I've brought my buddy Evan hunting for at least 5 years now, but we have not yet been able to bag his first turkey. That is . . . until now!
It was opening day in Alabama, and we were going to try a new lease that Evan's family acquired in August for the first time. Judging from the birds I saw there in the fall, it seemed like a good plan. Sure enough, we (and I mean Evan, as I am apparently losing my hearing these days) heard one hammering it on the other side of some young/thick pines. After closing the distance a bit, and standing in a state of confusion, we went straight into the pines after the excited bird. Sure enough, it was thick and ripped us to shreds. As I had feared, he would not enter those pines to save his life (or the opposite, in this situation), no matter how good my she-turkey noises were, after over an hour and a half of trying to bring him in.
Finally, I turned to Evan and whispered: "you know, when they're hung up like this, I've crawled to them to get them to come on in." He poignantly asked: "Have you done that a lot in the past?" I responded: "Many times." Evan: "Does it ever work?" Me: "Sometimes." With a look of uncertainty in my partner's face, we crawled what seemed like miles (nowhere near that), sat up, and reinitiated the cycle.
Now, the bird was really hammering it; it sounded like he was in my ear. He would cut off most of my calling, and when I stayed silent, he didn't care. Although he would move side to side on the outside of the pines, he just wouldn't come in. At one point, I turned to Evan, who had just acquired a walnut/butternut SS Calls box the day before as a gift from me courtesy of Mike Porter's annual sale (Evan's first turkey call), and said "give me that box." I ran some series with it, and he'd answer every time, almost like he enjoyed the torture he was putting us through. After about all we could take from that no good gobbler, we decided to sneak a little closer to the maximum distance I was willing to go. Still, no progress from our bird.
Finally, I heard him wandering off, which queued to me that we could finally move down into the hardwood bottom that I knew he was in. However, when we got down there it was a big open clearcut with a small strip of hardwoods in between it and the pines; I was amazed that this was his preferred location. I was more than pissed when I called to him and heard him off in the distance at the edge of the clearcut, working even farther away. I was certain he had enough of us and the hunt was over, when BOOM - a huge gobble just to my left in the middle of the clearcut! I whispered to Evan not to move an inch. After a little display from the strutting Tom in the clearcut (Evan missed this show), then a walk away and call back from me, he was getting into range for Evan. He looked extremely nervous and we had no cover, so I fooled around with my Ghostmaker to calm him. He popped into a strut, immediately popped back out, and BOOM (a real one this time)!
As you can see from the pictures, Evan is now officially hooked with the FEVER! A special thanks to Porter, for getting that call to me in time to use it on his first turkey, which makes it all the more special for him.