Turkey Grand Slam with a PSE Bow

Content Provided By: Brian Stephens, StickemArchery.com Pro Staff

Brian Stephens - Stick'em Archery

Brian Stephens – Stick’em Archery

I turned 40 this year and one of my items “to do’s” was kill Turkey Grand Slam with a bow & archery equipmentall on film.  I started planning this quest in January with the help of a lot of friends.  As a passionate bowhunter and turkey hunter I thought this would be a good test to see if I could combine both of these passions.  I hope to share with you some highlights from this journey as well as some learning’s along the way.  Finally, I will discuss a tool that I used to help me plan my hunts called Scoutlook Weather.com.

I would start the slam down in Central Florida on Co-Founder, Bill Lawson’s leased ranch.  I have bowhunted with Bill down there for several years with nothing but frustration to show.  This year was going to be different based on leason’s learned and a new strategy.  Going back to Kissimmee is going home for me as I grew up with Bill hunting anything that had four legs in Central Florida since we were kids.  This trip we also had friends David Welch and Thomas Sutherland from Spook Nation TV.  Bill had scouted a number of locations for us to bowhunt.  The first morning Thomas and I hunted together with the hope of doubling up with our bows.  Thomas let me hunt first and he had the camera.  This morning started with hens yelping and gobbles a ways off.  Thomas is champion turkey caller, so I let him work his magic right out of the gate.  It was not long before we had young gobbler come in to see what was going on.  We had a few HS Strut decoys out (Woody “Jake” and Jezebel “Hen”).  About thirty minutes later and a few sequence calls between Thomas and I, we heard two toms coming in.  We got ready and around the palmettos came two mature long beards straight to the decoys.  These two birds came in on a string and I got ready to shoot.  These birds came in straight to the jake decoy and postured very aggressively letting him know he was low man on totem pole.  I told Thomas which bird I was going to shoot and I smoked him at 22 yards.  He went less than 10 yards and was done!   The bird that was killed was awesome Osceola with an 11 inch beard that was like paint brush, inch and quarter spurs and weighed 20 lbs.

Brian Stephens - Stick'em Archery

Brian Stephens – Stick’em Archery

Next, hunt was with good friend David Welch from Tennessee.  We hunted on his families farm opening weekend with high hopes of a great bow hunt.  David is a outstanding turkey hunter and camera man.  He graciously filmed for me knowing of my quest to get the slam.  We started out the morning on the edge of the field in a ground blind that was set up the day before.  As the day started to come to life we heard birds off in the distance.  David felt the birds had roosted deeper in the hard woods than he expected they would.  We had a hen and super jake come into our set up but no long beards.  We decided to get out of the blind and go to the birds.  We quickly located a group of gobblers with hens on edge of pasture next to a creek.  We put a plan together to go set up on these birds by following the creek to give us cover until we go to within 80 or so yards.  We got set up as best we could next to a fallen tree.  David set out the “Spin & Strut Decoy” and we got set up.  It did not take many calls to know the birds were on their way.  A few minutes later we had two long beards come into our set up and the show began.  I anticipated they would go to the decoy and give me a shot to my right with David behind me filming the action.  Instead they decided to stay in front where I had a limited shot over this large fallen tree.  I decided that it was now or never and took my first shot.  Instead of hitting a bird the arrow ricocheted off of a branch and off to “now where land”.  David quickly started to mouth call to keep the birds focused on our set up.  I instantly nocked another arrow, drew my Revenge and located the gobbler.  David was right there with the camera and as the bird was walking away at about 35 yards.  I shot and hit him in the back of the neck and he dropped in his tracks!  It was awesome…The other gobbler immediately started to peck the dead bird and stood on top of him and gobbled and gobbled.  It was an awesome hunt to call the birds in from the ground, miss first shot and get another shot off to drop him in his tracks.  He was 2o lb. bird, 9 inch beard 1 inch spurs.  Overall, a great bowhunt and the footage is awesome!

Brian Stephens - Stick'em Archery

Brian Stephens – Stick’em Archery

Now, I am off to hunt in Missouri with good friend Mike Stogsdill from Tru-Tone Calls and Spin & Strut Decoys.  Mike invited me to bowhunt an Eastern on a Missouri farm he manages.  This place has not had a lot of turkey hunting in the recent years, so the birds do not have a lot of pressure.  It had been raining the night before so the birds were slow to get off the roost.  We heard an occasional gobble but they were way off.  Mike and I tag teamed the calls on our Tru-Tone Wet Tech friction calls that finally got them fired up and coming into our location.  We used a series of purrs/clucks and soft yelps to get them gobbling.  With both of us doing this, it seemed to get them interested enough to come around the corner of woods so we could see them.  We were set up on a point in the field that had old cut corn field to our left and open field of alfalfa to our right.  Now that they can see the decoys that included an HS Strut Hen and Spin & Strut Decoy the game was on.  We softly called to keep them focused on our set up and they started to come in.  These were two beautiful long beards that were coming on a string.  I would move the Spin & Strut but not over do it to be too aggressive.  The movement of this decoy I am convenienced got them interested enough to come check it out.  Unfortunately, they did not come straight into the decoys.  Instead they skirted out around the decoys at 40 yards.  It was now or never. Mike got on the birds with the camera and I picked out the bird I thought I could get a shot on.  I let it go at 41 yards as he was walking at angle in some fairly tall grass.  Again, the PSE Revenge and the Swhacker did not let me down.  I smoked that bird and he did two flips in the air and it was over.  The other gobbler jumped on top of him and gobbled his head off and then left the scene.  When I got to this bird he was “eat up” by the Swhacker.  It put a massive hole in him and broke his wing.  This Eastern had 10 inch beard with little over inch spurs and weighed about 22 lbs.  Nice bird.

Tip “Don’t over call even when you don’t hear anything for while.  Sometimes soft purrs and clucks will get them to come in even if they do not gobble.  When they do call back, then you can be more vocal.  If you can use two calls at the same time even if you are by yourself that can work well.  For example; using mouth call and friction call to simulate two birds.”

A tool that I use on a regular basis is www.SoutlookWeather.com App on my iphoneScoutlookweather.com is one of the most comprehensive weather resources I have ever come across.  The data it provides is highly accurate and specific to my needs as hunter.  I used the hourly weather data on the hunt in Missouri to help me know how to manage the hunt and travel.  I had to carefully plan each hunt for this slam without many days to waste so knowing the weather was critical.  The developers of Scoutlook Weather are hunters and they understand the importance of accurate quality information for hunting and fishing.  The convenience of an iphone app for Scoutlook is so helpful due to my need to regularly keep up with the weather in the different parts of the country I was going to bowhunt for the slam.

The Rio was next on the hit list for the slam.  I was invited to go out to the Rattle Snake Springs Ranch outside of San Antonio, Texas (hill country) to turkey hunt.  They have not done much Turkey Hunting over the years on this ranch, so I was somewhat working blind on this hunt.  The first day was a matter of trying to locate birds and figure out how they are going to respond to calling.  It was a slow day but finally located a bird that late afternoon and roosted him for that next morning.  The next morning could not come fast enough with me using whatever cover I could find to set up.  I would be hunting on the ground and trying to film as well.  Not the optimal scenario for bowhunting turkeys.  Without a lot of cover to choose from, I set up next to a tree with decoys in front.  As morning broke I started to hear the gobbles of the bird I had roosted the evening before.  Not only did I hear that bird I heard a bird directly to my right on the hill side that became very vocal.  This bird pitched down within 15 yards of me with two other jakes.  He was a giant!  I was stuck without the ability to move to adjust to him.  You talk about frustrating!  If he would have come into the decoy set up I would have had a shot but he decided to walk down the road.  I quickly turned as he got out to 40 yards and stopped him.  I took a shot at him but missed with the arrow just going under him.  That was a tough pill to shallow because I had to fly out the evening.  This was a short two day hunt that did not result in a Rio.  You can imagine the pressure was mounting because there are only soo many days to hunt in a hand full of states to shoot a Rio.  That next week I called Calamus Outfitters and talked to Adam the owner.  I had already set up a hunt for the Merriam in mid May on his place.  I asked him if he had any places to hunt a Rio on his ranches in Nebraska.  He said he had a few locations with a handful of true Rios that he would get me on after we shoot the Merriam.  We would have to travel to it but we could make it happen.  Game on!


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