It rained overnight, making it easy to get through the woods & grasses quietly. I brought the strutter decoy along with a feeding hen decoy in hopes that they'd help. I went to the oldest blind on the property alongside of a old logging road. I set the decoys 20 yards in front of me.
Just as it was getting light, a wren hopped on the sweetgum branch over my head and several large drops fell down my back & neck. Nice. Long as there's no soap in it, I'll probably be all right. At 6:03 a crow fired up in the distance and the boss gobbled on top of him from the hilltop across the creek behind me. I quit counting gobbles somewhere around 40. I threw a single quiet cluck out from my XT diaphram and he gobbled right on top of it (good, maybe he'll play along). At 6:30 I heard wingbeats behind me & cutt quietly four times. He double gobbled right on top of my calls (Game On!) I got the gun up and checked the safety. A lone hen came out of the woods and crossed the logging road, not caring about the decoys, and disappeared into the scrub trees. About 50 feet behind me I heard more hens squabbling near the creekbed. I checked the safety again. Just after that, I heard spitting & drumming (now we're talking!). I saw another hen step out, then another, & another. suddenly, I saw a red & blue gobbler's head pop out between me and the hens. He spied the decoy and took off like a shot to kick that decoy's foam butt. That gobbler hit the decoy so hard, it BROKE the stake in half and knocked the dried tail fan 16 feet away from where the decoy had been standing (yes, I measured). He also spurred two holes in it big enough to slide an ink pen through. He realized that something wasn't right, PUTTED, and started the head-bobbing walk they do right before they break & run. I rolled him @ 16 yards. My hunt was over at 6:38 AM.
He weighed 21 pounds 2 ounces, had 1-1/16th inch spurs, and an 11-1/8th inch beard. Not the biggest turkey I've taken from there, but probably the baddest. I found five #6 pellets in his breast that had healed over, so it was not his first encounter with a turkey hunter, but it was his last. That was probably why he was so call-shy. He was also about bald on his breast from breeding so many hens. With him out of the picture, maybe we'll hear a few more gobblers. I may go call for some friends, because I'm done shooting.
I called E.P. to share the good news & he told me that He'd called in a gobbler for his disabled friend, Ronnie (who shoots my old SBE). It was Ronnie's first gobbler.