Posted 06 December 2011 - 08:02 AM
For the Fall turkey opener I was fortunate enough to be able to get onto a ranch that I have hunted a number of times now and have taken a turkey off of in the past. Getting there was a B1#CH as it was a Friday afternoon and a good sized weather front was dumping a lot of rain all along the coast. It was one continueous traffic jam all the way from LAX to Santa Barbara. Normally the drive would take me no more than 3 hours but it took twice that. Finally I met up with my friend in SLO and we got down to buisness of trying to figure out where we were going to sleep for the night. In the past I've slept in my truck on the ranch we were going to hunt, but an assessment of the ground at the entrance to the ranch told me it was way to soggy for my 2WD Pickup. Fourtunately there is a nice county park not to far the property so we pulled into there for the night. By 0-dark early the next morning the rain had mostly let up and we tried to formulate a game plan. With the ranch roads turning into a bog, we needed to find another way onto the property and over to the fields where the turkeys tend to congregate. It was still dark when we decided to to drive the road that runs along the north border of the property and parralells 5 or 6 fields that were our most likely hunting grounds. Our Recon drive was to serve two purposes. We were hoping to find a spot where we could gain access to the ranch and we were going to see if we could spot some turkeys to give us an idea of where they were hanging out on this 4500 acre property. This is where I made a critical mistake. I did not get fully suited up prior to leaving camp to go on our Recon Drive. As I mentioned before, on this peice of property the trukeys tend to hang out in 5-6 fields that border this road. On the south side of these fields is a creek that parralells the road, and the fields are broken up by little feeder creeks that flow off of the hillsides on the north side of the road opposite the fields and off the property. All of the creek areas are heavy choked with poison oak, nettles trees and brush and make a formidable barrier to get through from one field to the next. Often you will find yourself hiking a half mile looking for a suitable spot to foird the creek. Where the feeder creeks join the main creek, they flow through culverts under the road and the brush and trees come right up to the edge of the road. After driving about a mile down the road we were coming up to one of these feeder creeks. As soon as we cleared the feeder creek we were startled by a bunch of turkeys that flew off the property and onto the road right in front of my truck. Catching me off guard I swerved to miss the dozen or so birds in my way. If I hadn't swerved, I would have easily taken out at least 3 birds. Regaining my composuer, I looked at the filed to my left and could see another 60 or turkeys following their buddies and marching in line toward the road. At this point my buddy and I are in a complete panic trying to find a spot to pull over off the road and throw on our boots and get our remaining gear on. About a 1/4 mile futher we find a suitable spot to hang a U'y and we head back to where we saw the birds. By this time all 60 or so are walking down the middle of the road and all I would have had to do was hit the accelerator and I would have been over the legal limit by about 30 birds. We finally find a spot where we can pull over and get onto the ranch but by this time the birds have hopped the fence on the opposite side of the road and are onto another piece of property. My buddy and I get set up and quietly sneak into some good shooting positions and proceed to start calling the birds. This was the most talkative bunch of turkeys I've dealt with and my buddy an I sat there for 3 hours calling as the turkeys are within sight talking back to us. I guess we weren't convincing enough because after all that work the birds finally bunched up and headed away and north through the hills. We hiked around for another 2 hours with no sight or sound of turkeys so we decided to go back to the campground to get a bite to eat and restrategize. As soon as we pulled back into camp some of the other campers seeing us in our Camo asked us if we were hunters and what were we hunting? We told them that we were after turkeys. They were quick to inform us that no more than 15 minutes before that about 60 turkeys had come walking through our campsite and you could now see them walking on the hillside on the far side of the lake. Having researched the area I knew that the county campground did not allow hunting within it's boundries and that the land surrounding the campground was all private. For the next hour my buddy and I sat there eating our lunch and calling to the birds only to watch them continue in a northernly direction. We tried hunting that evening and half the next day but never saw nor heard from another turkey.