I’m sure most of you have seen your odd happenings from Mother Nature in the outdoor world while afield over the years. I’ve had my share of incidents with wildlife during my time spent outdoors trapping, hunting and fishing over the years. But this year’s Pennsylvania spring turkey hunt happenings proved rather unique and extra special as it’s the first time in 39 years I’ve harvested a bearded hen.
I’m not a real turkey hunting fanatic but I do spend time chasing birds in the spring gobbler season. I didn’t get out the first part of the season with my work schedule. But the weather changed to rain for a few days and it seemed every field had from one to five gobblers in them. That was enough to tempt anyone into hunting with birds strutting about everywhere.
After spending several mornings working birds before heading off to work with little success I began to rethink my game plan. The following week while on my way home each morning from the night shift the birds were out in every field. Then on May 12 after my fourth night shift while heading home things fell in place for the perfect hunt.
Then it happened, I just happened to glance to the side of the road into some pines. There standing were two hens and a half fanned out gobbler without a care in the world.
Instantly, I was wide awake and putting a game plan into action. I knew where the birds were headed as I had hunted this area before. So I pulled off the road some distance away and donned my hunting gear as I headed across a small field to the woods edge.
Then I selected a spot a few feet into the woods edge next to a small hollow with a game trail leading into it. After getting settled into place with my Winchester model 1300 propped across my knees I made a couple of soft calls. I was using the new Powder Mill Hollow box call made of mineralized popular I had recently purchased. Almost instantly a hen putted back, but the gobbler remained silent. Then a few minutes later I made a couple purrs and the hen responded and sounded as if she was almost on top me.
That’s when I quit calling and watched the field edge and saw a couple heads bobbing through the weeds. I flipped on my red dot scope as they neared the field edge and I was intent on looking for a beard. When the first bird out had a beard I fired off a load of Hevi-shot in six shot. Being only fifteen yards away the bird hit the ground hard with only two wing flaps.
I jumped up and hurried the short distance to claim my trophy. Then I hesitated when I saw I had shot a hen thinking I’ve really messed up now. Then I moved the hen and saw the three beards and stood there awestruck. I was so intent on looking for a beard I never looked at the head before the shot. After admiring my prize I tagged up and headed home but didn’t sleep much after all the excitement.
I didn’t realize what I had till a couple days later after everyone viewed the photos and I had searched the web about bearded hens. After talking with the NWTF biologist I obtained quite a bit of knowledge on the subject.
I’ll take a three bearded hen with beards measuring 9 1/2” , 9 1/2” and 10 1/2” and weighing seventeen pounds any day. It ranks right up there with a prized gobbler in my book any day.