This past weekend I traveled up to west central Kentucky to hunt those big bluegrass gobblers and they did not dissapoint! A good friend of mine, invited me up again this year and since I had a couple of great hunts up there in prior years, it was an opportunity I could not say “no” to! We drove up on Friday to scout the tract a tille that afternoon and set up a couple of blinds since most of the tract was large corn fields that had been harvested last fall and had stubble stalk coverage since the spring green has not started up there yet. The trees were still bare and the woods on the tract were very open, old growth hardwoods that you could see 200 yards through in most places so there was not much chance of slipping up on a gobbler in his “strut zone”.
Saturday morning, the Kentucky turkey season started and the gobblers were blasting out their calls all across the farm. I heard 10 gobblers on the farm and 3 or 4 more on the adjoining property as the day broke to a clear, warm and somewhat windy day. With all the gobblers sounding off from the roost, I decided to give them time to get on the ground and then I gave a call with my Woodhaven Red Wasp diaphragm call and it got immediate replys from 3 eager toms. From 6:15 to 7:20 I called, they gobbled, but no one wanted to commit and come see what my “little Alabama hen” looked like. I had a big gobbler to make his way in behind me down in a hardwood bottom and he got close enough to see but, never presented a “100% shot” and he walked on by and exited the way he came in, back down the hardwood hollow.
About 30 minutes later a gobbler came out on the ridge in the corn field over to my right and broke into a strut. I snapped off a couple of loud cutts and he blasted back a booming gobble! He slowly made his way along the ridge and over to the ridge in front of my set up. I had an Avian x hen and the little “Funky Chicken” decoys set at 35 steps from my hiding spot and he stood about 15 to 20 yards out from them and gobbled repeatedly. I guess he was trying to get the hen to come to him, and while he was in easy shot distance, I was enjoying his gobbling and strutting performance too much to cut it short! After about 20 minutes, he slowly strutted on in to the hen and I was hoping to see him attack the little “fake jake” but, he just walked past him and up to the hen. He stood at her side and drummed, beat his wings on the ground and did a few wheeling turns for her before he decided to do his impression of a statue. After he stood absolutely still for about 5 minutes, I decided to end it and sent him a couple of loud putts in hopes of getting him to stick his head up but, he stayed frozen in the strut! I said “ok” and sent a load of 4 shot downrange to him and he hit the ground without even a kick or a flop!
I don’t like to shoot a gobbler in a full strut since it is easy to damage the beard or the breast meat but, my shot was a good one and just slapped him in the head and neck for an immediate “smackdown”. The 4 year old gobbler had a long sharp spur on his left leg and the one on his right was broken so badly it was not worth saving. He weighed a whopping 27 lbs and had a 10.5 inch beard that was thick and sort of paint brush style. A really nice Kentucky gobbler!
On Sunday morning, the weather was warm, cloudy and the gobblers were all silent. It was amazing, given the number of birds we had heard the pervious morning, but that is the way turkey hunting goes some days. I decided to travel across a couple of the large fields to sit in the woodline on the east side of the property where I had heard several gobblers the morning before. About 6:30 I did a fly-down cackle a few loud cutts and finished with a hen yelp. I got an instant gobble back from across the fence line and down in the woods. Then I heard some jakes yelping that horse sounding call and a poorly assembled gobble so I was not surprised when 2 big jake gobblers came up the hill and nearly stepped on me as they walked out of the woods. They walked out to my decoys and looked them over, then started to scratch and feed around them, like they were just looking for some companions. They stayed out in the field for more than an hour and would look my way when I yelped but seemed at ease so I did not let them inhibite my hunt.
About 7:40 I got a gobble response and he started closing the distance to me pretty quickly gobbling fervently as the distance between us closed. Then I saw his head pop up over the ridge and I thought about taking the shot since he was only 10 yards away. But, I wanted to check out his beard and spurs since you only get 2 gobblers in Kentucky a year. I found him to be just a loud mouthed 2 year old with about a 6 inch beard so decided not to shoot him but, I had a blast making him gobble over and over as he walked around my location. He then got frustrated and jumped on my little Funky Chicken jake decoy and beat him all the way down to the ground by kicking, pecking and wing slapping! Then he went to the hen and pecked her several times before wandering on out in the field.
A little after 9:00 I stood up to gather my decoys and end the hunt when I saw 2 long beards running flat out toward my position so I knelt back down and watched them come on in. At about 75 yards, they abruptly stopped, looked up at the decoys and then hit the woods. Apparently they had seen that game before! I gave them around 15 minutes, hoping they would come back out in the field and when I yelped both of them blasted back a gobble! Seeing the situation as not hopeless, I gave a few more light calls and they answered each with single and double gobbles then, they came back to the field but, they would not come on in. My cell phone went off at 10:00 and I had to call it a done hunt and left those long beards to roam around some more! But, I hope to go back in a couple of weeks!