Another memorable hunt in 2017 was the first hunt of the season when I got to hunt with my lifelong friend and business partner, David Hale, in Tennessee around the Nashville area – about an hour and a half from our homes in Cadiz, Ky. We were hunting near Smyrna, Tenn., with a friend of ours, Russell Knight. The first part of the first day I called, and David took a turkey. That afternoon, David called and I shot a turkey. The next morning, I called and David took a second turkey. One of the reasons I like to hunt at the first of the season in Tennessee is that the gobblers are very vocal during the early season and respond to calling much better than they do later on in the season when they’re henned-up.
Here’s what happened. David and I got in early, early, before daylight on the edge of a field, and I set up two decoys. David was planning to shoot, and I was going to film the hunt. The two decoys I had put out included an old decoy that I’d used for years that I painted to make it look more realistic. I made the decoy have a shiny breast, and I put a real gobbler’s tail feathers in the back of it. I had the decoy sitting on a stick, so that even the slightest breeze could cause that decoy to move. I also had a David Smith hen decoy that I put out with the gobbler decoy. I was using a friction call named the Moonshiner, a new acrylic call from Knight and Hale Game Calls that’s made out of a similar kind of acrylic from which acrylic duck calls are crafted. This pot-type friction call had a fantastic realistic sound coming out of it. This call was so new, I hadn’t had an opportunity to hunt with it. So, I was going to try it out on this hunt. I always have a mouth call, too, whenever I’m turkey hunting.
We’d gotten into our blind so early on this hunt that we had plenty of time to wait for daylight. Just before the sun came up, we heard a hen calling so close to our blind that we couldn’t move or talk. So, I mimicked the hen and made some soft, low yelps. As the sky lightened up, we heard two big toms gobbling. They were the first birds to come to the field - less than 75 yards from us.
When I’m hunting in the mornings, I don’t like to talk while moving to a blind or while in a blind. As I get closer to the blind, I like to move slowly like I think a gobbler can see me even though I know he can't. As we get into the blind, I want to be as quiet as possible. Although you may think you know exactly where those turkeys are roosted, you never really know for certain. The birds may be 300 yards from your blind or 50 yards from your blind. I’ve learned over the years that if I assume the turkeys are 50 yards from my blind or the place where I intend to set up, and I’m as quiet as possible, then there’s far less chance I’ll spook the gobblers that I’m hunting. That’s why if I’m planning to hunt from a blind and film from a blind I like to set the blind up a day or two before I plan to hunt from it. I think that was one of the main reasons that we took three gobblers in a day and a half on our first hunt of the season.
Tomorrow: Harold Knight Likes to Hunt Home Turkeys