I got up at 4am and headed up to Greenridge early Friday morning to chase some birds and get a good campsite reserved. Attendees for our annual turkey camp included; my brother Chris, his son Connor, Brent, Mike, and myself. I was the only one who could come up early enough try to reserves a campsite on this first weekend of turkey season on public land. I wanted to get a good camp that was big enough for all our vehicles, and close enough to our area of hunting. I passed many trucks on Orleans road heading into the forest. Every cut off the hardball had a truck in it at 5:30 am when I drove past. I headed toward our usual campsite and saw it was already taken by a large group of hunters who were making breakfast. I continued on, and parked halfway to the area I planned to hunt. I heard running as soon as I entered the meadow area and assumed it was deer, as I later found a lot of deer sign in that area. I set up my hen decoy and got ghillied up and waited. It was a nice morning but nothing showed and I heard no gobbles. I did hear about 4 far off shotgun blasts, but nothing close. I assumed the close parking area would be filled with other hunters, but no trucks were in sight and I never saw person in the large area I was in.
I had stopped at 15 Mile Creek's put and take trout stream on my trip back from the ranger office to pay for my campsite. I saw the closed season for the second stocking started the next day, so I decided to throw a couple casts with my backpacking spinning rod and mepps spinner. The first cast I put under the spillway, I hooked up with a >2 pound rainbow! I had it to the brink of exhaustion and had to jump down the embankment to get to the shallows to land it. I managed to jump down and keep some pressure on the fish at the same time. The cheapo spinning reel I had hung up the line on the bail spindle after a few handle cranks and the fish made a run. Damn, fish broke my 4 pound test and was gone. I already had plans of frying it in butter for lunch. Oh well, a good lesson about getting better quality gear. I need to get a better reel before I lug that rod up in Colorado for elk.
I reserved a large campsite close enough to our hunting area for 3 trucks. While unpacking I found turkey tracks, scat, and body feathers near a dusting depression right at camp! Here I was, walking miles up and down ridges, and the birds were in the campsite. Go figure. I set up everything including my hammock and enjoyed the beautiful blue sky. I took a few stump shooting scouts around camp and made lunch of venison summer sausage and a bagel, but I was wishing I had landed that trout.
Chris and Connor showed up amazingly breaking their trend of pitching camp in the dark. Brent and Mike soon followed, and we had enough firewood leftover from my hurricane downed tree to enjoy a long sit around the campfire sipping chilled wild turkey honey and roasting 2 Cornish hens with camp potatoes in the coals. MMMMMM, they were good eating.
The next morning, we headed out to hunt. Connor and Chris took the shotguns and struck out for new territory. Brent went back to our spot close to the parking area with tent blind and Ben Pearson. Mike and I headed on opposite ends of the far ridge I had the turkey hen calling to me the last morning with our longbows. I set up in the same spot I had the hen calling at me. Set out my hen decoy and got in my ghillie suit. I called a few times and mostly had a quiet morning. I did hear a gobbler sounding off on the next ridge line over. I decided to try to close in on it. I ducked down into the deep dark valley where I heard the hen calling, and I am really convinced that was a real bird and not a hunter. The valley was rugged and a deep bowl far from the roads. It was eerily silent in there and reminded me of the backcountry of Colorado. I set up my ghillie blind in some deadfall near a recently vacated black bear den. While setting up the decoy I spooked a group of 7 deer, which I am sure would have come down the lush valley had I not spooked them.
I sat there until around quarter to 10 with no more action or sounds of gobbling. I decided to climb the next hilltop and see what was up there before heading back toward the truck. I got up on top and immediately heard some gobbling below me. I set up a hasty position again and heard nothing more. I walked down the ridge line a few hundred yards before jumping back across, to head in the direction of home. I crested the ridge cautiously and heard running on the other side. The leaves were dry to stalking was difficult. I was not sure if I had spooked them, or just snuck up on them successfully. I pulled on my ghillie head cover and proceeded to wait. Nothing. So I crawled to the edge and peeked over. I saw turkey wing feathers of a flying bird in the valley below. They must have seen / heard me. Then, I hear running again to my left. Pretty exiting! I scrunched up next to a large oak base and waited. Nothing again. Oh well. Time to get home. In the creek valley below I found a nice fossil rock with many small crustaceans embedded in both sides. I crested the hilltop and noticed I was not where I thought I was. I broke out the GPS and found out I needed to make a heading to get back. I must have crossed a few fingers of the ridge and gotten turned a bit. Well, that led me to some exercise. I must have climbed 5 major hilltop ridges to get back to the truck. I was wiped out. I did not even get radio reception in the valleys there, so thank God for the GPS! I might still be walking around out there. I spotted 2 eastern box turtles on my “hike”, so that was good to see.
Chris and Connor both left for home before I got back, and reported no sightings. Mike had a gobbler answering his box call but could not get him to approach. Brent saw nothing but a squirrel. It was a good hunt though and another learning experience for all. Brent, Mike and I relaxed at camp for the rest if the evening and shot thousands of practice arrows at camp. We enjoyed a nice evening around the fire with another Cornish hen dinner before enduring just a small rain shower before turning in.
In the morning we broke camp and went home just a little damp but in good spirits. Just as in the previous two years, a nice sized turkey ran across the road in front of us as we made our way out of the forest. Go figure. It started to downpour on I-68 on the way home. We missed most of the rain so someone was looking out for us. Now I can focus on my small private local area for the remainder of turkey season.
-------------------- HILL STYLE >>>---------> Posts: 891 | From: Frederick, MD | Registered: Jun 2007
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sounds like great time. I used to go in Savage River State Forest and up near Deep Creek Lake areas.....
-------------------- Keep em sharp,
Ron Herman Compton's Traditional Bowhunters Backcountry Hunters & Anglers PBS Assoc since 1988 NRA Life USAF Retired (1984-2004) Posts: 1777 | From: Charleston, South Carolina | Registered: Aug 2005
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hey thanks for putting up the story. glad you are getting out and enjoying the season! good luck with the rest of it.
Posts: 520 | From: Bonsall, CA ~ Camp Lejeune, NC | Registered: Aug 2010
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