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Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

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Bad timing, collaborating gobblers, overcome even perseverance

If you have a friend that needs humbling, do yourself a favor (and them): introduce them to spring gobbler hunting. You will fix your problem and theirs in a hurry.


This past Saturday was youth day for spring gobbler season and my expectations were good. I say good vs. high  because I have hunted gobblers for many years and know that they can tame anyone’s expectations in a hurry. This past Saturday was a serious dose of that medicine, even for me.

I had four youth that were eligible to take a turkey but two agreed to sit out and give the other two a better chance at bagging a gobbler. My youngest daughter and her older cousin opted to try to notch a turkey tag.
The Friday prior to the big day we put up a turkey target to pattern their shotguns and familiarize them with their shotguns again. My daughter planned on using a Remington 870 while my nephew was using a Mossberg Super Bantam. After some basic reminders, a few tips and a study of their targets after they shot, we were ready to go the next day.

Saturday morning was a beautiful day. The sun was up, the weather was warming and the songbirds were busy making all sorts of music in the trees. My only wish before we started was for some greenery to hide behind instead of the bare woods. I had four places that were not large by any means, but two of the places held high numbers of birds in the fall. The other two places had birds on them each spring but not many. However, the latter two properties had often given me a bird. One of these is my property. After a lot of work on it over the years the turkey like feeding in the plots.  

I started at our property. I called and called but heard nothing. That is not that unusual. It seems the birds wander off and on the place every few days, so we loaded up and headed to one of the best places I had to hunt. Last fall I had seen many birds on the place.

We arrived and I half expected to hear birds gobbling before we got into the woods. That was not to be. We eased down into the bare woods and I called softly just in case a bird was close by. The woods were void of any turkey calls. A few geese started up and an owl hooted, then the song birds started back up again. We moved down the ridge and continued trying. I went through my turkey vest and pulled out just about every call I had and called pleadingly with each. While I am by far NOT the best turkey caller I tend to get enough answers each year and enough birds to keep at it and enjoy a turkey meal.

We plodded back to the truck, drove down the road and tried my best property. The fields there are usually full of birds and I often see birds while caretaking the place as well. When we stepped out of the truck I started to have a bad feeling. The birds were not even singing at this particular place. It was a like a ghost town. I again went through all of my calls and received nary a comeback call. We walked all over the place and I checked the property line. It hit me then that I had caught a trespasser on the place during deer season and perhaps there was more trespassing going on even after the season.

 I had witnessed the poachers sneaking back across the line several more times after I politely asked them to leave the first time. One can only hope that was not the case. We decided to leave but I resolved to go back this Saturday if for nothing more than to make sure no one is poaching the place.

At that point we drove to our last place and received the same results. It was time to head home. The kids agreed to get some breakfast and run the loop again mid-morning to see if the birds decided to start gobbling later. However, as we pulled into the driveway, my wife ran out and pointed over the hill. She told us a gobbler was so close he made her jump when he sounded off.

Do you want to take a guess at what happened next? If you guessed nothing, then you are correct. Not one answer did I receive for any of my calls. I decided I had to be a bad luck charm or something.

The kids ate, rested and I went out to call a few times. At that point we left and headed back to one of the places to try it one more time. Half way to our spot my phone vibrated. My wife sent a message which my nephew read to me.

“There are three gobblers gobbling around here now. Come home and get one.”

YOU HAVE TO BE KIDDING ME!

We kept going. I knew those birds were likely to shut up before I got back. And they did. We were almost to the intended location, so we tried that place before heading back home. No birds sounded off anywhere. My turkey vest was out of options. It was time to take my nephew to meet my brother. I told him that we would meet at one of the properties and the boy could try one more time before going home with his father.

Any guesses to what happened on the way to that property?

I got another text. And no, I did not go back home to hear the gobbler refuse to sound off again. I tried calling a few times at the property where we were meeting my brother though and I heard the breezes going through the trees. I told my nephew to just wait near the truck for his father while I walked back in the woods and down a ridge.

When I was almost back at the truck I heard one. I was so stunned that I called again and heard him again. My nephew was summoned and we headed down the ridge further and waited. The bird was interested but distant. A second bird opened up behind us and then a third to our left. After a few minutes I decided to move toward the one that was most interested. It turned out that one of the other gobblers did the same thing and were now both in the same area. Finally, there was hope for a bird to grace the table!

Turkey hunting is like that though. It messes with your mind. You can leave the woods sorely dejected and reduced to a mental mess if you let it get to you. Just as we set up on the bird, a hen sounded off between the two old boys and led them away from us in short order. The third bird never made a peep after that. I could only laugh and explain what happened to my nephew. There will come a day later this month those two boys are lonely and that hen is on a nest. Hopefully that will be the day we are able to hunt. Meanwhile, I had been schooled in Gobbler 101 and left empty handed. That is spring gobbler hunting and that is why it is not called spring gobbler gathering.

 

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