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Hunting CommunityBrother's Bag Single-season Turkey Grand Slam

Brother’s Bag Single-season Turkey Grand Slam

My name is Tyler Andreasson and at the age of 27, my brother Jacob (22) and I committed ourselves to pursuing the Wild Turkey Grand Slam in the Spring of 2023.

This adventure really started in the Spring of 2022 when I told my fiancé I wanted to quit my comfortable corporate job at a respectable consulting firm to be a guide on my uncle’s ranch in Montana. This really didn’t come as a huge shock to her. She knew I’d been struggling with corporate life for some time and also knew of my passion for the outdoors and adventure. At the time, the job market was so hot I figured I’d have no problem leaving the corporate world for around 6 months to live my dream of being a guide at the K-L Ranch in the Bob Marshall Wilderness as a type of sabbatical.

The real shock came later when I told my fiancé that my brother Jacob decided to graduate CU Boulder a semester early, which means when I was done guiding at the end of Fall he and I would both be free of responsibilities. As lifelong Missouri-born turkey hunters my brother and I had always dreamed of doing the Grand Slam in one year. This seemed like the perfect time. I told my fiancé that when I’m done guiding at the K-L I am going to delay my reentry to the corporate world until the Summer of 2023, after Jacob and I pursue the four subspecies of wild turkey in the continental USA.

Our adventure began in Florida in the pursuit of the Osceola. Jacob and I pride ourselves on DIY hunting so we applied for public land tags. However, quickly into our research, we learned that a Florida turkey tag is a multi-point draw and this was our first year applying. We also came across a common theme in every article we read, “If this is your first-time turkey hunting in Florida DO NOT do it alone”. There were numerous warnings about the need for a boat, the dangers of the terrain, and how easily the hunter can become the hunted in the Florida wilderness. Luckily for Jacob and me, two of our hometown buddies decided to pursue the guide life just like I did and worked on an outfit in southern Florida that offers guided turkey hunts. Even luckier for Jacob and me is that our buddies were able to hook us up with the “friend price”. We quickly booked our hunt and were off to kick off the Grand Slam in Okeechobee, FL.

When Jacob and I arrived at the outfit our optimism quickly rose. As we went to the lodge to check in we noticed another turkey hunter checking out. It turns out that this turkey hunter was supposed to be the third hunter in camp along with Jacob and myself. However, this hunter got the dates confused and arrived a day early. Luckily a guide was available to take him out that morning because he killed a very healthy Osceola right off the roost. He tipped his guide, paid his tab, and said “My buddy called and said the birds are gobbling like crazy back home, I gotta get back”. Not only was this a good sign that the turkeys are hot and workable, but it also meant that Jacob and I have the whole camp to ourselves.

Our Florida guides, who also happened to be our hometown buddies, were very eager to make the first leg of our Grand Slam journey a success. We quickly got settled in and went to roost birds for the next morning. After a quick drive in the truck around a land-leased cattle ranch we spotted a flock with multiple strutters in a cabbage field. We kept our eyes on them until they flew into a tree in the far back-left corner of the cabbage field. We immediately start high-fiving one another as we think tomorrow will be quick work. However, as you veteran turkey hunters know, it’s never that easy.

The next morning we got to the cabbage field early. It was pitch black and we had great cover to get a decoy in the field and get set up in a levee that gave us concealment and allowed us to rest our guns on the ground. At first light, we let out a hoot owl and the gobbles started popping off. These boys were close and talking. But, as our luck would have it, they pitched off the roost away from us and walked to the back of the field into the woods. Jacob, our two guides, and I break up at 2:2 to try and spot and stalk them, but the morning and early afternoon came and went with no success. This was the second to last week of the South Florida season and I got a bad feeling in my stomach; these birds have been educated and are tired of being hunted for the year.

We left the cattle ranch to go get a snack and something to drink at a nearby gas station. On the drive back we discussed strategy, got focused, and told ourselves it’s by no means over. Not long after returning to the land lease, we see the same flock of turkeys in the same cabbage field as the night before. We assume they will follow the same pattern, so we strategically use the dikes and levees as concealment as we sneak our way to the middle of the cabbage field in an effort to cut them off on their way to the roost. Our patient gamble paid off. As we lay there motionless for 45 minutes, the dominant tom of the flock fed his way closer and closer to us until Jacob finished him off with a 50-yard shot. One of our guides had to dive into gator-infested waters to cross the dike and get the dead turkey on the other side. We were all elated as our first full day on our Grand Slam adventure was a success. The National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) claims that Osceolas do not exceed 20 lbs. A commercial scale measured Jacob’s at 20.4. It was the biggest bird the outfit had killed in the recent past and the NWTF required 4 witnesses for Jacob to register his bird.

The next morning we set out feeling good from the prior evening. I was also feeling good because I had two guides and my brother in the field with me fully committed to getting me a turkey. We quickly find some on the roost but just like the first morning, they hit the ground and walked away from us. My brother and his guide spotted a tom feeding in a field at around 8 AM when we split off at 2:2 the day before. So I went with one guide to go sit in that field, while Jacob and the other guide went to scout the rest of the property. Not long after we find a good sitting tree in the field, and I fall asleep. I wake up, look around, and see something moving through the grass. I kept my eyes on it for about 2 minutes until the redhead came out of the wild grass and I knew we were back in action. The turkey kept going in and out of the tall wild grass about 100 yards away from us but made his way closer. I shoulder my gun but am not provided with a clean shot. My guide is in my ear telling me to shoot. But I don’t feel comfortable with the shot and the idea of missing was not an option. During my guide tenure, I witnessed 4 misses and that was 4 too many for my liking. I was not about to put my guide through that same misery. I kept telling myself “Patience kills” and the second that redhead exposed itself at 45 yards I let him have it. There was nothing but smiles when we met my brother and another guide back at the truck. Our first leg of the Turkey Hunting Grand Slam was a success and we were rewarded with a celebratory bow-fishing trip that night.

Jacob and I got back to our home base of Missouri on April 10th, quickly got resituated, and left for Texas on April 12th at 6 AM sharp in pursuit of the Rio Grande subspecies. Our dad wanted to join us on this leg of the Slam and one thing you should know about Jacob and me is that we are damn near self-made hunters. Our uncles showed us the ropes when we were little, but our dad and mom are not hunters. Dad will tell you himself he doesn’t have the patience for it. Having said this, it wasn’t in the cards to public land hunt with Dad accompanying us. We booked a trip with an outfitter that was known for his success rate, knowledge, and persistence. Jacob and I also made sure every hunting location we traveled to was in an area with pure-subspecies birds. In other words, we made sure we weren’t going to kill a hybrid of any of the subspecies, which we are told is more and more common as the Eastern expands its territory.

Jacob and I are paired together with our guide Trotter. Right away we knew Trotter and us would have some fun together. Trotter was the definition of a good ole boy from Texas, kind of like Jacob and me from Missouri. We set up in the morning on another land lease. We heard gobbles in the distance but it was a pretty slow morning. After that setup, we strike up a few more birds but then decide to drive to the other side of the property to see if anything is gobbling over there. I have never seen this work, but we pull off over a creek bottom, kill the truck, and Trotter gives out a few yelps. Three gobbles instantly reply. They sound so close that we literally sit down right where we stood expecting them to come in hot. After a few calls and replies we determine they are hung up in the same spot. We sneak in close and begin calling again. It’s a good thing we had Trotter because calling in Rios is nothing like calling in Easterns, the subspecies Jacob and I grew up hunting. With Easterns, you want to call sparsely and keep them curious. Apparently, with Rios, you hammer and keep hammering. Trotter’s inside knowledge paid off and he got one to walk right out into the road for Jacob to take him at 62 yards. Jacob absolutely rolled him and we knew there was no risk of the bird getting up and running off. So quickly after Jacob shoots I congratulate him but move him behind me as I set up for a shot. The outfitter told us the night before that if you run into a flock and kill one, let it lay and another tom might come up to spur it. Trotter got the other toms to gobble again after Jacob’s shot, but couldn’t get them into the red zone. After a few minutes of waiting we stood up to go get Jacob’s bird and celebrate his success. Having only killed Easterns until our Grand Slam tour, it was amazing for me to see the gold tips on the Rio as we approached it. Each subspecies is so unique and it’s amazing to see them up close and personal.

After getting Jacob’s bird on ice we waste no time getting set up again in hopes of tagging us out in one day. After an hour of sitting, I begin questioning if this is the correct strategy or if our guide just wanted to sit for a while to catch up on some sleep. After two hours I fall asleep myself. After three hours the hot Texas sun begins to lower and I wake up in a pool of sweat with the sun directly on me. As we approach hour four I tell myself “There is no way sitting here with our fingers crossed is going to lead to any action”. Not long after those negative thoughts enter my mind I hear a faint gobble. I tell myself I have turkey fever and to ignore it but then it hammers again. And again. And again. At this point, it’s undoubtedly getting closer. After shouldering my gun for 10 minutes anxiously waiting for him to expose himself from behind the tree line the gobbles were coming from he gives me a 64-yard opportunity. After being beyond board for the past 4 hours I waste no time taking the shot and watching him roll. The second leg of the Grand Slam is a success. Our next stop is Missouri for Easterns, the subspecies Jacob and I grew up hunting.

We returned to Missouri on the evening of April 16th to be there for opening day on April 17th. Our family is blessed to have a 400-acre farm that runs along the Meramec River and historically holds birds. However, it seems like I hear fewer and fewer gobbles there every year and Jacob and I end up having a slow start to the Missouri season. After some very slow days, Jacob and I got into some action during the third morning of the season. Jacob and I set up a bird who was gobbling on the roost. As soon as he flew down Jacob called him right to us. As soon as he saw our hen decoy sitting on the road Jacob and I were on opposite sides of him came running. As soon as he stopped and stuck his head up I pulled the trigger, only to hear my gun click but not discharge. I keep my gun shouldered and using my non-trigger hand, slowly pulled the action back to load another shell into my semi-automatic shotgun. The tom got a sense something wasn’t right and quickly walked away. I could have puked. Jacob and I diligently pattered our guns before going to Florida and I killed my Osceola and Rio with one clean shot. I knew this bird would have dropped if my gun would have went off. Thinking back on what happened, earlier that morning I guided the action of my semi-auto shotgun up with my hand as opposed to letting inertia load the shell. This was an effort to limit the amount of noise made by loading my gun before walking into the woods. The lack of momentum left a small space between the firing pin and the bolt, causing the gun to not discharge. I couldn’t help but be so disappointed in myself. In hunting you are lucky to get one opportunity. That could have been my one and only chance to fill the Eastern leg of the Grand Slam. Luckily, patience paid off and 8 days later I filled my tag on our farm with Jacob by my side, all was forgiven. After me shooting one of the few birds we heard on our farm Jacob called in a favor and got permission to hunt at one of our hometown friend’s places. He filled his tag two days later.

Although Jacob graduated a semester early he waited to walk until the Spring so he could celebrate with all of his friends. His graduation was the weekend after we killed our Missouri birds, and then we packed up and headed for the mountains the Sunday of his graduation weekend. We were heading to finish the Grand Slam in a mountainous draw unit where we go mule deer hunting every Fall. I couldn’t go last year, but on Jacob’s way out he claims to have seen over 200 turkeys just along the main road. Jacob and I had the opportunity to scout the public land in the unit the week before his graduation but weren’t thrilled with what we discovered. Most public trails were still covered in snow and those that weren’t were too muddy from the snowmelt to hike. This was also late in the Colorado season and all the turkeys we did see were on private land. Fortunately, we have a good relationship with a local outfitter, who we pay to park our horse trailer on their lot when we pack back to mule deer hunt, who owns 30 acres and gave us permission to hunt it.

When we went back to the mountains the Sunday of Jacob’s graduation weekend we head straight to the private property. We pulled into the driveway at around 12:30 PM. We walked the main trail back to the fields and instantly get caught with our pants down, birds are all around us. We tried to make the best out of the situation we found ourselves in but weren’t able to get enough cover to sneak up to the birds, and we were way too exposed to call. We leave that night unsuccessful, but very optimistic for the next morning. The next morning we decided to stick together because the toms we did see the day before were all grouped up, and we wanted to maximize the chances of us doubling up and finishing the grand slam together. We did call one tom into shooting distance, but horses in the pasture prevented us from taking the shot. We end up sitting on the property till 1 PM before getting up to set up on public land the rest of the day. We go to bed that night without any birds on ice.

The next morning we decided to split up. We talked and agreed that if the other one shoots, the other needs to be still and patient to see if the other toms will go in their direction. I sit under a tree until the sun comes up without hearing any gobbles on the property. My mind starts thinking the worst and I’m afraid we pushed all the toms off the property from us walking around the past day and a half. I start to doze off into a nap when a hear a gun go off that was undoubtedly Jacob. I instantly shoulder my gun thinking back to what Jacob and I talked about. Instantly a hen walks right in front of me but no toms. After waiting for 10 minutes I get up to go find Jacob and see the result of the shot. On my way to him, I see a turkey walk into a wood line. I’ve never successfully “run and gunned” a turkey before, but the timber was thick and he was clearly going along a defined path. I make my way along the wood line in an effort to cut him off. I get to a good spot with cover and see him still making his way to me. At this point, I’m still not 100% sure it’s a Tom, as opposed to a Jake. Luckily, I was wearing my binoculars around my chest, unluckily I had about 30 whole seconds to glass the bird and make a decision. I start to get a profile view of the bird as he beings to walk in front of me. In a matter of 30ish seconds I find the turkey in my hunting binoculars, confirm the beard is hanging down and the bird is a mature tom, shoulder my gun, steady my breathing, and fire a shot before the turkey walks behind the next tree and I lose my opportunity. In the chaotic pursuit of this turkey, I will admit I was not set up to take my best shot. I hit the wing pretty badly and had to kneel on the bird for a minute before it went still. But at that moment, when everything called down and I had a Merriam’s tom lying in front of me it all hit, I had successfully gotten the Wild Turkey Grand Slam in one season. The NWTF defines a successful Grand Slam as being completed across the hunter’s life, not necessarily in a single season. For that reason, there are limited statistics and records of the Grand Slam being done in a single season. But as I stood there in Garfield County, Colorado looking out onto the Rockies, I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment knowing hours of research, traveling, practice, and patience all paid off.

After my celebration in solitude, I set out to go find Jacob roughly 45 minutes after I heard a gunshot come from his direction. With a Merriams over my shoulder, I walk up on him with a healthy 3-4-year-old tom laying by his feet. We instantly embrace in a hug as we both have the same thought. We did the impossible. We BOTH got the Grand Slam on the same morning.

After hearing Jacob’s story from the morning, I realize the turkey I killed was in the same group as Jacob’s bird. Apparently, Jacob had a group of 5 toms in front of him as soon as the sun came up.  But with trees obstructing his shot, he had to slowly and carefully swing his gun around roughly 180 degrees. He said it took him about half an hour of slowly moving his gun when the toms put their heads down to peck at the grass. He finally got his shot off and the other toms in the group didn’t startle. Jacob even recorded a video of the bird I shot casually walking away from him, in my direction, where I proceeded to kill him about 20 minutes later.

Pursuing the Grand Slam with your brother is something I can not recommend enough, especially if you’re an avid turkey hunter. It will come with highs and lows, trials and tribulations, roses and thorns, peaks and valleys. But the memories you will keep and the turkey meat you hopefully get to eat will be some of the best in your life. From April 6 – May 16th, 2023 Jacob and I spent countless hours in the woods. Obtaining knowledge and wisdom we can hopefully pass down to our kids one day as they prepare for their single-season Grand Slam.

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