The early spring and warm weather has got the Tom Turkeys gobbling great and I have received many reports and photos from folks around central Alabama who are taking some good birds. A number of hunters have taken three or four birds already so they will be wrapping up their season early since the limit is five gobblers. Unfortunately, a small number of hunters will get “amnesia” and some will continue to hunt until April 30 without regard to obeying the law. Don’t be one of those guys! If you get your limit, leave your gun at home and take a kid or a novice hunter and call a turkey up for them!
Some of the best hunts I have had, especially in recent years, are those where I have taken a youth hunter, lady hunter, or a hunter who has never been turkey hunting and call in a bird for them to take! I called in birds last year for three hunters and all three were hunts I will remember for the rest of my life. Compare that to the many turkeys I have taken through the years that I have no memory of what so ever. It is pretty clear to me that the value is in sharing the splendor of a wild turkey gobbler responding to your calls and finally coming to you in a full strut, red head glowing, the white and blue highlights that our creator so skillfully adorned the male turkey with, the iridescent feathers that show hues of green, brown and black in a collage of colors more magnificent that a “Van Gough” or a “Renoir ” ever dared to be!
It is no wonder that it causes grown men to swoon at the first glimpses of our prize coming in to our skillfully presented “audio-ruse” and in the anticipation of the moment the trigger is pulled! I know the sight of a trophy buck stepping from the woods in to view on a greenfield, a flock of “green heads” locking down and coming in for a landing over a pristine pond on a biting cold winter day are all wondrous sights we as hunters cherish with a passion we would fight to defend. But, for me and many others, that gobbler who has committed and shows up in our gun sights is the most beautiful and majestic trophy we will ever find. Last week, I was having lunch at a local BBQ cafe when an old friend walked in who I hadn’t seen in a while and I went to greet him and “catch up”. The first topic was turkey season as he is an avid hunter and is one of those people I referred to earlier that I took to kill their first bird. I called that old Lowndes County swamp tom for nearly an hour and he travelled from almost out of hearing range right to me in a slow, delightful, strut that ended with a “bang!” From that point on, Curtis was hooked on spring turkey hunting and we still laugh about how excited he was as the old tom slowly made his way to the gun. It has that lasting effect on most of us “turkeyaddicts”.
As for my spring season this year, it has been less than spectacular. This past Saturday morning on my lease in Greene County, there were several birds gobbling and I went to the closest one and slowly snuck in as close as I dared. He was blasting out gobbles that indicated his youthfulness and I was able to sneak to within sight of where he was perched at the edge of a third year regrowth cutover. The only problem was some briars so thick that I knew he would never come through it to me so I had to turn backwards and use the toughness of my turkey vest to push through the briars to a point I could reach the woods. Once in the woods that were open, old growth stuff with a clear understory, it was easy to see this would be the spot to call from so I got to a good setup spot where I could see him land and waited for him to fly down. After another 10 minutes of gobbling off the roost he sailed in just as I expected. I started to envision a quick hunt and early breakfast at a local eatery and I sent a light yelp over to start my persuasion with the bird.
An immediate response and I got my gun shouldered as I leaned against a big old wide based oak tree that hid me perfectly. Only the gobbler was not fully persuaded! He started to walk down the hill and I cackled to turn him thinking surely he is just a two year old and will come right on in to some excited cackles and cutts. He answered every peep I made, he answered scratches in the leaves, he answered my lightest purrs and most demanding putts but, kept walking! I then decided the silent treatment was in store so I stopped any noise and sat for almost an hour as he gobbled every few seconds at crows, other hens, a pileated woodpecker cackling, and even a dog barking at a house close to a mile away! I kept thinking, this little two year old gobbler will be here any minute but, he was not inclined to come see me. He walked across the hardwood bottom and over the next ridge “telling everything” in the woods where he was. When I was sure he was far enough away, I walked about 200 yards down to the bottom of the hollow and found another great cover spot by a huge poplar tree that was close to a hundred feet tall. My first yelp was a excited hen yelp closed by a couple of loud putts and he double gobbled in response from just over the next ridge, when he gobbled again, he was clearly headed to me and his gobbling frenzy excited two other toms so much they gobbled as well! I thought, now I am getting somewhere! However and hour later he had circled my position twice and came in behind me standing on the hillside where he flew down. He would not come in range and stayed 80 to 100 yards out as he made another circle. I refused to do any calling since I was certain he knew where I was and we got in another stand off. I let him walk away again and then slipped back up the hill to where he had passed by twice and waited. I sat silently for 35 to 40 minutes when I caught movement off to my right and saw him walking in silently, looking for “that hen”. At 35 steps, he found her. The new “flight control” Federal premium number four shot did a super job and he hit the deck without so much as a kick or a flop. I was somewhat disappointed in his stature when I picked him up although I had already determined he was just a hard headed two year and he had a 8 inch beard, short, dull spurs and weighed in at 17 pounds. But, I will say he offered me a great morning and more than enough of a challenge for this old turkey hunter..
I just can’t wait to meet his dad or one of his uncles!
Maybe in the next couple of weeks when I go back over to Try them again.
Until next week, hope your turkey season is going great!
Send me a picture of that turkey ! email it to me firstname.lastname@example.org