My hunt started in the 150 yard wide strip of woods between the back pasture and the neighbor's field. I've been trying to get this bird with my crossbow closer to the front of the farm, but he kept going up to the ridge, then vanishing, or sticking near the edge of the neighbor's field and keeping where I can't get a crack at him. I figured he was also crossing the ridge and going towards the swamp where I could no longer hear him from the west side of the ridge. I got set up about 60 yards below the crest of the ridge between two downed trees that fell in a severe storm we had a few years ago. At 5:50 A.M. I heard a gobble above the breeze from down near the abandoned house at the old home place NW of me. The wind was strong enough to rustle the leaves in the trees, but not on the ones on the ground. At 5:55 A.M. I heard two shotgun blasts right behind each other from that general direction and no more gobbling. It really made my heart sink. I decided that since it was closing day and I didn't have another bird roosted that I was just going to ride it out and maybe another turkey might happen by (yeah, right). The breeze got stronger and made hearing anything tricky. About 7 A.M. I felt nature's call and stood to relieve myself. Right then, I thought I heard a dog barking from up wind. I considered it more and remembered that there weren't any dogs living up that way. The breeze settled enough for me to hear an unmistakeable gobble from up near the old home place. Cool!
I cutt back hard on a long box and got no answer. The breeze was back up and maybe it carried the sound off. I waited until the wind settled again and leaned hard into the box call again. I got a gobble right back. Game On! I heard him gobble a few more times and they were sounding closer each time. He stopped up near the crest of the ridge, probably at a favored strut zone, and was expecting the hen to come to him. Because he was above me, to reduce movement, I switched over to a Tom Teaser's Teaser Pleaser diaphragm and yelped to him, which got an immediate answer. I let him stew and gobble a few times. Everything got quiet, but it stayed quiet for longer than it should have. My nerves were set like a trap, ready to spring. Minutes dragged without a sight or sound of him. Next thing, I heard him gobble down below me on his way towards the swamp about 75 yards past me. On top of that, some fool down near the swamp opened up with a lame sounding crow call, trying to get this bird to shock gobble, when he's already gobbling on his own. This was not working out like I hoped. I clucked and purred on the call and I saw his white head turn towards me. I scratched the leaves beside me and his body turned my way too. He blew up into strut, looking for the hen. I kept quiet and just scratched leaves, He started walking my way. Maybe this was going to happen after all. Now I could hear him spit & drum over the breeze. He was already in range, but being a left hand shot, I might spook him if I moved on him, downhill to my left. The woods were open between him and me and I had to hold tight until he passed behind the big oak just ahead of me. He stopped and did periscope up inside of 30 yards, looking for the hen. I reached down with my off side hand and scratched leaves, which made him strut, but now he was coming right at me. If he jumped up on the downed tree to my left, I'd have no chance to move, but if he went around the downed tree and passed behind the big oak, he would be mine. He was now less than 13 feet away, looking hard enough to make me quit breathing. I could see his eye blink as he turned to walk along the branches just on the other side of the downed tree from me. As he passed behind the big oak, I shifted my Benelli. He brought his head up as he cleared the oak tree and I rolled him at 11 yards with a load of 3" Hevi #6s. My watch said 7:28 A.M.. I did a big exhale and gave thanks for the experience and the fresh meat.
I love to turkey hunt, but I also hate to take out such a magnificent creature. He will not go to waste. I stopped the barn and showed him to the farm owner. I think she was more excited than me. He will be the guest of honor at a barn party in the next few weeks.
It was nice to use both tags this year. I hunted a fair amount this year, but only half as hard as last year when I got skunked. Thanks for the encouragement, brotherhood,stories, tips, & techniques shared here. I appreciate it. There's a lot of reasons I enjoy spending time on this board, the people here make it what it is.
Good luck to all those who still have some turkey season to enjoy. I've got to get busy catching on a long list of "honey dos" and finding a few new places to hunt next year.
Luck Counts, good or bad