Day #1: On opening morning I went to some public ground on a local river that I had scouted the previous week. About 30 min. before first light, two birds fired up below me in the swamp. Ordinarily, I could've gotten to 'em pretty easy, but our Game and Fish commission had created a "minefield" of downed timber during their recent longleaf restoration project. Their attempted burn of the remaining debris was only partially successful and I spent the next 20-30 min. tripping over that stuff in the dark. I guess I made enough racket to let every bird in the area know I was there because by the time I got in position to call, they had flown down and "shut-up". I tried a little calling but got no response. Surprise, surprise! I worked some other areas on the way back to the truck, but had no takers. I decided to rest and wait til the old boys had time to have their way with their girlfriends and might be in more receptive mood. My next move is one I wouldn't recommend on public ground. Since I was positive I was alone, I pulled out a gobble tube and marched back to where I heard the gobbles earlier. When I got there, I used the "tube" and my raspiest mouth call to render my rendition of the "boy meets girl" routine. I cut, cackled, and cut myself off with the tube. No response. I cranked 'er up a notch, this time with double gobble. At the end of it something told me I heard another gobble but I wasn't sure. About that time, l looked up and saw a gob moving thru the swamp at about 80 yds. Just about that time I realized I had broken a cardinal rule of turkey hunting. I not chosen a good place to sit and conceal myself before I called. I was caught standing there with my "pants down" and gun slung over my shoulder. I don't whether he saw me or not the hen he was looking for, but he just turned around and headed back into the swamp.
Day#2: Determined to restore my honor from the whippin' I took the day before, I decided to get there extra early so the debris could be navigated and I could be in position to work a bird if I got the opportunity. I cross the "minefield" at stood at the edge of the swamp, waiting for the morning to unfold. Sure enough, a gobble boomed thru the dim light. I made my way toward him, when two more gobbles boomed. He wasn't alone!. As I got near, I realized they were roosted over a pretty large slough. I got as close as I dared, sat down and gave my best impression of a fly-down cackle. Man those dudes came out of their shoes gobbling, but then proceeded to fly down to the other side of the water on another piece of ground. I was cut-off by the water and had to watch 'em walk off. I had violated another rule.You know, the one that says "know the terrain you're hunting like the back of your hand". The right set- up kills more birds than good callin'. Then I had an idea. Why not mark the spot with my GPS and see if I could find another way in by way of the river. Hope springs eternal in heart of the dedicated turkey hunter. Tomorrow would bring another chance to redeem myself.
Day#3: I had the boat launched way before daylight and used the troll motor to get to a point at the mouth of the slough I thought might be near the previous day's roost. I whipped out the GPS and discovered the spot was approximately 2/10 of a mile away. I pulled the boat up on land and as I was getting out of the boat, I heard a gobble in the direction of where I thought they might be located. I made my way thru the swamp and was soon cut off by another slough. I realized the dang bird was on an island!! Oh well, I had worked too hard on these birds to give up now so I waded across to the other side. Thankfully, it was still pretty early and he was still gobbling in the tree. I walked as quickly and silently as I could toward the gobbling. As it began to get lighter I realized that the bird was out on a peninsula about 70 yds. wide. Ain't it funny how the Lord provides
Since my little 20 ga. Beretta and a load of #6 Hevishot gives anything within 45 good, long steps a "dirt nap" I just decided to put my back against a giant water oak about 75 yds. from his tree and let him "walk down the barrel"
. A few minutes later he was layin' across my back, headed to the boat.
Not the best pic but here is: Notice the black sheen where the wing bars should be and the blue/brown color on the rump. My biologist buddy said this was caused by the 3-4 yr. old bird eatin' swamp acorns full of tannic acid.
Stats: 17# 10 0z., 11 1/2" beard, 1 1/4 " hooks
"Chasin' gobblers has a lot in common with dealing with a wife, 'bout the time ya' think ya' got 'em figured out, they change the rules!!!"