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Thread: Turkey Camp - 2019 - Monogahela National Forest- West Virginia

  1. #1
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    Default Turkey Camp - 2019 - Monogahela National Forest- West Virginia

    Heading to the big woods next Friday for turkey camp 2019. The boy grew too old for CT youth season!! But the WV regular season opens next Monday. We are heading to Monogahela National Forest. 950,000 acres with a few cagey longbeards sprinkled in it. We are spending the week. Its right on the banks of the Greenbrier River, a notable smallmouth bass destination. I got a rustic cabin in Seneca State Forest for $339 for the whole week. Youth hunting/fishing w-turkey tags and all stamps was only $31. Mine was pushing $200 with all necessary stuff.

    My expectations.... An excellent week in the woods with my son who is growing up too fast (driving lessons, girls etc.), but for now still likes to hang out with dad. My understanding is that the turkey hunting is super tough. We will drive forest service roads in the evenings on the ridges trying to strike a bird. The next morning we will start with a vertical hike to try to get above a roosted bird. Who know how it will go? But looking forward to the adventure. I'm sensing these trips will be getting more difficult to pull off in the next several years, but will hopefully resume when he establishes himself post college.

    For you Dad's trying to raise a hunter.... please enjoy every second. Also, if you are interested I would be happy to share some very specific information on turkey hunting in Pathchaug State Forest CT, for those of you trying to introduce a new hunter to turkeys. If you have a young son or daughter I'd be happy to put X's on the map. There is great opportunity there for the youth season. Regular season is another story.... expect ridiculous amounts of company.

    I'll update in a few weeks on our West Virginia adventure!

  2. #2
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    Good Luck on your trip ! It will be a great adventure !

    You are absolutely right ! The kids grow up way too fast ! Enjoy every minute in the outdoors with him !

    I hope both of you come back with a nice bird !

  3. #3
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    Sounds like a great adventure. Getting a turkey will be icing on the cake, but I am betting you get one! Enjoy the time with your son!

    My son is 16 so this will be his last youth hunt here in NJ, April 20th.

  4. #4
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    Birds should be on fire there next week. Got some buddies in Tennessee now and they are gobbling like crazy for them. Good luck.

  5. #5
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    Good luck. I got my daughter into turkey last year. She is looking forward to it this year. You guys will have a well deserved good time, I'm sure.

  6. #6
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    We had a great trip to West Virginia. It is some really beautiful and vertical country down there. The amount of public hunting land down there is astounded. We hunted in Monongahela National Forest - 950,000 acres, Seneca State Forest - 7,500 acres, and Calvin Price State Forest - 9,500 acres. Plenty of room to roam around and burn boot leather. There is minimal vehicle access into these areas. There are hundreds of gated logging roads that you can park at and hike. So that's what we did.

    We arrived late Saturday afternoon after about an 11 hour ride from SE MA.

    monsign.jpg

    We stayed at a state cabin in Seneca State Forest. This was a great deal. For $39 per night we had a primitive cabin with two beds, gas lights, gas fridge, a wood stove (with all the hard wood you could ever need included), well pump, private outhouse. It was about 2 miles down the mountain to the ranger station where they also had great shower facilities and WIFI. The WIFI was helpful for staying in contact with home. There is 0 cell coverage in the area... the whole county. Pocahontas County is in a national black out area so that it doesn't interfere with the Green Bank National Observatory. They have a giant radio telescope where they listen for signals in outer space. We were only a few miles away... its pretty impressive.

    Really impressive area in general.

    From the fire tower in Seneca State Forest over looking Monongahela NF
    senecaandmon.jpg
    Bigmon.jpg
    Last edited by Meatseeker; 04-22-2019 at 06:29 PM.

  7. #7
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    A really cool local geological feature (antigrade) called the Devi'l's Backbone.
    devilsbackbone.jpg

    Sunday we took a long hike into the MNF and some state land too. We found and saw a fair amount of turkey sign and some turkeys. Really pretty encouraging.

    Monday broke with 29 degree temps, 40 mph winds and snow flurries. We headed out and were hiking into the woods a full hour before shooting time. At day break we heard a few distant gobbles. I managed to get a hen to cut a few times. But after two hours we packed it in. The wind was intensifying, you couldn't hear anything, and it was freezing out. We headed back to the cabin, stoked the woodstove, ate a big breakfast, and took a long nap. The rest of the day we puttered around camp, took a drive and recharged for the next day.

    Tuesday broke clear and cold... but no wind and a forecast to warm into the high 60's. We eased into a spot well before first light and let the world wake up. We heard a bunch of gobbling in the distance at first light in this big drainage. We hiked into a bottom and got to within 200 yards of them and 4 of them were hammering good. There was a parallel bench of hardwood that seemed like a good place to try to call them up to. We scrambled up the steep side, then eased down a finger a close as we dared. Found a few likely trees and started calling. The woods blew up. For the next two hours I was locked in a dual with 4 Tom's and several hens who were meandering all over this bottom. They'd come closer, then they would drift away. Back and forth. I shut up for 10 minutes and they would fire back up again. We got tired of the stand off after an hour and 45 minutes and I lit into them with some aggressive cutting. That was the ticket. They started double and triple gobbling and were coming in on a string. Now they are about 75 yards out and closing. I started just scratching the leaves periodically and every time I did they would gobble like crazy. 50 yards still can't see them because of a hemlock thicket between us and them. They come right to the edge of the thicket at 35 yards. We can see their shadows, they gobble at everything. They are spitting and drumming. We just need them to come through the thicket. But... no joy. After about 15 minutes they drifted off and followed some hens deep into the drainage. We left them and went on a big hike. We struck another bird about a mile away. Got him going for a few minutes, but he never really committed. Back to the cabin, eat, nap, hang out, sleep, repeat...

    Wednesday started with another great day. We started in the same drainage as the day before. The birds were a little quieter than the day before, but we found a few sounding off. We set up on one. After fly down he answered calling twice from about 250 yards away and then went quiet. We sat silent for 25 minutes. We were getting ready to find another bird, so I decided to one last aggressive calling set. I cut hard on him, and he lit up about 70 yards away. Game on. Now he's fired up and coming hard. Then goes quiet again. 10 minutes later he gobbles hard on his own about 50 yards away, I cluck back to him he goes off. We then catch motion to our hard right and hear comes slobzilla walking up the side of the bench. He gets to within 30 yards, hard right...no shot. He spots the boogie man, putts twice and launches and we watch him sail down the valley for a good half mile. Game over! We licked our wounds for a few minutes and headed deep down a logging road calling every couple hundred yards. About 4 miles in, I get a response from about 300 yards. He only responded after I did some real aggressive cutting. We scramble to find a little bench about 100 yards in his direction. We find a likely spot. Sit down and I start with some soft clucking. The woods explode about 50 yards away just below a little lip we cant see over. I call once more, he double gobbles, and now we hear leaves crunching just below. Sure enough we catch a white head bobbing up over the lip coming at a sprint. My son is ready, safety off. The birds puts on the breaks at about 20 yards, when he sees the boogie man. He periscopes, putts, and starts to turn.... but its too late. Boom... the 20 gauge barks and he rolls right over. Hugs and high fives and we are standing over our first big woods turkey. A nice bird... with 1" spurs, 9" beard, and was 17 lbs. A very happy boy indeed.

    JakeWV2019.jpg

    Thursday was warmish, overcast, with intermittent showers. The birds were less vocal. We managed to work two birds where I was going to be the primary shooter. But between hunting pressure and the weather, we just couldn't get them really fired up. We wrapped up the hunt around 12:00 pm after about a 8 mile round trip hike without striking a hot bird.

    Friday we headed back to civilization. WV is a really great place. We only experienced very minor competition in 4 days of hunting. If you see a truck at a turn off you keep heading to the next one and work your own logging road. We had one guy try to slip in on us when we struck a bird, but once he saw us he apologized and went the other way. The woods are huge. You have to be prepared to burn some serious boot leather to find birds. But once you do you will likely have them to yourself. You need to be in half way decent shape because everything is vertical. We saw a ton of deer and a ton of bear sign too. I'd give it some consideration for deer hunting. I don't think you'll see many monsters, but doe tags are available over the counter, and the local shop had a bunch of pictures from some very respectable bucks.

    All in all a great trip and great way to spend some time with my son. Thanks for reading.
    Last edited by Meatseeker; 04-22-2019 at 06:35 PM.

  8. #8
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    You did great. That was a great trip and you also got a beautiful bird. Congrats to your son!

  9. #9
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    That sounds like a very intriguing hunt. Congrats on the bird. Almost time to fill some tags up here.

  10. #10
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    Great Trip ! You guys really had a great adventure .

    Another successful Father and Son hunt locked into the memory books !

    Congrats to you both !

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