Been the best start I've ever had!!! Opening day looked like life had given me lemons again, when skidders rolled in across the Strong River from me at a place where I'd found FOUR longbeards roosting a few weeks before. No choice but to make lemonade! so I moved to another spot and cold called. After about 20 minutes, I had one gobble at me about a hundred yards out to my right, so I switched the gun to my left shoulder and waited. After a while, the jay birds told me that he was moving through the thick stuff in front of me and moving towards the left. THERE HE WAS!!! I guess I wasn't covered up as good as I thought. He did a "waaay back"! You know, it's when they step their body behind a tree, but lean that head waay back to look at you from the same side of the tree they were just standing on. I didn't bite, and just waited for him to straighten up. When his head was hidden, I switched the gun back to my right shoulder. He stepped out into the logging road by me and turned to walk away. He was about 40 yds away and wasn't going to get any closer, so I pulled the trigger. I didn't mess up and I didn't miss, but he didn't die!!![confused] Stretched the barrel and he found a hole on the patern, I guess. Good opening day, anyway!
Saturday morning was a carbon copy of last year's opening day - but with a good friend, this time. Ed has not turkey hunted, much and I wanted to call in his first bird. Some of you may remember from last year's story that I built a call from a piece of pecan from a tree that my Grampaw planted and we lost to Hurricane Katrena. I was using that same box Saturday. We went to about a 20 acre field in the bottom on the old homeplace where my dad grew up and set up while still dark. I set up a jake over a squatting hen about 20 yds in front of us and we covered up in the tall grass and cane on the edge of the field. Last year, I had three jakes fly down and come to this same set. The Three Amigos have been seen there a lot, throughout the year and even very recently. they are 2-year-olds this year and very legal. We didn't hear a peep out of those guys, but there was one answering from across the road, on the back of the property that had the longest full roll gobble that I think I've ever heard! His gobble would roll for 2 full seconds, sometimes. I knew that there were turkeys close by, so we waited. They flew down from the far corner to the left, right on schedule, and Ed got ready. I swear I could HEAR the man grinning! Well, those three chuckleheads didn't come any closer than halfway across the field and after fooling with them for over an hour and turning them around to head back to us several times, we had to let them cross the road and head into the swamp.
We then moved to the opposite far corner of the farm and set up a lone hen decoy in the corner, where she could be seen from about 400 yds down a fire lane on the right side and about 75 yds to the left. Ed was on the right, looking down the long side and I just crawled into a jungle of bushes and started calling. Pretty soon, that bird with the full-roll sounded off in the bottom, down to the right. Then he gobbled again a little closer. Then another one joined in - and another. Those three gobbled at us about 30 times when another one joined in behind us! ...and they were all coming to see us! Ed was shaking! Heck, So was I !!! Then I heard a strange chuckle from the left and thought that a jake might be trying to jump to the head of the line! I warned Ed about him and we continued to listen to the symphony! In a little while, I heard a drum to my left and looked over. All I could see was a full fan and a stark white head with bright red waddles! THE BIRD WAS RIGHT ON TOP OF US !!! He had come in, hugging the fence, so we couldn't see him until he was right there! It was the one with the weird chuckle-- the one that I skinned up pretty bad last year, when he had practically jumped into my lap while I reached for my gun ! ...and he had made it right back into my lap again this year!!! I wanted Ed to shoot this bird bad, but he was so far to the left that he would have taken off my nose to do it. Five more steps and Ed would be exposed to him and we were busted! So I had to take the shot. Only problem was my gun was in my lap and I was in the middle of a thick bush!
Thank goodness that bird only had eyes for Gertrude! He stayed infull strut and danced for her! On his first step, I had put the call down. By his third slow step, I had raised the gun. But now I had to find his head in a small, softball-sized hole through the bushes. His fourth step lined him up and I pulled the trigger!!! He was TWELVE yards away!!! Grampaw had brought him back to me!
Monday morning found me back on the farm, since I had to be back in the area for some family business later that day, anyway. So, I got up a little early and went to meet the ol' boy with the looong rolling gobble. The butane canister had run out in my Thermacell and I found that I didn't have a replacement that morning, so I pulled out my bug suit for this hunt. It has a veil that you have to look through and it was an overcast day, so I knew that, while I was well hidden, I had problems seeing.
I put ol Gertrude out in a bottom near where I figured Blabbermouth to be. I had pegged it! When I gave him a little sweet talk, he sounded off from about 50 yds in the woods. A little while later, another one joined in back to my right. I did a flapping fly-down against my leg at first light, but didn't cackle. Then I would just give them a soft yelp or maybe a little cluck or purr every now and then to let them know I was still there. It took them until almost 7:00, but then the one to my right flew in and set down in the edge of the bottom. He saw Gerty and headed her way. I couldn't tell whether he was a jake or not yet, so I held off. He went to the decoy and then turned and walked up the hill towards ME!! It was then that I saw that he had about nine inches of a thin beard. He was a legal bird! He made his way up the hill and crossed in front of me. ABOUT 10 FEET in front of me!!I couldn't even take a breath or he would see me! He crossed on over to my right and had gotten almost past me when Blabbermouth stepped in from the woodline, saw Gertrude, puffed up into a full strut, started drumming and moved in her direction. That's when things started to get interesting. The first bird heard the drumming, spun around and ran down the hill to challenge the other bird. I thought I was about to see a good gobbler fight!!! They moved toward Gertrude and stepped behind the big pine in front of me. I brought the gun up and got ready! I'm not sure what Blabbermouth said to him, but that other bird came running out from behind that tree like his tail was on fire!!! Then Blabbermouth made his final mistake and took a few steps to chase him out of the bottom. That's when I lowered the hammer on him! He turned out to be a two-year-old, but that's ok. Ive got two down inside the first week!!!