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Guest post by Rebecca Gicewicz

IMG_7584My Nebraska hunt with The Roost was a fantastic adventure with great friends. The hunting was physical, involving covering lots of ground and enjoying the unique scenery. The style of hunting was new to me as I am a fledgling turkey hunter. I did my best to keep up with our 6 foot 6-inch guide and his long, swift legs. My companions were good at coaching me a bit to keep me on track and improve my odds of harvesting.

On our second day of hunting our other two hunting companions were tagged out and it was up to Nancy Jo and I to close the deal. It was my turn to step into the batters box and we saw at least two toms in a field along the Middle Loup River. When we got into position the guide frantically whispered that TWO LONG BEARDS were coming in hot. Nancy Jo looked at me asked, “Do you want to try for a double.” I didn’t need time to contemplate that question, the answer was, “Let’s do this!”

MirriamsIn an instant, the gobblers were in view and Nancy Jo asked me if I was ready? I said, “YES!” Nancy Jo fired and I shot a second later. Her aim was true and mine not so much. I had a follow-up shot opportunity, but it was strike number two. There would not be a strike three as my gun jammed. Too much crawling through the dirt, I suspect.

So my hunting buddy harvested herself a beautiful Merriam’s turkey! I was happy for her but felt like I had let the guide, the cameraman, and my hunting partner down. I wanted that double! So with mixed emotions of celebration for my friend and frustration at myself I took a few minutes to regain my perspective and composure. Once all those emotions were sorted out I was ready to be up to bat again!

We went to a new spot and called in a few jakes who were ready to brawl. It was awesome to see their displays! Our next spot was a cut corn field that had four toms and two jakes. The stalk was on! Nancy Jo stayed at the truck while, guide Dustin aka Dirt, cameraman Richard aka Mister and hunter Rebecca aka Slugger went creepin’. We set up and the turkeys weren’t visible. Dirt called and finally a few gobbles cut loose and he whispered,  “Here they come.” My heart was pounding and my hands were shaking but I was ready for the fast pitch. The red heads crested over the berm and they were running into the decoy.

Two were Rios and one was a Merriam’s and Dirt desperately whispered, “The middle one, the middle one!” At about 20-yards, there was enough separation between the trio for a clear shot and I hit it out of the park. Woohoo!

Rebecca-Merriams

The other two turkey never skipped a beat they were looking to beat up on the tom that dared to encroach on their territory. They finally eased off and I was able to check out my bird. I was thrilled to be able to take in the beauty of that Merriam’s Tom. The intricacies of the feathers, the iridescence of its coloring. Being able to convert my swing and a miss into a single felt good!


As all of us converged upon the lodge of Misty Morning Outfitters in Alden, Kansas, we were chomping at the bit to get in the fields hunting some birds. When we were sitting around the fire pit the first evening, we found out we would be hunting by a method none of us had ever experienced….FANNING aka REAPING, a term the Turkey Reapers had coined for this style of hunting through their hunting tactics. I was excited about the challenge, however I was also somewhat nervous. My Beretta Xtreme was set up to be effective for extended range shots, not rushed close range shots.

Our first morning started off a traditional turkey hunt with locating a bird that our guide had roosted the evening prior. Mister stepped out of the truck and let out a owl hoot and the silent, moisture thick air was cut with a hard gobble in return. We all scrambled! Troy, our guide, was gathering up decoys from the back of his truck and was headed about 80 yards into the field just off the road to set up decoys. Mister grabbed his backpack, video camera, tripod and chair as Rebecca and I loaded our shotguns, slung on our turkey vests and followed in right behind Mister. We quickly found us some trees to nest up against.

Troy and the gobbler rallied back in forth for the next hour, but the tom never did commit to coming into the field in front of us. The tom stayed on the property behind us at about 80-100 yards…property we did not have permission to hunt. We finally called the hunt in this spot, pulled up the decoys, gathered our gear and headed back to the truck. As we drove by the field that was behind us, we had the opportunity to see this tom and his hens. This would not be the last time one of the Ladies in Camo hunters would tangle with this bird; read Rebecca Gicewicz’s guest post to see how she saw this bird up close and personal.

After riding around for several hours we did spot some toms in a field and tried our skill at “Reaping” but because there were four of us, one fan and a lot of cow pasture to cover, we were not successful. I did get a taste of what to expect for the rest of the hunt: staying low, single file, crawling, kneeling, peeking and waiting.

Unlike any turkey hunting I have ever experienced, Reaping is an intense and aggressive hunt. A lead person holds a full strut tom decoy that has been altered with a handle and stake so that the person can easily hold the decoy in front of them as they crouch their head below the full tail fan and peek through the fan. The crawling, crouching, long shuffles to cover the distance to where the toms will see your lifelike decoy and take an interest is exhausting at times. Add to that, we were hunting in hilly terrain that I was not accustom to. The excitement and rush make all the effort worth every minute of the challenge–I was hooked.

After lunch, our group was split up and I was hunting with Matt as my guide and Mister behind the camera. We rode around for several hours glassing birds but most were in areas we did not have access too. We finally found a tom in an alfalfa field and we strategically closed the ground on him to get within 80 yards of him. I was on the edge of the field on a downward slope and Matt was behind the decoy working the tom closer to us. The tom had a hen with him and came within 70 yards of us but lost interest and walked back to the hen. We backed out once the bird was out of sight and decided we would come back later in the afternoon and see if this tom circled back through there. He didn’t, so we decided this would be the perfect spot for a morning hunt.

We returned to that field the next morning but never heard or saw a bird. After sitting in that spot until 8:30 a.m. we called the hunt and rode around a while seeking other birds. Several hours passed and we were on our drive back to the lodge when we saw a tom and several jakes in a small cutover ag field. Matt wheeled into the long driveway and spoke with the farmer who granted us permission to hunt the birds on his property that was on both sides of the road. We drove half the distance of the driveway and attempted a stalk on these birds by taking advantage of three short silos. Once we got to the silos, Matt crawled out on his knees just after telling me to stay tight to the silo, be ready and when he said shoot step out and be prepared to acquire my target and shoot. As he crawled out, the adrenaline I was feeling sneaking up the drive had my heartbeat blaring loudly in my ears. I heard Matt say, “They are coming. They are coming. Be ready!” I clicked my safety off. I didn’t know if two or all were coming, nor did I know if the Tom was in tow…phew, it was an intense moment as I played my role over in my head…step out, acquire target quickly and shoot!

As luck would have it, only two jakes came into the trickery of the bobbing and spinning decoy and didn’t even come straight to the decoy. They cut to the left and decided to come from behind the silos into the tom. Matt whispered to me that they were circling around so I quickly turned and repositioned myself for the shot in that direction. I caught a glimpse of one bird and it was a jake. The second bird came in and bumped the first so I had a pretty good idea that this was also a jake. We were able to back out from those birds and get back to the truck without spooking them.

The hens, jakes and one tom headed across the road and we were strategizing how to get into that pasture in front of them. We drove up the road to a higher advantage point where we were able to glass the birds and find out where they were going. Mister stayed at the truck as Matt and I went over the fence, into the pasture after this tom. Matt was carrying the reaping decoy and we were able to quickly get to the vicinity of the birds and we were lucky to have several cedars and some trees to use to our advantage. As I looked back toward the vehicle, I watched as Mister was scanning the pasture above us. I saw him look in my direction through the binoculars and when he saw that I was looking back at him, he made a sign for us to go back down low and around a little pond, he was seeing birds there, no doubt.

We had two jakes come into Matt’s calling and they didn’t commit when they saw the decoy…I had no plans on shooting a jake so we let them walk back into the woods without further pursuing. We heard a good mature tom gobble up above the pond so we quickly got up and took off in that direction. We were in a bottom and Matt made some yelps and on the terrace above another good mature gobble shook the air. We quickly climbed the hill, Matt with the decoy and fan in front of him and me glued directly behind him as if we were one unit, we were able to get to the top of the terrace when Matt saw the tom.

IMG_5932Being a turkey hunter, I have to be honest and tell you staying directly behind the decoy person, not being able to look around and size up the tom for myself was the hardest thing to do. I tried a few times and Matt caught me, growling under his breath, “BE STILL!” I did get a peek at the bird as it turned to walk in another direction and I saw beard…long beard. I could not tell if it were five inches or 10 inches but at this point I committed myself to take a shot at this bird.

Matt asked, “You ready?” I kneeled on my knees with my butt on my heels, clicked my safety off, shouldered my gun with the barrel pointed at the ground and said, “Yes!” I could only imagine this is what a bull rider feels like when the gate man asks that question…I had NO CLUE what was about to unfold, but I knew that this performance was up to me. Matt ducked and rolled to the left as I shot up onto my knees, quickly acquired where that tom was and I placed the bead midway down his neck and squeezed off my gun, expecting to follow up with a second shot. The first flipped the bird and he didn’t flop. I said, “GOT HIM!” as I stood up. Matt finally unfolded from his half fetal position on the ground and got up and said, “Oh yeah! Awesome!”

What a rush! I can’t tell you what part of that moment made it more exciting, not seeing the bird until the fan was moved, having to quickly acquire my target and shoot or the fact that we were slipping around in the wide open in stealth mode behind this decoy completely fooling the keen eyesight of this tom. My second Rio Grande was in the bag! I danced in the Land of Oz and I was now one bird away from my second Grand Slam.


Guest Post by Rebecca Gicewicz

IMG_6670I am here in Alden, Kansas enjoying hunting camp with old and new friends. Part of my mission for this trip was to do my best to harvest a Rio Grande. Our first morning in the woods was spent with Nancy Jo, Mister and our guide, Troy; which is truly a treat as I am usually in the woods alone. I don’t mind the solitude but sharing the experience with friends was really a special element I was looking forward to. That morning came and went with just a few gobbles from turkey in the distance, but no shot opportunities. No problem, it is hunting after all.
Our plan for the afternoon was to use a different strategy by splitting the group up. I was kind of bummed but I just rolled with it. This turkey hunting gig is all new to me so I thought, :Let’s do this.” The afternoon involved driving on country roads past known areas and unknown land. Lo and behold, there was a nice Tom strutting near a creek but we didn’t have permission to hunt that particular land. Troy had a plan; a few clicks on a smart phone app gave the property owners information. So off we went on a mission. A few knocks on the door revealed that no one was home, but the show must go on. Undaunted, we went on with our turkey quest.

IMG_8638We drove and drove, but as fate would have it nothing came together. The final act of this show was to go back to the morning spot where all four of us had started of and try to catch the birds as they circled around to roost. The decoys were set up and I sat back against my tree from the morning hunt. I was missing my other two companions and kept wondering how their hunt was panning out. As an hour or two ticked by, Troy called and there was intermittent distant gobbling but it didn’t sound as if it was closing the distance. The sun was beginning to set and I started to think of what our morning plan might be.

IMG_3816That is when I saw something red and black about 100 yards to my left; it was a Tom! The tom was running up the edge of the field towards my position. I frantically whispered to my guide “to my left, one is closing in.” My guide was not able to see and just kept saying hold still, don’t move, and let him come. That is what I did. The tom slowed up at about 50-yards and of course he was standing in my one and only blind spot. I thought, “Oh no, he is suspicious, has turned and gone into the woods.”

That was not the case at all! The tom continued to move into range and I could now see him but didn’t have a clear shot. Troy gave me the “Shoot when your are ready” command but I had to wait for a clear and ethical shot. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the tom moved into a shooting lane. I clicked my safety off, lined him up in my Ghost Sight and squeezed the trigger. Down went the bird and Troy shouted, “Good Shot!”

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IMG_3815
There were two other mature toms behind my downed bird. They kept closing the distance but I only had one tag; no double for me. Finally, they moved off into the woods and we got up to check out my harvest. I was anxious to see him up close. We looked at his spur on one side and it was a rounded nub; I have to admit I was disappointed. So, I focused on his fan, which was beautiful. I finally got brave enough to look at the other spur and when we did I was ecstatic. There was my unicorn; a stout, sharpened, 1-5/8” spur. I thought, “It’s ok that the tom only has one spur. He only needed that one.” I was super stoked! That is how I found my unicorn in the Land of Oz.


FullSizeRenderFor me, this hasn’t been a very successful turkey season. With spending the least amount of time ever spent spring turkey hunting in the woods, my lack of success was to be expected. As I scroll through social media and see all the successful harvests at each of the outfitters that we are traveling more than 15 hours to hunt with, I have high hopes that my luck will change at the two Ladies in Camo turkey hunts we are about to spend the next seven days hunting. Six ladies from four different states are converging upon Misty Morning Outfitters in Kansas to hunt Rio Grand turkey, and four are traveling on to The Roost in Nebraska to hunt Merriam’s turkey.

 

Rebecca

Rebecca’s 1st turkey harvest! Photo Credit: Rebecca Gicewicz

 

Rebecca, from Florida, is traveling with us…asleep in the back seat of Cletus as I type this entry. Kim and Marla are traveling together from Illinois. Sherry and Connie are traveling together from Michigan. None of us “NEW” to turkey hunting, however, this is Connie’s first guided outfitter hunt; this will be Rebecca’s 2nd and 3rd bird and species as she recently harvested her first turkey, an Eastern in Alabama; and Kim and Marla were just in the woods turkey hunting this past weekend.

 

I have been fortunate enough to have hunted some place at a point in time with each of these women, except Connie. I am looking forward to gaining a new hunting friend. It has been nearly eight years since I have hunted with Sherry, who attended my very first hunt I organized. It has been nearly four years since I have hunted with Marla and just last September that I hunted with Rebecca and Kim. I feel blessed to be able to call these ladies friends.

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Kim’s opening day harvest! Photo Credit: Kim Hessing

My plan is to share as much of this hunt with all of my blog followers and subscribers, as well as my social media friends and followers. I will post some contributed blog entries and photos from the ladies attending this hunt if they wish to contribute. Look for stories of our travels, our good times at the lodge, photos and tales from the hunt, and of course, all the shenanigans. Check out the Ladies in Camo and Life in Camo Facebook page, search the hashtags #LICMMO16 and #LICTheRoost16 in social media to keep up with posts from the Ladies in Camo Kansas and Nebraska turkey hunts.

 

2015 Wilcox CountyAs we are rolling through north central Oklahoma, crossing over into Kansas, with just two more hours of travel, my mind is already on the turkey hunt…wishing these ladies the best of luck in the coming days.

I hope we ALL have the opportunity to “dance with a fist full of feathers!”


Another great Florida Osceola hunt goes down in memory. Nancy Jo and Heather with Osceolas harvested their first day in Florida.” title=”Another great Florida Osceola hunt goes down in memory. Nancy Jo and Heather with Osceolas harvested their first day in Florida. ” width=”200″ height=”300″ class=”size-medium wp-image-4351″ />[/caption Another fantastic Florida hunt has come and gone and although the harvest was not as spectacular as last year’s triple in less than 2 hours of our first morning hunt; We did have double success on the first day.

Ladies in Camo Staff, Heather Lininger and her husband Clint met us in Montgomery and followed us through Troy to pick up Rusty Cockrell, LIC videographer/photographer. We had a two-truck caravan headed South and arrived at our hotel room with plenty of time to stop by to check-in and to go straight to Cracker’s Restaurant to enjoy a seafood dinner with our guide, Dave Mehlenbacher of Woodland Guides. After dinner, plans were made for the morning hunt with an early alarm for the one-hour trip to the property. When we returned to the hotel after dinner we quickly unloaded our gear and laid things out for the morning hunt.

When we stepped out of our room in the morning, the weather was very mild, warm and somewhat muggy with elevated humidity. We arrived at the hunting land with plenty of time to spare. Richard was carrying a blind, tripod and camera. Rusty had his hands full of camera and video paraphernalia. I had my gun, several turkey stools and a decoy. When I walked back to Dave’s Vehicle, I found practically the same thing….we looked like we were going to be hiking into the forest for a week. We quickly rounded everything up and headed into the pitch black fields without a single headlamp glowing. It was not as hard as it sounds until we were motioned to leave the main trail going into the fields. I followed Richard who was in the lead and Rusty who was hot on Richard’s heels; what seemed a deliberate stroll to them was nearly a jog to me. Richard was walking in his “On a Mission” mode and Rusty at 6’8″ was literally on a stroll; I got to our spot where we plan to set up about 80 yards behind them.

The blind was set up and we were in place within a short few minutes. I was in the blind with Rusty who was sitting behind his camera and tripod. Richard was sitting on the ground to the left of the blind in a turkey lounger covered in a ghilley suit with a tripod and camera in front of him. It seemed like forever before we started hearing a few tree yelps, then finally a gobble and shortly after, a fly-down cackle. We were unable to see any birds for a while, then I spotted a hen that flew down onto the field in front of us. Shortly after there were a few gobbles in the woods to our right; my heart started racing. Rusty was busy working with his camera filming the hen when I heard a faint “Psst…” from Richard. I looked at Richard as he motioned to the corner of the field to our right.

Walking through the weeds were two hens, followed by a jake. A tom in half-strut came into view as he floated across the ground, bobbing through the tall weeds as if the weeds tickled his belly. As soon as he stepped out onto the cut field, he popped his wings. instantly raised his tail, tucked his head to his chest and had every feather on his body raised as he floated methodically around the hens. Five more jakes, in a single file line, came through the tall grass at the edge of the field. The jakes quickly trotted up to the lone jake who was already in the field. The tom was skirting the edge of the field farthest from our setup, strutting and putting on a show. Unfortunately, that was over 60 yards from the barrel of my shotgun. The hens came in closer but the tom never committed to coming in any closer as he strutted and marched in place; never once gobbling.

The jakes spotted the Little Runt decoy we had set out and b-lined right to it. It was kind of comical the way they all grouped up together as they approached the decoy, all of them sticking their heads high up into the air to make them appear bigger than they actually were. One of the jakes actually pecked the decoy as it jumped sideways as if ready to high-tail it out of reach. I had to giggle under my breath. The tom, at this point, had worked its way around to my left and was now at about 50 yards. I would be comfortable with that shot from the certain shotgun, choke and shell combination that I was holding in my hands.

However, there was a hen at about 8 yards curiously bobbing her head and clucking at my outline ready to bust me the moment I raised my gun through the blind window. I just sat still and enjoyed the show knowing that this tom and the two hens he was trying to get the attention of were not going to come back to an area they just walked out of. That is about the time I heard Richard let out a rushed but quiet “Psst..” and nodded his head toward the woods where the other birds came from. I turned and saw a tom coming through the tall grass, followed by another tom and I told Rusty that there were more birds coming.

Rusty was able to pick the toms up with the camera quickly which was a good thing because these two toms made a straight line at a trot to the decoy. As the first tom reached the decoy I was already sizing up the two and raising my gun in the window. I was committed to take a shot because these were both mature toms. As the second one reached the decoy, Rusty asked me “Are you going to shoot?” I answered, “Yes.” Then he asked, “which one?” I said, “the one on the right.” I had to wait for the first bird to take a few steps to put the second bird in a place where I could shoot and not have to worry that the other bird got pelleted.

Two steps and a shuffle later, I took the shot. BOOOM!! A few feathers flew up in the air as the tom hopped up about 8 inches and then he hit the ground still. The other tom had jumped as well and ran about 5 yards and stopped looking back. Richard made some clucking sounds to calm the other tom and it seemed to work because he waited for a few seconds before walking off a few steps and then trotting toward the first group of turkeys that were now in the middle of the field.

I took my facemask off and we high-fived and talked for just a second about what just unfolded when we heard the putt from a hen, then another, and as I looked out of the side of the blind in Richard’s direction, he mouthed “They are coming back.” Two hens and all 6 of the jakes came back toward the decoy and the tom that I shot which was laying at the base of the decoy. We watched as they meticulously worked the scene trying to make sense of it. Eventually they did meander back out into the field.

This was obviously a great spot that the birds were comfortable with so we were unable to move for not wanting to bust this spot for the afternoon or morning hunt for any other hunters. After about a 45 minute wait we were finally able to walk out to the bird I shot. A good mature 2-year old bird with 1 inch spurs and an 8-8.5″ beard. As with my last year’s bird, this tom’s beard had beard rot on the tips and was broke off square but it had the most unique twist to it. I love unique beards.

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We took some quick photos and we headed over to meet Dave, Heather and Clint at their blind. They did not have any birds at their blind that morning but Heather did get out of the blind and go after a tom that they heard from the blind. You will get the opportunity to read about her hunt in the Ladies in Camo field journal.

Thank you to Rusty Cockrell for some great photos and video footage. Some or part of the photos in this entry where contributed by Rusty and are unedited photos.


Couples Rio Grande/Rio Hybrid Semi-Guided Turkey Hunt at Hickory Creek Outfitter, McCune, Kansas. Just $660 per couple, 1 bird per hunter, includes lodging and meals. May 11-13, 2012. Limited spots available.

Ladies in Camo Couples Semi-Guided Turkey Hunt for Rio Grande/Rio-Hybrid at Hickory Creek Outfitter, Kansas


Ladies in Camo guided Eastern turkey hunt with 5-stand and pond fishing at Mountain View Plantation, Delta, Alabama. This hunt includes a guided turkey hunt, 5-stand, pond fishing, lodging and meals for just $450. If you are a first time turkey hunter or a veteran, you will remember this hunt for years.

Ladies in Camo Guided Eastern Turkey Hunt w/extras at Mountain View Plantation, Alabama


Ladies Eastern guided turkey hunt and hog hog hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors, Clio, Barbour County, Alabama, April 6-8, 2012. Just $650 which includes the guide, 1 bird, unlimited hog, lodging and meals. Limited to 4 women. This hunt will book fast, reserve your spot today.

Ladies in Camo Guided Turkey & Hog Hunt at Rack Nine Outdoors, AL, April 6-8, 2012

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