked the birds, but couldn't figure out what he was doing. As we got back to the truck, there was a lady standing there waiting, and she was pissed. She told us her son had been in his blind and we ruined his hunt. (She obviously didn't know the blind was caved in from the winter snow load and covered in pine branches) Without going into all the detailed drama, it soon was very obvious that they were "saving" those toms for the regular season. We were on private land with permission, never crossing any boundaries, and took a shot at a bird legally on the property we had permission on.

    It happens, and I get it, but I thought it was tactless to do in front of a 14yr old hunter. Before we had gone into that area we talked about being sure we knew where boundaries were, and where we would NOT shoot, to be sure we didn't cross any boundaries legally or ethically. The outcome was disappointing, but we had an adrenaline filled weekend, where a young hunter learned a lot. Next weekend is VT youth, so we'll try it all over again.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Zone 10 MA. Zone 15/12 ME
    Posts
    191

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    Nice write up Pete. Good luck next weekend.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    S.E. MASS
    Posts
    1,513

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    Great write up Pete. Thanks for sharing good luck this weekend. We'll be out for the MA youth day.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    NJ/NY
    Posts
    510

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    Great story. That's why I love turkey hunting. You go from relaxed to full adrenaline in just moments. To bad you ran into a few bad apples but it's inevitable your son learns that aspect of public land hunting as well.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Phillipston, MA
    Posts
    12,523

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    Great report. Good luck in VT youth!

  6. #6

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    Last edited by catskill adventures1; 05-05-2018 at 10:11 AM.

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