The Honey Hole

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Last Updated: Feb 22nd, 2007 – 18:37:03

The Honey Hole

By Chris Bailey

May 18, 2006, 00:01

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We have had numerous different turkey hunting hot spots over
the years. The last 8 years my Dad has outright refused to go anywhere else on
opening day, except to the spot we call our Honey Hole. The Honey Hole still
has a large population of turkeys, but with the large number of turkeys comes
hunters. Like most hunters, I prefer not to be jockeying for position in the
turkey woods. We have permission to hunt on many different farms, but none of
them have measured up to the Honey Hole, until last season.

 

Many of our hunting spots hold turkeys, but because we get
tunnel vision and focus on a particular area it limits us in learning how to
properly hunt other tracks of land. The past four years I had been sparingly
hunting a four hundred acre piece of land. On the north end of the farm is a
maple bush in the middle, surrounded by some cedar, with a few big pines. The
land has slightly rolling hills that enable the birds to have a few different
roost locations to be out of the wind. South of the main woods is farmland with
small patches of wooded areas spread throughout. Running through the middle of
the property is a small creek that goes down to the southwest corner. The south
end of the land harbours a small gravel pit. The turkeys have been spotted
dusting in there on occasion. The first few years the turkeys roosted in the
middle of the main woods, but the last two they changed the roost site to the
southwest corner of the main woods. This appeared to me, to be the perfect
opportunity for a great setup. The birds would drop from the trees to a side
hill in an open field. On the side hill were a few small cedars to set up in
and the birds would already have been in range when they fly down. You would be
hard pressed to find a more ideal calling spot, with the woods on one side and
a semi high ridge running between 70 to 200 yards just south of the woods; it
creates an echo chamber which bounces your calls around very nicely. The only
problem was that the previous season the flock consisted of about seven jakes
and ten hens, so not wanting to take a Jake I hunted other places.

 

This brings us to last season and it was with great
anticipation that I went to check out the new roost site from the previous
year. Firstly, I was hoping the turkeys were still roosting there and secondly
that the young gobblers had grown up. Two days prior to the season opener found
me setup 70 yards from the roost in a makeshift blind that I constructed last
season. Just after 05:20 a.m. I heard birds sounding off right over my head
where I wanted them to be, with even a couple more letting rip roughly a 1000
yards to the northeast at the old roost. They flew down directly to the west
and landed on the side of the ridge about 70 yards away. The flock consisted of
5 mature gobblers, 5 Jakes and about ten hens. I paid close attention to their
exit route and after they moved off, I constructed another blind within 20
yards of their landing strip.

 

On opening day my Dad insisted on returning to his tried and
true spot from years gone by, but I had already belly crawled into my new
setup. Before the sun had even hinted of coming over the rise, these gobblers
were tearing it up. At 05:30 the entire flock was on the ground and 30 yards to
the left of my blind. The entire flock was so bunched  up it was hard to isolate one for a good shot.
As I waited for the big boy to separate, the flock started moving over the hill
on the heels of their queen and still no shot was available. Just when the
birds were leaving my effective kill zone, one of the other longbeards had been
left a few steps behind. I turned on him quickly and completed what turned out
to be a well initiated plan.

 

My Dad?s opening day was rather uneventful, so he decided to
tag along with me on day two. We setup a little further to the south of the
roost, because it would be hard to double up in the other blind right under the
roost. The birds were working pretty well until a coyote came trotting through
and pushed them a little further to the east of our setup. We quickly
repositioned a few hundred yards to the northeast using the back side of the
ridge as cover and keeping track of the birds with my Knight & Hale crow
call. When we reached the cedar rail fencerow, my Dad and I made a quick setup
right behind the fence hoping they were just over the ridge. I was looking
forward to a little calling, after not having to use my calls the day before. I
hit them with my Southland game calls challenger mouth diaphragm, the Quaker
Boy eradicator glass and my H.S Strut ?OL Mama Hen box call. Sounding like
multiple excited hens had the toms? attention enough to make four of them march
over the hill in full strut within minutes. The one big tom and three jakes
came straight to the call and at 20 yards my Dad stopped the mature tom in his
tracks. I jumped out from behind the fence, grabbed the bird and told Dad to
quickly tag it and hurry up, because we had more turkeys gobbling over by the
old roost. Halfway across the field, I decided to take their temperature and to
my surprise two of them cut me off in mid sentence. We made good time getting
to the edge of the field. A quick setup and within 10 minutes of the previous
kill, two longbeards entered the field looking for the hen they had mistaken me
for. I took aim on the lead tom and when the smoke cleared we had taken two
adult gobblers roughly two hundred yards apart and within ten minutes of each
other. This was all over before 06:20 a.m. and the second bird fell about 75
yards from where we parked the truck. It was a day to remember.

 

Frank and Chris with turkeys taken within ten minutes of each other.

The very next day we were leaving for our annual Ohio turkey hunt. Before
we left, Dad made a promise to my twelve year old son Jordan that upon our
return he could fill Dad?s remaining tag. One week later, we were back after a
successful Ohio trip and Jordan was
ready to go. Jordan,
however, was suffering from a sore throat and bad cold. I had a function to
attend with my other son, so I wouldn?t be able to join them until later in the
morning. Dad gave a short shooting seminar to Jordan on how to handle his 12
Gauge Browning Gold shotgun with a HOLOsight and they also decided to wait for
me to get there. I decided on our new found hot spot for Jordan?s first
ever turkey hunt. I dropped back 40 yards behind them in the exact spot I had
taken the bird from on opening day. Two Feather Flex hen decoys were placed 20
yards in front of the shooting location. The first wave of calls was greeted
with an immediate gobble that I never heard, but Jordan pointed in the direction of
the original roost site to his Grandpa and told him about it. Oblivious to the
only gobble he offered up, I was going through my entire arsenal of calls until
I heard the loudest spit & drum of all time. The echo chamber was acting as
an amplifier and making this big tom sound even bigger. He was about 150 yards
to the northeast, in full strut, spitting & drumming and completely fixated
on the two decoys. My son was now experiencing what I consider my favorite
hunt; watching a full fanned gobbler strutting in to the decoys from the other
end of the field like he is on a rope. As he keeps strutting back and forth
coming closer with every step, all I can think is; let him get in range and
make your shot true. All of a sudden at just around 50 yards I hear the shotgun
roar, the bird is flopping and the two of them running the fifty yard dash to
get on this bird. After all the hugs, high fives and laughter had subsided, I
asked Dad why he had let him shoot from so far out. Dad replied, ?I couldn?t
take it anymore, I thought I was going to have a heart attack and then I heard
him hyperventilating as bad as I was. So I asked him if he had the red dot on
his head, and when he replied yes, I told him to let him have it?. This was a
very proud day for me and I don?t even think my Dad would have been as happy
even if he had shot it himself. Jordan
is now completely hooked on turkey hunting and also very proud of his 20.2 lbs
gobbler that he dropped at 48 yards.

 

Chris & son Jordan with first bird

Hot spots come and go; we have hunted other farms that have
yielded a great deal of success. Some of these areas will be productive one
year and then you couldn?t find a bird on it the next. Other places will always
hold turkeys, but offer too many escape routes, so it keeps your successes to a
minimum. These are little things that add to the challenge of hunting this
great game bird; if it ever becomes really easy more people will stop hunting
the wild turkey and just go buy a butterball. It will take a few more outings
on this farm that are as productive as last season was, for this area to become
the new Honey Hole. But we have ensured the memories of that season will be
forever etched in our minds. The tail fan, beard and spurs from Jordan?s first
turkey hunt are on the wall of the hunting cabin, along with a picture of him
and his grandpa with our trophy bird. Whether or not this spot replaces the old
Honey Hole is irrelevant, because any turkey hunter will tell you that they
don?t mind having multiple Honey Holes.

 

       

 

   

 

 

 

 

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