As I have been lucky enough to do for many days this spring turkey season, I took a vacation day Friday the thirteenth and travelled back to Greene County Alabama for another 3 day turkey hunting trip. And, I will tell you that this one was worth the cost of a tank full of $4.00 gas! I had a very productive weekend of hunting and the Gobblers must have thought they were “Goblins” cause they were sure howling out some big time gobbles all around our lease, fighting each other, and strutting the logging roads all around the property!
On Friday morning, I greeted the dawn on a high ridge overlooking a 200 acres “cutover” that the hens are drawn to for nesting sites and the gobblers were sounding off everywhere trying to persuade the hens to come watch them strut. I heard six different Toms and loving the challenge of another duel with an old bird who had left me crying at the alter of a shotgun wedding a couple of time before this year, when he gobbled, I just had to go try and coax him into losing his head over a sweet girl. It has happened before! I decided that a little variety was in order so I grabbed a jake decoy and started toward the gobbler who was only one hill top over and was commanding respect as all but, one other gobbler ceased to gobble in the general area he was sounding off from. I was able to make it to a small road that is one of his strut zones and stick the jake decoy up in a sandy spot. After hiding well, I sent a soft yelp toward the old gobbler and he blasted a response right back! I was hoping he would come close enough to see the jake “interloper” standing in one of his favorite strut zones and come charging down the road to attack the jake. However, he never crested the hill where he would have seen the decoy and he slowly worked his way toward a big hardwood bottom with each gobble marking his retreat from my location.
Disappointed, I decided to stop that madness and go elsewhere. I retrieved the jake and walked nearly a mile to the area where I heard another Tom gobbling at day break. I was able to find him and he did gobble at my yelps a few times but, he too had retreated from the hill top in the cutover to a hardwood section of woods off of our lease. As I walked back to my truck for a mid morning break, a crow sent out a sharp call and was answered by several other crows and a gobble from the woods below where my truck was parked. I eased down in the woods past my truck and this old gobbler seemed eager but, after a dozen or more gobbles, a hen apparently found him and he went silent. I enjoyed a short break in the hunt with some Gator Aide G2 and pack of “square nabs” ” and pondered my next move.
The morning was weather perfect, the gobblers were active, and I was thoroughly enjoying the fact I was out in the woods away from work and everything else just enjoying the freedom of the spring woods! I decided to do some scouting around our lease and slowly traveled the property roads, looking intently to try and catch a gobbler strutting in a field or down a logging trail that I could drive by and stalk back to for a “set up and yelp” session. The lower end of the lease had been clear cut, bulldozed and wind rowed last spring so none of us had paid it much attention so far this spring, so I decided to “check it out” .
The deer hunters had planted several food plots last fall for the deer and I knew of one where I had killed birds in previous springs when there was a nice stand of timber all around it. Now, it was sitting on an open ridge in a clear cut where you could see a half mile in several directions except for the direction of the access road that had recently been reworked by a bulldozer and when I drove down it and rounded the curve to the food plot, I interrupted a fight between three long bearded gobblers who stopped their bout and took off in separate directions running low and very fast !. I decided that to be a good bet for an afternoon hunt and about 4 hours later, after a lunch break in town, I parked down the road from the food plot far enough away to be able to slip up to the field using the available cover and the wind which was blowing strongly with gusts over 25 mph according to the local weather reporter.
When I got near the food plot, which was planted in a short stalked variety of wheat that had matured and dried, which was attracting the turkeys to come eat, I approached in a crouched stalk mode and it paid off when I got to the curve in the road. There were three gobblers in the field and they were engaged in some sparring and spurring bouts, chasing and jumping up in the air kicking at each other like some kung fu fighters in feathers. I dropped to the ground and crawled away from the food plot since there was no cover to slip into a position for calling or shooting at them. Plus, I still like the challenge of calling the gobbler to the gun, and was a bit disappointed in myself for resorting to the use of a decoy on the morning hunt.
I found a spot about 15 yards back down the road where the dozer has pushed off a drain ditch and there was some good bushes to offer cover and the sun was behind them allowing for a good shade cover in an otherwise sunny area. I got settled in and sent a plain yelp toward the food plot. I waited for a gobble in response but, got none, 10 minutes later I yelped again a littler louder since the wind was blowing toward me from the field and I was not sure they heard my first yelp but, again no response. A little impatient and frustrated, at 5 minutes I sent a loud yelp with a couple of sharp putts on the end and was disappointed with again no gobble and no turkey coming down the road. As I sat for the next 10 minutes trying to decide my next move, I saw a flash of red, white, blue and black as a turkey came charging down the road in a flash and threw on the brakes about 15 steps from me, breaking into a full strut.
Only problem was he was so fast, my gun was still in my lap! in a split second, I made the decision to make the shot and started an extremely slow rise of the shotgun. When I nearly got it to my shoulder, he noticed my movement in the shadow and came out of the strut. However, his Friday the thirteenth just took a very unlucky turn as I snapped the gun to my shoulder and sent a load of numbers fours to him. He was so close, I was able to see the shot cup hit him in the side of the head, along with that swarm of “Federal fours”. I kept my seat and watched him flop a little and when he was done I went over and checked out his spurs which is the first thing I do on every long beard as that is, in my opinion, the true indicator of a trophy tom. When I got a look at the 1=3/4 inch spur on one leg and the broken, but still 1-1/2 inch spur on the other leg. I let out a scream of my own! After all, it was Friday the thirteenth!
Saturday morning I killed another nice Gobbler with a 10 inch beard and 3/4 spurs which made my 4th bird of the season so it is time to be particular about my final bird. Saturday afternoon, I passed on a couple of two year old Toms that I called to the literal end of my gun barrel. I could have swung the barrel and hit one of them in the Head! I had another gobbler come into the food plot but was unable to determine that he was indeed a good gobbler until he had walked out to a distance that was a bit far for a clean shot.
On Sunday morning, I had two big jakes to nearly step on me trying to find “the hen in the bush” ” I was hiding in, and I had two grown gobbler respond 15 to 20 times but, not come in for a closer look. I guess the figured two of their kin had lost their heads the previous two days and no sweet hen yelps were worth dying for, even on Friday the thirteenth weekend!
I am getting lots of big gobbler kills reported and hope you enjoy the pics of those on the outdoor sports photo section!
Send me an email and I will get that picture of you and that gobbler posted! firstname.lastname@example.org
Until next week!