Sometimes It All Comes Together

Hunting for Bruce County Turkey

It’s the day before the spring turkey opener and my hunting partner Gord Ellis and I are back in Bruce County, cruising the county roads in a pickup. Our friend Tom Stewart is behind the wheel. Tom is a local boy and when he points to likely-looking areas around the Stewart family farm, close to Kincardine, we pay attention.

There is a lot of wild turkey living in the cedar swamps, creek bottoms, and rolling hardwood stands of Bruce County. Acre upon acre of rolling fields, crisscrossed with old fence rows under the gnarled branches of giant oak and beech, are the foundation for tremendous wild turkey hunting. When Tom stops the truck to glass a flock of about a dozen birds crossing a field towards a pine forest, we exchange knowing glances.

Blind Ambition

We generally don’t hunt turkey out of ground blinds, but this year we decide to give it a try. We set up Gord’s blind at the tip of a promontory of hardwood forest, jutting out into a rolling field. I choose to set up on the cusp of a grassy hill at the edge of the pine forest.

james smedley with harvested turkey
James Smedley with his second southern Ontario Bruce County wild turkey of the season. (Photo credit: James Smedley)

Although it’s a warm and sunny evening, the night erupts into rain showers that continue into the morning. As I walk through the tall, wet grass in the predawn darkness, I’m already thankful for the ground blind. My appreciation only grows as I settle into the dry shelter and listen to the rain beating on the roof. But after an hour of calling, I’ve heard only a few distant gobbles.

When Gord texts at 7 am that he shot a jake, I start to feel a little restless. If a bird does show, I’m expecting it will approach from the left and appear at the crest of the hill in front of my blind, but the next time I swivel around and look to my right, I get a big surprise. Less than 20 yards away a big gobbler is speeding silently toward me. I anticipate correctly and the big bird steps in front of my bead on its way to my hen decoy. I squeeze the trigger.

ground blind hunting turkey
A ground blind was instrumental in harvesting this southern Ontario Bruce County wild turkey. Photo credit: James Smedley)

Go with the Flow

The next morning is sunny and warm and Gord has no problem leveling a big gobbler. I spend the entire day watching a group of about eight birds frolicking along the fence line of a distant cornfield. I’ve had no luck bringing the birds towards me so at about 4 pm the next day Gord and I set up his blind right along the fence line and start calling. Within a half hour, a hen flies down followed by jakes and toms approaching from different directions. Gord taps me on the shoulder and points to a Jake that has wandered into range directly behind us. Gord ducks as I swivel around in the blind and seal its fate.

Two birds apiece: And so goes our first crack at hunting out of blinds in Bruce County.

About James Smedley

Professional photographer and writer James Smedley’s contributions—more than 400 pieces and close to 1,000 images—to U.S. and Canadian books, magazines, and newspapers have earned him over 40 national and international awards. In addition to teaching photography workshops, James is the travel editor at Ontario OUT of DOORS magazine. James has fly-fished for brook trout and arctic grayling in far northern rivers and continues to cast for trout, bass, and steelhead near his home in the northern Ontario town of Wawa where he lives with his wife Francine and daughters Islay and Lillian.

 

Visit James at www.jamessmedleyoutdoors.com

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