My First Turkey Hunt

I was so excited to be able to get out on my first official spring turkey hunt in Ontario since moving back to Ottawa.

Surprise! Betcha didn’t know I was into hunting.

I was actually able to get out twice during this spring turkey hunting season. A friend I’ve known since my university days got me into hunting. He taught me how to shoot and how to hunt. After urging me to get my certifications, my husband and I enrolled in unrestricted/restricted firearms license classes back in 2017. Mike used to do biathlon way back in the day and has wanted to get back into target shooting. He has no interest in hunting with me. We received our possession and acquisition licenses I think in 2019 but only started acquiring firearms in the past year.

Since I incubated and birthed twins in 2020, I had to put learning how to hunt on hold. When we moved out to BC, I tried to make friends with hunters who could take me out but I wasn’t really able to meet anyone.

First Turkey Hunt in Hamilton

When we moved back to Ontario, I contacted my friend and mentor and asked if I could join him for a spring turkey hunt. I don’t really know anyone around Ottawa that hunts (yet!) The spring turkey season here in Ontario runs from April 25 – May 31. So I drove down to Hamilton in May to tag along on a hunt. I borrowed some of my husband’s hiking gear since none of mine fit postpartum, and some of my friend’s hunting gear (camo sweater, hat, face-covering, and turkey vest).

Turkey Hunting

Swamp Turkey Hunting

We went “swamp turkey” hunting on Saturday. I also borrowed my husband’s rubber boots since I only own bright yellow Hunter’s. The boots are steel-toed and in the picture above obviously too big for me. It was quite the workout traipsing around with those clunkers on my feet.

We headed into the bush, early Saturday morning around 4:30 am to get into position and could hear the gobblers. We set up below them but something weird happened and they got spooked and didn’t make any noise after the initial gobbles that we heard. I think I heard them fly down to the ground but we weren’t sure. We tried calling them for a bit but my friend easily gets bored sitting in one spot so we spent the rest of the morning walking around the swamp. A few times, we sat down to wait and attempted to call them in but nothing. We headed back to the city for naps and I pelted him so so many questions about hunting so I can learn.

Field Turkey Hunting

That afternoon, he taught me how to use a crossbow and had me test out my skills on a target. After 2 bulls’ eyes, we were good to go for Sunday (the area he hunts in doesn’t allow Sunday gun hunting). We headed out early in the morning again (oh the joys of waking up at 3:30 am) and walked a tree line in a farmer’s field that he has permission to hunt on, waiting to see if we could hear some gobblers. As the sun began to rise we started hearing a few on the other side of the field from us. We set up in the trees, with a blind in front of us and some decoys in the field.

Cross Bow Turkey Hunting

My friend made a few hen calls and I could see the turkeys across the field start to make their way over to us. I raised the crossbow to balance on my knee and slowly took the safety off. All of a sudden we could hear a hen clucking behind us and my friend whispered at me to not move.

The crossbow of course started to become very, very heavy. The hen proceeded to walk from behind us to beside us to in front of us to check out the decoys. And then from my right, one then two then three hens crossed in front of me to see the decoys. When they realized they weren’t real they headed back to the other side of the field. We could see a tom (adult male turkey) and jake (teenager) in the middle of the field but they followed the hens and never got close.

I was so proud of myself for not moving, for not giving away our spot, for being able to take the safety off quietly, and not getting too excited that I would shoot a hen by accident (as you can only shoot bearded turkey’s in the spring).

New Turkey Hunter

Second Turkey Hunt Near Ottawa

I still wanted to try and get my first turkey before the spring season was over. So I texted a former co-worker and asked if I could hunt her parent’s property out in the country. They wanted to meet me so we drove out on Friday so I could meet them and she could show me property lines.

I headed out on Saturday morning to scout and potentially hunt if I was able to find some gobblers. I ended up walking one of the trails in the forested area of the property that they use to get wood and ended up walking under two turkeys that were roosting in the trees. They weren’t making a sound at sunrise so I didn’t even know they were there. I scared them and they scared me and after calming my heart rate I sat down to get set up (I hadn’t even loaded the shotgun yet). While I am sad I spooked them, I was so happy to have found where they were roosting.

A few feathers were spotted on the ground and lots of poop so I set up a short distance off the trail. A decision was made to hunker down to see if they might come back (which I knew wasn’t really likely after getting spooked).

All in all, I was a little scared to go hunting solo but I really enjoy being out in nature. However, I loved being able to sit in silence and watch the sunrise. While it’s still pretty quiet, even when hunting with a friend it’s obviously different when you’re on your own. I may have had a lovely nap leaning against the tree. It was basically an amazing morning meditation time for me. I headed back to my car. And after chatting with my friend’s mother I let her know I’d be back on Sunday for more.

The property is over an hour away from our house. So I stayed at a friend’s house that night after putting the babies to bed. It was halfway between our house and the hunting property. I wanted to be able to get to the property by 5 am without having to wake up really, really early. Legal hunting starts 30 mins before sunrise (around 5:20 am). My friend taught me how to sneak into the bush, listen for the turkeys and get set up. I went back to the same spot but approached from a different way so as not to spook them again. I couldn’t hear any gobblers so I sat down to wait and listen. As the sun was rising I could hear the male turkeys gobbling. However, they were at least 2 fields over and not on the property I had permission to hunt.

Deer Instead of Turkeys

The best part of the day though was when 2 deer walked right beside me maybe 20 yards out. They didn’t see me and that’s the longest I’ve had a chance to watch deer up close. After two hours in the same spot, I got up to walk. I wanted to see if I could find the turkeys in some of the fields. As I was walking along the trail back I spooked three deer and watched them bounce away. I was checking out one of the back fields and came upon yet another deer eating grass in the hayfield.

Deer in Field
It’s hard to see but there’s a deer in the middle of the field

I’ll definitely be back to the property to set up trail cams this summer for the fall season. I’m so excited to learn more. Hopefully get a fall turkey and learn how to deer hunt as well.

If you’re a seasoned hunter, what’s one piece of advice you wish you had gotten as a new hunter?

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