Patoka Sportsman 4-25 & 4-26-20
In light of the COVID-19 situation, many Hoosiers are seeking refuge and entertainment outside. The Indiana Division of Fish & Wildlife would like to remind you that now, more than ever, safety should be a top priority. With an increased interest in outdoor recreational activities, more people are using our properties and other outdoor spaces. Many of these people may be new to the area, unaware of property rules, or even know that it is turkey season. In preparation, staff members have been installing signage on Indiana DNR Fish & Wildlife Areas (FWAs) and a news release was sent to the media to help spread the word.
Turkey hunters and anyone else visiting or planning to visit an FWA will need to be aware that spring turkey season runs from April 22-May 10. FWAs will restrict property hours for visitors during these dates. Only visitors who are turkey hunting or participating in water-based recreation (i.e., fishing, kayaking, boating) away from turkey hunters are allowed to be in the field each day of turkey season, from 30 minutes before sunrise until 1 p.m. ET (noon CT). Turkey hunters on FWAs must stop hunting at 1 p.m. ET (noon CT) and be out of the field within the next hour. After 1 p.m. ET (noon CT) each day of turkey season, other property users are allowed to enter the property for other permitted activities, such as nature walks or mushroom hunting.
This rule is in place to help prevent conflicts and possibly unsafe situations between turkey hunters and other property users. Abiding by this rule helps to ensure a high-quality and safe outdoor experience for all property users. If you encounter non-hunters in the field during restricted hours, please be courteous and call DNR Division of Law Enforcement’s 24-hour dispatch line at 812-837-9536.
Statewide, wild turkeys may be hunted only 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
For more information on turkey hunting safety, including tips, visit wildlife.IN.gov/2710.htm.
Locations open for turkey hunting, including property contact information, are listed at on.IN.gov/where2hunt.
Get our latest COVID-19 updates and view what is open, closed and canceled: on.IN.gov/dnrcovid19.
Opening morning of turkey season was absolutely perfect weather wise this past Wednesday. I got to the woods early, about 6 AM and heard my first gobble at 6:16. I had scouted the area several weeks before and knew there were gobblers and jakes in the area.
I actually heard two gobblers gobbling down the valley from a ridge I had seen and heard them on before. I called to them on the roost with some soft tree yelps and they answered. They were at least 100 yards or more away.
I decided to set up close to where they had strutted in the past couple weeks. I anticipated they would come up the valley and to my left so that’s where I put my decoy. After an hour of gobbling just out of sight I finally saw two red heads creeping up the hill to my right. They were directly in the path between me and the sun rising through the woods to the east. At this point I had to turn my body to the right and was no longer sitting with my back to the tree I was leaning against but sideways to it. They were about 40-50 yards away at this point with some brush in the way. They were on alert but not scared at this point. I think they were looking for the hen making those clucks and purrs. They moved over the top of the ridge I was sitting on and went to the other side of the hill. I could still hear them gobbling now and then and I decided to turn around and kneel on the ground and peer around the side of the tree in hopes of getting a shot. I could hear them less than 30 yards away but since they were over the crest of the hill I couldn’t see them.
This went on for another 20-30 minutes. By this time my arms are getting tired from holding the gun around the side of the tree I was kneeling behind. I could tell they were strutting and moving back and forth on the other side of the hill. I kept waiting for them to pop over the hill so I could fill my turkey tag. I heard one of them putt a couple times and then he flew up in the air and was gone. I heard the second one gobble one more time and then silence. I waited another 15 minutes and decided to take a look. He was gone.
Even though I didn’t fill my tag that morning it was a great hunt. I got to listen to two gobblers gobble for almost 2 hours and got to see them for a few seconds out of range. The day before I had set up my ground blind at the bottom of that hill overlooking a field where I had seen 4 jakes feeding. I thought well they were there the day before they should be there on opening day. I had thought about setting the ground blind on top of the hill where these two long beards appeared on opening day but decided to put it on the field edge instead. I guessed wrong. After the excitement was over I moved the ground blind to the top of the ridge so I could see on the other side where the two gobblers were strutting on opening morning. With Thursday predicted rain all day I decided to sleep in and try again on Friday morning.
Friday morning was great. Heard gobblers all around me at a distance. Had a hen come into my decoys and I called to her and she hung around for almost a half an hour. Not it’s 9 AM. Hadn’t seen or heard a gobbler close by so I decided to walk east down a ridge where I had heard them gobbling on Wednesday and also this morning. I walked about 200 yards. Stopped to call and was answered immediately by a gobble. He was close just over the hill. I quickly found a tree to sit down in front of and got ready. Within minutes 4 long beards crested the hill at about 40 yards. When the first one gave me a clear shot my Mossberg rang out. I had gotten my 2020 gobbler. All the time preparing, scouting and being patient had paid off. Now just as quickly as it started my season is over. I do have a grandson that would like to go and if we can work it out I’d love to take him this season. He was the first thing I thought of when the four gobblers came over the hill this morning just before I pulled the trigger. Oh how I wish he had been with me this morning. He would have gotten his first bird and we might have even doubled up. But I guess that’s a dream for a future hunt.