I’m on my way to California for my spring turkey hunt. In the last two days, I have seen probably over a hundred gobblers and hens within 10 miles of my house. It seems you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting these birds as they prepare for their spring rituals and hunters get ready to trick, intercept, and bag them as they in turn go through their own rituals…… Get the guns ready, familiarize with new gear, choose where to go. I have several permissions close by, so why am I off to Cali? Well the weather is a plus, there was a weird hail/snow thing happening this morning in Minneapolis, turning into a white out on the way to the airport, to frigid cold with blue skies by the time I arrived. I have to tell you that snow in April seems wrong on so many levels to a native Californian. But that’s not why I’m flying west…..
It’s because California is one of the only states that allows turkey to be taken with an Airgun, the populations are high, and the bag limits generous (1/day 3/season). I hunted here last year, and it is now on my list for a “must do” yearly trip. Might head out in fall as well. The gun I’m using is a new favorite of mine: the Brocock Compatto, which if you’ve been following the blog, FB or YT should come as no surprise! Dead accurate, moderately powerful, very compact, I’ve been loving this rifle. I shipped my guns and CF air tank on ahead to my host, and am hoping everything is ready to go.
I’m flying into Sacramento, arriving at 8:00pm, then going straight to Walmart to pick up my license. A word of warning, bring a hunter safety card or past CA license to show when purchasing your license or you could have problems. Then I have a two hour drive to Redding. I’ll get to the hotel at about 11:00 and my gear will be waiting for me. Will get my stuff gathered, check my rifles zero in the headlights of my rental car, then try for a couple hours sleep before my 4:30am pickup.
I am on assignment to write an article for Outdoor Life on this hunt so there’s a bit of pressure, and I’ve never hunted with my host before. But we’ve been talking on the phone and he’s a prostaffer with Mossy Oak, so he knows his stuff. We have thousands of acres to hunt over, so even though he tells me the birds have been henning up, I think my chances are as good as they get.
I’m the kind of hunter that I never really worried if I got my quarry or not. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always hunted hard and tried my best, it would be disingenuous to say it didn’t matter. I just never felt burdened by pressure, but these days with photographers and deadlines and commitments for content, well let’s just say things are not as relaxed as they once were. But I still live for this! Nothing is better than being out, rifle in hand, and possibilities in front of me.
Turkey with an Airgun is great, I’ve taken them on both sides of the country now and only wish there was more opportunity to hunt them with an Airgun, as this is a quarry that is perfect for us. You get all the thrills of calling and opening a dialog, talking the birds in close for a shot. And the shooting is all about precision, head or base of the neck on a target that does not stand still long is a challange. Body shots don’t move as much, but they are also not quite as clear cut as a head shot…….. Nothing on the turkey (vitals-wise) is where you expect it to be. You really need to study your kill zone charts for standing and strutting birds to feel secure on that first bird.
I hope wherever you are, you’re going through your own preparations, thinking about the possibilities, and are able to spend some enjoyable time afield. Hope to be updating you with some interesting news on the next post!