Kentucky is a place where I’ve filmed numerous people but never had the chance to hunt until now. Robbie Sowash invited Martin Teeter and I to the Rackerson Ranch to hunt turkeys in western Kentucky. Within five minutes of arriving to camp Robbie had several huge gobblers spotted from the cabin above, and when I say huge we’re talking heavy double bearded toms.
Robbie has an incredible setup where he can watch his property from the main cabin, which is located on the highest hill overlooking the bottom fields. This is nice for turkey hunting, but wonderful for deer hunting. The property is loaded with deer, tons of sign, and most importantly the lodge photos say a thousand words. The Rackerson Ranch is deer management at it’s finest, and he has some absolute giants. Anytime I see a couple 200-inch bucks on the wall you know you’ve stepped onto some great property. As much as I could spend the entire trip obsessing over deer, we were here to turkey hunt!
The first morning out it was a soggy wet day and even Robbie’s big truck couldn’t handle all the mud and water that Mother Nature delivered the night before. Within minutes of daybreak we had gobblers inside thirty-yards but we decided to pass because the camera was still reading low light. Everything is easy to pass on day one, but I can promise you after looking at the footage and seeing how big these two toms were, I might have been ok with footage! Either way, we were spoiled, plain and simple.
Most people think of turkey hunting as a morning activity, but we were putting in long days. We would bring our lunch to the blind and stay for the day. That’s right dark-to-dark turkey hunting! It can make for long days, but when you’re hunting a place with as many birds as Kentucky the days go by quickly.
I started in the outdoor industry as a cameraman and I still spend about half my time filming other people, so Martin and I decided to switch off and film each other. We both spend a lot of time filming other people, so it was nice to switch it up and both get a crack at letting a few arrows fly.
There is one thing everyone needs to know about me and that is I get pretty excited when an animal comes in whether I’m filming or hunting. In fact even when I’m filming I still get the shakes! As I watched Martin’s big gobbler come in from a few hundred yards off I could barely keep the camera steady but we ended up with beautiful video and his big tom didn’t make it two-yards after the shot! Martin’s gobbler was a really old bird so we limited the calling and just let the decoys do the work.
Throughout the spring my little hen decoys have been a big attraction, but Kentucky was different. I’ve named my decoys Bubbles & Delilah. Bubbles is positioned almost flat on the ground and takes most of the abuse, but Delilah has her fair share as an alert hen. Apparently both ladies were looking a little rough around the edges on this trip, because every gobbler was fixated on our tom. It also made a difference that we were dealing with windy, nasty conditions, which brought our tom and his real fan to life. He was constantly moving, swaying and rocking in the wind.
We setup on a big picked cornfield and positioned the decoys fifteen yards from the blind. At first light, a lone gobbler pitched down and immediately headed our way. He cruised in from several hundred yards and got pretty spooky once he hit the decoys. I’m always trying to enjoy the show as much as possible, but I was getting a little worried that this guy would bolt at any second.
As soon as he held still for a moment, I zipped an arrow right through him and he went down in the field. Again, it was a rainy nasty morning so his fan was looking a little rough, sort of like a bad hair day, but who can beat calling in a gobbler within the first fifteen minutes. The added bonus, he was a double bearded tom! I knew he looked good but that was a pleasant surprise. In fact he was my second double bearded gobbler of the spring! Lucky for me the spring isn’t even close to over and the turkey tour will continue on…