with Brett Berry
I got involved with the National Wild Turkey Federation and started guiding for that group. This year, besides the scholars’ hunt (see Day 1), I will be guiding for the Women in the Outdoors hunt. Shawn Dickey, regional coordinator for the NWTF, and I have guided on both spring and fall hunts. Shawn and I will go together to Wyoming in mid-May to meet up with Josh Grossenbacher who won the head-to-head Grand National Turkey Calling contest. Two years ago he won the World Turkey Calling Contest, and this year he was the third runner up in the Grand National Turkey Calling Contest. Josh is bringing a cameraman to our Wyoming hunt to video for the Avian-X.
I’m often asked, “Why did you start traveling to other states to hunt turkeys?”
The answer is simple. I wanted to be able to hunt turkeys more often and longer than the State of Ohio would permit me to hunt. I hunt here at home, and because I scouted so much, I took my first two birds during the first three days of turkey season this year. I knew that three days of turkey hunting could not and would not satisfy my turkey-hunting addiction. If I couldn’t find somebody else who hadn’t filled their tags that I could guide and call for after those three days, I’d be totally without the possibility of being able to hunt again until the following year.
Since I’m within a 20-minute drive of Pennsylvania, I’ve started buying turkey tags from Pennsylvania. We also have a family camp in West Virginia, and Pennsylvania’s turkey season starts a week before the Ohio season. So, I can begin hunting before the Ohio season arrives. That’s why I started hunting out of state.
Today, I usually hunt turkeys in four states and sometimes five. I’ve hunted turkeys all over the country and taken gobblers in Florida, Texas, Missouri, Tennessee, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia and plan to add Wyoming to my turkey hunting list this spring. The good news is I only have a few more years to work for General Motors. When I retire, I’ll probably be able to hunt many more days in many more states.
My best friend for about 12 years is well-known turkey caller, Matt Van Cise. The first two years I hunted with Matt, I learned more about turkey hunting than I’d learned the previous 15 years on my own. Matt lives about two hours from me in Pennsylvania. Matt’s wife’s folks live about 30 minutes from my house here in Ohio, so Matt spends quite a bit of time in Ohio. I have the opportunity to hunt quite a bit with Matt. We’ve already hunted turkeys for two days this 2017 spring turkey season in West Virginia, and then he’s coming here to hunt with me in Ohio.
One week, on Monday I killed a bird, on Tuesday I called one in for my godson, Austin, and on Wednesday, Matt came in to hunt with me. At daylight, we started calling but couldn’t get a turkey to gobble. We worked hard but never did locate a bird. We were walking out of the woods and going to another place to hunt when we came to a place where there had been a lane mowed. The grass was still pretty high. We could peek over the top of the grass and see two longbeards and two other turkeys about 200-yards away. Matt and I dropped down flat on the ground. I took an Avian-X jake decoy and an Avian-X hen decoy, put a decoy on either side of me and laid flat on the ground. Matt called, and the two strutters started gobbling. Although the two big birds would gobble some, they just didn’t seem to be very interested in Matt’s calling and moved off to the north of us.
Matt whispered, “I’ve got to change positions to get those turkeys in close enough to take a shot.”
Matt crawled over into the woods, got into a thicket and began throwing his calls behind him to make the gobblers think that a hen had called to them, but now she was leaving because they weren’t coming to her. The turkeys were almost out of sight when they heard Matt calling. I watched those birds spin all the way around and start heading back to the spot where I’d put out the decoys and from where Matt had called. The turkeys were gobbling hard.
I was close enough that I could whisper to Matt, “Keep calling those birds. They’re coming.”
Those turkeys came back and popped out 14 feet behind me, while I was on the ground between the two decoys. Matt shot a bird, and it dropped right where he shot him. Two of the other turkeys jumped on the shot turkey, and the other longbeard walked down the lane about 15 yards from me, looking away. Since Matt was only about eight yards from me, I belly crawled over to him. He gave me his gun, because I didn’t take mine with us that day. I shot the other longbeard. We got two birds in one day and left two birds. We were both really excited about doubling together. That afternoon after we’d dressed our birds, we drove to West Virginia to hunt.
Tomorrow: Two Double Downs in 2 Days