As I sit in my office at home listening to the rain outside my window, I am reminded that the weather is always a big part of our spring and especially the turkey hunting success or failure. Last weekend was a sterling example of that fact.
Friday 3-15 saw the season open to a mixed cloudy daybreak and the gobbles were “mixed to cloudy” in their passion and number. The five gobblers I got in close enough for a look were not real “hot” for any activity, “of any kind” and they just “puffed up” and hung around with a look of only mild interest in my sweet hen calls and they appeared truly intimidated by the decoys I opted to use that morning.
Saturday morning was a bit colder, cloudy and the woods were “dead” I did not hear a single gobble or hen yelp and none of the other 5 hunters on the lease heard a yelp, cluck, gobble, or peep! What was really weird, I got reports from Tuscaloosa county, Greene County, Lowndes, and Sumter that their birds were totally silent as well. Of course, there were some turkeys gobbling around the state since I saw a number of gobblers posted on AL.Deer.com and on several face book friend pages. But, for many of us turkey chasers, Saturday was a poor day.
Sunday morning I watched a very nice daybreak from the top of a ridge deep in the hardwoods that made the whole getting out bed and driving an hour thing worth every minute of it. Then, the gobblers started calling from their roosting trees at six different spots within earshot and I headed to the closest one. I walked about a quarter mile down to the end of a long ridge and made my first setup overlooking a very lush little clover patch surrounded by old hardwoods and after I sat there for a moment listening to the gobbler about 150 yards off in the bottom, I again said a prayer of thanks to the Lord and smiled about how lucky a man I was to be hearing that old gobbler serenade me with his calls to “come on down”. Once he started gobbling, he could not stop! I would only answer him sparsely, playing “hard to get” like the best girls used to when I was in the dating game, AND it was working!
He got all worked up and was slowly, but clearly, closing the distance to me! Then I was treated to the sight of his white crown, red and blue wattles and shiny, iridescent black feathers as he stepped from the woods and stood in the sunlight about 60 yards out! He was a MAGNUM! Long rope beard with a big old apple head and an altogether regal appearance!
I watched as he gobbled repeatedly, strutted, drummed loudly and generally expressed his frustration that the shy hen who was calling could not be seen! Then I heard the sound of trouble! A couple of those “low-class” “easy girl” hens came waltzing down the hill from behind my location, yelping, clucking, and “yakking” like two Jr high girls on a cell phone conversation and they walked right by me! When I saw my chance as the gobbler was in a strut with his tail toward me, I threw a stick at one of the hens trying to run them off! She just cackled, and ran a little circle around me and kept on going to him! What a trollop!
Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, another gobbler came strutting in to the far end of the clover patch and the old big gobbler in the field took off after him and ran him back down the road he came in on! Well, I sat there feeling “jilted” for about 45 minutes and with him still answering my every yelp from down off in the bottom, I decided to cut the distance and try again. I slipped down the hill with a quietness and stealth that would have impressed Geronimo! I slipped right up on three does in another, even smaller, clover patch in the hardwood bottom. I was close enough that I could see glimpses of the gobbler and his entourage of lady friends as he bred several and they mingled around scratching in the leaves and feeding. After I felt comfortable, I sent out a light yelp with my red wasp mouth call and he thundered a gobble right back, but he was not making any move toward me, he was quite happy to stay put in his “strut zone” and keeping some nice company. He would strut, turn and strut some more, he produced some strong drumming “ftttt- hmmms” and his life was good. Mine, not so much! But I had to admit after they walked away across the woods and I got up and made my way back toward my truck that it was almost noon and the morning had passed like a pleasant dream. That to me, is the definition of a fantastic turkey hunt!
And I will be back in the woods again in the morning unless the rain keeps me away! I believe the weather will get better next week, or the next and I will find myself another gobbler minus those “cheap girls”..
Post Oak.. Out…doors..