It’s the day before the spring turkey opener and my hunting partner Gord Ellis and I are back in Bruce County, cruising the county roads in a pickup. Our friend Tom Stewart is behind the wheel. Tom is a local boy and when he points to likely looking areas around the Stewart family farm, close to Kincardine, we pay attention.
There are a lot of wild turkey living in the cedar swamps, creek bottoms, and rolling hardwood stands of Bruce County. Acre upon acre of rolling fields, criss-crossed with old fence rows under the gnarled branches of giant oak and beech, are the foundation for tremendous wild turkey hunting. When Tom stops the truck to glass a flock of about a dozen birds crossing a field towards a pine forest, we exchange knowing glances.
We generally don’t hunt turkey out of ground blinds, but this year we decide to give it a try. We set up Gord’s blind at the tip of a promontory of hardwood forest, jutting out into a rolling field. I choose to set up on the cusp of a grassy hill at the edge of the pine forest.
Although it’s a warm and sunny evening, the night erupts into rain showers that continue into morning. As I walk through the tall, wet grass in the predawn darkness, I’m already thankful for the ground blind. My appreciation only grows as I settle into the dry shelter and listen to the rain beating on the roof. But after an hour of calling I’ve heard only a few distant gobbles.
When Gord texts at 7 am that he shot a jake, I start to feel a little restless. If a bird does show, I’m expecting it will approach from the left and appear at the crest of the hill in front of my blind, but the next time I swivel around and look to my right, I get a big surprise. Less than 20 yards away a big gobbler is speeding silently towards me. I anticipate correctly and the big bird steps in front of my bead on its way to my hen decoy. I squeeze the trigger.
Go with the Flow
Next morning is sunny and warm and Gord has no problem leveling a big gobbler. I spend the entire day watching a group of about eight birds frolicking along the fence line of a distant cornfield. I’ve had no luck bringing the birds towards me so at about 4 pm the next day Gord and I set up his blind right along the fence line and start calling. Within a half an hour a hen flies down followed by jakes and toms approaching from different directions. Gord taps me on the shoulder and points to a Jake that has wandered into range directly behind us. Gord ducks as I swivel around in the blind and seal its fate.
Two birds apiece: And so goes our first crack at hunting out of blinds in Bruce County.