I’ve watched my fair share of turkey hunting shows and DVDs over the years. Enough to know that Kansas is the place to be when it comes to turkeys…and giant whitetail bucks. So when the opportunity arose to spend a few days chasing Kansas turkeys with a handful of other bowhunting industry media members, I jumped at the chance. Little did I know at the time, we’d spend as much time chasing (and dodging) tornados and thunderstorms as we would hunting turkeys.
For whatever reason, it never crossed my mind that Kansas has nearly as many twisters as turkeys each spring season. However, it sunk in quick enough on the morning of Day 1. Things began to get lively about 3:00am as the lodge began to receive a beat-down from some over-sized hail that pelted our side of town. I couldn’t help but think of the turkeys on the roost. “Surely this hail storm was enough to kill a gobbler right there in his bed,” I thought to myself.
The weather was still rockin’ and rollin’ when the alarm went off at 4:00am. Some 7 inches of rain had fallen overnight, and it was still coming. Flash floods were now in play, and tornado watches were popping up all across the state. The hunters and guides assembled and agreed to let the storm system blow through before heading out around mid-morning.
The forecast called for a slight break in the storms for mid-day, so we took off to try and sneak a few hours in before the afternoon storms came through. Shortly after climbing into the blind, my hunting partner for the week, Laden Force, of Bowtech, took a peek out the back side of the blind to see 3 toms making an approach. He scratched out a few calls on his slate call, and the birds hammered back. A moment later, they made their way onto the scene in front of us. They were 40 yards out when they came into the field and never got any closer. They seemed skittish…and they certainly didn’t want to play the game. Despite our best sweet talk they made their way out of the area. Other than an afternoon hen coming by, things were slim the rest of the evening. Day 1 was a wrap.
Day 2 brought much of the same. Storms hammered us as we sat in the Primos Double Bull blind. They were those kind of storms where you’re holding the blind down with both hands and praying that lightning won’t strike anywhere too close. Other than a few hens that cruised the field, the morning hunt was a bust.
The afternoon of Day 2 actually turned out beautiful. The sun was shining bright, and we had a couple hens hanging out in the food plot when our guide pulled back up in his truck and said we had to go. “There’s a tornado on the other side of town, and it’s headed this way,” said guide, Jason Irish. We hopped in the truck and quickly made the drive back to the lodge as some ominous clouds made their way across the sky. Day 2 wrapped up with 0 gobbler action and more storm watching than turkey hunting.
One Last Hunt
It’s honestly pretty hard to stay optimistic when you get down to the last day of the hunt, and the weather forecast is calling for more of the same. But despite tornados on the way, we had to take advantage of a few hours of decent weather at daybreak. Day 3 found us in a new spot that hadn’t been hunted all week. And as the skies began to lighten, we heard gobbles from the roost in 3 directions. It was a refreshing change from the previous two days.
We watched the closest bird gobble from the limb 200 yards out and then pitch down on a pond levee just across the pasture from us. We were hoping our moment to kill the boss bird had finally arrived, but a gang of jakes quickly came on the scene and shut things down with the tom. More than once I’ve seen a big gobbler bullied by a gang of punk jakes. And that’s just what happened here. The longbeard disappeared leaving a few hens and the jakes behind. I called at the hens as they appeared to be leaving as well and seemed to strike a nerve with a sassy hen in the bunch. She popped off and talked trash right back at me. Not to be outdone, I gave it right back to her and mimicked every sound she made. It was too much for her. She pitched off the pond levee and flew out across the pasture to us. The other two hens did the same. Laden and I grinned real big and agreed that it was game on.
The jakes fell in behind the hens and made their way to our blind. As I watched their approach, another gang of jakes caught my eye as they snuck in from behind our blind. A wild turkey showdown was about to ensue, and we were right in the middle of it…with a quiver full of arrows.
I’ve never been one to pass up any legal birds with my bow. And with it being Day 3, and potentially our last hunt, these jakes were looking delicious. As quick as I could snap my release on the string and slide around in my chair to position for the shot, the jakes had already established who was running the show.
I picked out a bird standing away from the flock at 18 yards, came to full draw, and settled in. The birds exploded with commotion when I dropped the string, and my bird made his death run leaving the rest of the flock behind. Laden and I smiled, laughed, bumped knuckles, and switched roles as shooter and cameraman.
Minutes later things had settled down, and the birds made their way back to our side of the pasture. Three jakes lingered a little too close to our blind, and Laden took advantage of the opportunity. His shot smacked home, and the bird didn’t go 30 yards.
A last-day double was ours. We headed back to camp for lunch, photos, and some much needed rest before heading out for the afternoon hunt.
It came as no surprise when the afternoon hunt never actually materialized. As we prepared our gear, a strong storm system rolled in. Some of the guides that had been outside watching the storm progress came running in and said we needed to get down in the storm shelter.
I grabbed my camera and wallet and headed out. I could feel the pressure of the mighty storm as I made my way out the front door. The guys had just watched as a twister’s tail dropped out just above the lodge, made its way down, and then went back up. It was over nearly as quick as it started. With tree limbs, debris and garbage cans being blown all over the landscape, it only seemed fitting that we called it a day.
Birds had been killed. Tags had been punched. Our time with Kansas’ turkeys – and twisters – had come to an end.
This hunt took place at Midwest Whitetail Adventures in Clay Center, KS (midwestwhitetailadventures.com). It’s a great outfit offering world class whitetail deer hunting…and of course, some great turkey hunting too. They have a convenient and comfortable lodge with some killer décor and excellent food. The lodge is well equipped to meet all your needs.
I was in camp with a number of other outdoor writers from the bowhunting industry. We had the opportunity to checkout and test a variety of new products during our turkey hunt. Despite the lousy weather, our crew killed a dozen birds during the hunt.
Some of the gear we had the chance to test and review during our turkey hunt included: Bowtech BT-X Bow, Gold Tip Pierce Arrows, Primos Double Bull Blinds, Primos Gobbstopper Combo & Calls, Lethal Insect Repellent, Rage Hypodermic Broadheads, Can Cooker, Outdoor Edge Knives, Nocturnal Lighted Nocks, Trufire Releases, and Koola Buck Game Bags.