Special to the Tribune-Star
TERRE HAUTE —
Guys, if you like to turkey hunt listen up, for I am going to tell you about a man that accomplished the grand slam in one year.
Take notes, for you’re going to learn about good areas and states to hunt turkey birds from the President of the Sycamore Ridge Strutters, Stacy Kueber.
Stacy is a 30-year veteran turkey hunter. In March of 2011 he started the grand slam in the Ocala area of Florida. He says the palmetto plants make a fast and easy blind. They have stems the size of a pencil and they grow about two-feet tall, so break one off next to the ground and you can stick them in the ground anyplace to make a perfect blind.
I must tell you, Stacy tells me his wife, Cinda, is a trooper, for she is by his side on practically all hunts no matter what the weather may be or the time of day. They are a great team. Yes, Cinda has several birds to her credit also.
Stacy and company (his wife, Cinda) were each carrying a gun when they went on the hunt. Let’s say they went cold turkey, for they didn’t use a guide. With a smile he said, “We are such a good team because I sleep and Cinda reads books when there’s not much going on.”
They do not use any artificial decoys. A real turkey mounted is their choice.
After setting up on a recent hunt they had an eagle fly down and attack the decoy. With Stacy sounding like a sexy girl turkey on his call, a gobbler came out about 300 yards away, looked at the decoy and decided to come on in, straight across a large open field.
One cluck on the call stopped him in range and the 870 Winchester special purpose 12 gauge did it’s job with Stacy’s eagle eye looking down the barrel. On March 24th, an 18-pound bird with a 9-inch beard went to turkey heaven.
Bird No. 2,
A Reo in Oklahoma
Stacy and Cinda were attending the National Wild Turkey Federation Convention in Nashville Tenn., and bid on a Reo hunt, winning it at a reasonable price. Stacy’s goal was to put Cinda on a nice Reo. It was a self-guided hunt where they give you an idea what part of the ranch the turkeys are on and you are on your own.
This hunt takes place 15 miles from the Texas border, close to the little town of Sheyenne. “I couldn’t even find it on the map,” Stacy said.
To set the stage, remember the great musical called Oklahoma where they sang how the winds came rolling down the plains? Well, Stacy found out how true that is, for the first morning they endured 54-mile-per-hour winds with gusts up to 70 mph. Cinda had so many clothes on she looked like the little boy in Christmas Story that fell over and couldn’t get up.
They set up on a strip of trees in open pasture with birds roosted 200 yards away. They gobbled at the crack of dawn, and flew down in the dark. Stacy said it was a hunter’s dream because there was at least 100 birds.
Remember, this is to be Cinda’s bird. She was on the right side of Stacy sitting in a tree and could not see the decoy.
A big gobbler, 150 yards away on the other side of a roadway, spotted the decoy with its feathers blowing up, making it look more real, and here he came. The bird was within 30 yards and Cinda still didn’t see him. Stacy whispered, ‘Get ready when he comes out from behind the cat tails, take the shot.’
It was at an angle going into the wind and Stacy, with a smile, said, believe it or not, he could see the buckshot being blown away from the high winds. Yes, the gobbler flew away.
The second day held more promise, for the weather calmed down. Sitting in a tree row in the roots of an old oak tree, calling a little, brought a large group with a lot of hens. With that many eyes you do not dare to move, so the hens faded away with the gobblers in tow.
Sitting from 6:30 to 11 a.m. was a long one, so Stacy went to talk to the farmer, leaving Cinda in the tree row. While talking to the farmer, he spotted 12 birds on their way to Cinda. Yes, for a big guy, Stacy was like a cat on a hot tin roof getting back to that turkey blind.
A big gobbler came in at 12 yards in her sights. Well, she gets to shoot first and if the other gobbler doesn’t spook, he is in trouble because Stacy will be ready. Cinda’s choice of weapon is a Mossberg 535 tactical with a collapse ball stock in a 12-gauge with federal flight control 5-shot and chambered for 3-inch shells.
She takes the shot with a red-dot scope not realizing the batteries were dead, and she misses the bird, while Stacy took the satellite bird with one shot. The poor lady was upset to say the least, but that’s why they call it hunting.
Stacy said with a smile, that’s the second bird of his grand slam on the ground. It was 22 pounds with an 11-inch beard on April 16 this year.
Bird No. 3,
We both agree out of all the turkey species, the Eastern is the most difficult to take, hands down. Friday, April 29, is the day in Vigo County.
He hunted all morning in Clay County with no luck. A text message came up on Stacy’s phone from a friend looking for a hunting buddy and got Stacy called in like an old gobbler with the promise of breakfast. It worked, so here they are eyeball to eyeball eating bacon and eggs, talking turkey. Scott Schoffstall is no dummy!
Scott owns 40 acres with a lot of birds on it and of course trying for the old bird he was not having any luck. No, Scott had never taken an Eastern. Stacy said Scott is a big guy and it takes a big tree to hide him.
Stacy and Scott set up in different areas and Stacy predicted the bird to come a certain route but Scott chooses elsewhere and Stacy followed his own instincts. With a few light clucks and yelps, the gobbler answered back and at 20 yards he went down from Stacy’s well-predicted, positioned shot. It all took about 5 minutes from start to finish. It was 20 pounds with a 10-inch beard.
After that, Stacy took Cinda or Scott every day with no luck for Cinda, but on May 15, Scott, with the help of Stacy, set up in a fence row of trees with decoys out on both sides. That evening, two gobblers were 175 yards away when Stacy clucked them on a late call named a freak call that is a friction call. It is loud and you can get a lot of volume out of it, it’s extra raspy, and made out of glass.
The old birds played it cool easing their way to the decoys with Scott’s amazement, and at 30 yards with a 1-gauge, the old bird didn’t have a chance. Scott’s first Eastern. I would say the cost of that breakfast was a pretty good investment. The bird was 23 pounds with a 10-inch beard and is being mounted in Evansville at Art Works Taxidermy Studio.
Bird No. 4,
A Merriam Turkey
At Whitney, Neb., which is in the northwest corner of the state, the date is May 30, 2011.
A dude ranch for counterfeit cowboys or horse lovers is the setting for this hunt, One Lazy J Ranch. You are about to learn how to take two birds at the same time with two people.
The ranch had a creek bottom three miles long with a lot of cottonwoods along the creek, a good roost area. They fixed up an old school house for hunters to stay in and it was in the grasslands like Little House on the Prairie. You could see for 50 miles to the horizon. The farmer’s son had just seen about eight birds in the next valley, so Stacy slipped over and put them to bed.
Let me explain putting a bird to bed. If you can get close to birds after they have gone to roost, you can gently purr or soft putt them and the next morning get back to the exact same location, make the same calls and with any luck the first gobbler off the roost will come to you.
With great expectations, the next morning dampened their sprits with rain and cold, so Cinda said, ‘I’m staying in bed.’
All by his self, Stacy got the farmers’ four-wheeler to get out to the area of the ranch he needed to be. Trying to set up on groups did not work for they kept moving. Bad weather and wind make them nervous, because it makes it more easy for a predator like a coyote sneak up on them.
The next day found Stacy and Cinda in a blind close to a water trough. This set the stage for a hunt of a lifetime. Everything came together with 15 jakes and three gobblers are seen coming in without any hens. The jakes tried to come on in but the gobblers kept cutting them off from getting to that real stuffed turkey decoy. The gobblers set up their strut area about 50 yards off, finally working into 30-yard range.
With past experience this turkey team agreed to count to three and both shoot simultaneously to take both birds at the same time, and they pulled it off with 48 pounds of birds on the ground at the same time. Stacy said with pride his wife took the bird with the biggest beard and weight.
Cinda’s bird weighed in at 26 pounds with a 9-inch beard and Stacy’s weighed 22 pounds with a 9-inch beard.
You can’t buy a memory like this, finishing our Grand Slam with a double and your wife by your side; this don’t happen in the real world! Cinda, if you ever get so you don’t like Stacy, please come look me up, I think I love you – and have never met you! Great Job Turkey Team!