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Quest For The Grand Slam 2003
2003 Online Bowhunt For The Wild Turkey Grand Slam
With Doug Crabtree & Robert Hoague
The Digital Logs Of The 2003 Double Grand Slam Bowhunt -- Now In Progress -- by Robert Hoague
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Quest For The Double Grand Slam Bowhunt.
Bowhunt For The: | Home Page | Florida Osceola | Rio Grande | Eastern | Merrium's
| Equipment We Used | Doug Crabtree's Grand Slam Hunt

Part 2:  The Rio Grande Wild Turkey

The Last Morning's Gobbler & Blaine Cobb & Ricky Philippi (17 year old bowhunters).

May 11: Morning: I moved my blind to the opposite end of the dam. A big longbeard answered me and hung out in the 35 to 50 yard range for over an hour. (That's the gobbler in the picture above.) I used every mouth call, slate and box call I had but it just wouldn't step over the 20 yard line. Finally he left in Ricky Philippi's direction. Ricky saw the big Tom but couldn't get a shot either. Meanwhile Blaine Cobb saw 6 deer 2 hens within 20 yards and he saw a group of gobblers in the nearby field.
Then the guys went to the rock ledge area to wild hog hunt. They saw a group of hogs were bedded in a thicket and stalked them. Blaine slipped up on a sleeping boar and shot it. The boar leaped to it's feet and stood still. Blaine shot again and the boar ran 15 yards and toppled. Here's Blaine & Ricky with the boar
Afternoon: At 7:55pm I hadn't heard or seen a wild turkey. I always count to 100 before I leave the stand and exactly on 100 a gobbler sounded off along the river. I cut and yelped. It answered and the gobbles got closer. Then I saw him in the field below. When he got to my strip of woods he flew up. I guess he figures he has me in the morning. But it will be a year. 

May 10: Afternoon: Ricky Philippi & his friend Blaine came down. They hunted at the River Stand and called in a gobbler out of the adjacent field. It circled above them and hung up on the ridge. I called in a gobbler but it didn't get close enough.
Morning: The wind was howling for the first hour of daylight. I hunted the dam and didn't hear a gobble. Just before 8:00 a Tom sounded off a couple hundred yards away. I cut and yelped. No response. But 15 minutes later I saw a longbeard looking at my decoys from across the stock pond. At the same time a hen came around the west end of the dam. The longbeard, of course, saw it too and went after the real hen. Here are the thumbnailed pictures
May 9, 2003 - I was bowhunting wild turkeys and it was just before roost time. My Double Bull ground blind was set up near the river and I was yelping to see if I could stir up some last minute gobbler interest. I did, but not the wild turkey kind. TO THE HUNT.

Ahh Yes, A Nice Day For A Grand Slam
I set up my decoys on the dam and slipped into my Double Bull blind. This time I was quiet. Daybreak came ... a gobble sounded 200 yards away. I purred and made some a few soft clucks and waited. More gobbles followed. When he flew down I clucked and yelped and shut up. His next gobble was much further away.
I started to stress, the season ends this week and I still don't have the Rio Grande for the Grand Slam. I kinda stewed on that chain of thought for several minutes. Then my bowhunting brain kicked into gear and I remembered some of my own advice, TO THE HUNT

May 6, Morning: The gobblers flew down and zipped up their mouths. The Duck had a hen go to his decoys. Nothing came to the dam where I was. Afternoon:  No turkey sightings. 
May 5: Today's morning hunt was a good one, I have to finish the pictures and I'll put it up on tomorrow's update. Four gobblers roosted across the river from me this afternoon. I've got to get to sleep so I can get in their mix first thing the morning. 
May 4 Morning: I paid one of the "tolls" of hunting on a cattle ranch, I got the cows. The Duck zipped also. Afternoon: No gobbles in our end of the world.

May 3 Afternoon: A bearded hen hung out in the area. A couple of far off gobbles was the whole boy turkey show. A huge wild hog crossed the open area across from the stock tank. I waited until dark, listening for gobbles. None. When I got to camp the Duck had butchered 2 of the 3 wild hogs he got this afternoon. He had called in a gobbler earlier, but Don was in a treestand and the gobbler saw him and spooked. So the Duck got his Double Bull blind from his 4-wheeler and when the wild hogs came in he shot this one. They didn't leave so he shot 2 more. 
May 3 Morning: Overcast and windy. Followed by a hard rain. Two very wet hunters came in early this morning.
May 2 Afternoon: I arrived just in time to change clothes and go to my blind on the dam. It clouded up and intermittent thunder and lightning moved in. I called in one longbeard, he came to the opposite side of the stock tank and went to the field under the dam. The thunder storm got worse and he crossed the river to roost. The Duck is here also and he went to the canyon. No turkey action there. 

April 24, Thursday & Friday - Highlights

TO Thumbnails of This Wild Turkey Tom Pics
Morning: I answered a distant gobble and worked it closer. Then the Tom appeared in the field below the dam (a strut zone) where I am bowhunting. Soon it came up the side of the dam and I took it's picture as it checked out my hen decoy. It's time to be shooting so I put my camera down and got my bow. When the tom was 15 yards away I aimed and released. I heard a splash as my arrow went into the stock tank. I missed! The bird looked around. I nocked a 2nd arrow. I aimed again, this time extra carefully. And missed again. this time he left. At 10:00 I fished my arrow out of the tank and returned home to shot my bow -- a quarter size group 8 inches high and 6 to the left. I resighted and shot 100 arrows where they should go. The afternoon hunt was gobblerless as was the Friday morning hunt at the dam, although I did see several hens. Also I walked up on a couple dozen pouts, which was very cool. So it was disappointing to miss, twice, but nothing short of wonderous to see all those little turkeys.

April 23, Wednesday - Highlights - Overcast and dark, I got up too early and had to wait in my truck until it was light enough to see to get to my blind without using a flashlight. But I dozed off and when I woke up it was a getting daylight. Once in the blind (on the dam) I made a few calls with a Knight & Hale Sweet Hen slate. A hen came up on the dam within minutes and I clucked and purred to her. She looked at the decoys and left, I heard a thunderous gobble and looked in the field below. Two gobblers were coming, one's beard was dragging on the ground! Daylight was not all the way in yet so I couldn't take pictures. Two gobblers walked onto the dam and stopped. The monster, ground dragging Longbeard and a Jake. They walked toward the hen decoy. The longbeard stopped a few steps further than my 30 yard marker and strutted his brains out. However, the jake went to both my hen and jake decoys, he strutted all around them and started off the dam to my right. At last, the longbeard began to walk closer. I waited. He was almost to my 20 yard marker (a stick) when he did me in by walking down the dam on the water side. Rats!
Soon he joined the Jake in the woods to my right. I switched to the mouth call and managed to call them back! But it was the same scenario again, the jake was all over the decoys and the longbeards strutted like the dickens some 35 yards away.
After they left a bearded hen came up on the dam. This time I took pictures and have 7 very cool, close pics for you of this bearded hen and the decoys

April 22, Tuesday - Highlights - I was in my blind by the hay bales 30 minutes before any daylight. Soon I heard 3 different gobblers and several hens. After they flew down a longbeard with a hen came through the field about 100 yards behind me. I called but he wasn't interested. Three solo hens came by me. I worked a big longbeard across the river and to the edge of the woods 40 yards away. He gobbled mucho times. There is a small hill between him and the decoys and he couldn't see them so he didn't come in. In the afternoon I hunted the Strut Zone. I had 3 different gobblers working but the rancher's cows came up around the blind and the gobblers moved on.

April 21, Monday - Morning Highlights - (Back at Rick's) 
I saw the top few inches of the gobblers fan moving back and forth on the ridge 15 yards above my blind. I stopped calling. He hung up. I called and he gobbled ... LOUD. I cut fast and as loud. He appeared in some brush 25 yards away, in full strut, near the top of the hill. As he gobbled I cut and yelped. It was thunderous (and very cool). His neck turned fire red and he started down, a big longbeard . At 15 yards I drew. My seat (thanks Wal-Mart) squeaked ... the gobbler ran up the hill. I saw his fan for some time but could not coax him back down. I also called up two Jakes at the same time and they charged and chased each other instead of going to my decoys. I returned in the afternoon with no luck. After dark I pulled my blind and went to the first hill from the ranch's grain field. I heard gobbles and hen talk as I set by some hay bales for the morning.

April 20, Sunday Afternoon - Highlights - I set my Double bull blind 50 yards from Rick's River Stand. Knight & Hale had sent me 4 mouth calls and I tested each one. Suddenly I heard footsteps in the leaves on the hill behind the blind. Peeping through the netting on a viewing window I saw the head of a gobbler, a two year old with a nice beard. It was staring at my other new thing, an umbrella type Jake decoy. It didn't like it and retreated to the edge of the ridge. I lowered a shooting window and saw the gobblers head, still puzzling over the decoy. I considered shooting ... but didn't.

April 19-20 - Doug & I hunted at my place Friday and Saturday. The wind was blasting and we didn't get into any turkey action.

April 18 - A Man On A Mission
"I've got a good feeling about tomorrow morning, let's leave asap," said Doug Crabtree. We took pictures of everyone, ate a late lunch and took off. Doug insisted on driving straight through. We pulled up in my yard at 7:38. Doug yelped and a gobbler answered way to the East. He grabbed his bow, blind and decoys and drove East. I went to sleep. We had seen a hen several times by the dirt road above the grain fields and Doug called and got the gobbler coming there, but a county maintenance truck drove up to work on the nearby lines. They said it would take two hours. Doug checked the river and the windmill areas. No luck. He returned to the hen's haunt. A gobbler responded and came in on the run, with his long beard swinging. He blew up and stopped when he saw the decoys. Doug shot. The Longbeard flew up, but hit a tree limb and careened toward the field. Normally Doug would wait, but not this time, he didn't want the gobbler to get in the grain field, it would be very hard to find. Doug heard loud Putts and ran downhill. He saw the Longbeard, 30 yards away, almost to the field -- with a gray fox in hot pursuit behind it. Doug cut into the field. The fox veered off the trail. The gobbler was slowing and Doug dove headlong for him. His thumb hit the ground first and popped painfully out of joint, but his fingers found the bird's neck. They skidded to a stop. The gobbler had a 10 1/2" beard and weighed 22 pounds. That night we had a well deserved celebration at the Backdoor Bar & Grill. Here is Doug Crabtree and his Rio longbeard.

Apr 11, Day #7: A Double Header
Morning: Two gobblers sounded nearby off on the way to my blind on the dam. I ran up on the dam and quickly set my hen decoy about 35 yards from the blind. No gobblers showed. At 7:44 a faint gobble across the river. I cut excitedly, real loud. The gobbler broke in on me. A few minutes later I called again and the gobbler answered, this time he was much closer. Seconds later I saw him cross the field. It looked like he would come up to the top of the dam on the trail 10 yards from me. Woops, he stopped and walked out of sight along the bottom of the dam. I waited a little bit and then turned away from him and called again. In seconds he came into view 80 yards away on top of the dam -- a big longbeard. (I did not expect a tom to approach the decoy from that direction and it was too far for a comfortable shot.) He went into full strut and walked back and forth before moving toward the decoy and I got these 5 pictures. I traded my camera for my bow. The longbeard drummed and spit around the decoy. I waited to see if he would come closer. He passed the decoy, which was good, but turned and started walking away. I aimed and shot. And missed. The gobbler took a short hop down the side of the dam and casually walked away. Doug had no luck this morning. 
Afternoon: I saw 3 hens. Doug heard a far away gobble and called. Some hens came into the area and then Doug saw a gobbler standing 25 yards away by the brush behind him. The gobbler appeared the blind's shooting window but he was moving further away. Doug aimed and shot. And missed. Two for two.

Apr 10, Day #6: Gobblers & Cows!: Rick Philippi walked up on a wild boar (in the dark) going to his stand on the river. He called in a jake but it didn't come close enough for a bow shot. I hunted the dam again and saw 2 hens and called in a gobbler that hung up at 100 yards. Doug set his blind 60 yards from the gobbler he roosted yesterday. He could see it and a hen in the same tree, plus another longbeard in a nearby tree. At good light the gobbler flew down -- it went 400 yards into the adjacent coastal field!!! The 2nd tom flew down across the river. When the hen flew down it walked by Doug. Once the hen was gone Doug set 35 yards up inside the woods edge and called to the gobbler in the field. It came running. So did the hen. And the chase was on. They came by Doug 3 times but never quite close enough.
Afternoon:  Steps ... behind my blind at the dam. I looked downhill in time to see a wild boar enter the field below and trot off toward Rick's River stand. (Rick, here is a pic of your wild boar.) Today I set my decoy 50 yards from the blind, since the gobblers are not coming right up to the decoys yet. At 5:25 I heard a distant gobble and clucked a response. More gobbles followed as the tom came closer -- from the stock pond side of the dam (Pic of how this area looks). I saw the gobbler top the hill and glassed him, a monster longbeard. It blew up huge and zipped through the trees across the water. Moments before about 50 cows had walked into the area between us. The gobbler burst out of the cedars and slammed on the brakes ... and retreated a little. As I took the big gobblers picture cows started walking into the frame. Cows started onto the dam. The gobbler walked away. When he was well out of sight I hopped out of the blind and chased the cows to Mars. Doug hunted the strut zone again without any luck. 

Apr 9, Day #5:  Doug set up 70 yards from the gobbler he roosted last afternoon. The longbeard flew down after daylight and walked through tall grass and stopped 25 yards from the blind but did not come to the decoys. Doug wisely did not risk a shot through the grass. Meanwhile, I, ahhh, well, I fell asleep in my blind. Afterward, I moved my Double Bull blind to a wooded corner on the dam.
Afternoon: I saw one hen from my blind on the dam. Rick Philippi came down and he and Doug hunted the Strut zone (in different blinds). No turkey action but they both roosted gobblers for the morning hunt.

Apr 8, Day #4: We were set up 45 minutes before daylight, I was at Rick's River Stand and Doug was 50 yards from the gobbler he roosted yesterday. The gobbler flew down before good light and went to Doug's decoys. It was still too dark and Doug could not see his pins to shoot. On the afternoon hunt we hunted near Rick's River and I got great pics of a bearded hen (pics coming) and a wild boar came into the area but smelled us. 

Apr 7, Day #3: The morning hunt was uneventful. The new afternoon blind worked better, Doug called in 2 jakes and a longbeard but we couldn't turn it into a shot. He left the blind before dark and roosted a gobbler.
Afternoon: The first turkey at Strut Zone #2 was a bearded hen. It hung out for 2 hours and I took pictures (look for them tomorrow). We heard gobbles and Doug talked the tom closer. When I saw the gobbler sunlight had it illuminated and a fat, long beard swung as the gobbler walked. He approached on the side where brush hides the blind, and also prevents a shot. We couldn't see him because of the brush, but we heard him drum and spit and gobble, just a few yards from us. Doug waited, bow in hand, for this big longbeard to move toward the decoys. It didn't. It walked away. Later I sat down in the tall grass where the Longbeard had been. No wonder it didn't go to the decoys, the grass around us was too high and it could not see them. We quickly relocated the blind 50 yards to an area without the tall grass,  this gobbler will see the decoys ... next time.

Apr 6, Day #2, Morning Hunt: My "First place they go" blind was not the first place they went this morning. There were distant gobbles but no action. However, there were shots and talking nearby, on the other side of the river. The Duck hunted Strut Zone #1 and saw one hen and 3 deer.

Opening Day April 5: Afternoon Hunt: Doug and I set up below the dam overlooking a field that runs along the river. He called in 7 gobblers & 3 hens. We both passed up shots on a jake and a 2 year old tom. 10 Thumbnailed Pictures.
Morning Hunt - Doug Crabtree's 11:05pm Friday flight arrived late and and it was almost daylight when we arrived back at my place. At sunrise a big gobbler sounded off and we heard other gobblers, as well. We didn't call, we were only checking the area out this morning. 
Meanwhile, Donald Duck was at the blind at Strut Zone # 1. At daylight the air was full of gobbles from the direction of the river. An hour later he heard gobbles near the Point, so he used his slate call, yelped, and shut up ... and waited. A loud gobble startled him, it was very close to him; but behind the blind where he couldn't see it. Two adult gobblers came into view and walked to the decoys. As Don drew the lead tom continued walking and passed through the blind's shooting window. Here's What Happened & 3 Pics...

Scouting For The Rios:
Mar 31, Getting Ready:  I set up 3 Double Bull blinds, two in last years very active Strut Zone area and one on a hill overlooking the tall trees that line the river.
Mar 30, Monster Longbeard:  I looked and listened for wild turkey gobblers. I glassed a monster longbeard Rio strutting and gobbling on the dam by the stock tank. Plus 3 different Tom's were working the field next to where I hunted last Fall. 
March 12 (Afternoon):  Two Gobblers show off for a group of hens.
When I first saw these wild turkeys they were in a wheat field. They were 400 yards away. I stopped my truck and used the woods on the edge of the field for concealment to work my way down to them. They co-operated very nicely, the flock of hens moved over to my side of the field. Two adult gobblers stayed out in the field and put on a show for the hens. They strutted a bunch but they never gobbled. I got pretty close to the hens at one point (the last picture). Daylight began to fade and I stopped following the birds. By the time I got back to my truck it was dark. Here are the 7 best pictures.

Part 3:  In Search Of The Eastern

This bowhunt was tops. Doug Crabtree and Terry Speakman team called in wild turkey gobblers, one after the other. Doug Crabtree called in a longbeard almost a mile away and and completed his Grand Slam. Pictures and hunt logs. TO: Eastern Bowhunt

Part 1:  In Search Of The Florida Osceola

Doug Crabtree and I bowhunted one of the Florida Wildlife Unlimited wild turkey hunting camps near Zolfo Springs, Florida. TO: Florida Osceola Bowhunt

The Equipment We Used
BODOODLE & Timberline Archery Products - Accurate shooting, arrow after arrow, depends on the bow's arrow rest and bowsight. 
Alpine & Barrie Archery - A close look at how Alpine Archery's Fatal Impact and SS Stealth Force and the Barrie Archery Snyper performed during set up and on this hunt.

Sponsors For The 2003 Grand Slam
Our double Grand Slam with the bow created excitement with several manufacturers and they stepped up to the plate to sponsor the event. The sponsors are:  Alpine Archery (bows), Barrie Archery (Rocky Mountain broadheads), Double Bull (blinds), Knight & Hale Game Calls, Pro Release (release aids), EASTON Archery (arrows), Spott Hogg (bowsights), Fine-Line Archery (peep sights & bowquivers), Bododle (arrow rests), Timberline Archery (bowsights), Knight & Hale (turkey calls), Florida Wildlife Unlimited, and Freddie Bear Sports.

Sponsors Of The 2003 Quest For The Double Grand Slam With The Bow




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