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Turkey Hunting with Airguns

On Saturday March 25th Tom Costan and I headed out from the American Air Arms facility in Acton California where we would drive 6 hours North to hunt Turkey. Several years ago I came across a post on the GTA Airgun forum by a guy named Glenn Elliott, he had posted one of his video’s of a Turkey hunt he recently had. Glenn received a good amount of heckling that unfortunately I chose to participate in, one comment I made really as a joke was taken very seriously by Glenn. Glenn ended up contacting me over the phone and expressed his disappointment in the comments I made and I gladly apologized with sincerity. Over a good talk on the phone we became friends and had even planned to hunt together one day that sounded to me like a great adventure. Several weeks ago I got a call from Glenn asking if I had planned to attend the Placerville Airgun Expo that was very near his ranch, if so it would be nice to visit him and join him for a Turkey hunt. Well I immediately contacted Tom Costan and he excitedly made arrangements for us to attend the show and set some extra time aside to hunt with Glenn the following Monday March 27th.


After attending the two day Airgun Expo that will be included in another article we set out an hour West to Davis where we would stay at Glenn’s beautiful horse ranch that gave a very mid-western feel to it. The recent rains have given this areas fields miles of luscious green grass that was simply breathtaking.

Glenn Elliott has hunted Turkey’s exclusively with Airguns since 2010. After his father’s death Glenn spent many hours in the woods with his Airgun as a way to connect with his father as it was always something they did together. Glenn has been an avid  bow-hunter for many years where he hunted whitetail deer and eventually Turkey. Glenn eventually made a move to California and continued bow-hunting Turkey and after many years of hunting them with a bow Glenn decided to try something different. Glenn ultimately decided to give Airguns a try since they were now legal to hunt Turkey’s with in California. After taking his first Turkey in 2010 with a Nitro Piston Airgun and dropping it in its tracks, he was very successful and decided to continue hunting them with Airguns. Eventually through his many successful Turkey hunts Crosman Corporation decided to sponsor Glenn and make him a Prostaff member that allowed Glenn access to many of they’re Airguns.

Photo American Airgunner TV (left) Glenn Elliott (right) Rossi Morreale

Glenn believes that Airguns offer less of a chance of wounding a Turkey when compared to both bow and shotgun if done properly by taking head-shots within range. Waiting for a good close head-shot makes Airguns one of the most rewarding tools for Turkey hunting. Glenn’s hunts can be seen on his  YouTube channel “The Airgun Hunter“. He has hunted with many well known celebrities as well as long time Airgunners such as Jim Chapman. He has appeared on the TV show American Airgunner where he hunted with Rossi Morreale and always has freely given his vast knowledge of Turkey hunting to anyone who asks. Glenn would eventually love to host his own TV show that would be focused exclusively on hunting with Airguns for different species all over the United States.


Upon our arrival Glenn invited me into his awesome “Man Cave” where I was greeted with a little surprise that I gladly played along with. As mentioned before I had posted a comment on a popular forum that Quoted “I can tell you I sure wont be running out to buy the NP2 for turkey unless of coarse it comes with a case of Mountain Dew.”  Well, Glenn did it and made me swallow my words. Those that know me know that I can take a joke, this one was picture perfect!

Glenn is an absolute pleasure to talk to and is in fact a very professional “real world” hunter that became obvious from his wall of mounted trophy whitetails and Turkey’s. Tom and I were very excited and honored that he not only invited us to stay on his beautiful 26 acre ranch but allowed us the opportunity for our very first Turkey hunt. Glenn gave us some time that evening to sight our new American Air Arms EVOL .30s between 5 and 30 yards, not the type of short range hunting either of us were very familiar with.

After sighting in our guns we had a nice dinner with Glenn and his family, we got to sleep as we would be starting our Monday’s hunt by 5:45 am.


Tom and I got up around 5:00 am and proceeded to ready our gear for the days Turkey hunt as well as having our morning cup of Joe that Glenn thankfully provided. We got into our vehicles and took a short ride down the road to one of the areas Glenn had hoped to be very active with Turkeys. After we arrived we followed Glenn in the dark on foot several hundred yards into a big field where he set up some decoys as well as the blind we would be sitting in for most of the morning.

In the direction we set up the blind was a road that ran parallel with a ravine followed by some wooded areas on the other side where Glenn said the Turkey’s roost during the night. After setting up the decoys and getting ourselves adjusted inside the blind with Glenn and I on opposite corners to man the cameras, Tom being in the middle using the shooting sticks.

The blind was good size for one or two people but three made it quite difficult to move around in, especially when trying to make a small adjustment or reach for something. I felt bad because as Glenn was loading his Marauder magazine we noticed that his breech oring had fallen out and upon trying to reinstall it got lost on the ground. Within about 15 minutes we started hearing the distant gobbling and clucking of Turkey’s, pretty exciting as this was my first Turkey hunt. Glenn had hoped that the Turkeys would make way out of the woods and down the road seeing the decoys that were set around 15 yards away leaving us some good close shots. After a bit of waiting Glenn used his Turkey caller that soon gave us sight of a good size Tom that was moving in the woods at near 60 yards, obstructed by tall grass and branches.

The Turkey’s moved to the to the right through the woods and around us where they walked along a road towards a large open field. Unfortunately we had several obstructions such as a gate, embankment and a ravine that limited any good shots. We waited keeping our eyes on all sides of the blind in hopes that some hens would return followed by several Jake’s and eventually the large bearded Toms that we were after. The decoys that Glenn set up were fairly realistic and placed in a very natural pose that surly may invoke some excitement from any Turkey’s that may pass by.

Soon Glenn had spotted several hens returning from down the road that were to soon be followed by a good sized Gobbler, the largest one I had seen this day.

This large Tom was at near 60 yards away and the fence in front was frustrating because it would occasionally obstruct making a good head-shot, especially as the Turkey would not stay still. This may have been the best opportunity for a shot we would have all day but simply was not worth the risk in failure, spooking all the rest away. As frustrating as it was we decided to wait and hope for a closer, more clear head-shot. As the morning progressed we were visited by several Jackrabbits that were taunting all of us with great shot opportunity but we simply could not risk hunting them as that would ruin our goal of bagging a Turkey.

By this time we had been in the blind for nearly 3 hours and getting quite yancy so Glenn decided to become a bit more aggressive with the Turkey calls. We would see them moving back and fourth in the woods but none of them would come out enough for us to make any clear shots. This was frustrating but I was still just happy to be with friends and get to learn so much being this was my first Turkey hunt. Glenn helped pass the time by telling us a few stories and giving us some insight on some of his past hunting experience. Luckily all three of us had reached that level of hunting to where we simply didn’t care about success but for us was more about just enjoying it for what it was.

With it being close to 11:00 am we unfortunately had to think about calling it a day as our many hours of driving was ahead of us. We decided to wait several more minutes as several Jackrabbits were moving about and frequently would sit on the road in front of us. Soon enough a good sized one came about and Tom had his sights on it.

Tom took several moments and made his shot that sent the .30 44 grain JSB right into his chest sending him down the other side into the woods.

After several minutes we exited the blind to make our way across the ravine to locate the Jackrabbit.

We made our way across a small metal bridge that gave us entrance into a large eucalyptus forest where we attempted to find the expired Jackrabbit. We searched and after several minutes I found a very large pool of blood and a trail of blood that seemed to vanish with no trace. Tom and I had noticed prior to his shot that a Hawk had been circling the area and even landed in a tree close before the shot, I think the Hawk may have swooped down and taken the Jackrabbit before we had a chance to recover it. This to me seemed the only logical explanation as that amount of blood loss would make it impossible for the Jackrabbit to continue more than several yards. Through our walk back I ended up spooking several Turkeys that were in the far portion of the woods, amazing how fast those birds can move through the tall grass. We made our way back to the blind to start packing everything up and into the vehicles where we would head back to Glenn’s ranch.


As Tom and I packed up our vehicle with the remaining equipment at Glenn’s ranch he offered to let us have some fun with his Pioneer Airbow, a new product from Crosman Corporation. This Airbow is very similar to the Benjamin Bulldog but in fact shoots arrows or broad-heads. The gun fills to 3000 psi and gets loaded by inserting the airbolts into the front of the rifle  where it puts out near 160 fpe with 375 grain arrows at 450 fps for 8 shots.

This Airbow is pretty easy to load and cocks very easily with the weight being about 7 lbs. All three of us were able to hit bulls-eyes at 40 yards very easily. The gun is fairly loud but was still very enjoyable to shoot, no doubt being a very capable hunting weapon.


Tom and I will remember this hunt for a lifetime as it not only was our first Turkey hunt but one that we had the honor of sharing with someone as reputable as Glenn Elliott. We both learned so much and will be able to take that knowledge with us on future hunts and through some of my writing here. I can’t thank Glenn enough for opening his home and extending the hand of friendship to fellow Airgunners. Glenn is a great example to future hunters and has a ton to offer the Airgun community as he has helped to progress our sport. The experience will never be forgotten and can only hope to extend the honor of taking Glenn for a hunt in some of my locations here in Southern California in the future.

 

 

 

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3-Day Back Country Ground Squirrel Hunt

I had a busy week of work and could hardly wait to escape as I ended my day Thursday afternoon. I headed home and packed the Jeep for a 4 day adventure hunt in the very remote area of the desert. I left early Friday morning with my dog Marley where we drove for a good part of the morning to get us to our destination that took us through some very remote areas of the Mojave desert. We made a few stops before we headed up a very steep mountain road that at one time was frequented by miners that traveled the trail with mules, wagons and horses.


Marley and I drove quite a bit further and used our time to explore a few areas that we had planned to hunt the following day when SteveO and Terry arrived. I was too looking for a good area for us to camp and possibly have some shade to camp under. After a bit of searching I was able to find a good location that fit the criteria for not only hunting but camping as well. We parked the Jeep under a nice sized Pine tree and proceeded to unpack the hunting gear, cameras etc, and head out on foot to explore a bit.

Marley was just as excited as I was to be in such a beautiful location, I too could hear the distant bark and chatter of the many Ground Squirrels that have saturated the area. After gearing up we set across a small creek that opened up into a large open field with fallen trees, rock outcroppings and nice green grass. It wasn’t long before I found a nice spot to sit for awhile and try making some longer shots on these Ground Squirrels.

I spotted quite a few at some 100+ yards away sunning themselves high up on the rocks. The wind was actually quite fierce at times but would sometimes let up just enough to make a good shot. I had quite a few misses as I was trying to not only steady the rifle but the movie camera as well, gets frustrating when you miss a shot due to camera set up.


I was using the new American Air Arms EVOL .30 that was loaded with 44gr Predator Polymags that from prior experience work very well in the gun out past 130+ yards.

After a short time I had connected with several Ground Squirrels and will say it was very exciting as the place was simply crawling with them. The Polymags work flawlessly out of the EVOL and I even surprised myself a few times with shots that were simply amazing. Here is one I took from over 130 yards as he was sunning himself on a cliff-face.

After about 45 minutes in the same spot I decided to move locations onto a very large slab rock that overlooked a good part of the valley and offered near panoramic views.

This area was great as I had spotted many Ground Squirrels moving from hole to hole around and under the many Oak Trees that covered the area. I took several from this location with the furthest being out to 90 yards.


After some time hunting and trying the best I could to get some good video footage it was getting late and time for Marley and I to go set up camp. The following morning Terry and SteveO were to meet me in a set location that was quite a distance from where I was. After some thought I decided to pack up my gear and head back down the mountain many miles to the area we were to meet. This area was so remote that getting a cell-phone signal would be near impossible and I simply did not want to take the chance of them not finding me in the morning. Marley and I packed up all the gear and headed down the narrow Jeep trail as by this time the sun was setting.

After quite a bit of driving we came to the area where I was to meet SteveO and Terry in the morning. This area was actually very creepy as it was backed up into a rocky canyon and gave a bit of “The Hills Have Eyes” type of vibe. Thankfully Marley kept me company as I set up camp for the night and made a good size bon-fire to keep the critters away.

We slept quite well that night and awoke to a beautiful clear morning with thankfully no wind that would sure to make a great day of hunting. The guys weren’t expected for another few hours so I had decided to get in a little Jackrabbit hunting before they came.

The morning was just gorgeous as the sun came up and the location looked to be perfect habitat for hunting Jackrabbits. We walked up over a ridge where I hoped to be able to spot some amber ears from the distance.

After about a mile of hiking we came up over a ridge where we could see for several hundred yards ahead of us, perfect place to sit quietly and enjoy the morning. I soon spotted several Jackrabbits that were near a bit beyond 200 yards on the side of a densely vegetated hillside.

I ended up taking the shot on one and came within several inches of hitting it, actually from the looks of the photo I may have connected with its tail.

We spotted several more Jackrabbits as we made our way back to camp as by this time I was expecting SteveO and Terry to arrive to meet us. As we made our way around the ridge I could see that the guys had arrived and were waiting to spot me coming down through the rocks. After a few minutes of saying our hellos we moved the caravan to the location I had hunted the day before, where we would spend the next several days. The guys were most excited about the spot, especially since I had told them how active it was the day before.

Terry had spent some time setting up some targets so they could zero the rifles and warm up for the day of hunting ahead.

After about 20 minutes we were ready to head out across the creek and search out some active Ground Squirrel areas. I showed Terry and SteveO a few of the areas I felt to be active and they settled for a spot that was under several trees and offered a good view of some rock-outcroppings.


SteveO and Terry both almost immediately connected with some Ground Squirrels that were between 45 and 65 yards. The rock had several that were moving about and would sometimes give good opportunity as they climbed the rocks, stopping frequently.


After around 45 minutes SteveO spotted a Ground Squirrel at 80 yards peeking his head up from behind a very large boulder, the only thing you could see was his eye. I spent a little time watching the Ground Squirrel until I felt comfortable to take the shot that was a very tiny target. I made the shot and connected perfectly considering the range and the angle I was at, really only had a tiny black eye for an aiming point.


I took a short little break and then followed the guys around for awhile hoping to capture some good video footage. Terry ended up spotting a Ground Squirrel next to a tree at 85 yards where he connected with a loud distinct THWACK sound.


These Ground Squirrels were literally all over the place, pretty much just needed to pick a spot and go to town. As SteveO and I were walking we heard the distant crack followed by a THWACK, OOOOOOH sounds like he got one. SteveO, Marley and I went to check it out and sure enough Terry made a head-shot that looked to be near 70 yards. The obvious signs of death by lead poisoning were all over the rocks, looked like a murder scene.

After a quick walk back to camp we sat in the shade while enjoying our lunch, followed by a little more target shooting. After a few minutes we headed out again, this time being a little more familiar with the area and where the active spots are. I choose a spot up under a tree that looked down on some fallen logs and large rocks.

This area had a good field of view of several Ground Squirrels that were running around with several that were sunning themselves on the flat-rocks. I ended up shooting one that was over 80 yards as he turned facing away from me, I think everyone heard the THWACK that seemed to echo throughout the canyon.

After a little over an hour I asked the guys if they wanted to take a ride in the Jeep and go further up the mountain to another location that SteveO and I hunted last Summer with great luck.


This area upon arrival was obviously extremely infested with Ground Squirrels and was apparent that we didn’t need to look far to find opportunity.

Within about two minutes we all had at least one kill each with hundreds more in sight, some as far away as 150 yards. I worked my way into the back of a giant field, taking several as far as 130 yards. This area had many beautiful Oak trees to sit under along with nice short green grass that made spotting the Ground Squirrels quite easy.


I could hear the distant sounds of both Terry and SteveO making connections, very loud and could be heard throughout the entire valley. This may have been my favorite area of the day as it had so much great opportunity for long range shots. After following a faint trail down through the valley I came across a spot where I spooked several Ground Squirrels off a rock formation. I figured Marley and I would sit and wait several minutes for one to come back up on top of the rocks.

It didn’t take long before a Ground Squirrel came back up onto the rock to sun himself, I took a devastating shoulder shot at 65 yards that blew him right off the rock.


About this time we met back to the Jeep and headed back down to camp with near 60 kills between us for the day, even the dog was pleased. It was nice to just be among good friends and be able to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. This area was truly amazing and offered some of the best Ground Squirrel hunting I have ever encountered. We set up a fine camp and even cooked hotdogs, burgers while we enjoyed the company of good friends and the light of the full moon. Later in the night I started a good size fire to take the chill off and add to the rustic backdrop of this beautiful place.

The following morning we were up early and ready to hunt as SteveO would be leaving us around 9:00 am. We crossed the creek and decided to try a few different areas that we had not explored yet, one of which had a huge amount of rocks.


We all had connected with several Ground Squirrels that in some cases were very difficult to see against the endless assortment of rocks. The one I was after was high up on a large boulder, almost acting as though he was king of his castle.

The trouble with hunting Ground Squirrels in this type of habitat is that finding the kill can become a challenge in itself, loosing them in holes, cracks etc, can become very frustrating. All three of us made some incredible shots in this spot but the area was simply near impossible to recover our kills from, even with the dog. SteveO soon had to leave us where it was now just Terry, Marley and I to hunt for the rest of the day. Terry and I decided that we would take the Jeep and venture back up to the other area from the day before. We split up and headed out separate ways where I soon could hear the distant clap of his Tapian Mutant making some heavy Ground Squirrel connections. I on the other hand was content near the Jeep where I spotted several at 150+ yards where I was able to connect with one.



Here is one I took at 110 yards



Terry and I made quite a few kills through the morning putting our total to well up over 90 I believe.

This area was an absolute pleasure to hunt and my choice in company made the trip most memorable. I was able to get a good amount of video footage considering the difficulty of the area. This hunt was a huge learning curve for me and the first time I had really used the camera for an extended period of time, facing challenges with setup and the various angles involved in filming them. I am truly blessed to have such good friends and many others behind the scenes that support my adventures on many levels, thank you. Enclosed is a link to the video in relation to this hunt, hope you enjoy. HUNT VIDEO