Kansas has consistently proved to be one of my favorite turkey hunting hot spots from across the country. Beefy Rio and Eastern birds throw down some of the most incredible strut, gobble, and fight action I’ve ever seen. For the past four years I’ve strutted my way down to north central Kansas to hunt with my dear friend David Schotte of Blue River Whitetails.
I always look forward to the middle of May for several reasons. It not only marks the end of my college semester, but also celebrates my last turkey hunt of the year. As soon as I got out of class last week, my cousin and I drove ten hours en route to meet up with Schotte. Our mission was to lay down some fantastic gobbler footage and introduce a couple long-beards to national TV status. We arrived in Hanover, Kansas last Sunday afternoon. Hanover is a teeny town that's only an hour south of Lincoln, Nebraska. The interesting thing about Hanover is that the population of turkey outnumbers people. It obviously makes for some outstanding turkey hunting action.
The countryside is absolutely astounding. Sweeping green meadows sprawl across the vast terrain. Small creeks dissect the farmer's fields and account for the only trees in the land. Schotte knows how to use the terrain to his advantage because he's hunted here all his life. He has taught me more about turkey hunting than I’d ever read in a magazine or watch on TV combined. His turkey slaying record for the past ten years has been 100% and Schotte has helped defeat thousands of thundering toms. I was hoping to get lucky and add to his numbers and maintain his high percent Monday morning.
The first morning I sat nestled into the trunk of a cottonwood tree with my feet propped comfortably against my Turkey Dave footrest. Sprawled across both of my legs set a shooting-pod. I’ve been using shooting sticks the past few hunts because I’m able to keep my gun up at all times, which minimizes any movement. I also use them because they keep my shotgun's barrel extremely steady.
As golden sunbeams pierced through the forest floor, thundering gobbles ignited above the canopy. Hundreds of gobbles rang from across the emerald meadow. I yanked down my camo Breath-Taker mask to deliver a quick audio-byte to the video camera. As I turned back around I spotted several birds shooting from tree limbs and gliding into the field. I gave the lovesick toms a brief rendition of sweet and charming yelps. They answered with strong desire! My plan was to spark jealousy with the mature toms by place a Spin-n-Strut jake decoy out front. The decoy's fantail moves up and down, which tests the nerves of a dominant gobbler. I figured that I’d mix a few lady chatter with the scenario and we’d have a genuine chance at a kill.
The hens separated the end of my barrel from the gobblers. Luckily, the hens scratched my way toward our setup, while the gobblers paraded behind them in full strut. Each tom was blown up in a pompous fashion escorting the hens. Each waddle put them closer into the kill zone. As soon as the flock of feathers crossed the 25-yard line, I blitzed. A rumble of bb's blasted through my barrel and into the vitals of a large Rio. The bird dropped, while the others took flight. Schotte and I congratulated each other and acknowledged the camera. The setup couldn't have worked any better.
The hunt marked my fourth year of late-season turkey hunting with my dear friend David Schotte. It was another successful hunt in the hills of north central Kansas. The anticipated journey pleased us with another learning experience and memory to share for years to come. During this week I will be hunting for bird number two. Hopefully I will have an exciting update within the week!