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Old April 20, 2024, 12:38 PM   #26
bamaranger
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more mistakes, day#12

Day 12, 18April
It's easy to get up this morning, I've got one roosted! Long before dawn, I leave the access trail and slip across three shallow finger ridges by scattered moonlight and settle at the base of a big red oak that stands out in the gloom. Out in front of me there is a subtle woods clearing, and beyond that, I reckon, is that gobbler, about 125 yds or so. We will see.

I hear him drumming from the limb very early, long before decent light or fly down time. Off to the left a bit, but more than acceptable. Fly down, work up the mild nose in front of me to the opening, strut and BOOM....home before 8:00AM...easy. Things brighten and it's light enough to try some tree calls. VERY softly I float some mild yelps from the old slate.......nothing. He continues to drum, still aloft. Well, he's likely been called to plenty, it's a murky misty morning, and he may not be so inclined to gobble. But he HAD to hear me and I'm close. The drumming continues, and 15 minutes or so later I tree call again, changing strikers. No gobble, more drumming.

Later than I would have thought I hear wings, a turkey sailing off the roost, a distinctive woosh. Then a second set, powering off a limb, following. Arrgh! Pretty sure that's trouble. The first bird was likely a hen, gliding out to where she chose. Followed by the powerful launch of the tom. He knew she was there, may even have been looking at her, no need to gobble. I try a muted fly down cackle and follow with yelps, maybe I can swing the hen (?) this way. No response. I didn't see them, but there on the ground, 100 yds away, maybe less. Over the next 45 minutes I get three gobbles, which I answer, but no comeback from the tom on the ground. The last I hear he's drifting left and away.

I hear a twig snap and am hopeful that a second bird might be slipping in silent. A a doe shows up plodding in to 20 yds , spots me and pitches a holy fit, blowing and stomping. Not content with that display, she circles downwind to the other side too and blows and carries on some more. I hear no more gobbles. I stay an hour longer, till 9:30 and call it quits. I've got errands to run over in MS today and the place closes at 2:00PM. Till I walk out, clean up and change, take bamawife to lunch (bless her patient heart) it should just work out.

I get to the truck at 10:00AM, chunk the vest in the back and am casing the Mossberg when I think I hear a gobble. Listen....yeah, that's exactly what that was....where? Geez-o-man, that's right here on top of this ridge I'm parked at the base of......I think. I grab my stuff and hustle down the road that parallels the base of the narrow ridge running east. I've never been up there, and I know there's a house on the east end and a property line, not sure how far east that happens. More gobbles and I realize the I'm walking E. on this access road and the gobbler is walking west on the ridgetop. I'd better get up there.

I try. It's STEEP feseterd with refrigerator sized rocks and I pick my way through as hard as I can go, headed towards the west end and a little knob, literally right above the truck. I'd would have been better off to have climbed up top first. Now it's a race to the knob........ I almost make it.

He gobbles again, right at the tip, and I'm just under the lip, likely no more than 30 yards.....and I'm pinned. Fifteen yards in front of me there is one of those pesky big rocks, and I cannot see beyond it. No way to get closer or around without getting busted. If he'll walk around either side, or possibly even up to the opposite side and look over, I'll have him, but he does not. For 45 minutes he parades back and forth across the tiny point, drumming and gobbling like mad, playing the angles just right, the blasted rock obscuring my view. I'm balled up at the base of a cedar, tracking gobbles left and right with the Mossberg, which begins to weigh a ton. I could probably get him with a grenade, but there's no way I can see to shoot! I do the leaf trick, I cluck and purr with the mouth call, he tromps left and right but does not show.

Finally he fades off a bit and gobbles twice . The break I need? I crawl like a worm to the big rock, shoulder the Mossberg, and rise EVER so slowly like a U-boat to the surface, gun pointed in the direction I last heard him. He's not there. Turkey noise hard off to my left, not an alarm putt, a harsh gobbler cluck, he's made a move too, circling left, looking for me, he's barely 30 yards off, I can see his head and eyeball through the brush. And he sees me, but pretty sure, he's not sure what he sees. It's just my camo clad head, mask, gun and gloves poking above the rock, not much of a signature.

He doesn't putt and run, simply pivots and begins that head jerking, fast turkey walk at a right oblique, walking away. I push the Mossberg hard over and the head snaps through an opening. Too small, too fast and don't get a shot. I push the gun right to a larger opening, if he'll walk through there, he's still just in range. He does, I fight the aiming point of the See-All sight towards his head, trying to track it's jerky movement across the opening.

The shot is a flat sharp BANG up here on this knife like ridge, nothing to echo off of. I was no where near on him when the gun went off, and he flushes cleanly, up into the tree tops, then wheels surprisingly gracefully, to fly left and off into the valley. I never cut a feather, .....clean miss. ARRGH

I drop off the knob, I'm not 50 yards from the truck. Had I gone to the ridge top straight away instead of sliding along the bottom initially, I likely could have been on that point first. But I did not realize he was coming my way, and he may not have been initially. I'll never know. At least I didn't cripple him .

I get home, it's 11:30. I make a mad dash through the shower, bamawife is waiting in the truck. Hit the highway and burn over to MS, I'm hungry, she's been promised lunch, we eat first. Down to the shop, and we catch them just as there're locking up and are able to pick up our repair item. The guy even cuts us a break on the price. At least THAT worked out.
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Old April 21, 2024, 10:43 PM   #27
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Days #13 & 14

-Day #13-19April
I drag my carcass out of bed early and suit up, but there is a light drizzle and thunder to the west. I figure I can drive to a spot, sleep in the truck, then hit the woods when it breaks. Right. About the time I put the gun in the Toyota, a tremendous wave of thunderstorms rolls in. Serious lightning, wind and rain. Back to bed and I need it. I lollygag around all day and finally run over to PK's place to hunt his back hayfield late that evening. Just going through the motions, I hear and see nothing.

-Day/hunt #14, 20 April
Once again a rocking line of thunderstorms rolls thru at daybreak and I sleep in. That evening I get a better start and set a up deke and a blind on the Mud Club, not far from where I roosted the tom a few days before. At 6:00PM. later than I would have thought a lone hen pops out on the food plot and walks quickly to within just a couple of feet of my lone hen deke. She purrs softly a couple of times, clucks, the cocks her head and neck in a hilarious "S" shape....as if to say "ain't you stuck up". The live bird pecks and feeds about for the next 45 minutes, then drifts off to roost, though I never heard her go up, perhaps she's on a nest right close.
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Old April 22, 2024, 11:07 PM   #28
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two more hunts, no more gobbles

-hunt #15, 21 April
Sunday morning, and I will hunt before church, on state land close to home. It's gray and cold, and the wind is pretty stiff, but I go anyhow. Pretty much a waste of time. My first stop, I'm on the windward side of the ridge and can't hear anything. I stupidly stay an hour anyhow, as I's seen multiple toms here back in deer season (late Jan/early Feb). I relocate to the lee side, better conditions, but I hear nothing there either. I did some cutting with an old Lohman box both spots. These public land birds likely have been called to alot. There's birds here, I see a hen from the road on the way out.

-hunt #16, 22April
I wake up late, and hunt state property again, same locale, as it's easy access and close. I'm late enough that I don't make it to where I want to be at light, so I stop short and listen from the access road twice on the way in, hearing nothing. Once back where I wanted to start, I listen from the ridge top for over two hours, lounging comfortably, snoozing now and then and run the crow call rather than any turkey noise. It's cold, but still, sound should carry well, but I hear not a peep. See another hen, some hen tracks.
As this is so close to home, I can run over here and roost in the afternoons, perhaps I will eventually hear a gobble.
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Old April 24, 2024, 07:36 AM   #29
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I don't think I'll ever understand hunting--I was out shooting my 7mm STW yesterday--a pretty big banger--when a nice size Tom walks right up to me while I'm out adjusting my target. Like 10 feet away. I shoo him away but he hangs around unconcerned--the only thing I can think of that makes animals this nuts is they must have sex on their minds.

Anyway I'm rooting for the Bamateam to get one more before the season closes for you.
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Old April 24, 2024, 07:54 AM   #30
Jim Watson
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Normally I would expect to see Bamaranger at Wednesday lunch but I expect him to be in the wilds trying for another turkey. He usually limits out.
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Old April 24, 2024, 04:28 PM   #31
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hunts #17 & 18

-23April, #17
I'm back in the Big Hollow again, in the general locale where I took that good tom last week. At dawn, a bird sounds off to the the SE, I'd estimate about exactly where that saddle is where I killed the bird. He gobbles twice in the twilight, maybe a bit further S than the notch, but I could get there. I hold off, that's a long way across, perhaps there's one closer. I keep thinking I hear one drumming, but no gobbles erupt close. OK, off we go. I cross to the other side and stop short of the notch. It's a good 30 minutes later, I'll check this bird with a crow call, and out comes the old wooden Olt, bought when I was a teenager. I caw away, gosh that old call sounds good....and I get a gobble!

Only problem....it's over where I WAS, not where I am. Jeez-0-man. OK, so we go back. While I'm crossing back, either that bird, possibly another, gobbles from a wee bit higher, that would have been VERY near where I started....I remember thinking I heard drumming....maybe I did. I top out, stick a decoy on the woods road, and begin the call and wait process. Nothing. I stay put, close to two hours, and do not hear a gobble on this original spur ridge side. What DO I hear, .....another gobble over opposite, south of the notch. Can't win for losin'. I stay planted 'till 12:00 and call it quits.

-Hunt #18, 24April
Back in the Big Hollow.....again. This morning I walk all the way out the spur and off the nose of it, to a little bowl shaped draw where I suspect the culprit from yesterday was holding. I've killed a good bird here in years past, and had several others strut nearby w/o getting a shot. I've not been here in several years, but I find the old single wire fence that leads there and walk right to it in the twilight. I settle in where I've sat before and am no sooner down then I hear gobbles WAY off to the east, almost out of hearing. Probably a bit closer than what it sounds, but still way over there....I'm not even sure it's on the lease. I stay put. No turkey noise close, but I am about where that bird was yesterday. I begin to call and wait. Close to three hours later, I can stand no more. My butt is sore, my legs trying to cramp, I've got to move. Heck it's close 10:00AM, .....leave early, get lunch for morale purposes.

I haven't walked 50 yds when a hawk screeches overhead and a gobble snaps out within 150 yds. It's not out towards the bowl, it's back in the thicker stuff, essentially what was behind me. I'll never call a turkey through that. I move 30-40 yds or so through the little thicket and to more open woods on the other side and drop against the nearest decent sized tree. No pads, no slate call, too close, I pop in a mouth call, get the gun up and yelp......nothing. I stick it out for an hour and a half, 'till after 11:30, but hear no more turkey noise. Huh, just the way it is sometimes. I don't think there's anyway he saw me. I am tickled I had his pattern sort of figured out, he's on my list.

Highlight of the day, while walking out up top, I spy a shed antler, 3pts. Smallish, 1-1/2, maybe 2-1/2 yr old deer. I've got a 5 gallon bucket of sheds I've found, and I'll add this to the collection, marked with the date and locale.
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Old April 25, 2024, 09:56 PM   #32
bamaranger
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hunt #19, late start

-hunt 19, 25 April
I don't know how many mornings this is in sequence, but when the alarm goes off at 4:00AM today, I'm gassed. I walk down the bedroom hallway and flop in the recliner, and seriously reconsider my choice of hobbies. I need a break. I go back to bed, reset the alarm for 8:00AM and plan to hunt mid-day. At 8:00, I don't feel much better, and go back to sleep again.
Finally awake, I eat lunch with lovely bamawife, run an errand, and am rolling from the house at 2:00 PM for a field and decoy hunt on the Mud Club, in the vicinity of where I got a shot last week (18th). I get it all set up, and.....it starts to rain. On and off, all afternoon. Not necessarily a bad thing for a field hunt, but I see or hear no turkeys.
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Old April 26, 2024, 09:51 PM   #33
bamaranger
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second gobbler!

-hunt #20, 26April
Back into Big Hollow, the plan is to wait out the bird on the spur ridge that seems to gobble mid morning. All plans go to blazes with the first gobble.
A short while after daylight I can hear multiple birds gobbling way to the east, just as in the past few mornings. Additionally there is a bird well to the south, down by the county road. And then a pair gobble once each, over by the notch/saddle across from me on the opposite side. Finally, I can hear a bird way off to the west. What is that.... six? I hold out 'till close 9:00am but have no confidence in my plan. I figure that the spur gobbler must be off to the S, SE, with the 4-5 that seem that direction. But I sure don't want to hump it over to that notch , possibly beyond, and then have to hump it back emptyhanded.

I elect to back track to the Polaris, ride back thru the lease on club roads, and come out east of the notch. It takes about nearly an hour, not really a time savings, but I arrive a lot less blown, and it will allow an easier exit too. Additionally, I can slip out into the hardwoods there with minimal disturbance.
I slip thru the pines and emerge in open woods, and ease over to a slight bench on the hillside. The slope falls off steeply to my front but I can see downhill fairly well and the little bench to left looks like a really good spot for a gobbler to strut. I figure some of the birds I heard this morning could be close. I set up at the base of a red oak and we will see.

The winds up a bit, and I try the old Lohman box I've been prone to carry a bit this season. Not my best effort, but it should carry well. A bit later I try the slate with the harsh carbon fiber striker, again with no results. Well, we'll listen for a bit. It's after 10:00, maybe one of these birds has lost their hens. A log truck blasts through the county road below and jake brakes for the bridge, and a bird gobbles to left, beyond the little bench. Close! As it turns out, closer than I realize.

I take a few seconds to get settled in that direction, then yelp 3x on the slate. I get two gobbles, there's two of them! I drop the slate, get the gun up and the safety off. Inside of a minute I see movement to my left, that looked like a turkey's head slipping through an opening. Yup, there..... and in the same moment, the second bird appears dead ahead. Number two is closer and I'm on him, he just needs to get clear. But he stops behind a bit of brush and clucks hard. He's looking for the hen. He clucks again and pivots to my left, suspicious. Number one has stopped in an opening but I'd really like him to be closer. The closer bird drifts left a bit more, still obscured, and is getting jumpy. I drift the gun a couple of inches left and get number one in the scope, ......I'll shoot.

I see him roll backwards, pump the gun,.... wobble to my feet. The closer bird flushes away. I crash over to where I took the shot, and I don't see him.....good Lord, not again! Then relief, ........he's fallen back into a slight depression and there he lays barely quivering, down for good. I pace it off, twice, 46 steps the first time, 44 the next. I don't pace a true yard, I'd say the shot was 43 yards, further than I'd like, but clearly deadly.

He's a mature tom, 17 lbs, with TWO beards, 9-1/2" and 4-1/2". His spurs are identical at 13/16ths of an inch, with a bit of a point and curve. He may be a 3 year old........certainly two. I'm very pleased.....now I know the first one wasn't an accident!

Last edited by bamaranger; April 27, 2024 at 04:20 PM.
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Old April 26, 2024, 11:14 PM   #34
stagpanther
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Congrats! All's well that ends well.
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Old April 27, 2024, 04:49 PM   #35
bamaranger
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a new plan, hunt #21

-hunt #21. 27 April
Encouraged with my success from the day previous I hunt again this morning. I decide that since I keep hearing birds n the distance way to the east of Big Hollow, I will come in on the east side of the lease on another access road and try and get some sense as to where exactly that bunch is holding. I ride the Polaris down Ogeltree Rd, thru the big pine stands, and walk out onto a hardwood point about 1/2 mi east of my kill yesterday. I'd heard birds here scouting preseason from the county road below, and suspect the gobbling I've been hearing in the distance from Big Hollow may be from this area.

It's a flat light morning with a light breeze and I hear not a peep. That's gobbler hunting....day before (late in the season no less) I heard more birds than I have all month. This morning, same general locale.......zilch. The wind builds and by 8:00AM I decide I need to get lower to be able to hear much at all. I drop off the top 50 yds or so on the north side, and am surprised to see an absolutely gorgeous hardwood bench/shelf on the hillside just below.

I've been in this lease close to 20 years (more?) and was not aware that this little spot existed. It absolutely screams "strut zone". If I was a gobbler, I'd hang out here! It's open enough that a decoy could probably be seen by any tom's drifting in, and I plunk the lone hen I always carry in a patch of sunlight and retreat 30 yds. I fashion a simple blind from some branches lopped nearby, and settle in. Over the next 3 hours I run the big Lohman box in the wind and it sounds pretty good, to me anyhow. But I hear no answers, nor any gobbling in the distance. By 11:00 it seems every bone below my shoulder blades is screaming and I call it quits.

Highlight of the day, aside from finding the bench, is the discovery of the biggest whitetail buck rub I have ever seen. Chest high, on a sapling the diameter of a small fence post. It has been rubbed multiple seasons, a true sign post. I need to remember this bench on a good mast year. Should a fellow kill a deer here, the woods are open enough you could likely get an ATV down here to aid recovery and simplify a steep uphill drag.

But there's more gobbler hunting to be done before that!!!!!!!
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Old April 28, 2024, 06:02 AM   #36
stagpanther
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Our regular turkey season starts next week--and the turkeys seem to know it, I was seeing them daily in the woods in the last few weeks and now I see nothing, but do hear them at dawn and dusk sometimes. There was one I knew from where I go shoot that I called "Mr Big" that I saw for 3 seasons straight; as the name suggests he was huge. This is on private property and the owner lets only family and friends shoot and hunt there, he knew about the bird too but told me to the best of his knowledge nobody got him. I've seen some nice-sized birds but no "Mr Big" since last spring season.
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Old April 28, 2024, 04:38 PM   #37
bamaranger
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lifespan

Turkeys do not have a particularly long lifespan. Hens are vulnerable on the nest especially. I name my turkeys if they escape.......one in particular got the name Goliath. Goliath walked away from my calling twice, before I ambushed him following hens down a field. Interestingly, Goliath had a .22 wound low on his breast bone, completely healed.....no wonder he was spooky. We'd had an issue on the club with migrant workers (seedling planters) sniping gobblers at the end of their work day 2-3 years before. I buried Goliath's torso, thinking the breastbone would make a neat conversation piece after the maggots had cleaned it up. Shoulda boiled it.....my first golden retriever 'Bama, (what else) dug it up. Goliath was likely 4-5 yrs old upon his demise, with the biggest noggin I've ever seen.

One year I killed a gobbler from which I removed lead #4 shot. As I'd killed him with plated shot, I knew he was a veteran. An adjoining landowner was also a gobbler hunter and he'd told the story of rolling a gobbler with a handload of lead #4 , a few years back. We concluded that bird was possibly 5 as he was an adult when rolled and I killed him 3 yrs later.
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Old April 29, 2024, 10:09 PM   #38
bamaranger
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on the bench

-hunt #22, 29Apriil
I plan to hunt the little bench I found on my last hunt and head that way this morning, despite a late start. I arrive well after daylight, after 6:00AM, but hear no gobbles on my walk in or during my set up. I carried a real load in today , two hen decoys, folding blind and big stadium chair. The plan is to sit long and comfy on this little bench and wait for a strutter. The hardwood hillside is so open that the blind and chair will let me sit comfortably and undetected all morning, something I could never do if sitting in the open.

At 8:00am or so I hear 3 gobbles, well to the south. Too windy to place exactly, perhaps all the way on the other side of the Co. Rd and well off our lease. I elect to stay with my deke set. I do, all morning, 'till 12:00 noon, snoozing and calling periodically. I get no answers, hear nothing else in the distance.

Upon returning to the ATV, I motor over to the last ridge to the south, refreshing in my mind just how to get in there. The plan will be to start on this most distant SE ridge next time I get to hunt.
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Old May 1, 2024, 04:38 PM   #39
bamaranger
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go south old man....gobbler #3

-hunt #23, 1May
The plan this morning is to hunt the most southern/southeastern ridge in the lease. There's not much left of it. Fifteen or more years ago it was logged and the vast majority of it was replanted (as always) in pines. There is a slim, knifelike ridge that extends west from the pine edge that is still open hardwoods, I doubt the remaining little ridge is 200 yds long. Any further south, west or very far east is private property. While hunting over in Big Hollow, I keep hearing birds over this way. Additionally, preseason, while listening from the county road below, I heard some gobbles at the point of this ridge down low on private property. Last week I hunted the new, pretty bench 1/2 mi or so north of this spot. This morning I am as far southeast as I can get, searching for these eastern birds.

Geez-o-man it gets light early. I'm clear the house and rolling before 5:00AM and yet still there's light to east. I race dawn west to the club, a 30 minute drive, pushing the old Toyota and the integrity of the trailer/ATV behind as much as I dare. I park at closer spot, along the county road to lessen the ATV ride, and take off with the Polaris out the club named Ogeltree Rd. It's light enough now I do not need the headlight on the ATV. I really want to be out on that ridge before any roosted turkeys fly down but I dunno about it now. I stop short of where I might have ridden to if not so light, and chug down the remaining 200 yds or so on foot. Where the ATV path ends and the hardwoods begin, I pause to catch my breath and listen. I glance at my watch, it's 6:00AM.

As if on que, a gobble rings out from the little ridge to my front, a bit low and to the right, maybe 200 yds out. I'd like to get closer. I begin to pussyfoot along the ridgetop, headed his way. I don't get 25 yds when I hear turkey clucks from the treetops...close. It's not the "Putt" alarm call, it's a harsh cluck likely an old hen. She likely thinks my soft 2 footed gait in the twilight is another turkey. Now what? If she flys down and goes to that gobbling tom, it's over. And that would be the natural way of things. I can flush her from the tree, but if she flushes in the direction of the tom, he may well see or hear her go by and follow, again, .....all done. But.....if she flushes away from him that would be really good. I decide to bump her, and come at her from such an angle that she might be inclined to flush away. And she does!!!!

The tom has to hear all this, her clucks, the explosion of wings from the treetops. He continues to gobble, undisturbed by the racket, same place rather casually, but his attention has to be drawn this way. I better not try to get any closer, and pick a big tree to sit and call from just where I am. Farther than I'd like, but he's alerted to this direction and I will not risk a closer approach. I let him gobble on his own for several more minutes, the run a string of yelps at him with the slate. Nothing. ....... He HAD to hear that. After a few minutes, he gobbles again, he's not moved and I'd bet anything he's still on the roost. Slick. He's heard that hen flush, knows she's on the ground, and is staying safe, aloft on this roost, 'til she appears below him. Or, there was another hen closer, who knows? He gobbles freely for the next hour or so, 'til about 7:00AM, then all goes silent. I do my best to convince him to come over, calling about every 3rd gobble or so, and doing a good bit of leaf scratching to add realism to my charade, but he does not show. His last gobbles are moving left and slightly away. It didn't sounded like he topped out, then went low off the end of the ridge towards the bottom and the private fields. I stay planted till 8:00AM, hoping for all the world I see him slipping in silently, but he does not show.

I'm pondering what to do next when a gobble snaps out to my left and low again about 200 yds down. Has to be the same turkey, he's looped left off the end of the ridge and is below me. I drop off the left side of the ridge and to the head of a slight fold a mere 30 yds away that seems to lead right down to him. Good visibility and great tree, and he's inside 200 yds. I set up and call to him with the slate. Nothing. Once again, he gobbles casually every few minutes, but never really responding. I answer every 2-3 gobbles, and at one point he closes to 100 yds or so, still out of sight, but then his next volley seems slightly more distant. Hmmm??

During this process, I can hear two additional gobblers WAY to the south, on the other side of the county road, out in those big pastures. The sound is thin and thread like, likely jakes. My antagonist will occasionally snap a gobble out at those two upon hearing them. OK, I will challenge him with a jake gobble. I fish the tube out of my vest and give it a half-shake....nothing. Hmmm?? Maybe he's not sure what he heard. I half shake it again and get a gobble in response. I follow with some soft clucks with the mouth call....boy meets girl sort of thing....and all goes silent. I'm hopeful.

When he gobbles next he is not stomping up the hill for a fight, he's drifted off towards the point again, away from me. .......a pacifist. He's still down low. I pick up and move out across the top, paralleling him from above. As I approach the point on the end of the ridge, I note a slight saddle ahead. He may well have crossed the ridge top here earlier this morning, and if he did, he may feel comfortable coming up here again.

I slide into the base of a beech tree with a couple of saplings adjacent on either side. Perfect. I'm on the shade side of the tree, the sun's behind me, and the branches from the saplings extend out over me and hang down a bit, it's a natural blind and ideal calling spot. The little swag extends along the ridge top in front of me, and the point of the ridge is about 50-60 yds distant. I let him gobble again on his own, still 150 yds or more out, then answer with the slate, just 3 yelps. Nothing......but when he gobbles again, he's closer, half the distance and just out of sight, ascending the ridge from the left at about 11'0'clock. I give a few clucks back and ditch the slate, get the gun up and the safe off. When he gobbles again he's just off the crest and then he slinks in to sight. I'll never grow tired of it.

He's cautious as he reaches the crest, just my side of the point, only 50 yds or so out. After a long look around he gobbles and pops into strut and begins to parade my direction. My heart pounds and I can sense my breath in small gasps. I make a mental note to run the trigger properly, 'cause I am going to get a shot. He stops again, now in range, but not quite clear, and gazes about once more....seeing all. My mind is racing...if he doesn't see a hen here on this swag, he may drift off and it is all for naught. My fears ease as he gobbles, pops into strut again and sachets closer.

He clears the brush and is in a half strut, walking right up the gun barrel. He was in range at his last stop, now he seems on top of me. I'm carrying the Remington 870 again with the Leupold 1.5-5x on board. Through the scope on 3x, he looks enormous. I am locked on him, the crosshairs solidly on his wattles. You shouldn't shoot at one walking, you shouldn't shoot at one if the head and neck aren't extended.....but I am solid, and on him and he's right THERE.

I'm so locked and solid that I do not loose him in recoil and see the feathers fly. He's crumpled and I am certain before I even get to my feet he's down for good. No need for a wild run over to him, I walk across and pace my shot as I go......40 paces even, likely 36-37 yds. He's mature, good spurs and a full beard. I check my watch.....it's 9:00AM. I've been on this gobbler 3 hrs!

Later I crunch the numbers. He goes 21 lbs, very heavy for late in the season. The longest fiber in the beard goes 10-1/4", but I may have shot a few fibers off, he took some pellets there. Pointed and sharp spurs run 1-1/16th each, a solid 3 year old, maybe older. This season is getting better.
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Old May 1, 2024, 05:36 PM   #40
stagpanther
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Nice! How many are you allowed to take in a season? I'm just curious--up here in Maine it's only two--which I don't understand since we're overrun with them. I've seen something like 50 at a time munching away on a farmer's field.

I thought about you this morning when I went out shooting--second day in a row I've encountered turkeys where I set up my target and shoot. I pulled up in my truck and find in the field a hen foraging and this guy strutting his stuff trying to impress her. He completely ignored me and the only reason he left was the hen slowly returned to the woods and he followed. He was bigger than yesterday's jake/tom but his beard was only about 6" from what I could tell, so maybe small by your standards. He put on a great show and I was thankful for that. I tried to get a picture off him in full puff-n-strut but he deflated before I clicked the shutter. I can see how you can develop an addiction to hunting these birds.



I'm sure you probably know this already--but the wing feathers of turkeys are highly prized by primitive bow archery hunters that like to fletch their own arrows.
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Old May 1, 2024, 08:53 PM   #41
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birds

When I arrived in AL in 1988, and for many years before, up until just 3 years ago, the spring gobbler season limit has been 5 birds. In 2021, based on assessment by the state biologists, the seasonal limit was reduced to 4 birds. There were adjustments to opening and ending season dates as well. The theme of declining turkey numbers is echoed through out the southeast and northern states. Oddly, I don't hear much about turkey declines in the southwest and the western states. My impression is that the eastern gobbler (subspecies) is the ony one that is the focus.

Addiction, yeah, that's a good description. I encounter guys that say they hunted spring gobblers, killed some, and then quit.....I don't get it. Ben Rogers Lee, the Alabama gobbler guru of the 1980's, said "you need a good wife and a good job if you're gonna be a turkey hunter, if not, you'll loose both! You gonna turkey hunt 'till you die". Gene Nunnery a turkey sage from about the same era from MS, tells a humorous story about the old man who wanted to be known as "turkey man". When asked about his success, he stated "it only cost him a farm, a wife and two jobs," but by golly he was a recognized turkey hunter.

My standards? I've had far too many get away to be picky. I've met guys who will not bushwack a turkey, not hunt from a blind, not use decoys. Well and good for them.....they must a whole lot better than I am. I am also not against taking a jake, especially if it's been a lean year. BTW, over in MS, jakes are not a legal bird, only mature birds can be harvested.
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Old May 2, 2024, 11:32 AM   #42
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hunt #24

#24, 2May
Satisfied with my success from the day before, I sleep in an extra hour and then make the short drive over to state property where I got the shot (and got whupped) on the 18th. I don't need the ATV here, but take it anyway, just in case I hear a bird way over in the big ridges to the west. But my intended destination is not over in the big woods, it's close to the state highway on the east side of the WMA in these low scrubby woods.

As soon as I shut the Polaris off I can hear birds..at least two.....buy they are so distant, and the highway noise so heavy that I cannot really get a good fix on exactly where they might be. I elect to stay in in this locale, perhaps the bird I shot at a week ago has survived and will go vocal.

I find a comfortable tree and settle in, hunting with my ears, snoozing occasionally. These public land birds have been called to ....a lot. The "road warriors" prowl the access roads daily, calling from the roadway, hoping to raise a gobbler. Heck, I've seen guys leaning out of their truck windows, cranking on a box call. I make no turkey calls or use any kind of locator call all morning. By 9:00AM I've had enough, it's warming up and I'm hungry. I ease out, taking many breaks to listen, but here nothing. I'm home by 10:30 and bamawife fixes me a late breakfast
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Old May 2, 2024, 02:39 PM   #43
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I went shooting again today--but only saw a hen, no jake/toms. But the season has started and they're out there--I hope the landowner and his friends get to tag some. : )

Somewhere in your woods there must be a "Mr Big"--I hope you find him before your season is over.
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Old May 5, 2024, 11:30 AM   #44
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hunt #25

-hunt #25, 4May
The evening previous I take short ride onto state property to listen and roost in the evening. When I stop the old Toyota to go back and sit on the tailgate I look down, and there's a set of gobbler tracks! A sign from the heavens........ I spend the last hour of daylight listening, owling a little bit, and hear nothing. But I'm back in the morning.

I park 1/2 mi or so from my where I was last evening and walk down the gravel road in the twilight, and as the day grows, I see more and more turkey tracks, and no small number of gobbler tracks mixed in. I decide to hunt the road as far as is legally possible. I set up in the pines near a WMA roads intersection nearby, feeling just a little stupid, my lines of sight are terrible. But all those tracks don't lie, there's birds here. I'd seen a good flock just right here as well preseason, obviously they are still in the area. At 8:00Am I hear a single gobble, way off in the valley below on private land and that is all. An AL Dept of Cons enforcement vehicle roars past twice and I'm glad to see it. Maybe they can deter the number of roadhunters.
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Old May 8, 2024, 10:57 AM   #45
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hunt #26 & all done

Heavy morning thunder storms sweep through the area the past couple of days and I do not hunt. In the afternoons, I ride through the WMA and check the gravel road, and sure enough, there are gobbler tracks every time. Like any sneaky old turkey hunter would do, I kick them out or run them over with the truck! If we can get a morning without storms, I'll be back.

hunt #26, 7May
It's windy this morning, but no rain, and I head over to the WMA to hunt near the road with all the tracks. I find a spot in the pines with slightly better lines of sight than last trip and am set up just after dawn. I do nothing the first hour but listen. As the morning progresses, I crank up the sturdy old Lohman box, calling blind every 20 minutes or so, but get no responses. I tell myself I will stick it out 'till 11:00AM and do, but can barely get to my feet after close 5 hours on the ground.

I'm done. Last day of the season is tomorrow, and I'm obligated to some responsibilities at the house. So that's it for AL 2024. I appreciate the moderators allowing my ramblings, and I am astounded every year at the number of views and the positive comments I receive from some of you. Still tech challenged, I hope to get bamaboy to assist in posting some dead bird photos in the near future. There is a very good chance I will hunt up in PA in a week or so and will report same if and when that happens.

Hope all get to hunt as much as they want and hear lots of gobbles
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Old May 8, 2024, 12:00 PM   #46
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Head north young man--gobbler season just started up here.
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Old May 14, 2024, 09:14 AM   #47
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He did. “Visiting Mom in Pennsylvania.”
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Old May 20, 2024, 07:26 PM   #48
stagpanther
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This guy came out today to chase the girls (yes, while I was target shooting) and he was the biggest Tom I've seen so far this year.

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