-By Brandon Wikman
There aren’t many hunting locations around the country that consistently produce giant whitetail and tubby gobblers year after year. Spots like that are few and far between. I’ve had the great opportunity to hunt at a place that has not only proved successful for me the last four years, but currently maintains a 100% turkey slaying record. The birds are plentiful, landscape’s spectacular, and the privlidge to hunt side-by-side with a turkey guru is incredible. Let me introduce you my good friend David Schotte, owner of Blue River Whitetails in Hanover, Kansas.
Last week my cousin and I road-tripped nearly 10-hours en route to north central Kansas. Our mission was to lay down some serious turkey footage and bust a couple of mature gobblers. Traveling that distance for turkey is my testament of how exceptional the hunting really is. Sweeping emerald green hills, vast meadows, and winding creeks that dissect pastures and hardwood forests sculpt North-Central Kansas. It’s a monster buck paradise and turkey haven.
Hunters who are pursuing the grand slam for turkey can tag-out on three-fourths of the feat within a single trip. Kansas is home to both Rio and Eastern bird species. A simple jog north lands you in spectacular Merriam country. During this trip I focused my efforts into hopefully tagging both species. A telltale sign to identify a Rio is looking at his fantail. Male Rio’s sport a golden-tan colored band across their fantail, while an Eastern flashes a strip of brown. Both birds share similar characteristics and make worthy opponents in the field as I soon found out during my first morning’s hunt.
My cousin, who ran the camera for me hid behind a tree, while David and I nestled into some nearby shrubbery. We were all concealed very well. By mid-May the foliage is thick, grass is high, and bushes are full of leaves. This time of the year is ideal for sinking into the natural environment unnoticed. The darkness of morning soon illuminated like emerging headlights on a backcountry road. The glint of sunlight sparked the army of gobblers roosted nearby. The crew of rednecks cracked silence in the crisp morning air and made their presence known across the vast countryside.
Clattering wings, popping limbs, and a symphony of staccato cackles and yelps proved that gobblers weren’t the only gender roosted. Three hens graciously pitched down into the field. The hens were soon to be escorted by a handful of toms. A handful of gobblers tumbled into the tilled-field and instantly inflated into full strut. The males followed the hens in a line like a 4th of July parade. Each tom made an attempt to show-off and declared dominance. It was as if the hens could care less. The only positive scenario Dave and I had to work with was that the males easily outnumbered the females and if we’d be able to call in the hens, the strutters would follow.
Dave and I began chirping sweet tones across the field hoping to attract attention from the hens. The tom’s gobbled, but wouldn’t budge. The hens tossed their head into the air and slowly made their way our way. Their curiosity and interest helped us exponentially. I readied my shotgun and slunk lower toward the ground. Dave chattered a few more times with the box call and we completely silenced ourselves.
The large flock of feathers waddled into range. I punched the safety-off and waited for the okay to shoot. My cousin adjusted his video camera, while I zeroed-in on the flashy beat red head to deliver a lethal kill. I got the whispering go-ahead and squeezed a 3-½ inch shot shell full of bb’s into the vitals.
My fourth year of late-season turkey hunting with my dear friend David Schotte proved successful once again. The long trip to Kansas is always highly anticipated by my cousin and I. We are lucky to save the best hunt for the last turkey-hunting trip of the year. I will be here a few more days and hopefully have another positive report next week!