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New York Spring Gobbler Season 2009 with Dr. Paul Bambara

We wanted to reprint this great article that Paul Bambara gave us from his 2009 season to excite you all about 2010!

The 2009 spring turkey season here in New York has been a lesson in frustration for the three people I have been trying to help harvest their first wild turkey. The names have been changed to protect the “turkely challenged”. We start with Mrs. Blackcloud, an accomplished hunter whose trophy room would make most men jealous. I first guided her four years ago, where in a great morning of calling and action, three different long beards were missed. Her limited schedule did not allow a repeat performance until the next season, where I proceeded to call a love sick tom in from ½ mile away. Not finding the hen he expected, he finally flew away after a loud noise went off 20 yards from his ear. Last year, given only one morning to perform, I was unable to call a mature bird into range. The 2009 May 1st opener this year found Mrs. B ready, eager, and more determined than ever to finally close the deal. Work obligations prevented me from guiding her that morning, but I put her with my number one man, on birds that had been heavily scouted. You guessed it, two toms, two shots, no turkeys. I hope she can break one more day free this season and I will try my hardest to help her close the deal. I should also note that in this same four year stretch, her son and husband have killed a mature tom every time I took them out.

I managed to get out for the first time on May 3rd, as much to scout as to hunt. I found quite a few 2 & 3 year old birds in “easy” spots and left these for some of our less fortunate turkey hunters. Late in the morning, on the way back to the truck, I heard a gobble in an unexpected place, across a stream from where I stood. My Swarovski’s revealed a strutter across the open flood plain of the steam. Number one and I belly crawled to the turkey side of the water and I called once. An immediate answer and a direct march to our laps, on a string as they say. I always love when I can watch a bird the whole time I work him. My load of heavy shot didn’t drop him and a foot race ensued. Number one finished the job from 10 yards, completely blowing his beak off. It was so gross; we refused to take pictures, the breast tasted great though.
The following Tuesday, we headed out after a night of pouring rain. We never heard a gobble in any of the usual places, oh well!!

Sunday morning found me guiding my 23 year old niece. She had never been hunting a day in her life, but was excited to try. As we ascended a wooded spine, a bird sounded off below us and another above. The excitement in her eyes was priceless as she listened to her first gobbles ever. We chose a great spot to make our stand and set up, and here is where I choose poorly. Since she had never hunted before, I thought a decoy would grab the gobbler’s attention and distract him, making for an easier shot…NOT. A few soft calls kept his interest until he hit the ground. I then hammered away at him, with no response. He appeared at 50 yards like a ghost then proceeded to double gobble. My niece kept her cool as we waited for him to close the distance, except that never happened.

He saw the decoy and came unglued, putting like a time bomb. I’ve seen both positive and negative reactions to decoys, and rarely use them for that reason. He turned and started to walk away, I hammered yelps at him. He turned back and wearily started to circle uphill at about 30 yards. I whispered that this was about as good as it was going to get, and she better shoot at the next opening. At 30 yards, 12 gauge heavy shot through NWTF special full chock tube is a reasonable shot, though I prefer 10 yards closer. At the shot, he fell, flipped in the air once and rolled out of sight over a rise. I was there in a flash, but alas, there was no turkey to be found. Tough buggers that they are, we looked for a long time without success.

My niece is forever hooked on the sport and can’t wait to hunt again.
Tuesday found me out with my 23 years son. Look up turkey jinx in the dictionary and you will see his picture staring back at you. Turkey hunting since he was 12, it just never seems to come together for him. He has even called in birds for other people, but just never closed the deal himself. Dawn found us in the middle of half a dozen hard gobbling roosted toms. 100 gobbles later and some soft calling sent a monster tom sailing in to land within 15 yards of us. Circumstance, terrain, position, and adrenalin all conspired against him. Finally shooting as the bird was about 30 yards out, I saw the shot pattern hit low and the unfazed tom continued to strut and gobble until he was out of sight. I tried to boost my son’s dejected ego and we set off in search of a different bird. We set up on a ridge spine with him in front and me in back of a huge fallen log. As I started calling birds appeared from all directions. We had 5 long beards and 2 jakes at 30 yards in moments.

I whispered the distance in his ear. As luck would have it, all 7 birds drifted more to my side of the log. Twisting around backward and over the log, he proceeded to miss his second bird of the morning, this time at 20 yards. As an eye witness, I really couldn’t see where or how he missed, but miss he did. The birds continued to stand there and stare at this noisy log, totally unspooked.  His Browning now empty, because I had only loaded two shells in the AM, he passed the empty gun to me, the bearer of the spare shells. I slipped another in the chamber and tried to offer the gun back, but he said the angle was bad. So I did what any good father would do, and shot the biggest bird. All in all it was an exciting morning.

I will hopefully do another story in a week telling how all the above have shed their bad luck turkey Karma and will be able to include names and pictures of their success.

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Kevin Paulson

Kevin Paulson is the Founder and CEO of His passion for Hunting began at the age of 5 hunting alongside of his father. Kevin has followed his dreams through outfitting, conservation work, videography and hunting trips around the world.

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