Tagged Out with Turkeys!

 

Kevin's 3rd VA Bird 2013
 

Whenever I go turkey hunting on my own, the moment I hear a gobble, my mind starts racing and I begin looking for a spot to set up and call. I’m wondering where is the best place for me to sit so the bird can hear me, but won’t be able to spot me very easily. I’m constantly second guessing my choice, saying to myself “he’ll be able to see me, or I’ll never be able to get the gun on him here.” Yesterday morning’s hunt was no different. 

I had been crossing a field to the west and entering the woods downhill from a road bed that winds its way through the property. The road more or less encircles the area where the turkeys tend to roost. This morning I decided to enter from a different direction and go straight up the slope to the top of the ridge. But by the time I got out of the truck, the sky was already growing lighter and I knew I needed to get into position quickly if I was going to hear a gobble before the birds pitched down.

Once I got to the top of the ridge, I heard a faint gobble far off downhill to the east. The chances of this bird hearing me and coming in were pretty slim, but without hearing any other birds at the moment, I found a place to sit, get comfortable for a while, and call a bit.  About 10 minutes later, I heard another gobble in the distance, this time to my west.  It sounded closer than the first bird I’d heard, so I decided to get up and move. I walked along the old roadbed just below the crest of the ridge listening as I walked. As I got closer, I could hear more clearly and realized that it was not one, but two gobblers. I gave a quick call and they answered, so again, I started to wonder where to sit. “Where can I sit so I can see him, but he can’t see me?” “Where is the best spot for me to get a shot?” I finally plopped down at the base of an oak, on the right side of a dead, fallen pine just below the roadbed where there is much more cover and  I would be facing downhill toward the Toms. However, I knew if the birds got above me on the road, I may not have a good opportunity to get a shot.

kevins 3rd bird03_5-2-13I called again, and the birds were coming, and fast! I could tell they were doing just what I hoped they wouldn’t. I heard them gobble again as they moved to my left and above me. Of course they got on the road and started strutting and coming closer.  My only chance for a shot, was to move around to the left side of the tree, where I could look up the road toward the birds and either shoot through the pine brush in front of me, or wait until one of them passes it and is in the clear.

My heart was beating faster and faster, knowing these birds were going to be in my face in seconds.  I watched them through a bit of a window in those rusty, old dead pine needles. The brush was thick with branches, so I chose to wait until the first bird cleared the brush. The old gobbler was no more than eight steps from me when he finally stuck his head out and I pulled the trigger! He immediately fell and the other tom flew out. in a hurry.

Akevins 3rd bird_5-2-13s I mentioned, I’m always second guessing my choice of set-up.  Even though I may get a bit flustered and worried how the hunt will turn out in the heat of the moment, things can always work out for the best. If I had decided to set up anywhere else, those turkeys may have been able to spot me. Once I sat next to that brush, all I could think about was how this was another mistake that would hinder me from seeing the birds and/or getting a shot.  When in fact, it worked to my advantage. I’ll chalk about 40% of this hunt up to luck.

Perhaps the best part about this turkey hunt, was that it was the first time that I’d been hunting alone where I was able to call in an adult gobbler, and successfully harvest the bird on my own. I’d hunted alone before and called birds in, but I’d never been able to make it happen on a big gobbler by myself. The tom weighed 16 lbs, had a 9-7/8” beard and 3/4 “ spurs. This was also the first spring gobbler season in VA where I’d been able to fill all three tags! Needless to say, I was pretty proud of the accomplishment.
– Kevin

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