This is story Chris Coffey  recently shared with me from a hunt with he and his father in Iowa,  great hunt Chris!


Story by  Chris Coffey,

Once again, I had the pleasure of taking my Dad out turkey hunting here in the great state of Iowa. To date, he has been 100% successful on opening morning and this year proved to be no different. But don’t let that success fool you, this year was tough!

Chris Coffey with big Iowa Gobbler photo by Chris Coffey 4-21-14

The morning before season opened, I had my Dad scout/listen in an area I knew was holding birds, but I wasn’t exactly sure where they were located. As first light began to come over the Iowa landscape, the gobbles erupted from the area I sent my Dad towards. He conveyed back to me that there had to be at least a 1/2 dozen birds gobbling and 4 of them were very close. With that knowledge fresh in the MRI (Most Recent Information) bank, we decided to start in that area opening day. Typically when hunting the farm, I start from the other end, but with that much gobbling, my Dad was convinced we needed to start there. Hard to argue with that!

As daylight broke on the first morning, we stood in the dark waiting for the best sound of Spring…..the gobble. Our wait endured but we never heard a single bird gobble. I can’t tell you the last time that I have stood in the turkey woods on opening day and not heard a gobble. I knew it was going to be tough hunt from then on.

The good news is that the morning was perfect. There was a light South wind and it was clear, crisp, and cool. With high pressure settling over the area, it was the kind of day that turkey hunters dream of. After gathering my thoughts, we decided to move to a corner of the woods where I had seen birds in the past. This spot would also provide a higher elevation so that we could hear any potential candidates for the rest of the morning. As we approached our spot to set up and make some calls, the morning got even worse………Booom! Someone in the next timber had apparently been having better luck than we were. So, we continued on to another area where the birds like to hang out. As we slipped into position, I began to call in hopes of a response. I got a response, but it wasn’t the one I was looking for. As I called, I began to hear clucking and then the same yelping sequence over and over. When the calls then closed the distance on us, I knew it was another hunter. Yes, I had called in another hunter to my location. So, we picked up and moved once again.

Moving toward our 3rd set up of the morning, our heads were hanging a little low. We began to move towards my “hot spot” where I was going to start that morning when I spotted a gobbler strutting out in the field. Great news right? Well, yes, but he also spotted my Dad walking in the tractor two track about 10 yards out from the edge of the field! It was frustrating, but hey, what can you do. Like I said, I am blessed to be hunting with my Dad and the fact that his knee was bothering him and he needed to walk on solid ground, just made me smile to know that he is doing what he can to chase turkeys with his son. So, the birds spotted us and slowly moved up the hill. This is a good sign, because usually they take off right away. We continued to the strut zone very slowly and realized a hen was still hanging around the area. As we slipped into position, I saw a big ol’ gobbler strutting at the end of the field 100 yards away. The hunt was back on!

As is typically custom, My Dad gets to shoot first. I am not sure if it is because he traveled all the way to Iowa to hunt, or if it is just my feeling like I need to repay him for all the wonderful turkey woods lessons he has taught me over the years. Regardless, it was Dad’s turn to shoot this morning in Iowa. With the turkey spotted, Dad mentioned to me to go ahead and crawl down by the field edge and get set up. He later told me that he was wanted me to shoot first because he knew I was chasing my single season slam.

As I positioned myself against a tree, I noticed that Dad had stayed back about 15 yards behind me. Not thinking too much of it, I began to call and immediately got a response. This bird was working! The more I called, the more he gobbled. Back and forth we went, and he slowly made his was toward me, strutting the entire time. 35 minutes later, the bird was still coming and had moved into range. The only problem was that there was brush in the way and I needed the bird to come another 10 yards closer into my opening.

Chris Coffey's Father with big Iowa Gobbler photo by Chris Coffey 4-21-14

Its hard to describe what happened next in text, but I will do my best. The field edge we were hunting has a grassy cove at one end where the bird was strutting. As he made his way toward us, the field turned into dirt from where it had been plowed. The bird worked all the way to the plowed portion, and instead of coming the extra 10 yards that I needed, he decided to cut to my hard left up into the timber! I think the bird didn’t want to get his feet dirty! As the bird moved into the timber, I had no shot. That’s when I realized that the bird was walking right towards my Dad. Yes, you guessed it, the bird walked right in front of my Dad’s Benelli and was down. There is not much better than a 9am bird. The 3yr old bird ended up weighing 24# and had a huge double beard. I guess Dad’s kindness paid off well for him because, in the end, he got to shoot first.

After some pictures and high fives, it was time to move on. We only went about 200 yards to the top of a ridge where I knew was turkey central. Once in position I threw out some cuts and followed with some excited yelps. This lead to an immediate response from a gobbler not 100 yards away. We were back in the game! As my calling got more excited, the gobbles began to erupt from all over the area.

There were birds gobbling to our left, in front of us, and even to our right! We were surrounded. As I continued to pour it on, the birds were definitely moving in closer. As any turkey hunter can relate, it is difficult to choose which way to point the gun with birds coming in from multiple directions. As my ears picked up each gobble getting closer, I began to move around the tree. I would set up to the left, and then in front, and then back left again. But when the gobble exploded from my right, I knew it would be my last move. As I got into position and threw out a sweet, sweet yelp, the bird gobbled so loudly it almost rang my ear. I then spotted the beautiful red, white, and blue head moving through the timber and moved my gun into position. With once last cluck, the bird raised his head into my crosshairs and the Benelli did its job. Earlier in the story I made the comment that there is not much better than a 9am bird…..well, I believe this 11:30 am bird topped it! After picking up the bird, we realized that the bird was a good one. The 4-5yr old bird ended up weighing 21# and had 1.5″ spurs! 

big Iowa Turkey Spur photo by Chris Coffey

gobbler hanging by his hooks photo by chris coffey 4-21-14

The more turkeys I get to hunt, the more I realize how special each and every hunt is. Whether hunting with friends or family, I am just glad to be able to enjoy it all and follow my passion of this great sport of turkey hunting. This Eastern in Iowa has now landed 3 of the 4 birds need for the Grand Slam of turkeys in a single season. With only the Merriam’s left to go, my hopes are high!

Chris Coffey

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