Diesel's Bird . . . 4/28/08
My brother draws first blood during this Spring's Turkey Season with this 19 lb bird having an 8 inch beard and 3/4 inch spurs. He shot the GOBBLER from a dog house blind in Augusta with his Benelli Nova loaded with lead number 4's at 7:30 AM on April 28th, 2008! Congrats Bro . . . job well done!
Shawn T's Story . . . 5/5/08
I missed the biggest bird I have ever seen. 30 yards. Misfired twice. Shot clear over him the third time. He flew away. I threw up. My father laughed. 12-14 inch beard. Tail so big he could not hold it up. Easily went 22-23 lbs. He started gobbling at 5:15 and kept gobbling until I started sounding off with the mouth call. He shut right up and I knew he was coming. Took him about a half hour to get to us and he stayed right on the edge of the woods until he got close to the dekes and then he strutted right out about 10 yards from one of the hens. What follows are the exact thoughts running through my head:
Oh man, this is gonna happen, look at the size of that bird.....Oh my God is he beautiful.....Ok, line up...slowly, slowly.....squeeze.....wait for it.....click. CRAP! Misfire! He's getting nervous....slide the forearm back and re-cock...don't eject the shell...too much noise.....Line up....CLICK!!!!! WTF!!! Bird getting edgy now...gonna run at any moment.....Ok, take a breath, slide the forearm half way, recock....oh crap he is gonna run, pull the trigger, PULL THE TRIGGER!!!!!! BOOM! right over his head.....Oh no.....I missed...but how....that can't be right. That bird just flew away....watch him...he's gonna fall at any moment....wait, he is still gaining altitude, looks ok...that can't be right. Blaaaaaaaah, Blaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh. I love Mossberg.....
Shawn T's Story . . . 5/6/08
Well you probably won't believe this but I missed another bird this morning after a significant spot and stalk effort. I literally crawled through a muddy field for over a hundred yards and got within 10 feet of 7 birds. One of the Jakes busted me so I stood up and walked right at them. The big bird had about a 6 inch beard and I ran right through all the other birds and jinked as I fired . . . total miss at 10 feet. Man this is gonna be a long season.......
Shawn T connects! . . . 5/7/08
Last Wednesday I came very close to not getting up. After several 3AM mornings with my father the previous week and a couple of very early morning misses during my season....I was really dreading the alarm clock going off. My excitement had kept sleep at a minimum for well over a week now. My father had called me the previous night to inform me a buddy of his had spotted a big gobbler in a field familiar to both of us that evening. He also informed me he needed a break and would not be accompanying me the next morning. When the clock went off at 3:05, I thought twice...three times even before if finally whipped off the covers, envisioning that gobbler strutting in that field was the only thing that pushed me out of bed.
I hit the field at 4:10AM, the warblers were already sounding off and I could see the morning rising to the east. The temp was warm and everything felt....alive. I made my way to the far corner of the field where at least 4 birds have fallen over the years past. My dad took his first bird here...a jake...5 years ago. I've messed up on a few birds here and a monster 8 point buck.....no matter. I know the Gobbler spotted the night before is near by in one of the huge White Pines surrounding the field and woods. I pitch the 2 hen decoys, cut a few branches for cover, and setup under the familiar dead spruce I've sat at so many times. For the next 40 minutes I cat nap and wait for the black to turn gray and blue. I keep hearing some movement above and behind me...I've had several porcupines walk up on me in this area....I chalk it up to an early rising squirrel and concentrate on the growing bird activity in the woods.
At 4:55 he finally lets out a loud gobble lighting up the woods and my adrenaline level. He's perched in a big pine about a hundred yards from the field and directly behind me. He barks at everything that crosses his
path...woodpeckers, crows, jays, barking squirrels. This bird just won't shut up! At about 5:30 I hit him with a couple of yelps and clucks from my diaghram call...and he does not respond!!!!! I give it 5 minutes and hit it a bit harder....nothing. Just then I hear a hen sound off in a tree near to his location. He lights up every time she hollers out. My heart sinks. My confidence at calling gobblers into range is at an all time high but competing with a live hen that is obviously ready to get it on....oh man...is this going to be day 3 without a bird?
I decide to take an aggressive calling tactic switching between mouth calls every set and hollering out every time that hen speaks up. I figure if I'm more excited than she, he'll eventually come to me and I was right. I hear him fly down at about 6 am and start to walk behind me towards the field away from the hen. About this time, I hear a bird fly down into the field out of the big pine next to the spruce I'm leaning against. She starts calling excited and begins to move away from my location. The position that I'm sitting in does not allow me a view of her but I know she is near by.
As big boy makes his way through the woods, he is yacking the whole way and finally makes it to the field about 30 yards behind me. He is out of my view. By the time I get eyeballs on him, he is 50 yards away and making a b-line for 2 hens that were in the tree above me and are now 200 yards across the field! He doesn't even give my dekes a second look, AHHHHH!!!! I break out the Binoc's and start classing him. He is huge...simply huge. I can see his beard and spikes clearly from 200 yards away. I make the decision to try and sneak out of the field if he doesn't start to show interest in my dekes soon. He'll be here tomorrow and I know where to setup now. But before I sneak out, I decide to use my box call in one last fit of desperation.
I've got to back up here and say that he had stopped strutting and was feeding. One of the hens had also started squatting in the dirt and was giving off heavy breeding signals but that didn't matter when I hit that box call. He lit up like the Rockafeller Christmas tree!!!! That bird stood straight up, and gobbled 3 times straight when I sounded off with the box call! He quickly got behind the two hens and started herding them towards my dekes! I couldn't believe it...second chance!
He made his way across the field and headed for the wood line exactly where he came out. The two hens quickly joined my dekes and one of the hens started to get VERY aggressive and vocal....I would almost say jealous...as I responded with the box call. She got about 5 feed from one of the dekes and starting cackling and clucking at my deke.....almost challenging her to a fight! That big Tom was eating it up and kept inching closer, gobbling with every interchange between his hot girl and my foam Dicks Decoy! CAT FIGHT!!!!! No male can resist, human or otherwise. I kept softly calling on the box call and he couldn't resist. He kept creeping from my left blind spot and finally got 20 yards away. I slid old Winchester through a hole in the brush and let Big Boy have it......unreal!
When I went to collect him, another hunter appeared from the woods and explained the he was the vocal hen from early in the morning. He had snuck down to the field from on the hill where Big Boy was roosting. He had taken up a position on the field edge waiting for Big Boy to come closer. Had he not seen my decoys, the other hunter would have been shooting right across the front of me at Big Boy. He saw the whole thing go down. I never saw him. Bird weighed 20 Lbs. with 1 1/4 inch spurs and an 11 inch beard. My best yet!
Hammer's Bird . . . 5/6/08
After sitting in the doghouse blind from 4:30 AM till 11:30 AM yesterday I was prepared to do some runnin and gunnin this morning. The birds were hot between 5:00-5:45 AM but after that the gobbling came to a screaming halt. I had set-up in a small vacant lot a short drive from the house and though the toms were responding to my calls I just couldn't talk them into crossing the road and walking into my ambush. As my watch ticked 6:30 AM I decided to abandon my position, stretch and take a short walk. I heard a gobble quite a distance from where I had heard the birds earlier and could tell that they had moved on to another field. I grabbed my gear, headed across the road and set-up in the location where they had been roosting the previous evening. My thought was to hit them when they worked their way back. At 8:00 AM I was dozing and awoken from my half asleep state when a hen come in from my backside at around 10 yards and let out a cackle. I kept still and she passed without letting out any warning, however, my hope that she was dragging with her a male bird did not materialize.
I waited until about 9:30 AM and then decided to head back to the house get a cup of joe and then head out on the back part of my property for the remaining 2 1/2 hours. Walked back to the truck, unloaded the 10 gauge and threw all my gear in the bed and started to drive back to the house. I barely drive 200 yards and 2 hens and 2 jakes run right across the road in front of the truck. I spin the truck around in my neighbors driveway and drive back past the birds and note that they are heading directly to the north and parallel to the road. Perfect! I quickly park the truck and grab my gun, turkey vest, thermarest seat and THANKFULLY my bug netting and slip into the woods. I quickly find a spot to set-up and then realize as soon as I sit down that I am exposed and in a terrible position. Time is wasting I think to myself and I jump up and set on a small rock ledge with small spruce trees all around me. Ummm, much better . . .
I pull the bug netting over my head and in seconds of sitting am swarmed by hundreds of hungry blackflies. I get on the box call and let out a few yelps but get nothing to reply. After about 20 minutes I hear several gobbles back across the road on the other side. I am almost ready to think I have once again been outsmarted when I hear a cluck directly in front of my position. In just a few minutes I can hear a rustling of leaves on my left and the wary birds circle my position and come in directly from the right. The whole process seems to take an eternity but in reality it was only about 15 minutes. Suddenly I see movement and a turkey (as yet unidentified) begins to sneak in to check out the hen decoy. Through the bug netting I struggle to identify but finally the bird steps out of the shadows and I can see a small beard and red head. I raise the mighty Browning 10 and as I do a spruce branch swings back and hits me square in the face. I reach up and break the twig and the snap pulls the jake to FULL attention. To late however, as at this time he is perfectly within my firing lane and the gun belches forth a lethal dose of number 5s and the bird drops.
The bird ends up being a small jake at around 12 pounds with about a 3 inch beard but it is definitely a trophy for me. I had to invest a significant amount of time scouting strategizing this spring season and that always makes any hunt incredibly enjoyable. Nothing good ever comes easy BUT I have to say that with the early hatch of blackflies I am incredibly grateful to get my bird early and get out of the woods! To the rest of you good luck this turkey season!