Field Testing The Beast

Among the many amazing opportunities I get while working with ScentBlocker, some of my most favorite are when I get to do field testing with product prototypes. This spring was one of the more memorable, with my son and I both taking gigantic turkeys while wearing our new Beast ghillie suit. Pre-order yours now to take advantage of our offer. If you order NOW before May 28th you will get
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My biggest tom... so far. My biggest tom... so far, 25.2# 10 1/2" beard, 1" spurs.

BOOM! My shotgun shattered the silence of the spring woods. I couldn't believe it! I quickly ran out and grabbed the massive bird, struggling against his strength as his last nerves ceased to give up. As I slung him over my shoulder to head home, I checked my phone for the time and thought, 6:49 am... I bet my coffee is still warm. At the time I had no idea that this was the biggest tom of my life so far. It was an amazing hunt that actually began the night before.

Friday April 22nd. The particular piece of property I was hunting is typical rolling hardwoods. Similar to how deer travel in these areas, I've noticed the birds will run the ridge tops, and take advantage to any slight change in topography to make their journey easier. In Michigan we can turkey hunt all day, and after picking a batch of morel mushrooms I arrived at the spot just in time. This season I'm doing some field testing on our newest creation- The Beast. The Beast is a ghillie style hunting suit that allows the hunter to be COMPLETELY INVISIBLE. With a sweet camouflage cut leaf pattern, and a generous hood, The Beast is also created out of ScentBlocker Trinity scent control technology. Elastic cuffs and a tight zip up collar have me convinced that this is the coolest piece of gear we have created yet. All spring I've been experimenting with it. Recently I saw some deer in the woods and I simply walked toward them. I got within easy bow-range before the deer decided something was fishy, so they turned and walked away. In a traditional hunting suit the deer would have spooked before I even saw them! And the turkeys! Holy vow- they don't even know I'm there. If I sit against a tree or not... I still look like a pile of leaves ad the birds haven’t a care in the world.

I sat high on a ridge top, with a lone hen decoy facing me. The woods was silent other than my call sequence. “Cluck... yelp yelp yelp...” There... movement out of the corner of my eye, a lone hen was already approaching me. I watched her mingle for a while and then she wandered off, with no clue that I was there.

Not long after, I noticed movement on an opposing ridge top. Quickly scanning the area with my eyes, I noticed several turkeys running parallel toward me. I called again, and heard a loud “GOBBLE!” followed by another softer one.

I kept at the calling, and eventually I noticed two large toms meandering down the ridge, coming toward me. I heard a hen with them, but couldn’t see her. Minutes later I was staring at the hen closing the distance to my decoy. The toms were in tow... but cautiously behind and in some brush. They were at about 70 yards, so I wasn't even thinking about a shot.

Between placing my decoy and this point in time, that sweet little plastic girl on a stick got a mind of her own and turned with the wind, facing the birds now! That was not good for me because all those toms needed was to make eye contact with her to go into strut. Once they started strutting, they were not coming closer. So, as the live hen danced around my decoy, the toms strutted at 65 yards, with no intent to come closer. I called and called, but they weren't budging. And with this real hen almost on top of me, there was no chance of me getting up and closing the distance before I shot. So... I quit calling and just watched them lose interest and wander off.

Discouraged, but not hopeless, I elected to wait until they roosted. I knew once they got high in the trees for the night they'd gobble a bit, giving me a clue as to where to start my hunt the following morning. Sure enough, at about 8pm they both gobbled once, and that was that. I told my wife when I got home that I'd kill one of them the next morning.

Four am the next day came pretty early, but with a few cups of coffee in me and one for the road, I was ready to get back at it. My daughter had a previous commitment that she needed a ride to, and of course family comes first, so I could only hunt until 8 am.

The following morning, I snuck in under the cloak of darkness to execute my delicate plan. I knew where the two toms were roosting, and wanted to be nice and close, but yet, not bump them. I couldn't properly scout the new area the night before, so I was going on intuition. I decided to place my hen decoy on a small saddle between two major ridges. The hen was facing me, and to spice it up, I also put out a tom decoy facing her. When I use a tom decoy, I like to place an old red sock on their neck, to really add some color. The sock trick is a double edged sword, because I've found in the past it works like a charm on big, dominant birds, while scaring away younger ones. I knew this tom roosted nearby was the big man on campus, so I was puling out all the stops. My hope was that the boss tom would hear my soft hens calls and start to eyeball the invasive tom decoy from the roost. If all went well, the real boss tom would fly down pretty ticked off, and come charging into my setup.

As the morning progressed, I was taken off guard by the first gobbles I had heard. From the opposing ridge top, the sequence of “GOBBLE!... Gobble... gobble” caught me off guard! There were at least three toms on the other side of me as well. The word excited can't begin to describe how I felt, I was elated! Not only did I know where two decent toms were roosted, I had three more nearby as well.

The trio continued to gobble throughout the morning, and eventually I heard a few hens with them as well. Near me, the two I was after finally decided to Gobble... once each. I knew these birds were old and wise, because they wasted no energy announcing their presence to the world. I could also hear at least three very active hens with them. I figured these old toms didn't have to work as hard as the young duded across the ridge, so no need to be as loud. I was surrounded by turkeys, with the two toms and at least three hens nearby, and across the ridge, three toms and at least two hens.

As time went on and the sun was peaking up, I was becoming more discouraged by the hens near me. Their soft tree yelps turned out to be full on cutting sequences. These girls were fired up, and I could just imagine the toms sitting there, grinning ear to ear, knowing it was going to be a good morning.

I generally tend to call very softly while the birds are on the roost, but today was a special occasion. I started to mimic the roosted hens, throwing their aggressive calls right back at them. That only got the hens more excited, and before fly-down we had a full on yelp battle happening!

I'm too old to be good at "selfies" but this one was fun to try. I'm too old to be good at "selfies" but this one was fun to try.

Not long after, with the new found sunlight casting shadows throughout the woods, the birds started to fly-down. The hens went first, cackling all the way, and then the toms. I felt a text message vibrate on my phone. Figuring my hunt was pretty much over anyway with so many amorous hens nearby, I cranked out a few more aggressive call sequences myself, and elected to check the message.

It was lengthy text from my wife going over my tasks for the day. With four very busy kids, we tend to do a lot of “divide and conquer” parenting, and rely on our cell phones to communicate. I was trying to reply to her, with the phone on my lap and typing with one finger, when I heard that familiar sound.

I can only describe it as the sound a paper bag makes being unfolded, but in reality, I knew it was a tom getting into full strut- and he was close. I looked up to see the big boss in full strut, giant red and blue blood filled head, right in front of my tom decoy! Somehow while I was texting my wife, he snuck in over the hill and set up shop right tin front of my fake jake.

I literally dropped the phone, and the strutting tom glanced at me. In The Beast I was completely camouflaged, so I didn't stress at all. The tom looked back at the hen and resumed his ancient courting ritual.

I slowly raised my gun and took careful aim at the side of the toms head. From my angle the tom was between my decoys, with the hen slightly behind him. “BOOM!” my 3 1/2” HeviShot Magnum Blend spoke out in the silent woods.

I quickly ran to get my bird, and realized soon after that he was big. I also realized my decoys are tough- with both being peppered with shot. My hen decoy even had blood splattered on her.

This was simply an amazing hunt. I'm glad I got to use a few tried and true ticks, like roosting a tom the night before, and sneaking in tight the next morning. I'm also excited about quickly he responded to my setup. The Beast worked like a charm, and I'm looking forward to killing coyotes with it this summer, and deer this fall.

IMG_20160505_080639477 My son Brendan and his biggest tom to date, 24.4#, 10 3/4" beard, and 1+" spurs.

A few weeks later, during the first hunt of his season, my son tagged the other bird that my tom was running with. Brendan's bird was dead at 7:05 am, while wearing my Beast. I know we're going to be fighting over who gets to wear The Beast this fall.

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