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Turkey Hunting Basics: “A Beginners Guide to Chasing Long-Beards”

by Dustin DeCroo 11. April 2012 08:25
Dustin DeCroo

Your bow in hand and arrow nocked, the horizon in the Eastern sky begins turning pink and orange, the gobbles in the trees above tell you the game is about to begin. Are you ready? In this “Beginner’s Guide to Chasing Long-Beards,” you’ll learn six simple tips guaranteed to help your turkey bowhunting career more successful.

Turkey Tip No. 1: Do your scouting homework.
The single most important part of being a successful turkey hunter is having an idea where your birds are and what they’re doing. There is simply no substitute for quality scouting if you want to be a successful turkey hunter, but what is “quality scouting?”
Quality scouting is having a pretty decent idea as to what your birds are doing throughout the day, not just where they roost or where they feed. If you know where they want to be, you can be waiting at that spot before they get there and that alone will put the odds in your favor.
Finding a roost is the easiest part of scouting, you simply follow your ears to where the birds are before sunrise or after sunset. Turkeys love to roost near water, whether it is a creek, stream, river or pond. Turkeys also prefer to roost in Cottonwoods, large Oaks or other mature trees. Hunting the roost can be incredible, but often times the action is early and short lived as the birds move out. Turkeys typically fly down out of the roost 15-20 minutes prior to sunrise, sometimes earlier or later, but 15-20 minutes is fairly standard. Wind, rain and cloud cover are all factors that will affect how early or late the birds will come down out of the roost. There aren’t many things in the outdoors that are more exciting than sitting within 50 yards of a roost tree full of gobbling birds when it is turkey season. When the birds come down out of the tree, they’ll peck around for a few minutes waking up and then begin to strut for the ladies. The hens will promptly begin leading the toms (strutting all the way of course) to the feeding area where they’ll show up an hour or two after daybreak. Depending on the weather conditions, the birds may stay in the field for the duration of the day, but most likely they’ll take a little break to hang out in a shady location before heading back to the field (or other food source) in the afternoon. From the feeding area, they’ll begin to work their way back to the roost to spend the night. Turkeys will generally have several “roosting” trees in a given location; this area will almost always be used unless the birds are continually pushed off the roost or spooked out of the area before dark.

 
Using your Stealth Cam trail camera is a great way to scout for turkeys while you're at work or school.

Turkey Tip No. 2: Don’t give up in the middle of the day.
The majority of bowhunters are deer hunters, and as deer hunters we’ve been trained that daylight and dusk are our best opportunities to harvest animals, and while this may be true with crepuscular animals such as deer, it doesn’t hold as true with turkeys. Mid-day and early afternoon often provide better opportunities at calling in a Tom. Sometime in the mid to late morning the hens and toms will separate, either because the hens are going to nest, or because the toms are giving up on the hens that are unwilling to breed. As the season progresses on, typically, the birds will spend less time together in the mornings and evenings because the hens that have been bred leave to sit on their nest. This is the best opportunity to call in a long-beard, this is the time during the day that you will have the least competition with live hens… and that is a good thing.

During these warmer, slower hours of mid-day, you can increase your chances significantly if you have an idea where the birds tend to “loaf.” “Loafing” is often times a shady area on the edge of a field where the birds hang out and pass the time. If you can place yourself where the turkeys naturally want to be at any given time during the day, you will give yourself many more opportunities as success, guaranteed. Calling a tom to a location that he already wants to be, without the distraction of live hens is the perfect scenario for a turkey hunter. Remember, your goal for scouting prior to the hunt was to know where the birds want to be throughout the day, so that you can beat them to that location.


During the middle of the day turkeys like to "loaf" in shaded areas, if you know where these areas are, success is just around the corner.

Turkey Tip No. 3: Don’t be afraid to use a push-button turkey call.
Turkey calling can be as exciting as it gets when it’s good and it can also make you want to pull your hair out when it’s tough. Fortunately for turkey hunters, we don’t have to be world champion turkey callers to get the job done. There are four main types of calls that turkey hunters have access to: diaphragm calls, box calls, friction (slate) calls and a push-button call. All of these calls have advantages and disadvantages over the others, but as turkey bowhunters, let us discuss the two best calls for bowhunting turkeys.

The diaphragm call (or mouth call) is the favorite of many experienced turkey callers because it gives you a great deal of tone versatility and it can be 100% hands free. When you need to make a cluck and you’re at full draw, the diaphragm call is the only call that can make that happen. You can switch out diaphragm calls for different wind conditions or just different sounds altogether. The down side of the diaphragm turkey call is that it takes, by far, the most time to become proficient. For beginning hunters, it is a great idea to practice the diaphragm from the beginning (while practicing the easier calls), but don’t feel like you have to take it to the field until you’re ready. Keep in mind, turkeys all sound different, similar to a human voice or the bugle of a bull elk, so you don’t have to sound “perfect.”
Perhaps the best option for beginning turkey bowhunters is the push-button call. This call gets overlooked by lots of people because they see the push-button turkey call as a “child’s” call. The push-button call takes only one hand to operate and has an almost fail-proof design. Simply push the button to make the cluck, yelp, purr, putt or whichever call you like. This call is by far the easiest to learn and sounds great as well. With a few minutes practice you will have all the skills you need to call in and kill a gobbler with your bow.

Turkey Tip No. 4: Patience equals success.
The number one mistake that turkey hunters make is being impatient. When birds are gobbling and moving all around, it’s easy to get caught up in the action and get in a hurry. The best example of this is when you’re calling to a tom that you know is close. You call, he gobbles, you call, he gobbles, you call, and he goes quiet. We all want to hear that tom gobble every time we call; it reassures us that he hasn’t vacated the area. Lots of turkey hunters give up when a bird goes quiet, big mistake. More often than not, the bird is expecting you (the hen) to come looking for him, and most likely, he didn’t leave. Be ready, sit tight and he’ll either come in silently or when he gets tired of looking for you, he will gobble. Don’t be afraid to give him 20 minutes (or more) of silence before making a move. Practice patience and you will bag more turkeys, period.


Bowhunting.com Staff member Dan Schafer excercised patience to wait for these birds to get into range.

Turkey Tip No. 5: Don’t overcall.
Turkey calling is fun, but keeping your calling to a minimum is best, try not to call more than every 10-15 minutes. Learn to putt, purr, yelp and cackle and use them in that order. The majority of the sounds turkeys make are putts (not warning putts) and purrs, then the yelp and occasionally the cackle. If putts and purrs aren’t working, then mix in yelps with your putts and purrs. Saving the excited cackle for a tough bird is a great strategy, don’t pull out the “trick play” until you’re in the final minutes of the fourth quarter. When you do get the attention of a bird and you can see him coming, quit calling. He knows you’re there and is obviously interested, if he stops give some putts and purrs to keep his attention. If you continue calling, you risk him holding up to wait for the hen (you) because you’re too vocal. The tom will be in range shortly, don’t push him.


When a bird is coming in on a string, it's time to be quiet and pick up your bow.


Turkey Tip No. 6: Lower your draw weight.
Bowhunters often get caught up in the speed and momentum or KE that their bow setup produces. Obviously, turkeys are smaller animals than the big game animals that most bowhunters chase, and the need for speed and hard hitting arrows is little to none. Far more important is being able to hold your bow at full draw for an extended period of time, especially if you’re not in a ground blind. You may have one opportunity to draw and then have to wait for the bird to enter your shooting lane, not being over bowed will allow you the holding time to make the shot count.


Lowering your draw weight will allow you to hold your bow at full draw for an extended period of time.

Bowhunting Products for Turkey Hunters
Every magazine you pick up or turkey hunting website you visit has hundreds of products that you could spend your money on. Here are a few of the products that could be considered “must-have” products for the turkey bowhunter.


New Archery Products – Spitfire Gobbler Getter Broadhead

 Avian X Turkey Decoys by Zink Calls

 


 A-Way Turkey Trooper 2000 Deluxe Turkey Call

Ameristep Lost Camo Blind


CamoFX Lost Camo face paint


ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellent

 


Sawyer Permethrin clothing spray mosquito protection

Turkey Decoying to the Next Level

by Josh Fletcher 2. April 2012 13:04
Josh Fletcher

As turkey season is nearing this spring, majority of hunters that take to the woods will be carrying a turkey decoy or a whole flock of decoys. There is no questioning their effectiveness at fooling a long beard, but in this article we will cover tips and tactics that will take your decoying to the next level.

Questions turkey hunters ask themselves as they head to the woods each day is how many decoys do I use? Single or multiple hen decoys? Do you use a Jake, or a full strut decoy with hens? Where do you place them? How far do you set them away from your set up? To answer these questions we will first break it down, taking it one step at a time.

To help explain how to take your decoying to the next level, we broke the spring season down into time frames and explain what the turkeys are often doing this time of the year. This time frame is based on over eighteen years of observation here in the Midwest, if you live farther south, you will more likely see these events occurring earlier in the spring.

The biggest key to success with utilizing your decoys will be based upon what the birds are doing in your area at that given time. Even though the dates might be earlier or later based upon your geographical region, pay extra attention to what the birds are doing in your area. Locate below the description that best matches what the turkeys in your area are doing and base your turkey decoy tactics based upon the recommendations below.

Decoys are a must have tool when archery hunting turkeys


April 1st – May 1st

Flock Observation:

During the early spring from March to the beginning of April, majority of the birds are located in large flocks. You may see a flock of ten or more long beards hanging together; as it gets closer to April you will see more interaction between toms and hens. Seeing three to five toms in full strut with a dozen hens at this time of year is not uncommon.

Paying attention to what the turkeys in your area are doing and what you see in the flocks will dictate the decoy tactics that you will utilize. In the early part of the season here in my home State of Wisconsin, you will often see several toms strutting together with a flock of hens.

This is the stage of the breeding season that is similar to bachelor groups of bucks, the toms are still tolerant of each other and the dominant tom is willing to allow his subordinate buddy to hang out with him and his flock of hens.

Decoying Tactics:

Even though they are tolerant of each other they have worked out their pecking order in the flock. If you are seeing two or more toms strutting together in your hunting area, is when a full strut decoy with two or more hens will be the most effective.

By placing a full strut decoy with several fake ladies will eat away at the dominant tom. Your strutting fake also gives the subordinate toms an opportunity to maintain a higher position in the dominance chain by whooping the butt of your fake strutter.

Place the strutting decoy close to several hen decoys. We prefer to use a feeding and a breeding hen position decoys. For best results for a shot opportunity, place the strutting decoy facing you. As the jealous toms approach your set up, often they will come in at the shoulder or wing side of the decoy. They will often work their way up to the head of the decoy. This position will draw the attention away from you allowing you an opportunity to make your final movement before you make your shot.

As you reach later in this time period, we often find that a half strut or a three quarter strut Jake decoy works better than a full strut decoy. As the spring draws on, dominant toms begin to become less tolerant of their buddies and begin picking more and more on them eventually driving them from the flock. Because of this, some of the subordinate toms become more leery of picking a fight. So you will want to tone down the dominance of your decoy, a subordinate tom and his buddy may tuck tail and run from a strutting decoy but may feel like a tough guy to a less superior Jake decoy.

If you are working two or more toms, try a jake decoy with hens to make them jealous

May 1st- Mid May

Flock Observation:

At this time you will see more birds strutting by themselves or with several hens. Occasionally there will be two long beards together at the beginning of this stage; however by now most toms are no longer tolerant of their sidekicks like they were earlier in the season. This is also the time of year that the hens begin nesting. They go off and leave the toms to sit on their nests or they don’t hang with the flock for as long in the morning as they did earlier in the season.

Watch the flocks in your area, if you’re seeing more single toms or a tom with smaller amount of hens there is a good chance you are in this phase of the decoying season.

Decoying Tactics:

Since the toms are no longer tolerant of each other, you would think that a tom or a jake decoy would work best, however experience says differently. At this time of the season the majority of the subordinate toms have experienced their share of butt whooping, and will more than likely be turned away by a tom or jake decoy.

A tom or jake decoy will work if you’re calling the dominant tom in the area; however for one dominant tom you may have five or more subordinate toms. If you are like me I would rather play the odds in my favor and not use a male decoy that may spook one of the subordinate toms in the area.

At this stage in the breeding season your best results will come with a single hen or a flock of hen decoys. This is the time of the spring it is best to lighten your load and leave the tom decoy at home unless you are working a flock with two or more toms.

Later on in the spring less can be more, don't be afraid to use just a single hen


Mid May- End of May

Flock Observations:

At this time of the season you will often see a single tom strutting by himself or they may just have a couple of hens with him. It’s also not uncommon to see just one single hen by herself feeding in a field.

This is when the hens nesting is in full swing, the flocks are no longer and the birds have a tendency of doing their own thing, whether it be a single long beard strutting or just a single hen feeding by herself before she heads back to her nest in the morning.

Decoy Tactics:

At this time of the year less is more. Since it is uncommon to see flocks of birds hanging out together at the end of spring, we have experienced better results with just a single hen decoy.

Long beards are out looking and hanging out in their strut zones at this time of year hoping to pick up the last of the hens to breed before the season is over.

If you are hunting in a heavily hunted area they have pretty much seen every decoy and heard every call in the books by this time of the year. Your plan of attack if this is familiar to your situation is to tone down the calling and keep it simple. A lone feeding hen decoy is all you need, don’t overdo it this time of the year, keep it simple and cover ground looking for a lonely long beard.

Conclusion of Seasonal Set-ups:

The biggest piece of advice that we can give you is watch what the flocks in your area are doing and match your decoy set up to what you’re seeing around you. If you’re seeing several toms together and the season is early, don’t be afraid to go with a strutting decoy with hens.

As the season progresses and the flocks continue to break up and you’re seeing more single toms with hens, leave the strutting decoys at home and continue using a single hen or a flock of hen decoys.

When you begin seeing single toms with only a handful or less of hens, or seeing more lone hens in your area, we recommend leaving the flock at home and pack light. Just carry a single hen decoy for your best results.

One thing we do want to mention is that these are recommendations based upon years of experience and there are always exceptions to the rules because the only thing predictable with turkeys is that they are unpredictable.

In other words you may be able to bring in a long beard using a strutting decoy at the end of the season; however we like to have the odds in our favor. I’m not saying a strutting decoy won’t work at the end of the season, but you will have better odds with just a single hen than risking spooking a subordinate long beard that has already received a butt whooping from his buddies for the last three weeks.

A good rule of thumb is if you know you will be working two or more long beards hanging together, it is a safe bet to go with a jake decoy with several hens.

Decoy Placement:

Regardless of the time of year we like to keep our decoys close. If we are using a full pop-up ground blind and hunting with the bow, we will often keep the decoys 5 to 10 yards from the blind. If we are just sitting next to a tree or using a gun, often we try to keep the decoys from 10 to 15 yards away.

The reason for keeping the decoys close is just in case the tom hangs up and decides to make the decoys come to him; often he is still within range of the weapon of choice. This also holds true if the gobbler comes in and sees something that he doesn’t like. If you keep the decoys closer to you, you have a better chance of him being in range before he makes up his mind and bolts for the hills.

The other reason we like to keep the decoys close is that if we are “Cutting n’ Running” we often find ourselves scrambling to set up before the hot gobbler comes in. By keeping the decoys close we run less of a risk bumping the hot bird while running out to set up the fakes.

By placing the decoys behind you, forces the long beard to look down the road at the decoys, past your set-up

The next tactic we love to deploy is what we refer to as the “Walk past set-up”. This decoy set up is ideal for logging or access roads. If you’re hunting a long narrow open stretch of terrain such as a power line right of way or a logging road and a turkey gobbles in front of you down the logging road, we will place the decoys 10 to 15 yards behind us down the logging road.

By placing the decoys behind your set up which is on the side of the logging road, the long beard is looking past you at the decoys, this will cause the tom to almost walk right on top of you as he closes the distance to the decoys. This tactic will literally put him in your lap, but be careful not to let him get so close to you that you cannot move without being busted.

Tips for Productive Decoys:

As with any decoys, realism is the key. We have all driven by a field and seen another hunter’s set up with their decoys in the field. If we can tell from several hundred yards away that those are decoys in the field, you can bet a bird with an eye sight five times better than ours can definitely tell something isn’t right with that set up.

With modern technology, turkey decoys are becoming more realistic than ever. Some of the most realistic decoys on the market are Avian X by the Zink Company and the Dave Smith Turkey Decoys. They are very realistic decoys, but be prepared to take out a small loan to buy the whole flock.

Another tip for owning a flock of high quality realistic fakes is to buy in the buddy system. I along with two very close hunting partners all bought a decoy. We often hunt together and enjoy the hunt as a group, when we combine our decoys we now have a flock of the most realistic decoys on the market.

Avian X decoys by Zink Calls offers a truly realistic decoy



To make your decoys look even more realistic you can always add your own feathers to your decoys. Some companies allow you to use a real turkey fan for more realism. There is also a company that makes a product that is basically a cape of turkey feathers to be placed over your existing decoy.

If you’re real handy you can always make your own stuffer decoy for the most realistic decoy out there. By having a taxidermy back ground, several years ago I and some friends got clever and skinned out a turkey cape. We then tanned the cape and glued it on to one of our strutting decoys. We then bolted on some real wings with a real tail fan. We have used our homemade stuffer we named “KJ” for several years with great success. Even though KJ has taken a real beating over the years he is still working like he did the first day we made him.

Next is decoy body positions, hen decoys come in three to four different positions. The one position that we try to avoid is the head straight up or alert position. If you have ever been busted by a turkey you have quickly learned that when a bird sees something they don’t like the crane their neck strait up to get a better look. To me this is an alert position, and we much prefer a more relaxed looking flock or single hen. To vary the look of your flock the best positions are the feeding and the breeding position.

Movement adds realism to your decoys. If you are using more than one decoy you will get better results with more movement in your decoy set. If you watch a flock of turkeys you will see some feeding, some standing still, and even some flapping and stretching their wings. There is more movement visible with more birds in a flock.

To make your flock move with realism look for decoys such as those with a bobble head, or even a bobbing tail, also the lighter decoys will waddle beautifully under the right amount of breeze to bring your flock alive.

Conclusion:

Turkey decoys can be the difference from a hunt or a hunt of a life time. If you have never tried using decoys, you’re missing out on some real excitement. Decoys can pull a long beard that would ignore your sweet calling but couldn’t resist seeing an intruder with his ladies clear across the field, serving your next long beard up on a silver platter.

Just like your favorite turkey calls or even your weapon of choice, you won’t want to be in the turkey woods without a decoy. You may not necessarily use a decoy on every set up, but at least you will have it in case you need it.

The key to taking your decoying to the next level is as simple as paying attention to what the turkeys are doing around you. These simple observations will dictate whether you will want to use a whole flock or just a single hen.

NAP Spitfire Gobbler Getter Broadhead Review

by Dustin DeCroo 15. March 2012 08:57
Dustin DeCroo

New Archery Products has built a solid reputation around designing and building top of the line archery products. NAP produces the oldest, most trusted fixed blade head of all time, the Thunderhead; and arguably the most reliable mechanical broadhead on the market, the Spitfire. Technology continues to progress in every aspect of life and the broadhead industry is no different. Welcome, Spitfire Gobbler Getter.


New Archery Products Spitfire Gobbler Getter

Bowhunters have long since discovered the advantages of mechanical broadheads for hunting turkeys and in 2011 NAP created an expandable broadhead designed specifically for turkey hunters. The Spitfire Gobbler Getter is a variation of the already proven Spitfire broadhead.  The expandable turkey broadhead is available in 100 or 125 grains, has a 1 1/2" cutting diameter and over 3" of cutting surface.  Similar to the original Spitfire, the Gobbler Getter integrates Micro Grooved Slimline Ferrule technology to allow air to pass over the ferrule with less resistance, thus, providing the truest arrow flight possible. The Diamize sharpened blades are sharpened through a rigorous process ensuring exceptionally sharp blades to produce the cleanest cuts for maximum hemorrhaging and quicker kills. The blades on both the Spitfire and the Spitfire Gobbler Getter are locked into place with a hidden blade tension clip that NAP guarantees will not allow the blades to open in flight. Finally, the radical change that transforms the Spitfire to the Spitfire Gobbler Getter is the shock inducing Gobbler point, a rounded tip in place of the hardened Trophy Tip. The sole purpose of the Gobbler tip is to minimize pass throughs, delivering the most shock possible into the gobbler. Why would anyone not want a complete pass through? Let us take a harder look.

Turkeys are tough birds, period. There is no arguing that fact. There are a couple of significant differences between turkeys and other big game animals that bowhunters pursue. The first being, turkeys have the ability to fly away after they are shot. Obviously, this creates its own, set of problems. Second, blood trailing a turkey can be extremely difficult because they don’t have much blood to lose and feathers can soak up the majority of your blood trail before it reaches the ground. For these reasons, the idea behind the Gobbler Getter is to put the bird on the ground where he stands or shortly thereafter, before he has the opportunity to fly. This is achieved with the combination of a large cutting surface and by the Gobbler point helping the arrow expend its energy in the bird. This delivered “shock” works the same way bullets deliver shock or “knock down power” to an animal.



The Gobbler point is designed to deliver shock in the same manner a bullet delivers "knock down power."

Let us be honest. Every broadhead on the market today will kill a turkey if the arrow is placed correctly. This holds true with deer as well. Every broadhead on the market will kill a heart shot deer. Unfortunately, I don’t make a perfect shot on every animal. My theory on broadheads, is that I don’t buy a broadhead for the perfect shot. I buy a broadhead that provides me the best chance of recovering my animal on a poorly executed shot. For this reason, my quiver was loaded with NAP Gobbler Getters in the Spring of 2011, and will be again in 2012.

In preparation for bowhunting turkeys, I practiced shooting my Z7Xtreme at distances out to 70 yards strictly to test the flight of the Gobbler Getter. The Gobbler Getter tipped arrows were flying like darts, at any distance, off the string of my Mathews. The Merriams and Rio Grande turkeys of the Western United States were kind to me, providing me the opportunity to take a total of five toms with the Gobbler Getter broadhead in the Spring of 2011. The NAP broadheads performed exactly as they were designed putting birds down on the spot on multiple occasions. My bow is set up with a 29 inch draw length at 70 pounds and I’m shooting a 413 grain arrow at 286 feet per second. That’s a significant amount of kinetic energy to be stopped in something as small as a turkey. While my arrows did pass through, they were all lying on the ground where the bird stood or were sticking with the fletchings straight into the air, thus, the energy was delivered to the bird instead of the dirt on the backside. On one particular bird in Wyoming, I made a shot that was higher than expected but the large cutting surface and cutting diameter allowed the shot to be fatal and the bird was recovered within 75 yards. 


These big Mearriams gobblers were two of the first toms to fall to my Spitfire Gobbler Getter broadheads.

The main criteria I have for selecting a broadhead are: true flight, sharpness, durability and performing in the manner they were designed (i.e. turkey shots, turkey head shots, or ultra penetration on large game). If we’re talking about a mechanical broadhead, I want the blades to open when and only when they strike the target, not in the quiver or on their way to the target. There are numerous quality expandable broadheads on the market but if you are looking for a five star turkey specific broadhead, I recommend giving the Spitfire Gobbler Getter a chance at taking down your next tom.

 

Crossbow Review: Parker Hornet Extreme

by Daniel James Hendricks 20. December 2011 13:51
Daniel James Hendricks

As crossbows slowly gain more ground each year, the manufacturers continue to amaze me with the improved quality they are making to their bows. I have previously explained how I’ve become a Crossbow Tramp having one affair after another with some truly great and very beautiful bows. Let me share the details of my latest fling with a pretty lady from Parker by the name of Hornet Extreme.

Upon opening the box, I first noticed her soft, almost sensual skin. The Soft Touch Finish of a Parker bow is a wonderful thing to experience and the Vista camo only makes it more desirable. Her petite 32” length and 21.2” width is made more appealing by the 7.5 lb mass weight. When taken into your arms, her sleek stature is made even more pleasurable by the Thumb-hole Pistol Grip and the Vented Forearm with Safety Finger Flange.


Adding to the physical beauty is the Red Hot string and cable with an Auto-engage, ambidextrous Safety that, much to my personal pleasure, is completely silent when released. The tell-tale click of a stiff safety can bring calamity in the quiet woods, but it’s not a problem with the Hornet Extreme. The trigger on this bow is another dream feature. Smooth, quiet with a surprise release is what you can expect with every trip of her trigger. And when it comes to power and stamina, the Hornet’s 165 lb draw weight and 11.6” power stroke launches a 400 grain, 20” arrow at 315 fps. It is important to note that a moon nock is required for this bow and proper string alignment is necessary or a dry-fire could occur. As with all crossbows, the arrow must be properly seated and limbs must be clear of obstructions or misfortune could ruin your hunt.

Once assembled, I headed out to hunting partner, Perry Mason’s to utilize his range for the first rendezvous with my new lady friend. After we had allowed time for Perry to ooh and ah my new pal, we went to work to see exactly what she could do. My Hornet Extreme is topped with the Illuminated Multi-Reticle Scope with four circles.

We sighted the top circle in at 20 yards very quickly and then proceeded to determine the exact distance of the next three. Much to my surprise the reticules hit dead center in the bulls-eye at 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards. That doesn’t happen very often. Usually they vary to something like 20, 28, 35 and 42 yards, but seldom does a scope give your clear 10-yard increments. It’s very important to determine the marks for your scope before you take it into the field.

Shooting from Perry’s bench rest, we consistently pierced the bulls-eye at all four ranges. I am not entirely sure, but given the quality and performance of the scope, I believe it to be a Hawke Optic’s scope which makes some of the very best scopes in the industry. The consistency of the bow at the four distances and the repeated bulls-eyes made Perry and me giggle with glee. This Hornet is one dependable and consistent shooting machine.

The next phase was to take the bow into the field and see how it performed on a live target. The next scheduled hunt was at Ozark Mountain Outfitters, where we were plagued by a full moon, a bumper acorn crop and warm weather. Passing on a 50-yard shot at a doe and a 30-yard shot at turkeys the first day, I hoped for a closer shot before the week’s end. It didn’t come.

On the last morning of the hunt a flock of turkeys materialized out of the thick underbrush and fed along the far side of the food plot I guarded. I had ranged a lone pine tree at the far end of the plot at 50-yards, but held my fire in hopes that the birds would venture closer for a shot. It didn’t happen. When the birds began to filter back into the underbrush, I decided it was now or never.

There were turkeys pecking around the big pine, which I knew to be 50-yards. We had consistently shot bulls-eyes at that distance on the range so I was willing to give it a go. The ladderstand I was in had a rail around it allowing me to stabilize my shot. A bird near the tree came to attention when I moved my head to the scope, which provided me a great vertical target; it was up to me to manage the left and right.

I placed the 50-yard circle on the bird’s chest and gently squeezed the trigger. The silence was shattered as the Lumen-Arrow broke free of its constraints and set sail for the other end of the little lea. The bright red end of the arrow lit the shaded sky as I watched it arc across the little glen and then disappear into the chest of the luckless wild turkey. The bird dropped like a pole axed steer, its spine completely severed by the Grim Reaper broadhead.

Upon further investigation, the shot had been exactly 52 yards; the arrow impacting exactly where I’d aimed. I had my first crossbow turkey thanks to the precise performance of the Hornet Extreme. This crossbow starts out at around $600 and has the definite approval of the Crossbow Tramp. But please, if you choose this bow, take the time to watch the instructional video that is included in the package before you fall in love with your new Hornet Extreme.

 

 

A Pretty Good Day of Turkey Hunting - Our 2011 MI Gobbler

by Mark Kenyon 25. May 2011 13:54
Mark Kenyon

It began as any other day of turkey hunting would. We grabbed our gear, jumped in the truck and headed for the property. The sweltering sun baked us as we bounced down the dirt road to the beat of an old Alabama song. Life was good. But it was about to get better.

Upon arriving at the farm, gear was pulled out of the truck, camera equipment was strewn across the bed and the ordeal of organizing it all began. But soon we were off and heading to the back corner corn field. 

After a quick trek we set up our ground blind, brushed it in and arranged our decoys in front of us at about 20 yards. On this particular trip I was running the camera, while my buddy Corey had a bow at his command. It was a hot windy day that didn't seem too conducive to turkey hunting, but we were going to give it a go anyways!

Once we were finally situated Corey started things off with a few clucks and yelps. Unfortunately, with the wind as it was, we weren't too hopeful that we would be heard. But Corey kept at it. And after the prerequisite squawking, we settled in for the evening and began to enjoy the scenery.

A steady breeze rustling the cut corn, song birds chirping over my right shoulder, a fox skirting the distant edge of the field and a gobbler stepping into the corn to our left. A gobbler?! 

Corey and I were definitely caught off guard. I had been fiddling with camera settings and Corey was jawing about some kind of hunting story, but here all of a sudden was a big old gobbler! Immediately we scrambled to prepare ourselves for the moment of truth and in a matter of seconds it was upon us. Bow drawn, camera zoomed in on the tom, we waited....until thwap! The arrow sprung forward, lofted and then arced perfectly down to the unsuspecting gobbler. The bird flopped and flapped around and then just as Corey proclaimed "we smoked him!", it righted itself and flew off to the nearest fence row!

We immediately jumped out of the pop-up blind, and sprinted down to the far corner of the field. Corey spotted the bird in a blowdown and launched a second shot. Smack, he hit a nearly invisible twig and the arrow shot down into the ground. After a quick crawl to the arrow, he drew again and repositioned. Now with only a five inch circle in the brush to aim through, he launched another shot. Crash! Another branch killed and the gobbler flapped away again.

Frustrated, a little over excited and ready to get our hands on this bird, we huffed our way over the next hill towards where we last saw our tom fly. We searched high, low and in between, but no gobbler was to be found. Finally Corey spotted a long neck bobbing along the forest floor and into the woods. So off we went. 

Almost an hour later we hadn't seen hide or hair of this ole bird and we began feeling pretty bad about our chances. After reviewing the footage, the shot looked to be pretty low and we began questioning the likelihood of a lethal shot.  And after another round of searching, we finally began the walk back to the field. One final pass was in order and this time we headed back to the original area we thought the gobbler flew to. And as I scanned from left to right, my eye caught a dark shape in the swaying grass and when a second glance confirmed it, I shouted in surprise and excitement. Here was our bird!

A second shot sealed the deal on this mature Michigan gobbler and a lifelong memory was imprinted in my mind. Unbelievably, after almost all hope was lost, we had done it. And therein lies the moral of this story. When the going gets tough and you want to give up, keep on trucking. It's a line of thinking that is applicable to most situations in life, but it's particularly relevant to the challenges we encounter as hunters. Over 9 inches of beard, more than an inch of spur, 30 minutes of video and a memory for life. Now that's a pretty good day of turkey hunting!

 

2011 Turkey Hunting Recap

by Dustin DeCroo 22. May 2011 11:52
Dustin DeCroo

 

Turkey season is always highly anticipated for me and the Spring of 2011 was no different. I received my new Mathews z7xtreme at the end of March, waiting for the opener was much the same as a kid waiting for Christmas morning. I had hoped to hunt Turkeys in Wyoming, Kansas and Oklahoma but only accomplished two of the three. The season was still an extreme success as I was able to kill three toms on video and have some great hunts with my best of friends.

These Wyoming Merriams were fired up well before opening day.

The first weekend following the 6th of April in Oklahoma has become a new found tradition with my friends Tony and Trey. The birds are plentiful as are the laughs and good times. My flight to Oklahoma city was delayed four hours in Denver and after a two hour drive we finally arrived and went to sleep around 4:30am. Three short hours later we woke to a risen sun and the smell of Folgers brewing in the pot. Before the strike of noon there were three Rios in the back of the Duramax. The afternoon hunt would be my first chance to draw blood with the new Mathews.

The Oklahoma Red Dirt was our hot and dry home for the weekend

Trey and I set up the Double Bull and decoys on a flat where the birds generally pass through on their way to roost. It was 98 degrees when we left the truck and one degree less than it would take to melt a human body, on the inside of the blind. After an hour of heavy perspiration didn’t we had birds working. A group of jakes spotted the B-Mobile and quickly came to investigate. The biggest of the birds was sporting a five inch beard and with three tags in my pocket, he was worthy of my new bow’s first kill and to test the new NAP Gobbler Getter broadhead. The bird stopped at 22 yards and my NAP Quikfletch disappeared behind the wing bone, bird number one was in the dirt. The rest of the evening supplied more jakes but no long beards. The majority of the rest of the trip I spent behind the camera, but the birds escaped our efforts. The footage of this hunt should be on Season 2, Episode 3 of Bowhunt or Die in June.

My first kill of 2011 and the first kill with my z7xtreme.

 

The following weekend Bowhunting.com Prostaff member Dan Schafer traveled to my house in Wyoming to chase Merriams. We had a fantastic hunt killing four long beards in two days, but I’ll let the video tell you the story... Check it out here.

Dan's spot and stalk Merriams in Wyoming!

Tagged out!

Unfortunately, other commitments kept me from hunting Easterns in Kansas but hopefully next spring, I’ll pick up right were I left off in 2011. Now it’s time to start stickin’ wild hogs and Alligator Gar in the South!

4 Super Simple Decoy Tips for Turkey Hunters

by Mark Kenyon 28. April 2011 16:30
Mark Kenyon

The strutting tom crested the ridge with a fanfare deserving of a king. The afternoon sun shimmered on his fanned tail-feathers and his gobble echoed across the timber like an iron ball shot from a musket. It was the kind of moment that burns itself upon your memory, in such detail that still today I get chills recounting it. That old boss gobbler raised a racket, marching back and forth, staring down at me but never coming in to my calls. And why not, do you ask? Well good question, and I've asked myself this a time or two as well. The best I can figure is that it was due to the fact that he couldn't see my decoys. That oh so important tool in our turkey hunting kit, decoys can make or break a hunt. And in this case they broke it. So may the first lesson I give you today be this. Make sure your decoys are not on the other side of a downed tree from the gobbler you're trying to call in!

And now that my tale has led us to a piece of turkey decoying wisdom, it only seems right to follow that up with some more turkey decoying food for thought. So read on for my 4 super simple decoy tips for turkey hunters.

1. Keep Your Head Down: When it comes to setting up your decoys, I prefer to have all, or at least most of the decoys' heads down. Most often, the only time you'll see a flock of turkeys with all of their heads up is when they are alerted by some kind of danger. Don't make an incoming turkey think there is something to worry about!

2. If You're Broke, Bring A Lady: If you're on a budget and can only afford one or two decoys, your best bet is a hen or two. With this set, no matter what time of year, you can count on it being effective at some level and you won't run the risk of intimidating another gobbler.

3. Timing Is Everything: On the topic of intimidating gobblers, make sure you keep timing in mind when choosing decoys. During the early season a gobbler decoy can attract feisty toms, but in the late season it could very well have the opposite effect. Late season gobblers are more aware of the pecking order in the area and are more likely to shy away from other gobblers. At this time of year stick with hens or maybe hens with a single jake.

4. Assume The Position: If you are in fact using a tom or jake decoy, the direction you position them can be very important. When approaching another gobbler, an incoming tom will typically want to face the challenger head on.  With this in mind, place your tom/jake decoy facing towards your blind. That way when he comes around to face the decoy, he'll be turned away from you, allowing you to easily draw your bow!

With a little luck and these turkey decoying tips up your sleeve, you ought to have a great chance of coming home this spring with more than just an empty truck bed and stories of the one that got away! In fact, if you use decoys wisely, I can bet you'll have more turkey fans on the wall and proper success stories to boot!

Lyme Disease and Tick Prevention

by Josh Fletcher 18. April 2011 11:26
Josh Fletcher

With spring turkey season already here and nicer weather means sportsmen and women spending more time in the outdoors, increases your chance at being bitten by the creepy crawly little critter called the tick. As the temperatures increase so does the tick activity. More ticks mean an increased chance of contracting Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. 

To first understand how to avoid a tick bite and tick prevention we must first understand about ticks and tick activity throughout the year.

The tick that carries Lyme disease is black legged tick, Ixodes scapularis or commonly called the deer tick.  There are three stages in a tick’s life, the larva, nymph, and the adult. Majority of Lyme disease cases are transmitted from the bite of a tick in the nymphal stage. When the tick is in the nymphal stage it is often the size of a pin head. Because they are so small in this stage, being able to feel them crawling on you is often difficult and also ticks in the nymphal stage are usually more active in temperatures cooler than when the adult tick are most active. This means that at cooler temperatures, when you are most likely to be turkey hunting in the spring means that your odds of getting the small nymphal stage tick is best during spring turkey hunting. The adult tick is most active during the warmer temperatures in the spring and through fall. The adult stage in the tick’s life makes them much easier to spot and feel crawling on you.

Unlike what most people believe, ticks cannot jump, fly or fall from above onto you. They do however grab hold of you as you walk by or brush up against tall grass or leaves. Most ticks attach to your lower extremities and work their way up.  Ticks have the tendency to continue crawling generally up until they reach a location that they cannot crawl anymore such as your head or a tight location such as waist bands, sock cuffs, or under arms.

Grassy fields and pine plantations are prime areas for ticks

An interesting fact about ticks is that if a tick that carries Lyme disease bites you there is no risk of disease transmission during the first 24 hours.  Basically the key to prevent contracting Lyme disease is early tick removal. One study showed that if the tick is in you for more than 48 hours the transmission rate of contracting Lyme disease increased to 12.5%, and at 72 hours it is increased to 75%.

 This study shows that to prevent Lyme disease, is to locate the imbedded tick in less than 24 hours. This relates to the hunter and outdoorsman by setting the stage for the importance of tick inspections after every outing in the outdoors. One way of establishing the length of which the tick was imbedded is by looking at its legs. Ticks are harder to remove once their legs are curled under their body while attached to its host’s skin. This often occurs over a longer period of time. If the legs are still spayed out, removal is much easier. There are many tales of secrets to tick removal. Most have been proven not to work or even increase the risk of Lyme disease transmission. Do not smother ticks in gas or Vasoline, and do not kill the tick with a hot match trying to get the tick to back out. To remove an embedded tick simply take a small thin tweezers and grasp the tick as close to your skin as possible. Gently pull the tick strait up away from your skin. Once you remove the tick, check to see if the tick’s mouth parts are attached, you will often see a small piece of white, this is part of your skin if the mouth parts are attached. If the mouth parts are not attached, don’t fear because they will not affect the transmission of contracting Lyme disease. Simply disinfect the area and save the tick for identification and to be presented to a doctor if medical attention required. Then monitor the bite location for any infection. It is also a good idea to be checked several times a year by a doctor for Lyme disease. If Lyme disease is found in the early stages, it can be treated and cured.

 To avoid ticks in the woods, you want the ticks to avoid you. Studies have shown that DEET is not the best tick repellant available. DEET works great for repelling mosquitos and flies, however has little effect on ticks. One study showed that ticks would crawl over a shoe that was soaked in DEET. Ticks may not attach to your skin that is treated with DEET, however would crawl over the treated area until it reaches a location that is not treated. 
 The best tick repellant on the market is not DEET but Permithrin. Permithrin is actually not a repellant but an insecticide. When a tick comes in contact with Permithrin it is killed a short time later. Most sprays or Permithrin treatments on the market are for cloths only. Permithrin is designed to attach to the fibers of clothing and will remain affective for several weeks even after washing. Permithrin is virtually nontoxic to humans. Permithrin is not designed to be used on skin because it will not bond to skin like it does to fabric and also is deactivated by our skin. Tests show that Permithrin is a 100% affective on ticks versus DEET being only 85% to 89% affective. Basically Permithrin is the repellant of choice when hitting the woods this spring for deterring ticks from you.

 Another product on the market for tick repellant is specialized clothing designed to repel ticks. The most popular is a brand of clothing called ElimiTick, designed by Game Hide. This clothing is embedded with a tick repellent that is man-made version of the repellant found in chrysanthemums and can be washed without losing the garments effectiveness at repelling ticks. A good friend of mine bought a pair of ElimiTick pants last year. We were sitting in a ground blind last spring when I picked up a tick that was crawling on me and placed it on his pants to watch the tick’s reaction. I placed the tick at the bottom of his pants, and by the time it reached just below his knee it curled up and fell off. The pants actually killed the tick. Jeremy did not have a single tick on him last spring while wearing these pants by GameHide, needless to say he now has the whole outfit this spring.

 Another great tick tactic is to tuck in every article of clothing you can. If wearing long underwear, tuck them into your socks, tuck your shirt into your waist band, and tuck your pant legs into your boots. Snake boots also serve great tick protection for the hunters who don’t hunt in snake country. They cover high up your leg and lace tight to keep tick from crawling up your pant legs. If you don’t wear snake boots, you may want to consider taping the tops of your hunting boots with camouflage tape to keep ticks from crawling up. And also wearing tight fitting elastic cuffs on your shirt sleeves also help to prevent ticks from crawling in under your cloths.  Once out of the field, store you’re hunting cloths in a plastic bag, tote, or hang them outside. Do not bring cloth into your house that are not properly stored; ticks can crawl off your cloths and into your house.

 To stay safe this spring from Lyme disease and ticks requires a tick prevention system. It starts first with treating all your hunting cloths with Permithrin. Next tuck in all pant legs, sock cuffs, shirt cuffs, and waist lines. Lastly check your self often; a good rule of thumb is to perform a detailed systematic search of yourself for ticks every time you come in from hunting. Early detection and tick prevention is the most important key to keeping you and your family safe from disease carrying ticks this spring.

Categories: Blog | Pro Staff

Buffalo Gnats Killing Turkeys and Other Small Game

by Brenda Potts 18. April 2011 09:31
Brenda Potts

We just returned from a successful turkey hunt in Greene County, Illinois but did not see great numbers of turkeys. The landowner told us they used to see 50 to 75 birds in one flock and heard gobblers all over the local woods, but this year it was different. In fact, he mentioned a slow decline in bird populations of nearly all species. His opinion is that Buffalo Gnats are killing turkeys and other birds and he makes a compelling case.


According to the landowner, last year his neighbor had several chickens that would not come out of the coop in daylight hours. He noticed that a single chicken would race out of the coop, gobble down some feed, get a drink and race back into the coop where it was dark. Apparently Buffalo Gnats prefer bright daylight. This kept up all day, with individual birds exhibiting the same behavior. Another neighbor had a permit to raise quail and all 200 of his birds died within a few days. Other neighbors were finding song birds dead in the yard.
They started talking and sharing stories and observing their birds more closely. Before long most came to the conclusion that Buffalo Gnats were killing the birds. They examined the dead bodies and found a common recurrence, all the bird's nasal cavities were jam packed full of gnats, suffocating the birds.

Our friend has video of two jakes apparently pestered by the gnats. They shake their heads, tuck them under their wings and basically seem quite agitated by the swarms of biting insects. 
I have looked online for other stories about Buffalo Gnats and it seems they have just started appearing in Illinois in the past few years. They are only prevalent for a few weeks, but it does coincide with good turkey hunting. The insects also bite humans, but sprays and Thermacells work quite nicely in thwarting their attack on us. It's the birds that are suffering most.
Whether the Buffalo Gnats are causing enough problems to actually kill significant numbers of turkeys, I don't know. But I would love to hear what others are experiencing with these insects and their impact on bird populations in your areas.


Most of the gobblers we encountered during first season were "henned up," except for the three that I called in about an hour and a half after sunrise. They had answered me from the roost but did not come in directly. Instead, they must have been following a hen. She passed behind me about an hour after daylight and she and I got into quite a calling contest. The gobblers showed up about 15 minutes later and all three came out to the decoys.  I do love the run and gun technique, but once in awhile it pays to just stay put and let them come to you.

 

Kansas Turkey Tag Out: When Preparation Meets Opportunity

by Steve Flores 10. April 2011 14:16
Steve Flores

In my last post I was getting ready to head out west on my first wild turkey hunt. To say I was excited would be an understatement. With that hunt now in the “memory bank”, all I can say is that Kansas was good to me and without a doubt it was a blessed hunt. However, my influence in the outcome was minuscule at best. Sure, I practiced with my bow and made certain everything was in order; you know….the usual stuff you do before a big hunt. But, beyond that I would feel like a hypocrite if I tried to portray my good fortune as anything other than surrounding myself with people who knew a lot more than I did.  

Greenhorn best describes this guy when it comes to bowhunting long beards.

When I met my guide, I was a little concerned. He was young and full of enthusiasm and I worried he might know as little as I did about chasing turkey’s with a bow and arrow. Thankfully, I was wrong; as his aggressive calling style and youthful “never give up attitude” proved to be a deadly combination.
When the sun came up on my first morning in Kansas I was greeted with a beautiful symphony of endless “gobble-gobble-gobbles”. Turkey’s were everywhere! With each subtle call my guide seemed to orchestrate the perfect invitation. As 5 jakes, 2 long-beards and a lone hen were seduced to within range of our ground-blind I knew it was just a matter if time before my new Mathews eZ7 would get to eat. 

The Mathews eZ7 proved to be smooth drawing and super accurate.

 Being new to the challenge of chasing turkeys with a bow, I can honestly say I wasn’t going to be choosey with my first bird. As soon as the opportunity presented itself I had every intention of loosing an arrow. To my delight, a certain “Jake” decided he would be the one. Just as he was about to reach full-strut my bow string jumped forward. The shot happened so quickly I almost didn’t see the arrow zip through him. His expiration proved to be just as fast as he was dead-in-the-air within a matter of seconds. With my first tag filled on a handsome “Jake” it was time to go after my first gobbler. 

My first turkey with a bow was a thing of beauty…even if he was a “Jake”.

 The NAP Gobbler Getter hit him like Thor’s Hammer.

Moving to a different location, Shane (my guide) and I settled in for what we hoped would be an eventful evening. Once again, his aggressive calling and persistent attitude paid off. With a handful of “jakes” showing mild interest in our setup before heading to roost, we were just about to throw in the towel. Then, a lone gobble ignited a glimmer of hope. Thirty minutes later, with shooting light fading, Shane had managed to lure my second opportunity within bow range.

 

With a change of scenery, hopes were high to fill my final tag.

Peering through the faint camouflage of the blind, I anxiously watched as the long-beard made his way toward our decoy some 15 yards away. When he paused and began to turn his back on his adversary, I drilled him with an NAP tipped, Easton Flatline arrow. Upon impact, the stunned gobbler quickly began to scamper across the lonely field. Hugs and congratulations quickly followed as we watched him topple over some distance away.

 

With a pounding heart I managed to seal the deal on my first gobbler…thanks largely to the efforts of my young guide.

Looking back now, if I can take credit for anything it would be: surrounding myself with a good turkey caller, having a buddy who was kind enough to envite me along on this hunt (and booking said hunt with a great outfitter), and taking along an awesome bow. After all, when it comes to successfully tagging turkey’s, what more does a greenhorn like me need?

If you would like to book your very own turkey adventure contact Rodney Kelly at Kansas Big Buck Outfitters. God Bless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turkey Down in Wyoming - My 2011 Touchdown Tom

by Jessica Edd 7. April 2011 13:30
Jessica Edd

With only ten seconds remaining in the fourth quarter and our team covered up deep in turkey territory, we decided to throw a hail mary pass into the end zone desperately hoping for a score and a two point conversion. After covering nearly the entire northeastern portion of Wyoming by driving from Buffalo to Sheridan to Gillette to the National Grassland, back to Sheridan and finally back to Gillette, fighting howling winds and horizontal snow, we knew we needed something big if we were going to score a turkey by the end of our hunt. Our high and long pass started with us on the turkey’s 10 yard line and though we scored our touchdown and found turkeys on a lonely section of state land, this attempt merely tied up the game with the defensively strong turkey team. After a personal foul in an incident with a porcupine, I decided we would be better off to get back into the hunt first thing in the morning, taking the game into overtime and us back to Buffalo for the night.

In the first minute of overtime we were able to find a group of at least 40 turkeys on private land but after asking for permission and finding that these were the wife’s “pets” that she enjoyed feeding, we were down again. Turkeys score. We got the ball back (college rules) by gaining access to the land just behind the turkey feed lot, but with them not wanting to leave their roosting trees, free food, and each other to cross the creek to our decoys, it was turkey’s ball.

Team Turkey and their cheerleaders ruling the field.

We moved on to another area that looked promising and was once again granted permission to hunt the private section next to a public state section. This, however, also turned out to be fruitless, as the turkeys were wise to our plays and stayed on yet another inaccessible private section. When the clouds started rolling in with a rain/hail mix and the winds picking up gusts, we knew what team the fans were rooting for. We knew we had to pull the last rabbit out of the bottom of our trick hat if we were ever going to score against these birds. Knowing we couldn’t access the land they were on to the west but also knowing they were being fed to the east, we drew up a center sneak play. Within less than an hour of calling hen clucks and a few tom gobbles, we started getting a response and knew the game was turning to our favor. The fans in the stands began quieting down, getting nervous, and we got the break in the roaring weather we desperately needed. The ball was hiked and with a pass that seemed to have minutes of hang time, it landed comfortably into the hands of an open receiver deep in the end zone and a beautiful double-bearded tom was down on the ground, less than 40 yards from where I sat.

Team Hunter scores an overtime touchdown.

10 inch doubled-bearded tom

Overtime was nearing the end and there was no time for a single point field goal. We needed our two points. The last ball in the last minute of the last chance overtime was handed off and ran clean passed the white line, leaving the defense stunned and confused, and another tom flapping on the ground a far 52 yards from my hunting partner.

Two point converstion!!!

Knowing the game was over and we had won against the favored turkey team, we roared in victory. Our long drive back was filled with talks of plays that failed and ways to make others better when we meet against the turkeys in the playoffs to fill our second tag for the 2011 turkey season.

Turkey Tune-Up: Preparations for Bowhunting Spring Turkey

by Steve Flores 31. March 2011 16:09
Steve Flores


With opening day of most big-game bow seasons still several turns of the calendar away, it’s nice to know there is something to take the edge off. Thank God for Springtime Turkey hunting!! With a Kansas trip in my sights, I am feverishly preparing for my hunt while at the same time tackling all the other issues that everyday life throws at me. But, don’t dare pity me because life is good. I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to participate in another treasured bow season.

Kansas Turkey tags can easily be acquired “on-line” in a matter of minutes.

For shooting in a seated position, nothing compares to the comfort and versatility of the Hunt More 360 chair. It is AWESOME!

Without a doubt, one of my favorite parts of bowhunting is the preparation. I thoroughly enjoy the tinkering of gear; fletching arrows, sighting in bows, selecting clothing, and clearing schedules. For turkeys, the preparation is a little different. To begin with, I conduct a good deal of my shooting from a seated position. This will be similar to the actual shot (Lord willing it occurs), so it only stands to reason that I try to emulate shooting from a seated position inside a ground blind. 

 Nothing beats a fresh set of fletched arrows.

The NAP Gobbler Getter definitely has “the looks that kill”. Performance should be nothing short of excellent.

Next are the broadheads. For this trip, I am taking along NAP’s Gobbler Getter’s. While I can’t comment on their performance (1st time using them) I do like what I see. With an Exclusive Silver Bullet round point designed to crush bone and a large 1 ½ inch cut, I doubt any gobbler will stand a chance if he comes within range of my Mathews EZ7. Of course, as with any broadhead, a few practice shots should be taken before heading afield; even when using mechanicals. The Gobbler Getter proved to be as accurate as my field points of equal weight; requiring no adjustment to my sight pins.

The ScentBlocker S3 shirt, made with real Bamboo, is comfort personified. 

The fit and feel of the No-Recoil jacket is great. Check out the cool “Harmonic Damper” zipper.

Last is clothing options. Since turkey’s can’t smell like a whitetail (that would make them un-killable) my usual scent-free wardrobe is somewhat reduced; leaving more traditional choices in hunting clothes. However, I’m not totally leaving behind my ScentBlocker gear. I will be taking along the S3 long sleeve t-shirt in Lost camo as well as the lightweight, Mathews edition, BOA Hiker boots. In addition, for those cold mornings before the sun comes up, I have chosen the No-Recoil Jacket and Pant from the fine folks at Gamehide. With their patented “Freedom Sleeve” cut, this jacket should provide effortless movement inside a tight groundblind; making it easier to reach full draw.

It's almost time.....

With licenses bought, money saved, and dreams dreamt, I prepare to head out on my first Kansas turkey hunt. I hope the following months find you preparing for your own adventure….one made just for taking the edge off of a long, cold, winter. God bless.

 

Tales of a First Time Turkey Hunter

by Mark Kenyon 30. March 2011 15:41
Mark Kenyon

The alarm clock rang and I immediately cursed it out. It seemed like just yesterday I had been rolling out of bed at 4:00 AM every day to sit in a freezing cold deer stand, how could this early wake up call be coming again so soon? What had I got myself into now? Well, after finally getting myself together, I stepped outside into the icy April air and immediately felt the stiff breeze hit my right cheek. I noticed the droopy eared basset hound fast asleep next to the old red barn and I caught a sliver of sunlight coming over the horizon. My senses were in full gear and an almost dream like sense of calm was upon me. And then BANG. BANG. BANG. All around me the woods filled with the echoing thunder of a gobbling turkey, then another and another. To my left and then my right, over my shoulder and then right in front of me. In a matter of seconds I heard 6 different turkeys sound off like cannons in the early morning light. And in that moment I was hooked.

I still remember that morning like it was yesterday and it was in fact my first time turkey hunting ever. It was spring 2009 and I went on to hunt a few more days that year with my bud Jeremy as a guide. But it wasn't until last year that I actually got to taste turkey hunting in it's purest form. On my own, doing it myself, deep in the wilderness going 1 on 1 vs the wiley old longbeards of Spring. And so began my first real season of turkey hunting. 

I consider 2010 my first real season turkey hunting because it really is a whole new ballgame when it's you, and only you, responsible for choosing where to hunt, when to move, and how or when to call. It becomes quite a bit more challenging and quite a bit more fun. During this first season, both of these points came to my realization quite clearly and along the way I had some incredible moments and important lessons learned.  

One of these long lasting memories began on a morning that most could never imagine going turkey hunting on. I awoke to thunder and lightning, but my stubborn excitement to chase turkeys wooed me into donning rain gear and trekking into the pitter pattering hardwoods. After sitting through a handful of uneventful and wet hours, the storm finally passed and sun began to warm the early afternoon air. Not long after lunchtime I was knocked out of my trance by a distant boom of turkey talk. My ears perked, my mind jumped into gear and my trigger finger got itchy. A minute or so later another gobble reverberated over the hills and this time it sounded closer. Knowing he was getting into ear range, I fired up my box call and let out a hard string of yelps. To my surprise he fired right back at me! My first response from a turkey to my calling! Needless to say, I was a little excited. Things got even crazier when another turkey started hammering back and forth with the first gobbler. At this point my heart was acting more like a hummingbird's wings and I turned to face the apparently fast approaching gobblers!

By now I was already thinking to my self that this was the best moment of my short turkey hunting career, but when I saw these two gobblers emerge across the field and begin barreling towards me, things went to a whole new level. Strutting and puffing, then charging and busting out a neck stretching gobble. It truly was a sight to be seen. But things started to fall apart when the thunder birds neared the edge of the woods. You see, I didn't have permission to hunt the field, so I was set up about 60 yards into the woods on a ridge overlooking that field. These turkeys finally came into the timber, but when I maneuvered my body, I got into a position that made it very difficult to use my box call. Unfortunately I had yet to develop a real talent with a reed, so a mouth call wasn't an option. As I sat frozen, waiting for the birds to cover the last 50 yards, I stared in dismay as they turned and headed back to the field. My best attempt at sending "sweet nothings" their way didn't seem to sway them, as they trekked away and out of my life forever.

Lesson learned? First, learn how to use a reed. If I could have continued calling to these birds, I do believe they would have continued in towards me and noticed my decoys. Lesson number two, get permission on that field! From what I've seen and heard, it's hard to beat a set up on a field edge with decoys. Things tend to get a little more dicey in the timber.

Another encounter that weekend still haunts me to this day as well. It was another uneventful late afternoon until a distant gobble perked me up. Similar to the first encounter, this turkey started moving my way and I began coaxing him with my slate call. I could tell he was closing distance, but a field and several ridges lay between us. Our back and forth continued for quite awhile, until I came to the realization that this old gobbler was hung up. It was decision time. Do I play it safe and stay put? Or should I throw the hail mary and make a move on this bird? Lets not kid ourselves, I of course decided to go for broke and chase this bird down!

I quickly grabbed my decoys, crouched down and ran into the ditch that ran down the center of my piece of timber. My plan was to maneuver into a much closer position to the gobbler, while also moving south of him, all while remaining a ridge of two beyond his sight. It all ended up working perfectly and once settled I let out the best series of yelps, purrs and clucks I could muster. The reward was a gobble so loud that it could knock your lazy eye straight. I mean he was close! With a few more coaxes, I could hear the old man moving my way and when he crested the ridge in front of me it was a truly majestic sight. Strutting and hammering away he put on a show at 60 yards. Unfortunately he never noticed my decoys and just wouldn't budge off that ridge. 

So what was the lesson learned here? Honestly, my biggest take away was that turkey hunting is simply a blast. And if you come away with nothing else from this blog post, and you've never went turkey hunting before, I hope you might now see that the chase for a spring gobbler is certainly something worth waking up for!

 

 

 

Calling all Turkeys; Turkey Calling and Calls to Use

by Josh Fletcher 29. March 2011 15:17
Josh Fletcher

If you’re like me, you’re a man of many gadgets. We love to research the latest and greatest hunting items out there, but if you take a walk down the turkey call isle in your local sporting goods store you can be over whelmed by the selection available. There is diaphragm calls, one reed, two reeds, two and a half reeds, split reeds, and more reed options than you can even think of. That’s just diaphragm calls, not to mention pot calls… do you use slate, glass, or aluminum? Then there is box calls, push button calls, owl calls, crow calls, gobble shakers, well I think you get the point.

With so many calls out on the market where do you start? If you’re a beginner to the sport of turkey hunting or even a seasoned veteran, figuring out what type of turkey calls you need, can make any one’s head spin. After staring at all the different options you soon start to look like an owl on a branch, big eyed and your head turning all the way around just trying to make a decision on what to buy.

In this article we will cover majority of the calls on the market today and what each call brings to the table for your turkey calling arsenal. We will also cover the sure fire turkey calls that you won’t want to leave home without.

When heading to the turkey woods you want a wide variety of calls at your disposal. Just like people, every turkey has their own sounding voice. One day a big old long beard my like the sounds of an old raspy hen, or the next day he may like a higher pitch sounding hen. Day to day the preference of a long beard may change, by having a good selection of calls allows you to try and match you’re calling to his preference.  Weather can also determine what calls to use. If it’s raining cats and dogs, you may want to leave your “non- water proof” calls in your turkey vest. Basically the more of a variety of calls you have means the better the odds are that you can match your calling to the long beards preference and to the weather conditions.

Having several diffrent call options increase your odds at giving that long beard the sound he likes.

Diaphragm Calls

Diaphragm calls may be one of the hardest calls to learn how to use, however are the most versatile, cheapest, water proof, and leave you absolutely hands free when calling. These calls are small, and light weight taking up very little room in your turkey vest. When looking at how many reeds or what reed style to get depends on personal preference. To start with your single reed and double reed diaphragms are higher pitched and are much clearer sounding calls.  The more reeds you get the raspier the call. If you are first starting out learning how to use a diaphragm call I recommend that you try a double reed call. They seem to be easier to get noise out of and are the easiest to get the tone to break. The tone break is that sound of “yeeee-yuuup” of the yelp. Going from that high first note and breaking to the second note is easiest with a double reed call.

We love to use the diaphragm call to “cut” with. Cutting is a form of aggressive hen calls that work great at getting that long beard all fired up. For a good cutting call we prefer a two and a half reed or more call. Also multiple reeds with a half reed combination give you a good raspy sounding call. By utilizing a diaphragm call allows you a hands free operation, which is crucial when that turkey is with in eye sight of you and you need to make those last light calls to seal the deal. Also when it’s raining out you never have to worry about your mouth call not working.

Friction Calls 

Pot calls are a for sure call that you never want to leave home without. They are very versatile and easy to use. These calls are the bread and butter of my turkey calling arsenal. I love to seal the deal with an old long beard by purring on my pot call. My favorite pot call is has a slate surface. When I know that long beard is thinking about coming my way, I let out some soft subtle purrs and clucks on my slate call and just set it down. Those last subtle calls followed by silence are often more than he can take and soon he is on his way in. I prefer slate over aluminum because slate seems to provide much more friction on the surface giving that call a good tone, but that is just my personal preference. I also prefer glass over aluminum. My primary pot call I use first is a slate and the one I use second if I’m not getting the response I am looking for from slate is glass.

The negative to pot calls much like most friction calls are that they are not water proof and under rainy days they may not work, which is also why you want to carry more than one turkey call with you. However the pot call’s pluses outweigh the negatives. They are a great close in soft subtle call when you need to tone it down, and they also can be loud and aggressive when you want to crank it up. Another reason you want a pot call in your vest is that you can take one call and change the tone by using different strikers. It’s much cheaper to buy several strikers than it is to buy several pot calls, making your calling arsenal much more rounded.

Box calls are another friction call that you want in your turkey vest. These calls are a great long distance call. What I mean by this is that they are piercing and loud, they work great under windy conditions. When the wind is blowing it can often drown out most other calls, but the box call’s loud piercing yelps and cutting pierces its way through the wind. They can also be a good close in call. With a soft drag of the box’s lid you can make soft purrs and just of soft tap of the lid can make beautiful clucks.

When choosing a box call you get what you pay for. There are some box calls out on the market that are sweet sounding however they can run as high as one hundred dollars. Now I’m not saying buy something cheap, nor am I saying you need to break the bank. The key is to try them like any other call, before you buy one. There are also water proof or water resistance box calls now out on the market, allowing you use when most other friction calls fail.

Box calls can be loud and reach out to that old long beard in strong winds

Push button calls are a great call for the beginner and seasoned veteran. I bought one last year that my five year old uses. She can make perfect yelps and cutting on it, so yes it is so easy a child can use it. Another reason you will like push button calls are that there is little movement when calling on them, just a slight movement of the finger is all that is needed. You can also get a special mount to locate the call on the end of your gun or even attach it to the handle of your bow. This call is also a great close in call much like the pot call.

Locator Calls

I always carry several locator calls with me at all times. A standard must have locator calls are the crow and an owl call. Just like with hen calls, turkeys may prefer one pitch or tone over another. The same is true with locator calls. One turkey may gobble his head off at a crow call and another turkey may gobble at a palliated wood pecker call. The key is to have a variety, so if one doesn’t work try another to try and spark a response. A thing that is common with locator calls is that they are loud. They need to reach out and hit that long beards ear drum.  For this reason when it comes to an owl call I prefer a reed call that utilizes back pressure to make your hoots. The reed calls seem to produce more volume and are also able to be toned down for when you’re working your way in on him.

Another great locator call is a coyote howler. These calls are very loud and very piercing. The only time you may want to use a coyote howler is at night when you are trying to “put birds to bed”. You don’t want a turkey thinking there is a coyote walking around by his tree in the morning. However don’t let this shy you away from utilizing this call in the evening. I locate more birds with the coyote howler than I do with my owl call. The key to locating birds is variety and don’t limit your ability with just one call. At a minimum you will want a crow and an owl call; however I strongly suggest several others also such as a palliated wood pecker call and a coyote howler.

Reed owl calls produce much louder hoots to spark a shock gobble.

Specialty Calls

Specialty calls can be anything from a wing bone call to a tube call. These are calls that you may want to also add to your vest. If you are hunting public land or birds that are called to a lot, these calls may be the secret that you have been looking for. If all spring long birds keep hearing everything from fiction calls to mouth calls you may want to try a wing bone call. It is a call that has its own unique sound that they may not have heard before.

Calling Scenario

Here is a typical scenario of a day’s hunt showing you the importance of having a variety of calls. It’s the evening before the next morning hunt. Todd Fletcher and I find ourselves standing at a high location off of a ridge. I reach for my owl call to start off with to locate a roosted tom. After several attempts on the owl call we had no such luck. I then reach into my vest and pull out a coyote howler. With on loud howl on the call I wait for a reply. Soon the sweet sound of gobble sounds back. With a sweet “Yes” We take off in the direction of the old limb hanger. As we close the distance I let out an owl hoot to keep him gobbling as we pin point his exact location. Once we pinpoint his location, I then back out and formulate a plan for tomorrow morning’s hunt.

As the morning sun begins to rise and the song birds begin to sing, I pullout my owl call. With several soft hoots, the old tom gobbles back. I then continue to close the distance getting even closer than I did the night before. Once set up I pull out my slate call and make some soft tree yelps and purrs. As soon as he answers me I set my calls down, the ball is in his court and I won’t make any more calls until he flies down from the roost. It isn’t long and soon he flies down, but my dreams suddenly fade as I learn he has several hens with him. As they yelp back and forth, I pull out my diaphragm call and start “letting them have it!” with aggressive yelps and cuts I agitate the old boss hen, hopping to bring her in to my set up with the old long beard in tow. As I’m cutting on the diaphragm call, I’m also purring and cutting on my push button call, hoping to sound like several hens fighting. As the morning goes on the hens begin to quiet down and the gobbling stops. With no turkeys around, we stand up and stretch our already cramping legs.

As the morning continues we begin cutting and running. As the wind begins to pick up we switch over to a box call, yelping and cutting aggressively. With no response we move on until we hit a hot gobbler. It isn’t long and we strike a gobble. We take off for the nearest cover quickly setting up. I then let out a yelp on my diaphragm call. With no response I wait a minute then purr on my slate call, the old long beard answers right back seventy five yards closer than when we first heard him gobble.

Soon we see him strutting about seventy yards out. I then let out a soft purr and cluck with my diaphragm call being sure not to make any movement. With just a little reassurance calling the old long beard struts on in. I added this scenario to give you a better understanding in the use of calls and why it is important to have a variety at your disposal throughout the day in the turkey woods.

Conclusion

When it comes to calling turkeys the key is variety. You don’t want to limit yourself, you want to have options. If one call is not working you want to be able to switch it up and try another. Another reason to have a variety is that with a mouth call, and a friction call allows you to sound like several hens, making that old long beard think that he has more than one hen to call his if he comes in.

Another point I cannot stress enough is to try it before you buy it. You don’t go and buy a car until you test drive it. The same is with turkey calls. Of course you don’t want to be sharing diaphragm calls, but most retail stores have friction calls out of the package for you to try out and see if you like how they sound. Here is a list of calls that I carry in my turkey vest. One thing to remember is that calls are like vehicles, one guy might like trucks and one may like cars. These calls are my personal preference as to what I like to use, but it is a good starting point for you to start your own turkey calling arsenal.

Diaphragm calls: H.S. Strut Cutter 2.5, Primos Piggy Back Deadly Double and True Double.
Pot Calls: H.S. Strut Lil’ Deuce Slate, H.S. Strut Triple Glass.
Box Calls: Primos Heart Breaker, Primos Lil’ Heart Breaker.
Push Button Calls: Quaker Boy Inc. Cyclone Push-Pin Yelper.
Locator calls: Primos Power Crow Call, H.S. Strut Palmer Hoot Tube (owl), H.S. Strut coyote howler, Knight & Hale pileated wood pecker call.

Again this is my personal turkey calling arsenal, you don’t need all these calls, but the key is to have a variety at your disposal.

 

 

 

Legends of the Fall Virginia Turkey Hunt

by Todd Graf 14. June 2010 03:08
Todd Graf

A big thanks to our good friend Eric Hale from The Legends of the Fall TV show for sending us this awesome Virginia turkey hunt.  Eric set out with his bow and his camera and was able to self-film himself harvesting a great gobbler this spring.  Click on the video below to check it out!

For those of you who don't know, The Legends of the Fall TV show will be debuting on the Outdoor Channel in July.  We are very proud here at the Rhino Group of the new website we built for them at www.thelegendsofthefall.com, so check that out too when you get a chance.  And as always, if you are in need of a professional website design you can contact us via our website at RhinoGroup.com.  We'd love to help you out.

In the meantime we're continuing to work on our food plots, we've been hanging some stands, and of course testing out the best new bowhunting products for our Gear Review section.  Make sure you keep an eye on our reviews, we've got some great information that will help you choose the right gear for this fall.

Less than 80 days until we head to Table Mountain Outfitters on an Antelope hunt, so it's really time to start getting ready!!

Introducing the Li'l Deuce Ring Zone. A NEW Turkey Call for 2010 by Hunter's Specialties.

by Bow Staff 22. March 2010 14:22
Bow Staff

Hunter’s Specialties continues to be on the cutting edge of turkey calling. Read below on some more good news for you, in 2010. Gobblers beware!

In 2009 Hunter's Specialties introduced their innovative new Ring Zone® technology to the world of turkey hunting. The Ring Zone calls were the result of extensive scientific testing about how turkeys hear and how the sound of a hen could be realistically reproduced in a call. The result was the Ring Zone call, a pan call with a ring around it that creates a resonance that faithfully reproduces the sound of a live hen turkey. Sounds produced by the call were the closest to a live hen ever reproduced as measured by an oscilloscope.
 
Now for 2010, Hunter's Specialties has used the new technology to produce the Li'l Deuce™ Ring Zone. The Li'l Deuce resonates at the same, specific frequencies of a turkey's optimal hearing range. It has been one of Hunter's Specialties most popular calls over the years and is a favorite of 5-time World Friction Calling Champion and Hunter's Specialties Pro Staff member Matt Morrett.


 
The Li'l Deuce Ring Zone is small and compact enough to fit into a shirt pocket yet has plenty of volume to call birds in from a distance. It has a slightly higher pitch which turkeys can't resist.
 
The Li'l Deuce Ring Zone is available in both glass and slate versions and comes with a carbon striker.

 

 

Turkey Hunters; Realtree Outdoors presents All-Stars of Spring XVI

by Bow Staff 23. March 2009 14:39
Bow Staff

Realtree® Presents All-Stars of Spring XVI
 
 
 

Realtree® is cutting loose on All-Stars of Spring® XVI with some of the most remarkable turkey footage ever captured by the Realtree cameras. Travel with the Realtree camera crew and watch as the hunters test their turkey-taking tactics against a variety of gobbler species across the country. Your heart will no doubt skip a beat, or perhaps even two, when David Blanton unloads on a Merriam at only five yards!  Watch as special guest Richard Childress, a man of many talents, proves that not only can he run a top-notch NASCAR team, but he also can hunt with the best of them.  And that crazy Michael Waddell, well, you know what he's capable of doing with a call in his mouth and a 12-gauge in his hands.  With 23 hunts and plenty of gobbling action, All-Stars of Spring XVI is two hours of adrenaline-packed turkey hunting that will leave you grabbing for your gun in anticipation of your own go at the gobblers.  As a bonus, you'll get a complete episode of Realtree Road Trips®.
 

Categories: Bowhunting Blogs

New Hunter's Specialties Storage Gear designed for the Turkey Hunter in 2009!

by Bow Staff 11. March 2009 13:31
Bow Staff

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Turkey hunters in need of adequate storage space, without the bulk of a vest, may want to check out this HOT new item for 2009! 

Hunter's Specialties Helps Hunters Get It Together With The
New Strut Pouch And Ultimate Waist Pack

 
March 2009
Hunter's Specialties has introduced two new items for hunters who need a way to carry their gear hunting, but may not want to wear a vest.
 
The new Strut Pouch fits on your belt and has a padded main compartment with a durable zippered closure, external box call holster with silent closure, and an internal organizer which holds one diaphragm call case, one pan call, five shotgun shells, and two strikers.
 
The Strut Pouch also has a clear zippered internal pocket for your hunting license, driver's license, money, or other papers.
 
The H.S. Strut Ultimate Waist Pack has 15 storage compartments including a padded main compartment and individual compartments for diaphragm calls, pan calls, shotgun shells, strikers, license, and other hunting gear.  It also has an external box call holster.  The padded waist belt is comfortable and easily adjustable.
 
Both the Strut Pouch and Ultimate Waist Pack are constructed of heavy duty 2-ply Quiet Cloth in Realtree APG HD camouflage.
 
The suggested retail price of the Strut Pouch is $9.99 and the Ultimate Waist Pack is $24.99.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Hunter's Specialties NEW Strut Pouch.

 

                                                                                                                                                                      Hunter's Specialties NEW Waist Pack.

Hunter's Specialties releases new Ring Zone turkey call just in time for 2009!

by Bow Staff 25. February 2009 13:46
Bow Staff

Just in time for the 2009 turkey seasons comes the all new Hunter’s Specialties friction caller, the new Ring Zone. Using the science of sound, this new call is sure to become a must in every turkey hunters vest this upcoming spring. Details are listed below!

The all new H.S. Ring Zone.

Hunter's Specialties® has brought the science of sound to wild turkey calling with the new Ring Zone™ (patent pending) line of friction calls.
 
Wild turkeys hear sounds best in the 1700-2000 cps range. With a resonating surface that is 200 percent larger than conventional friction calls, the Ring Zone reproduces the sound of an actual wild turkey. A sound analysis on an oscilloscope proved it-this call matches the pitch and frequency of a live hen turkey.
 
Scientific testing shows that the Ring Zone produces remarkably consistent sounds, more so than other commercial calls. With more accurate and authentic yelps, hunters can call in more turkeys. You can "get in their head" because you can make the same sounds they hear and produce.
 
The outer ring on the call keeps your fingers off the calling surface to eliminate dampening the sound. The Ring Zone is available in ceramic, slate and starfire crystal. The slate produces soft, seductive sounds while the glass produces high pitch and volume. The ceramic surface plays with the volume of glass and the forgiveness of slate.
 
The scientifically-designed Ring Zone takes turkey calling to a whole new level and is a major innovation in turkey hunting. With these new calls, turkey hunters can make the most realistic, pure turkey sounds available.


 
The suggested retail price of this new call will be $23.99.

Buy it now at the Bowhunting.Com shopping mall for $21.99!

Click HERE for more details.

 




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