Well got back in the woods this morning and for those that have been following my follies, I got caught off guard last week when a nice Tom and Jake cruised into my setup and the welcoming committee was not ready, lol! Needless to say it was a valuable lesson learned and I took steps to ensure I was ready...or so I thought...
...so this morning I decide to set my blind up in the hedgerow again...but this time right at the point. I think I've got them patterened pretty good right now. They roost in the private land and the public portion as well. So I figured I would put myself in the middle...regardless where they pitch down, they will eventually see my decoy. So I get setup...the blind is still a bit noisy but I went in extra early and gave the woods time to settle down. 0530 comes and boom I hear a gobble right of the bat...I waited before I responded because I was not sure what direction it came from, so when he gobbled again a minute or so later I followed with some soft clucks, purrs, and some scratching. Based on the advice of Mark and a few others here I decided to ditch the yelps. The gobbling went on for about a half hour..at some points it sounded closer and then started to fade, I would respond every so often ( I think that was a mistake) and finally after a half hour the woods were quiet again...so lesson number one...wait about 10 15 min before responding to the first gobble, and then call...if he responds (which he did) then shut up! A half hour goes by and I catch movement up the hill to my front about 70 yrds away. its a hen...I look to see if a Tom is following...no tom, but then a second later I hear a soft gobble...ah there he is..its a jake chasing the hen and they are moving away from my setup, despite seeing my decoy. Another half hour goes by i suddenly look to my left and there is my Gob...same one from last week..damn how did he get there and so close without me catching it..he is about 30 yards away from my blind, but to my left and behind...I don't have a shot and did not want to risk making noise to reposition myself so i figured I would wait him out and hope he gets closer...and a minute later he is joined by the same jake that was in tow last week as well. So he is strutting his stuff but seems to be hung up and starting to move away slowly. I quickly grab my call (mistake #2) and give a couple soft clucks and some purrs...this drives him further away, and eventually out of site! I wait about another half hour in the hopes he returns...I don't see them, so I call it a hunt and as I'm getting out of the blind there he is in the other field...I quickly jump back in the blind and start more calling...the birds stop and start heading my way, but eventually veered off into the woods.
So lots of lessons learned today...for starters I'm still over doing the calling...I'll give him one and if he responds I'm shutting up...he'll find me. Also, no more calling once they are about in range...they are call shy and I think this just makes them more nervous. Lesson number 3, if I'm going to use a blind I need to be able to reposition myself and take the first good shot that I'm given...not the best shot...that tom should be dead and had I made the move from the moment I saw him, might have been a different outcome. Lesson #4, I need to switch out my deke, i think he is getting wise to it. And the last lesson (#5) trust your gut...my gut told me to set up in that point...that the birds were roosting in several locations of which that tip of the hedgerow appears to be the crossroads.
This tom is not what I would consider a mature tom..his beard is probably 6", he's probably a 2 yr old bird I'm guessing? But he is savvy and cautious for sure. Tomorrow I'm deciding where to setup...I made him nervous but did not spook him. There appears to be less pressure in the woods this week, so my thought was to setup in the hedgerow again..about 20-30 yards from the point...near the very first spot I saw him last week. i'm hopeful by tomorrow morning I'll have pictures to post