Lets face it, Spring, warm weather, sunshine makes for a much romantic setting outdoors than cold, rainy, windy plain old “yuck” days! The cool and sometimes cold, spring days we are suffering through have really put a damper on the turkey “mating games”.
Lots of my hunting friends and hunting contacts who help to report how things are in “their neck of the woods” are all seeing the same thing.. Much less activity than you would normally see in the first week of April! I normally have two or three birds down by this time of year and often have already called in birds for other folks. Not so this time around, I have had shooting opportunites at three gobblers but none of the shots were the “in your face” kind I like to have so, I passed on them cause the worst thing to do is take a long range, desperation shot. Like a long shot on the basket ball court, they just don’t find the hoop too often. That was the hunt I had last Saturday.
Due to some “other items” one of which was the untimely death of my Boston Terrier that I loved way tooo much. (No that is not possible, he was like my child, some of you know what I mean.)I did not hunt except last Saturday and that was more in an effort to distract myself from the pain of his passing.
Well, on Saturday at daylight I was on the hunt for the same old gobbler that I nearly killed on the opening weekend. He is clearly the boss of a big hardwood bottom on the club I am in over in Dallas county. Any turkeys that are gobbling at daylight, hush immediately after he gobbles once or twice from his roost as kind of a warning to the subordinate toms and an invitation to the hens all in the same breath. And sure enough, He announced his location in response to the first blast of my old Eddie Salter Crow Call about the same time some real crows started crowing in the western realm of the woods I was in.
I decided to just wade on in to his sanctuary instead of trying to call him up the hill to the clover patch where I last saw him. I have found that getting in an old gobbler’s comfort zone can bring great reward if you use good “woodsmanship” and don’t call to him until you get as close as you dare. It took me the better part of a half hour to make a trek around the end of a hardwood ridge and then drop off in a “oh my Goodness” beauty of an open hardwood bottom with open areas large enough to sustain fescue patches. The bottom had old growth oak and pines 5 to 6 feet in diameter and I worked my way into the floor of the bottom, slipping from tree to tree, as I waited for his next gobble, never giving any hen calls, just listening for his gobbles and moving on in. I got within 150 yards and figured not to push my luck anymore so I found 3 big pines and using one for a shiield, I made my set up.
At the first yelp I made, he thundered back a double gobble and I just gave a loud “Cutt” that he responded to with another blasting double gobble. I got my gun up on my knee and pointed in his direction and waited for about 10 minutes, then I saw him coming across the open bottom in a full strut! What a site to see! At about 90 yards, he came out of his strut and stood straight up, looking for the hen that had came to see him. When he started walking again, it was a very careful, slow walk and his head was bobbing around as he was intently staring my way, looking for that hen. As he went behind a big water oak, I clicked off my safety and took aim waiting for him to step out. He apparently had played this scene before and when he stuck his head out around the tree I said to myself, “I got you” then, as if he heard me, his reply was “no, you don’t” and he pulled his head back behnd the oak in a millisecond and took off running directly away from me, keeping a tree on me to prevent any shot. I sat there and watched him leave wondering how many other hunters had contributed to his p.h.d. in “lead head avoidance”. Like him, I have played this scene too many times but, learned to stay still and let him leave the area. I sat motionless for 20 minutes then slowly relaxed and sat still another half hour. I have had times when a gobble just “showed back up” as if he was not sure of the “boogy-bear” that spooked him and was still wanting to find that “sweet little hen”. That was not the case this time but, after 50 minutes, I hit the crow call and he gobbled from over the next ridge only 300 yards away. I got up and walked quickly across the open area of the bottom and got hid in some privet hedges near a blown down hickory tree and when he gobbled again, I gave a sweet little reply on my glass friction call that was a different sound than the mouth call I used in the first set up. He gobbled double and triple gobbled from the ridge every 3 or 4 minutes for the next 2 hours and strutted, drummed and just got hmself all angry as he could not understand why “the hen” was not coming on up the hill. I would cluck and purr very lightly on the glass from my hiding spot and got quite amused at how he would respond.
Then I gave him the “silent treatment”, not responding to any of his gobbles or drumming and that seemed to start reeling him in. Again, I got my gun up, tapped off the safety and was ready to squeeze when he hit the next opening, but like before, he seemed to lose his nerve at the last minute and he turned and ran back up to the ridge top. Another hour I sat and watched him strut and when he got barely in sight, I belly crawled away and dropped off in a running water branch with 6 foot deep banks and used it as cover to leave his area. I did a circle move and got 180 degrees on the other side of his location for the third act of our dalience. The old gobbler did exactly like he had twice before but, I was worn out. My watch said 2:30 p.m. and he first gobble at me around 6:50 a.m. Between his “cold feet” and my empty stomach, I decided I had enough and slipped out of the bottom. It was about a mile back to my truck, all uphill, and I was glad to see that red Ford. As I sat in the seat and munched on a apple, I had to tip my hat to the old tom. He still had his head and I sure had a great time trying to take it. Who knows? next time he might be a little hotter.. if the weather is too..
I will be back in the woods tomorrow for a whole week of turkey hunting and am going to finally get the opportunity to hunt my turkey lease over in Greene county. Hope I find some hot weather and some hot gobblers over there who want to ride in my truck!
POST OAK …OUT IN THE TURKEY WOODS..