by T&TH Editor Brian Lovett
After hunting with Brown and Carter, I joined Mike Mattly of Knight & Hale and Turkey & Turkey Hunting contributor Jamie Adams to chase some more Osceolas.
Adams had set a pop-up blind in the corner of a cutover pine plantation bordered on two sides by huge oaks, where turkeys usually roosted. The birds typically headed toward a nearby field, but we hoped to intercept a gobbler on its way through the thick cutover.
As the sun began to rise, birds sounded off behind us and to our left. Every tree yelp was met with numerous gobbles and excited hen-yelping and cutting.
After about 15 minutes, Mattly and I heard several turkeys fly down. The birds behind us seemed to stay in the woods, but the turkeys to our left seemed to drift closer. Mattly and I yelped and cutt on Knight & Hale White Liar friction calls, and the birds hammered back on their approach.
Soon, I saw two red heads coming through the brush. Mattly readied his shotgun as the gobblers walked into the open, and I anticipated the shot.
But then, the trailing bird spotted a jake and wheeled to chase it off. The second gobbler turned to follow, and I thought our hunt might slip away.
However, the longbeard stopped, letting Mattly make the shot. The trailing gobbler hopped to our left for a moment, and I figured he’d run. Not so.
“He’s right here to the left of the blind,” Mattly said.
I grabbed my gun and waited. A red head popped into the window. Crap. It was the jake. But then, the gobbler eased back, looking to beat up on his fallen buddy. When he popped into the open, Osceola No. 2 hit the dirt.
Any Florida bird is special, but making a double right after flydown was remarkable. Better, the birds were bona fide limb-hangers. Mattly’s sported 11/2-inch spurs, and mine had 11/4-inch hooks.
We’d only hunted a few minutes, but the Sunshine State had shone on two spring-hungry snowbirds.