“Well, the anticipation is over. The hunt is here.” Kevin once said this a few years ago on opening day of the Virginia gobbler season, and those words came to my mind as I slipped each 3 1/2″ shell into my Mossberg this morning. I had been scouting earlier in the week and located 11 different gobblers within a 5 mile stretch of Georgia’s National Forest, so the excitement level was high as I eased the truck door shut and headed into the woods.
It was dark, real dark. I had arrived an hour before daylight due to the intense hunting pressure I expected to encounter. It was slow going at first, making my way through the pines and underbrush, but eventually I made it to the open hardwoods. I figured I was roughly 100 yards from where the turkeys were roosted. I quietly got into position, the camera set up, and waited anxiously for the gobbler to announce his presence to the world.
As I waited and the sky began to lighten, I couldn’t count the numbers of crows and owls that began to sing out, most of the artificial variety. But I began to see something moving in the trees. The Ol’ Tom was strutting quietly in a tree only 80 yards from my position. Fantastic! All I have to do now is wait til he flies down, give a few soft calls, and we’ll be having turkey for supper tonight. But before the bird could get out of bed, a flashlight started making its way closer, and closer. The light and the hunter holding it, passed within 50 yards of the roosted bird. The moment it became light enough to see, the gobbler was cleared for take off and was gone!
I needed a second chance. But it wouldn’t come without a another challenger. I had heard a bird in another location so I headed that way looking for better conversation. I found a good spot on the end of a hill to call. My sexy yelps, at least I think they are, could cover a lot of ground. Finally a gobble, and I was back in business. Then yelping. And more yelping. Another hunter was calling to my bird. The competition just got real. We traded calls for a few minutes, but there were no more responses from the gobbler. I decided to shut up and wait. But after 15 minutes, my impatience won out and I decided to sneak to the crest of the hill to look into the gully where the gobbler was last heard.
BIG mistake! As I eased over the top, a red head popped up no more than 30 yards in front of me, and was gone in a flash. I suppose I should at least feel proud that I called the gobbler away from the other guy, but it really doesn’t help. A foolish mistake for which there is no excuse. Patience is a virtue. I now look forward to a chance at redemption.