2007 Triple Double Grand Slam Bowhunt Round UP
Getting a grand slam of turkeys is quite an accomplishment. Doing it with a bow is an even greater challenge. Doing it with a bow in one season is a monumental task. But a double grand slam in one season with a bow is pretty ambitious to say the least. That was the challenge given to me this year by Robert Hoague. I was all for it.
Of course it all starts with Florida. If you don’t get two Osceola’s it just won’t happen because unlike the other species there are no other states or seasons to hunt them. Our plans were made, we planned on hunting the earliest season in Florida. It opens first in south Florida. Our airline tickets were bought, car rented and I bought my 10 day non-resident hunting license and turkey permit online.
The night before our trip I got a call from Robert. He was driving to Dallas for his early morning flight. He gave me the bad news. The outfitter had changed his mind about the deal he offered us. His new deal wasn’t what was expected and wasn’t what we were told when we finalized the hunt. We mulled the situation over and decided not to go. A deal is a deal – a man is only as good as his word. We didn’t have a back up plan for the early season and decided to wait for or second planned hunt in Florida’s central zone.
Two weeks later we met at the Tampa airport and drove to Zolfo Springs to hunt with David Mills and Sean Kelleher. Bow hunting turkeys, being what it is, is never a slam dunk deal. I muffed my first close encounter. We were videoing. I set the blind up close to the decoys, too close. The bird came running in from my left but I didn’t see him until he was dead on the decoys, four steps from the blind. This was my first hunt of the year and I had been too sloppy with my setup. The Double Bull Matrix blind was opened too far. When I started my draw it immediately spooked the gobbler. It scurried off and got behind some orange trees and never offered a shot. I was disappointed but had plenty of days ahead to get the job done.
The next day Robert filmed as I called two long beards across the neighbors pasture. This land belongs to another outfitter and he had hunters out that morning. My calling also attracted two hens from our side of the fence. They walked to my decoys. The two gobblers stayed on the neighbor’s side and walked parallel with the fence past my blind and decoys.
They offered a shot but I needed them on my side of the fence. When they crossed over they were two orange tree rows away and the trees prevented a shot. One gobbler strutting and put on a show. I could only watch. They followed the two hens into the orange grove. My gobbler action was over for the morning.
After the hunt I took a picture (below) of the wing drag marks the strutting tom left in the sand. It was a very exciting mornings’ hunt Robert captured on film.
Strut marks made in the Florida sand by the Osceola gobbler.
Things turned quiet the next few days. Our guides David and Sean took us to a new spot.That evening I killed my first turkey of the year, a really nice Osceola long beard.
Fred shows us his first bow kill of the 2007 Spring season, a Florida Osceola long beard.
David Mills captured the kill on video. I was elated but our time in Florida was running out. We had a two day drive to Nebraska for our next hunt and needed to hit the road.
This Nebraska hunt was short and sweet. In three days I bow-killed two Merriams and an Eastern. All three were long beards. Robert killed an Eastern and a Merriams. We captured two of the hunts on film.
Fred Lutger with two Merriam’s and one Eastern long beards.
Off to Texas.
To complete my grand slam I only needed a Rio Grande gobbler. The first morning we were into the birds.But again as bow hunting turkeys goes, I just didn’t ‘get-er-done.’ We hunted with on good friend Rick Philippi’s property. Robert spent the next three days with me trying to film the final of my grand slam. Even though we were covered with birds it just didn’t come together. We headed south to Robert’s home.
I am familiar with Robert’s property and hunted a few spots where I had luck in previous years. But now the area was a ‘turkey grave yard,’ a phrase I heard Sean and Dave use in Florida when you couldn’t hear or see a turkey. Do to freezing weather, snow and sleet, the river flooding the week before, food changes and whatever else, the turkeys didn’t seem to be on the property. I only heard faint gobbling one morning far from Robert’s property.
That evening I asked about our mutual friend Jim Mitchell. Robert’s eyes lit up and he pulled out his phone. Robert told Jim of our no-bird situation. Jim said he hadn’t seen any birds on his place since the weather turned so cold and rain/snow/sleety the past week. But Jim said come on and give it a try.
We arrived late.Robert dropped me off and returned home to finish up some work. Jim took me to a creek bottom the turkeys use as a roosting area. He helped me get set up for the next morning’s hunt. Jim even got up the next morning and drove me down close to the roost area with his electric mule.
That morning proved to be one of the most exciting hunts of my life as I bow bagged a Rio Grande double. I had my video camera mounted on a tripod and captured both kills on film. After I recovered the gobblers I walked back to Jim’s house and related my good fortune. We got on the phone and called Robert and he drove over and took pictures of me with my two long bearded toms.
Fred with the two Rio Grande gobbler long beards taken in Central Texas.
Not only had I completed my grand slam, I now had a slam and a half. The reality of a double grand slam in one season was a possibility.
I still had my home state of Illinois to hunt for my second eastern. I could still return to Florida to try for a second Osceola, because it wasn’t closing for four days. But I didn’t know if David or Sean had the time or hunting spot to devote the last three days of season to me for another hunt. So I decided to head home. I guide turkey hunters in Illinois and needed to get ready for that. Illinois season was opening in four days.
I only got to hunt in Illinois for three days but didn’t score. I had lots of action but didn’t draw my bow on a bird. If I had shot two Florida birds I would have concentrated hard on a second Eastern. And I also had spots to hunt in Missouri and Tennessee.
It was a long spring. The double grand slam didn’t happen. I am not disappointed. This is only a fun challenge that makes a great excuse to spend more time turkey hunting. God willing, I’ll get a few more years in the turkey woods. It’s great to have a hunting partner like Robert. We are already kicking around ideas for next year. And this year isn’t even over. Did someone say deer and bear?
Good Hunting —