GROWING UP AND HUNTING in Michigan throughout the 50s 60s and 70s, there were no wild turkeys to be had. My first encounter with the mighty Thunderchicken was in the Manistee National Forest up in the northeast area of the Lower Peninsula around 1975.
Trekking mile after mile of wonderful rugged wild ground habitat pursuing the elusive Ruff Grouse and Timberdoodles with my amazing Irish Setter birdmasters, we stumbled upon a flock of about twelve Eastern turkey hens one afternoon, and I was rather surprised and delighted to say the least.
A few years after that we could apply for a spring gobbler permit, and my exciting hunting for this magnificent big game bird was off and running.
I killed a few with my shotgun, then went deep into the dark side of bowhunting this most elusive and challenging of quarry, and the thrills have just kept on coming.
I have been extremely fortunate to arrow many Easterns in Michigan, Merriams in South Dakota, Rio Grandes in Texas and Osceolas in Florida.
If you can get to full draw on a wild turkey, you are confirmed to be the ultimate stealthy predator.
I’ve also killed Rios and an Osceola with my Glock 10mm handgun and that adds a whole new fun factor challenge altogether.
The absolute predator stealth needed to get past the wild turkey’s omniscient radar is the most demanding in all of the hunting world.
Total camouflage, total stillness and perfect timing for the shot are all critical.
I have found that turkey hunting with the bow and arrow is the ultimate lesson for success on all other game.
As the Texas turkey season was coming to a close on the last afternoon, I was perched way up high in an ancient Live Oak tree hoping to get an arrow in one of the prolific exotic critters or maybe a hog that thrive on our home SpiritWild Ranch.
Mesmerized as always by the comings and goings of beautiful whitetail deer, Fallow and Sika deer and a parade of fidgety blackbuck antelope, I was contemplating whacking a female blackbuck when all the animals in sight jerked their heads up and stared due east.
Covered up pretty good in the dark shadows of my little leafy cubbyhole perch, I wasn’t able to see the incoming newcomer, but was ready for anything.
Much to my surprise, having failed to even see a single longbeard all spring, a handsome, shimmering Rio Grand gobbler was pecking his way towards me, and I was as excited as I’ve ever been on any hunt.
Concealed well in my tree, I was eventually able to get to full draw undetected as the trophy Thunderchicken entered my prime-shooting lane at thirty yards.
Envisioning the square of glowing day-glow orange tape on my full body 3-D turkey target at the range that I religiously shoot every day, I went into killmode autopilot and the sight pin on my new 50# Mathews Vertix settled in nice and low behind the drumstick, and lo and behold; thar she blows!
The lighted nock told no lie as the mortally whacked big bird flip-flopped about 20 yards and lay still, dead within a very quick few seconds.
I was dazed! Stunned! Very, very happy to say the least.
Last day, last chance, last hour, bingo!
I hear from so many very happy fellow hunting friends from pretty much all-50 states about their turkey hunting successes this spring 2019.
That is certainly a cause for grand celebration and we can thank American hunting families and the great National Wild Turkey Federation for restoring this fantastic big game bird to numbers unprecedented in the history of our country.
Truth be told, if you want a wildlife species to thrive in abundance and be managed and conserved forever, open a regulated hunting season on them and they will never be endangered.
Meanwhile, the Nugent family will have a little extra mid-year Thanksgiving celebration with a hard earned, organic, wild butterball of our own.
Email Ted Nugent at [email protected]