Defining Turkey Hunting Success

Kids Outdoor Outpost June 2018

Joe Schuster | June 11, 2018

With the end of another turkey season upon me, I took advantage of the opportunity to make another run after them in the north Georgia mountains. It has gotten to be an annual event that me and good friend Kevin Lowrey plan out each season. Kevin is a wildlife biologist with WRD.

Over the last several years, Kevin and I have taken our shotguns, tents, gear, food and beverages to our mountains in search of the elusive turkey of north Georgia. Our first few years were spent at Warwoman WMA. The terrain was daunting and the task of actually shooting a bird was even more so. Thankfully, the trout always cooperated when the birds did not.

This year, we changed the plan. We moved over to Blue Ridge WMA where a decent amount of birds had been taken. I got off work early on a Friday and hit the GPS on my phone to get directions to the camp. I had two choices. One was to flank east and head over to Suches. The other, started west and then curved around. I chose west. This proved to be a poor choice. It took me on a very rocky national forest road that went over a mountain. It took me an hour, and I lost cell service and my GPS about half way in. I trickled down the other side of the mountain and came out on an asphalt road. Blind luck got me to run in to Kevin who had already staked out our camping spot.

After some great seafood for supper in nearby Blairsville, it didn’t take long before I was staring at the campfire.

I set my phone alarm to 4 a.m. and drifted off while thinking of a big gobbler.

As I started the Coleman stove to heat water for the first mug of coffee that I absolutely needed, I saw a flame jump out of the gas handle on the other side. I quickly turned it off before it exploded on me. I hoped the crazy ride in and this fire were not signs of things to come. I finally got my mug of coffee and saw Kevin amble over to the table.

“You won’t believe this. I locked my keys in my truck”.

A coat hanger groping around through the back slide truck window wasn’t going to get it done. I told Kevin, “Come on, I’ll drive you home and get your spare key. We’ll be back before 9 a.m. and get to hunting those birds.”

That’s what hunting buddies do. However, that decision comes with age, I think. A younger me would have probably told him to try some fishing while I went after the birds. But not now. Got to help my friend.

So, we got back at 9 a.m. and were off to the woods. After several hours, we had not seen a bird or heard a gobble. No matter, it was time to wet a line in those cool north Georgia mountain streams. We hooked a good many stocker-sized trout and found a new reason to wear cargo-style pants. They have great pockets to put your trout in!

We filleted the trout, wrapped them in butter, salt, pepper and foil and put them on the fire. They were joined with several hunks of marinated venison backstrap from a buck I took this past season and some baked potatoes. We sat around the fire and talked some about past hunts and some strategies for the morning. We called it a night and crawled into our the tents, only to be awakened by a torrential downpour.

We got up early, hit the woods, but again, no birds. We came back after a few hours to break camp and drive back to civilization. I drove home with the windows down, some country music on and a huge feeling of satisfaction from a successful hunt.

How do you measure success when you hunt? Well, for me, it’s good friends, good food and being safe in the field. Anything more than that, well that’s just what we call “gravy.” Ask somebody with gray hair. They’ll explain it.

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