The Hard Core Team Conquer Turkey Season | Cody Kelley

The Fight is on in Alabama This years Alabama Trip took place around Opelika, Alabama with Robert Dudley and the Dudley Family. The Dudley Family has owned and operated one of the largest logging operations in the Southeast for several generations. We had the privledge to meet Robert at the NWTF convention in Nashville, TN prior to 2015 Turkey season. We began doing exactly what everybody does while at the NWTF Convention, we talked turkey. It didn’t take long to figure out that Robert and his family shared the same passion for turkey hunting that we did. After a short amount of time the invite to hunt with Robert was put on the table, and we were all in. This years trip to Alabama was one that we seemed to have nailed the perfect dates. Gobblers go through several different stages throughout the season, but my personal favorite is when they are establishing the pecking order and fighting for their women. That is the exact stage they were in when we arrived in Alabama April 23rd, 2015. As always with Hard Core we immediately decided who was hunting with who for the next morning. That is the exciting aspect of the Hard Core team, we all swap up and video each other. It is always interesting to see how the pairs lay out for each trip. The teams paired up as Chris Ashley and myself, and the other team was Kevin Meacham and Keith Burgess. Chris Ashley and Kevin Meacham were on the triggers first. For Chris and I, the first morning started out with one faint gobble a long ways off, and then the guessing began to try and figure out the best route to the bird. There was a road leading in what seemed to be the exact direction of the first gobble of the morning. Our strategy was plain and simple, try to get as close to the bird as we could on the limb and set up a strutting decoy to test what stage the birds were in. We were going to make a few light yelps and do a fly down, and he was going to fly down in our lap. Easy right???? Not hardly. This plan was immediately changed when we got about 300 yards from the gobbler on the limb, and the road ended on the edge of about a 60 acre clear cut. We should have known, since we were hunting with a logging family. As luck would have it, the bird was roosted right on the edge of the clear cut. We were as close as we could get, so the strategy had to be changed. Chris crawled out and placed the strutting decoy with a Hard Core Widow Maker Hen Decoy. I set up about ten yards behind Chris with the camera, and he immediately began yelping with instant response of a gobble. He also got a response from about a dozen hens. No other options, it was time to try to call the whole flock to us. This is a game that is so often lost, but our only hope was to get them close enough to the strutting decoy, and hope these ol boys want to fight for their women. That is exactly what happened. Chris began yelping and it was a show that I will never forget. The whole flock of hens began answering and working our way with two longbeards following them in full strut for 300 yards across the Alabama clear cut. The hens were jumping from log pile to log pile and yelping as they continued to work to about 60 yards from the decoy set up. This is where the longbeards had all they could stand. They broke from the flock and began running straight to the decoys to fight for their women. That is when Chris Ashley started the 2015 season off with a bang. It was a celebration and hunt that we still talk about today and how the whole flock came in, but at the time I had a tag that was burning a hole in my pocket. It was time to do what we do best, swap up. For the afternoon, we went to different farm that was much smaller. As so often during the early part of the season, we weren’t walking around striking many gobblers up during the middle of the day. We knew the longbeards were most likely still henned up. Although this can make it tougher, we knew we just had to get one close enough to see the strutting decoy. Chris and I decided since this farm was smaller, we were going to ease in and find a good spot to sit down and just do some light calling to see what happened. We eased down a log road that was tore up with scratching and decided to set up about 100 yards from where the road met a small food plot. Our reasoning for this was simple. We weren’t sure exactly where the turkeys might be, so we set up off the food plot thinking the birds would pop into the food plot first then work their way to us. As Chris picked his spot for the camera, I put up the strutting decoy with the Hard Core Widow Maker Hen Decoy squatted in the road. We both began doing a few light yelping sequences, nothing crazy just talking back and forth. After doing this off and on for about 20 minutes, a hen cut back at us. We immediately began getting more aggressive mocking what she did. She instantly began getting closer and closer as the cutting kept getting louder, and here she comes right to the decoys. About the time she gets into the decoys, we began hearing more yelping coming from the direction of the food plot. Chris and I kept yelping back and forth as we see more hens coming into the food plot where the road meets it, and then we hear two longbeards hammer off. Game on. The two longbeards pop into the road behind the hens and hit a full charge for 100 yards to twelve steps in the decoys. It was one of the best first days that I have ever had with two totally different types of hunts. Although the first day will be hard to beat, this trip didn’t end here. Things were just getting started for the Hard Core Team. Keith and Kevin are all over some aggressive Alabama Easterns themselves. At the end of the trip, we had four hunts that were totally different, but it resulted in one of the best turkey shows that we have ever done. This is one show that you don’t want to miss, so tune in to Hunt Presented Hard Core to see the rest! Cody Kelley Hard Core