It was 5 a.m., and I was living the dream.
A gobbler had honored my tree yelps, and I sat 100 yards from him, waiting for him to fly down and strut in. When the bird finally took a breath from gobbling every 20 seconds, I figured he was ready to fly down and start the show.
What? Well, I knew what. It's tough to mistake the sound of a shotgun blast 80-some steps away. Apparently, someone else — a neighbor or another hunter with permission on the land — had gotten an earlier jump on the gobbler than I had. Whatever the case, I didn't stick around to find out.
It was only 6 a.m. when I pulled into another small property, climbed a hill and immediately heard a gobble. The bird was in an open woods about 120 yards down the ridge from me. I tried him for a bit at my original position, but it soon became apparent I wouldn't kill him there.
Using the terrain and some pines for cover, I circled back, made a large loop and crept up to the crest of the hill. When the turkey gobbled at a crow overhead, I knew I was in business. I tried some soft yelps and clucks first, and the turkey didn't seem interested. When I stopped calling, however, he'd fire off a gobble, seemingly asking where the hen was.
So that's how I played it for the next 40 minutes: soft and sparing, with long breaks between calls. And every time I paused, the turkey would gobble and move somewhat closer.
Finally, the bird hung up forever in a small depression just over the ridge. After 10 long minutes, however, he popped into view on the ridge top, ducked behind a brush pile and met a full load of No. 6 Hevi-13 at 25 steps.
Best, I only had a 100-yard walk back to my truck, all downhill. That was much more convenient than the walk out of the other place had been.