It’s tough to pattern “invisible” turkeys. My spirits had sagged to my boot tops until I stopped at the cable on the driveway May 6th and saw two gobblers just standing there, seventy-five yards away!
The next morning I set up near the power line where I tagged my Tom last year. My hunting method has changed in recent years, especially in the late hunt, when most hens are nested. Roosting areas are avoided. Instead I concentrate on travel routes. This gives the hens time to sneak away to their nest and leaves lonesome tom all by himself. He then becomes one vulnerable turkey.
The first morning was very quiet. Not a peep! I’d been using a mouth call and glass call to make soft yelps, purrs, tootles, clucks and kee kees. Nada!
Then at eight-thirty a jake came running up the driveway flat out and stopped and telescoped his neck up thirty-five yards away. There was no visible beard and I wasn’t ready to take a jake anyway. He walked back up the drive and for the next fifteen minutes he’d go into a half strut every time I called. He didn’t seem to know quite what this mating business was all about.
Around five o’clock, after my mandatory mid-day nap, I set up along a ridge where we’ve had success in the past. A few soft yelps prompted a cacophony of hen yelps. They were spread out over a wide arc. This many hens meant there had to be a gobbler around, and my next call was answered by an enthusiastic jake gobbler! We hollered back and forth for several minutes. He had to be close to being in range, but a cluster of small pines hid him from view. Then Mr. big entered the fray with a booming gobble! In the next thirty minutes he must have gobbled twenty times and then suddenly shut up. My excited yelps and cuts may have been too much. I seem to have to relearn this fact every year.
Morning number two found me back on “turkey highway” in my blind by the power line. It was a warm, windless day. There had been no gobbling from the roost. I called softly an sparingly with “confidence” calls only. At 6:30 a jake gobbled up in the clear cut behind me and continued to answer my calls until a long beard sounded off about one hundred yards up the power line. I turned my head and called softly and he blasted back with a double gobble! He was coming! It was time to keep quiet. He came into view, moving slowly and deliberately. Is there anything quite like the moment when you first see the gobbler? At forty yards he stopped and went into strut.
The sun had just peeked over the treetops and the slanting rays burnished his feathers into a magnificent iridescence. One of God’s masterpieces.
He must have spotted the movement when I shouldered the gun. His head shot up and he started making those sharp, nervous “chalk” sounds. It was now or never – boom! Down he went, flopping wildly, and then lay still.
I gave thanks to the Creator for this day and this place, plus and Eddie Salter howl hoot salute to the wild turkey.
It was just a few steps from where I’d killed the gobbler last year. That one weighed twenty-one pounds, had a ten-inch beard and one-inch spurs. This year’s bird weighed twenty-one pounds, with one-inch spurs and a nine-inch beard. They were nearly twins.
Success is always nice, but a two-day hunt after weeks of preparation was kind of a sudden ending.