The night before my April turkey hunt with Mike I sustained a major leg injury putting me on crutches and unable to hunt, talk about a downer. Finally, over a month later I was off my crutches and gave Mike a call to see if there was still a chance he could squeeze me in for the last week of the Kansas turkey season. Being the gracious host that he is, Mike said “No problem, get down here on Monday and we will go find some turkeys”!
Knowing that Mike had already harvested 35 gobblers this season, I was a little concerned that there might now be many left on his properties, but Mike assured me that he had not been skunked for as many years as he could remember and he wasn’t about to start with me. That boosted my confidence quite a bit. I sure the heck didn’t want to be the one that broke the streak that’s for sure.
I pulled into Mike’s driveway in the great town of Woodston, Kansas (located in the north central region of the state) just after noon on a gorgeous Monday afternoon. I was expecting to get settled in and have a chance to see a few of Mike’s properties and maybe get out for a late afternoon scouting mission to put a few Rio’s to bed for the next morning. Boy was I wrong. As soon as I pulled in, Mike showed me to my room and asked me how long it would take me to get ready to hunt. I said I could be ready in about 15 minutes if need be. He said he was going to get his truck ready and to put my gear in the back ASAP and we were off….
Always up for an adventure and not wanting to sit around anyway, this was great but I wasn’t quite sure what Mike had on his agenda being mid-afternoon on a hot and sunny late May day. Mike said that being I was the last turkey hunter in camp and with the major drought in the area over the past 24 months, the turkey population, along with many of the upland birds and whitetails in some areas, were down this year.
So we had our work cut out for us. Mike also informed me that “This Ain’t Your Grandpa’s Turkey Hunt”, whatever that meant. Being that it was late in the day we started driving the back roads looking for Toms strutting out in the fields and along the tree lines. I asked Mike how many acres we had to hunt? He pointed with his finger in a big circle and said 35 miles in every direction. Wow!
Mike has a much different way of running his outfitting business than most and I would come to appreciate all of the hard work he puts in year round. Being that Mike is a FULL TIME outfitter for turkeys and whitetails, he does not have another job. His entire year is devoted to scouting out every area within a 70 square mile radius around his house. He also enjoys building and maintaining his landowner relationships with all of the farmers in the area. Mike is basically a hired hand for anyone in the area, free of charge. If you are a farmer in need, in the 7 month off season, Mike is your man! From the moment we got into the truck, Mike’s phone was ringing off the hook from his landowners who needed help with this or that. I could see how Mike was serious when he said we have the ability to hunt almost any field in a 35 mile radius, in any direction of his home.
Right off the bat we spotted a hen in a tree line not far from his home, but she was all alone so we kept moving. We first headed south and hit up a couple “Hot Spots” Mike had been seeing turkeys in over the last week or so, but the temps were warming up quick and the birds were sure to be in the shade at this point in the day. On our travels Mike showed off several of his top whitetail food plots and stand locations. I was even more impressed when Mike shared with me that they have had an over 90% success rate with all of his whitetail hunters over the past 3 seasons as well and his hunter’s average 165+ or better bucks with his largest buck being a massive 231" monster taken several years ago! In addition to Mike working year round with his land owners, he also works year round maintaining his food plots and making sure his whitetail herd is well taken care of. Being in the midst of a major drought right now Mike has taken the initiative to put water troughs on all of his properties to ensure his deer all have an ample and clean water supply year round. Mike said he has not had one case of blue tongue yet.
A Monster 207" Buck
Taken By Brian Barley
With Mike Adams In Kansas
Back to the hunt, after a couple hours of driving the back roads without success it was time for a lunch break. We headed over to the turkey lodge and Mike had his full time deer camp chef Stella fix a most enjoyable fresh deli sandwhich lunch with a fantastic maccoroni salad. It really hit the spot on this scorching hot day.
Around 4:30 pm we were back at it, hitting the back roads. It only took us about 20 minutes to find a group of 7 Jakes out in a field. We stopped and scoped them out for a good 10 minutes to make sure there wasn’t a big tom mixed in with the group but Mike was not about to give in and take a Jake this early in the hunt. I asked Mike how he intended to hunt the birds, if we had spotted a Tom in the group, being it was late in the day and they were out in the middle of the field.
Mike pointed to the back seat at his new Scoot N Shoot turkey decoy by Mojo. Mike said he really likes this new decoy and in fact had been using his own home made version of the Scoot N Shoot for the past 5 years. Mike was excited to tell me that pretty much any Tom he sees he kills. That was quite a bold statement to hear for this avid turkey hunter, who feels a 50% chance is about as good as it gets with any Tom, especially late in the year. I filed that statement away to see if Mike could really put his money where his mouth was.
From there we headed up to Mike’s deer hunting lodge about 25 minutes NW. The lodge was absolutely perfect. Tucked way back on a gorgeous 160 acre piece of intensely managed property, with rolling hills and a mixture of cedar and cottonwood trees! Mike had several food plots and water troughs set up next to his permanent whitetail blinds. What a gem!Now it was getting late and I was eager for Mike to give me a first-hand demonstration on how successful he is at using the Scoot N Shoot decoy. But as the sun started to drop further down in the sky and no Toms were out and about on this steamy evening, it just wasn’t in the cards. In fact on the ride back, we heard the high temp hit a whopping 102 degrees! It was no wonder the birds weren’t moving this evening.
That night over a delicious steak dinner prepared by Mike’s wonderful wife Lori, I had a chance to get a better feel for Mike’s overall operation and asked him what the plan was for the next morning. The answer I received was another head scratcher, at least for the moment….
My First Rio Grande Tom
Taken With Mike Adams With
Webbed Feet Down Outfitters
Mike said that sunrise was about 5:30am so we would be getting up around 6am. We would have a little breakfast, take our time getting ready and then should try to be out the door before 7am. Now I never question the guide but I had never hunted turkeys like this before.
Mike made it clear that for those who truly want to get up at 4:30 am and sit in a blind, that option is available as he has several ground blinds pre-set in prime turkey locations but he feels the odds are against you. He said you only have a 50 / 50 chance the birds are going to fly down in your direction and then it’s not a sure thing they are going to come into your set up, no matter how good of a caller you are, late in the season. Mike said he usually uses the ground blinds for his archery hunters but for the traditional decoy hunter Mike can definitely offer that style of hunt. I was just fine with not having to get up at 4:30 am.
Mike said he would rather wait until the birds are on the ground and visible in the fields and then he puts the stalk on them. He said his success rate using this tactic is basically 100%. I had to wonder was Mike just an old fashion road hunter or did he truly believe in this method of hunting. I would soon find out...
Over the next 3 hours I would have the most action packed turkey hunting adventure that I have ever experienced in my life. It was quite evident that Mike is a mad passionate turkey hunter who knows how to kill birds and lots of them!!! In fact I do believe he was more excited for the kill than I was. We drove for close to 35 minutes before we spotted our first flock of turkeys in the field. There were two nice Toms strutting within the group. We quickly tried the old Scoot N Shoot method but before we could get
set up the birds were already moving down the hill and away from us, so it did not give us an opportunity to put the stalk on that flock.
We then turned the corner near one of Mike’s top whitetail spots and there were two nice Toms out on the field edge strutting their stuff with 2 hens. Mike said there’s our bird, let’s go!
This time we left the Scoot N Shoot behind. I asked Mike why. He said that this old bird was a very subordinate bird and he had killed two other Toms already off of this property this spring and each time they used the Scoot N Shoot this Tom ran the other way. “He is a sissy” Mike said so we will need to put the sneak on him.
Luckily for us, with the drought everything was bone dry and all of the small crick bottoms that ran through pretty much every wood line offered us a quick and easy path to the birds. Within 10 minutes we were directly below the 4 birds. Mike slowly crept up to the field edge and motioned for me to join him. He said the two Toms were right out in front about 30 yards away. As I made my way up the bank the larger Tom made his way over to one of the hens a little further out in the field. However the smaller bird, which in this case, the more dominant bird puffed right up when Mike gave a call. It offered the perfect shot at 35 yards out and with one shot I had my first Rio Grande turkey!
I was elated but I think Mike was even more excited than I was. We made our way back to the truck and we were both all smiles. But, being that this was a two bird hunt we were only half way there. Mike said now we were going to make sure we got a big dominant Tom for my second bird.
We had barely pull out of the field onto the road and we spotted two more Toms strutting out in the field on the other side of the road, about a ½ mile out. Mike said “Here we go again, let’s get ready”. He pulled around to the back side of the crick bottom on the other side of the road and we were off again. Mike said they had hunted this flock earlier in the spring as well and this was another subordinate bird, which was the reason he was still alive. I called it survival of the UN-Fittest.
So off we went on another spot and stalk mission. I was very impressed with Mike’s knowledge of not only the individual birds but of his properties as well. He knew exactly how to get into perfect position in a very short time frame. We briskly walked down the dry crick bed for about a ½ mile before Mike said we were in position. I had to ask Mike, don’t they hear us coming down here? He said of course they do but since they can’t see us they don’t know what we are so although they are on alert, they are not scared yet. Again we crept
up to the bank of the crick bed and with a couple calls from Mike, the big red head was at full attention, right at 35 yards again. Mike said this is your bird! It was a big mature Tom with a 10 inch beard hanging down. I clicked off the safety on my Mossberg 735 12 gauge and with one more shot I had another clean kill and my second Rio Grande Tom turkey in the books! This bird was a big Tom and came within just a couple points of receiving the Kansas Trophy Turkey Award.
What a hunt. Within 25 minutes we went from not seeing any turkeys to having 2 birds in hand. We took about 20 minutes and did a nice photo shoot along the crick bottom to remember this incredible hunt.
Driving back to town Mike spotted yet another group of Toms with a hen out on a field edge. These were both big mature Merriams turkeys. Since Mike always waits until the end of the season to fill his tag, after all of his hunters are done, and being I was the last hunter of the year I told Mike to grab my gun and let’s gettem!
This was as easy as it gets. We did the exact same scenario. We ran down the dry crick bed about 200 yards, crept up the side of the bank and with a couple calls Mike had both birds at full attention. BOOM! We had 3 birds down in less than 45 minutes, Unbelievable!
Mike proved once again that he can pretty much kill any Tom turkey he sees. I was very impressed. On the way back I had to ask him again his real stats over the past couple years. Mike said he could only remember the past 2 season’s numbers exactly. In 2013 his turkey hunters went 55 / 55 and this year, including my hunt, his turkey hunters went 37 / 37! Beyond that Mike said he couldn’t remember but he said he also couldn’t remember the last time one of his hunters didn’t get a bird either.
Since it was still early in the day, we had a chance to meet up with one of Mike’s regular customers- a husband and wife couple from Colorado, The Barleys. Brian Barley shared with me several of his favorite hunting stories over the years as we had lunch together. In fact during the past 2 turkey seasons Brian and his wife were able to tag team a pair of big gobblers at the same time during both hunts. Incredible!!!
Brian also showed me a photo of the 207 Whitetail buck (seen above) that he took hunting with Mike a couple seasons ago. And his friend had harvested one of a pair of twin bucks Mike had been watching for 3 ½ years that scored 167. Another hunter in camp that same season harvested the other twin that scored 164 within a hundred yards of where the first one was shot. It just goes to show that Mike has a great handle on all of the wildlife in the area. And again these are ALL Fair Chase hunts!
As I packed up my gear and got ready to head back home to Colorado I couldn’t thank Mike and his wife Lorie enough for the excellent hospitality and incredible turkey hunting! This was one to remember for sure! And like Mike said- “This ain’t your Grandpa’s turkey hunt”! Now I get it Mike!!!
CONGRATULATIONS TO MIKE ADAMS OF WEBBED FEET DOWN OUTFITTERS FOR BEING NAMED THE 2015 HUNTTHENORTH.COM OUTFITTER OF THE YEAR!