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Old April 5, 2022, 01:20 AM   #1
bamaranger
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Alabama spring gobbler season 2022

As in past years, I will post a commentary on my season. My laptop is down and working from a tiny notebook, my narratives may be brief till I get a better keyboard with which to work

1April, first day, first bird.
Changes to the season this year regards dates, decoys. Opening morning in early on the middle ridge of a series of three aligned in parallel. At dawn turkeys gobble from the adjacent ridges, none on the ridge where I am! Burn over to the North Ridge on the ATV, arrive about 0630. Ease out of the pine plantation into the hardwoods, I can hear turkeys yelping and scratching 100 yds or so to my front. Slide in against the trunk of a giant chestnut oak and begin to call periodically on my treasured slate. Some 20-30 minutes pass with no responses, but when it starts, things happen quickly. About 1/4 mile a bird gobbles on his own. I answer, though too far to anticipate a response. What I get is a gobble from a second bird about half the distance! I yelp back , no answer , but in a few minutes get a gobble from that direction, now about 100 yds. Again I run the slate past him w/o results, but minutes later gobble just out of sight alerts me he's very close. I ditch the slate and mount the gun, mouth call from this point. In a moment I see the fan. 60 yds and closing. Then, more movement, there's birds between us. A cluster of Jake'sweeps like bird dogs in front of the strutter, and their closing fast. I lose track of the strutter, and now have 6-8 Jake's in my lap the closest inside 20 yds. This could go south in a hurry!.
When one presents a shot at 35 yds or so I take it and he goes down aflutter. Mayhem, and I'm aware of two shock gobbles from birds close by but out of sight. I'm covered up with gobblers!

2April
Grey, cold and overcast. The same Three Ridges location that yielded so many birds and gobbles the day before is dead silent, By 0930 it begins to drizzle and I'm gone.

3April
Three Ridges again and a prettier morning. Birds gobbling on the point at the end of North Ridge, and I close down as close as I dare. By the time I arrive, a lone bird gobbles steadily from the crest at the very end. I set up, begin calling. He answers periodically, comes in to where I can hear him drum, then retreats back out to the point. This goes on for 2 hrs. I can't move, the woods are far to open, no leafs yet, and he's not coming any closer. At 0900 he gobbles for the last time. I stay glued in place for an hour, but he's gone.

I'm on my way out when two different gobblers start up adjacent me on Middle Ridge. I drop into the hollow, clamber up to about their level, and call. They gobble a few more times, but no hot responses, and after an hour of silence I give up on them too. It's A long way back to my old Bronco. I manage to spot a small there point she'd antler and the walk out is a bit easier as a result. Second one I've found this spring.

4April
3 Ridges/North Ridge again This morning I elect to try and beat the point bird to his strut zone out on the end of the ridge. I almost make it, but get caught about 100 yrs short of where I want to be. But I am not going to have a repeat of yesterday. When he gobbles announcing his presence, I drop onto the side of the ridge under him, then scramble through the rocks out on the point, to come out behind him on the crest. This takes a while as I time my moves with traffic on the highway below and his tendency to drift from on see of the crest to th other. When he's "away", gobbles at a passing vehicle, I creep a little closer. At 50-60 yards, just out of sight over a slight rise, I ease in against a tree trunk, settle, and risk a call. He won't have to come far....just enough to offer a shot. He doesn't answer but eventually gobbles again, continuing his back and forth parade on the crest. I try the mouth call again, and again he clams up, but he is very close, in range, but out of sight. When he gobbles next, it's deafening, right in front, just there, he's ceased his parade and locked up just over the rise. I risk raking the leaves with my hands, another ear splitting gobble, then the tips of his fan appear., and then his noggin. I've got you now! I consciously tell myself to wait for a better presentation, he takes a few more steps and pulls out of strut....NOW! Pull the gun out of recoil, no flopping.......He flushes left and away in an instant.......how's that possibble? I was ON him, waited, steady.......???? It's 33 paces over to the spot, duck soup.....???

I ponder,........Then a sinking feeling, I rapped the scope pretty hard getting out of the Bronco......enough to miss? My misery is not over. Walking out, I blunder into another gobbler, and listen to two others over on Middle Ridge, but am reluctant to continue w/ the gun suspect. At home tired or not, I put the gun/scope on paper. my suspicions are confirmed. At 25 paces, the pie plate size pattern is several inches low and left, enough to miss a noggin if that's all you had to shoot at. The scope has been a real asset in the past, but it ( and my clumsy, hurried gun handling at the truck) cost me that bird. Arrgh
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Old April 7, 2022, 12:07 AM   #2
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Nice start to your season...and thanks for your taking time to share.
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Old April 9, 2022, 11:19 PM   #3
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2022 season, 6,7,8 April

6April
After frustration on North Ridge, I elect to hunt Middle Ridge as I 've heard birds there midmorning consistently. It's also time to give N. Ridge a a break. Dawn breaks coolish and overcast, a lone bird gobbles a bit in the distance to the west, barely audible. I don't consider locating him, I'm here for the long haul and gobbling mid-morning on this ridge. I run the slate call with a harsh piercing striker to cut the mild breeze. I'd set a box call out for the very reason, but drove off and left it at the house! Nevertheless I hammer the slate every 20 minutes or so, hoping for a reply. Around 9:00 After a run of yelps I hear a gobble from way down the south side of the ridge, maybe 1/4 mile distant. Seems to far for a response, but here's hoping. A bit later, on it's own, a second gobble, closer, and I respond immediately. Again, after a pause, another gobble, closer yet, under 200 yards. That bird is coming! I let him gobble again on his own, but this time he hasn't moved. I respond again, same extended pause...gobble.....same place. I cut at him with the slate......nothing. Suspecting he's coming, I mount the gun and cover his direction. About 15 minutes later he double gobbles but he's moved away, back the direction from which he came. Stay in place an hour but I never hear him again. That's gobbler hunting.

7April
Over sleep and I leave the house close to an hour late. Through the gate at the lease and it's full light, not good. Stop briefly to listen at a different spot, but I can hear birds gobbling over on Three Ridges, so off we go again. I park short on Middle Ridge, hustle through the pines, there's a bird close on the south side where I heard one the day before. I set down in the same place and call. W hen he gobbles next, after his customary pause, he's drifted uphill slightly, but somewhat away as well, sort of quartering away but uphill. I feel as if I should see him but don't on several more gobbles he has to be somewhere on the ridgetop to my front by now. Several deer ease through his general locale and he goes silent. But the tune is picked up farther out the ridge by multiple toms out toward the point. In a few minutes I can see turkeys on the ridgetop down through the big mature hardwoods, 200 yards distant. Then the unmistakeable shape of two fans, then two more. Through the scope at 5X I can see they're all mature full fans. There's hens too, and several jakes to boot. A faint ATV track winds along the ridgetop to them, but the gobblers begin to strut silently on a slight rise. No amount of my calling, nor silent treatment, will budge them. After 2 hours, they drift off the top to the right passing within 100 yds or so of me but showing no interest in the calls I float their way. A brief flurry of gobbles floats up from the hollow floor as they apparently arrive on the bottom 1/2 mile away, then silence. I pick up and drop onto a slight shelf about halfway down and call, but an hour of silence convinces me to call it quits. Before I depart totally, I walk out the ATV track up top to where the gobblers had strutted for so long on the ever so slight rise. I pick a spot within range, Mark it with a branch, tomorrow morning my pop-up blind will go right here

8April...bird two
Up early, I leave the house w/ time to spare. Good thing too, because halfway to th club I realize I don't have my gate key Blast home, snatch the key, blast down the highway, my 37 year old Bronco laboring mightily. We arrive without mishap, and I hit the woods only a wee bit later than I might have. I pound down the ATV track carrying a load,... pop-up blind, bubba sized folding chair and my decoy bag. To ease my burden, I carry bamaboy,s alloy receiver Mossberg 835, it's lighter than the scoped 870. Equipped with fiber optic rifle sights and a 24 inch barrel, I can still manage the rifle sights at shotgun distances. Stake jake and hen decoys on the rise, retreat the 35 paces to my pile of gear, which I wrestle with in the twilight till I'm settled comfortably in my Bubba chair within the concealment of the blind. I'm here for the long haul, and I'm here first. As it lightens I tree call on the slate with two different strikers. I can hear birds gobbling in multiple directions way in the distance, but nothing close. There HAS to be turkeys here. When it's light enough I hit a fly down cackle, followed by subtle "OK" yelps, then hush and go into wait and see mode. I look right back the way I've come, nothing. Look back left at the rise/dekes and there comes a turkey Never a sound, and I did not hear it fly down. The light is still flat at first I cannot tell gender, but then pick up the flash of red on the wattles and the white crown, that's a gobbler! He pauses just on the other side of my dekes and eyes them for a bit. I can tell now it's a jake.....and I hesitate. I scan behind him, then off to the sides through the other windows, you can get away with a lot from the blind. No other birds visible, nor heard. Well heck, his unlucky day. . I line the fireball orange front sight up with it's two green kin on the rear and cover the wattles and press the trigger. He goes down in a torrent of feathers and flopping, hit hard by the XR load of #5 shot, a clean kill, nothing between us to strip the pattern. I watch him flop for a moment, then check my watch. It's 6:25, discounting set up time, I've been hunting about 20 minutes.
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Old April 12, 2022, 06:26 AM   #4
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Nice! I always enjoy reading your stories. Where I target shoot I have something of a reputation with the local game--in other words they come out often to watch me shoot convinced they have nothing to worry about--sometimes even getting between me and the target. Seen lots of hens with their chicks--but no sign of big toms--yet. Last fall I spotted "MR Big" at about 250 yds--even at that distance he was enormous. At first people didn't believe me, but then a couple of other locals saw him too. Was shooting a few days ago and saw some tracks in the mud, one set in particular stood out from the others being deeper and larger and I have reason to believe "Mr Big" is back--plus the owner of the property told me he or anyone he lets hunt his property didn't get him as far as he knew.
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Old April 12, 2022, 10:34 AM   #5
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YES... me too....i love to read your stories Bama...

maybe you should sit down and put together a memoirs book, you seem to have a very good story telling ability....

i would love to read your tales

i can tell a story but i can not put it to paper .....BUT YOU, my friend, have a talent for it and i think you should consider it

i surely do look forward to seeing you write your adventures

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Old April 12, 2022, 03:58 PM   #6
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Very nice! And thanks for sharing. I always enjoy real stories rather than the "I got one because I'm so great" types of stories. A few flubs, a few disappointments, a few successes makes it all so much more enjoyable!
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Old April 12, 2022, 08:27 PM   #7
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Bamaranger is local to me. He is plumb authentic.
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Old April 15, 2022, 12:33 AM   #8
bamaranger
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2022 season, 12, 13, April

Thanks to all for the kind words regards my posts. Well, at least my turkey hunting posts Several other folks over time have suggested I write a bit, but good writing is hard work , and I'm too lazy to put that much into it. Someday maybe....

12April
I take Sat. off, too many guys in the woods anyhow, then Sunday too, as I'm obligated at church. Monday it rains, Tues night as well, but it clears enough by mid morning to get out near home on the "Mud Club.", and it is a real mess. The miserable red clay sticks to everything, and all club roads are awful due to recent logging activity. I ride the ATV back through the slop to a food plot and pop the blind along with two decoys. There's turkey droppings, both hen and gobbler, on the plot and the locale seems promising. In place about 9:30, I stick it out 'till 12:30, calling lightly, but hear no gobbles and nothing shows. I don't really care for plot hunts, but it seemed a good tactic after all the rain.

13April
Another rainy morning, but again, by mid morning it begins to clear. Given all the action in the Three Ridges area, and the total mess at Mud Club, I take the extra time to drive to Three Ridges, in the woods about 11:30,. Middle Ridge has consistently produced gobbles and I ease out onto it again. I work my vintage wooden Olt crow call hard for about 5 minutes without results, it seems clear to me the strong post front wind is muting my blasts, and I can,t hear either. I elect to drop off the top onto the lee side of the ridge and hopefully out of the wind. Just 50 yards or so down makes an immedate difference . It's steep and I'm not trying to be sneaky, just get lower and not take a tumble. The wind and sun have dried the leaves and I'm crunching along when a gobble rings out along the side of the ridge. Sounds aways off, 300 yards but hard to place due to wind noise across the top of the ridge above. I pause and consider....surely that bird didn't gobble at my footsteps? In this wind? I start out again and a two gobbles break out, too timely to be random, that bird hears my two footed gait and thinks I'm a turkey! But I can't call from here, too thick, too steep, and I move on down 100 yds or so too open level ground along the hollow floor. I set up against a giant white oak and call with another vintage call, an old Lohman box, brought along for just the reason of calling in the wind. Nothing...After an hour of light calling, I move that direction 100 yards or so and repeat another calling session with the box. Notta... once again I move forward and reset the old Lohman rings the woods,.....silence. By now it's past 4:00 PM, BAD weather is brewing, and I pull out. It storms hard that night, but the morning is supposed to be clear.
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Old April 16, 2022, 01:13 AM   #9
bamaranger
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2022 season, 14April, bird #3

14April
When I stick my head out the door at 4:00 AM I'm disappointed, it's still overcast and a bit foggy. A tremendous line of thunderstorms blew through last night, but their saying it will clear and be a decent day, so I saddle up and back out to Middle Ridge where I heard the gobbles the afternoon previous. Clouds and mist delay dawn, and I walk all the way out to the point by flashlight, then drop off the north side onto the first bench 100 yards or so down. A series of benches and slight shelves cascade down to the hollow floor and creek below. As light begins to build I carefully make my way to the lip of the bench and sit at the base of a shoulder width red oak, positioning myself in such a manner that I can see across the next bench below, as well as out along the flat where I'm seated. I cut some leafy branches and form a small screen of brush in a semi circle to my front. Hopefully the bird I heard yesterday, or some of his kin roosted low in the evening due to wind and pending storms and I am now above them. As the day clears, I'm hoping they'll work up the shelves and benches, and I can do business. If it's slow, I plan to work my way along the side of the ridge using the benches, calling blind, hoping for a strike. Starting from the point and working back is the opposite of what I've been doing, essentially I'll be working the birds from the opposite direction of previous hunts.

I don't expect any gobbles due to the murky morning, so at dawn I'm surprised but pleased when gobbling breaks out way to the north, beyond North Ridge which looms opposite me, too far off to chase, but it's fun to listen to them sing. I run through my normal dawn routine of calls on the old slate, tree yelps, fly down cackle, then some "OK" yelps in the hope of birds in my immediate vicinity, but no gobbles eminate from below. The gobbling in the distance fades out. Well......we'll wait some, it's just a bit past 6:00 AM.

An hour later, I'm considering a move. It's still gray and overcast, and a slight breeze has picked up, and I'm on the windward side of the ridge, beginning to fight the chills. Too, the breeze is effecting my hearing a bit as well. I'm surprised a second time when a gobble snaps out from the point of North Ridge across the hollow. Over the course 10 minutes or so a total of 5 gobbles rip from the point. That is precisely where I missed that gobbler on the 4April! I never cut a feather on him(botched scope) . Now, 10 days later, he's back up there on his lofty strut zone, parading back and forth as before no doubt. I tried calling him off of up there from below on 3April, botched my shot when we arrived nearly simultaneously on the next day, and I'm not going to try and slip in on him in full daylight starting from over here, he'll see or hear me for certain. I just let him gobble and scowl, tomorrow I will be on that crest before daylight so help me. ;

I'm surprised a third time when he gobbles next and he's halfway down the side of the ridge, and more so when he gobbles from the hollow floor directly below. He's at max calling distance, say 300 yards, but it sure seems he's headed my way on his own. I hammer some yelps with a carbon fiber striker, and he responds immediately, closer still, my side of the hollow now., still directly below. I respond with yelps, again and he blasts a response, and it seems he's started up and is on one of the benches or shelves on my side. I don't answer, no use over playing my hand, let's see what he does? Minutes pass and when he gobbles next he's on the very next bench down , inside 100 yards, but out of sight due to terrain. I answer and he blasts a gobble in response, a bit closer yet but still unseen. I ditch the slate and mount bamaboy 's Mossberg 835, covering the approach.

He shows in short order, walking hard, cresting the bench to my front, boring straight in, jet black, wattles a neon red in contrast, absolutely stunning in the murk. As he strides into range inside 50 yards I lose sight of him behind an intervening tree. I cover the tree, he should appear one side or the other, and I'll take the first good shot he offers. In a moment he pops out on the left, still coming, but.......he seems further back. He should be in range, but he's not? What.....? My senses take a jolt when a gobbler appears to the right of the culprit tree inside 40 yards...THERE'S TWO OF THEM!

The closest gobbler pauses and the trailer overtakes, and I lose sight of both again behind another tree. Their really close now. I cover that tree and one, who knows which, eases out from the right side, hesitant and searching hard. They've arrived, where's the hen? I drift the sights the tiny bit required and settle them solidly on his wattles. The shot rings out, echoing in the hollow. I can see the tom crumple as I run the pump, hit solidly, flopping only mildly. Out of the corner of my eye I see the other tom beat a hasty retreat back over the lip of the bench.

It's 30 paces down to the gobbler, and he's a dandy. Later my grandad's old spring scale and folding rule show 18 lbs, a 9-1/4 inch beard, and spurs of 1-1/16th inch in length. I'd say a good 3 year old. As I climb back up to the ridgetop, then sun breaks through, and instantly it's a completely perfect morning. I was able to snap a really good picture out on the point , and hope to post same later this weekend when bamaboy comes out for Easter diner to assist.
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Old April 16, 2022, 04:08 PM   #10
stagpanther
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Congrats on a classic day of hunting.
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Old April 17, 2022, 06:35 PM   #11
bamaranger
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As promised

Here’s a picture of gobbler number 3!
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Old April 17, 2022, 09:14 PM   #12
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Wow! Nice take!
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Old April 19, 2022, 07:54 AM   #13
stagpanther
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Do you keep the feathers? Primitive bow shooters prize them for making arrows.
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Old April 19, 2022, 01:26 PM   #14
stinkeypete
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Fantastic stories and a beautiful picture.

It reminds me of something my dad used to say: "Luck awaits the prepared."

The infuriating thing about turkey hunting to me is a fella can do everything right, work for days, and end up skunked. Then sometimes they just walk up and get shot by "luck."

Well, you clearly have more "luck" than me... in other words, you're hunting smarter and harder. My hat's off to you, sir.
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Old April 19, 2022, 01:45 PM   #15
Jim Watson
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That puts him well over a hundred total.
He says there are four seasons in the year; deer season, turkey season, fishing season, and spouse season.
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Old April 21, 2022, 11:15 PM   #16
bamaranger
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18 , 19 April

I apologize about the pic, we didn't get the size right and the setting is lost, no background, no depth. I should have arranged the beard more visibly as well.

18April-Anxious to hunt a new area, and wishing to give Three Ridges a rest, I strike out for Iriish Hollow.on this morning. Dawn breaks disappointingly. The wind comes up, and mist and clouds linger from rains the day before. Not the best gobbling morning. None the less, two different birds sound off from the hollow floor as I listen from the ridge point above. I drop off the point and make my way towards the closest. Before I can close, it's apparent he's made it out into the pasture where I do not have permission to hunt. I set up along the property line, perhaps 100 yards from the pasture. The bird parades about in the pasture another 100 yards beyond, maybe more. I coax one answer from him, then he drifts away. I stay put for an hour but he shuts up, likely with an entourage of hens. I take the long way out, hoping to hear another, working the crow call to illicit a shock gobble, but do not.

19April-I change venues again, sleeping in an extra hour and heading out onto state land near home to hunt a long thin hardwood ridge. I was unable to scout here preseason, but traditionally There's birds here, and a good one gave me the slip here last year in mid season. It's a good morning, clear, calm but a bit cold. I ease out the gravel road to midway, plop on a log , and sit for 2 hours, and hear narry a peep. I work the crow call occasionally without result and call it quits. Home for a nap!!!!!
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Old April 23, 2022, 05:16 PM   #17
bamaranger
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AL 2022, 20April, 21 April

20April-Back to Three Ridges, why leave turkeys to find turkeys? Dawn finds me all the way out on the end of Middle Ridge, close to where I took bird #3 a week ago. Shortly after daybreak a tom gobbles back east, up the hollow between Middle and North Ridges. It's far enough away, I'm uncertain which slope he's on, my side or the other. He gobbles again on his own and then goes silent. I stay put for about an hour, but hear nothing else, so drop off the top onto the first bench and start easing east. I slip along about a 1/4 mile, then settle at the base of a giant white oak (I've set under so many oak trees I'm beginning to look like an acorn ). About 8:00 what is likely the same bird begins to gobble steadily from the opposite slope on North Ridge. He's about halfway up, and I'm betting he's parading about up there on a little bench. I drop off my side onto the hollow floor, angle away from him on the opposite slope so as to avoid being seen or heard as I climb to his level. This should also keep him to my right, no guessing where he's at once I arrive at the bench. The climb goes well, I luck onto a deer trail headed the correct direction and can move relatively smoothly and quietly up and then onto the bench. I set up and begin to call.....no response. He's not gobbled recently?.......... An hour later still no joy despite my best efforts....we'll That's gobbler hunting. He likely gobbled up some hens while I was in transit....pretty confident he didn't hear or see me. It's a dang long steep walk back to the Bronco.

21April- I've named this turkey Johnny Bench, and my plan is to be on that long narrow shelf this morning before he gets there! As I go through the gate of the club it starts to drizzle but relents as I get to my parking spot. OK,....... the wet leaves will make for quiet walking, and I've got a hike ahead of me, even from this ( North) side. Halfway there thevdrizzle resumes, just heavier, and I pull up short, midway. I ABSOLUTELY HATE hunting in the rain. I sit until 8:00, everything now thoroughly damp, and have had enough, and call it quits. When I get home the sun comes out, but I'm done. That evening I take a short ATV ride across state property to listen for birds on the roost. I ride right into an enormous gobbler.....He hoods it down the woods road ahead of me, but it's late enough he can't go far. He's alone, vulnerable, and I'll be in the neighborhood in the morning!
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Old April 23, 2022, 08:03 PM   #18
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AL 2022 , -22 & 23April

22April-I'm anxious to hunt this morning, if the bird I bumped will gobble, I expect him to come to call. And he does gobble. I'd followed his tracks down the road the night before some 300 yards, and I figure he had to roost somewhere nearby. When he sounds off in the twilight, it's not 150 yards or so away,. The location is a big pine stand, mature trees have laid a carpet of needles...quiet walking, that and the lay of the land let me get close. When I set down, he's but 75 yards away, I can't see him, but he's just right there, still on the limb. When he gobbles next, I answer softly and.....silence. Not good. He gobble regain on his own a few minutes later, again, I answer softly, again silence. OK.. When he gobbles again I give him the silent treatment. Over the course of 20-30 minutes this process continues. He never really answers, and he doesn't fly down either.. Eventually I hear a real hen, likely coming into his gobbling. The last time he sounds off, he must have turned in the tree and faced me, 'cause he literally ripped a fierce gobble. I do a hat flap thing simulating a fly down, then yelp clearly.....Hey, I'm on the ground! ! hear him fly down a few minutes later.......and that was that. After an hour of silence I retreat, loop down the nose of the ridge we were on, and set up on the hollow floor below. I call blindly for an hour, sit quiet another, and surrender, defeated. Proof a bird on the limb is not a bird in hand.
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Old April 23, 2022, 08:24 PM   #19
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AL-2022, 23April

23April-I name the gobbler from the day before Streatch Armstrong, dang longest turkey I've ever seen. But Streatch hangs on public land, bound to be crowded on this Sat. morning, so off to hunt Johnny Bench on Three Ridges. I'm in place on his little shelf shortly after daylight, but hear nothing, anywhere. It's a pretty morning too. I call blindly till 9:00, climb back up to the ridgetop where there was a lot of scratching evident, call infrequently, but stay in place on this pretty morning till 12:30, but hear nothing. Highlight of the day, a bald eagle flys over, grasping a snake in it's talons. There's a pair holding on this ridge for several years, I bet they've got a nest.
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Old April 26, 2022, 03:49 PM   #20
Logs
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Congrats on the birds. I like how you display them up against the tree. I will have to try that next year. This is my bird from last Saturday here in Kentucky....

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Old April 26, 2022, 04:15 PM   #21
bamaranger
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nice bird

A dandy, congrats to you in KY. Once I was in KY and stopped by KNIGHT & HALE Game Calls HQ and was lucky to catch David and Harold on site. Great guys, showed me all around, what they were working on, like I'd known them for years.

When I was still working, I pulled a week long detail at Big South Fork NRA (NSR?). Pretty country.
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Old April 27, 2022, 10:17 PM   #22
bamaranger
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AL gobbler 2022, 25 April

Hunting "Streatch Armstrong"

25April- With rain in the forecast, I want to hunt fields, turkeys are prone to come out into the open in wet weather. The gobbler near home, Streatch Armstrong, seems a good candidate. My neighbors hayfield, and a lengthy R.O.W. that crosses it and out into WMA lands, seems prime territory for Streatch to surface in the open to dry and strut. I'm in place on the crest of a high ridge where field and ROW meet at dawn, toting blind, folding chair and decoys. The plan is to listen for gobbling the first hour, if nothing is heard, I will pop the blind, set the dekes and settle in my Bubba chair through the rain that's predicted. No gobbles sound in the windy overcast daybreak, and by 7:00AM I'm reclined in the big folder, watching the hen & jake pivot in the breeze. No yelping today, I figure Streatch has heard plenty here on public land, so I work the gobble tube. That's taking a chance on public land, but the coming rain and the weekday timing work in my favor, and I do not call up any hunters. At 9:00 AM it pours for 30 minutes, but I ride it out in the blind. After the cloudburst, the sun pops out,....perfect. Thirty minutes later, two hens appear 300 yards or so away. Curious as to what their reaction might be, I gobble at them with the tube. They stalk quickly back into the pines, they want nothing to do with a boyfriend!! I stay in place till quitting time, 1:00 PM, five and a half hours in the blind, but see or hear nothing else.
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Old May 1, 2022, 02:00 AM   #23
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2022 AL gobbler season - tagged out

26April, bird #4, R.I.P., Streatch Armstrong
Heavy rains sweep through my area at dusk and into early evening the night before, I figure turkeys got thoroughly soaked and should be out in the open this morning. After the long morning the day previous, I very nearly hunted a different location, but at the last minute elect to venture back out to the WMA after Streatch one more time. Despite not hearing or seeing him yesterday, I figure if he survived this long into the season,,he likely made it through this past weekend as well, he's just silent. The plan is the same as before, if I hear him gobble the first hour or so of daylight, I'll move his direction and set up. If nothing gobbles I'll pop the blind, set dekes on this ROW, and see if he shows up.

It's silent again at daybreak, but relatively clear and calm. By 7:00AM I'm settled in the blind with 3 decoys, 2 hens and a jake out in front of me. I can't say I really like blind/decoy hunts,,I feel a greater sense of accomplishment with a kill in the open woods, setting against a tree. But wide open spaces make it nearly impossible to set for long hours and not get picked off by a gobblers sharp eye. Also, the decoys basically call ( silently) for you, constantly, and can draw a gobbler from a very long distance if observed by the tom. There're are circumstances/conditions where blind/decoy is simply the best tactic, and this morning is one of those instances.

I run thru a modest series of yelps with the slate and two different strikers, and throw a few in with the mouth call as well for good measure. I'm set up on the military crest of the ridge, slightly lower than the highest point. The ROW runs out in both directions, but only the side I'm set up on is relatively free of undergrowth. The other side is grown up with only a narrow service road through the brush. Along the crest of the ridge, a logging road bisects the ROW and winds back through the mature pines. I figure Ol' Streatch will saunter down that logging road onto the crest and ROW, spy my dekes, and walk downhill 50 yards on the ROW to me. It doesn't happen that way.

Fifteen minutes later, I'm about ready to call again when I spot the large read head of a gobbler on the ROW below me, some 200 yards distant. Whether he'd come to call (I really think he did) or just wandered out to dry off, I can't say, but there he is. Motionless, rock solid, seeing everything. I figure he should react to my decoys, but does not. After several long minutes, he pulls his head don, turns and starts off the wrong direction.

Oh no you don't!....I run a soft series of yelps at him with the carbon fiber striker on the slate and he stops, turns and glares my direction. He's out of the tall grass now and a good beard is visible, and in the sunlight he's an iridescent black. His wattles shine bright red, and he looks huge. Streatch Armstrong without a doubt. I switch strikers and yelp again, and he takes a few steps in my direction, then locks up , staring. He's heard me, let's see what he'll do now?

Truth is, he doesn't do much. No gobbles, no strutting...he pecks at afew bugs, stares some more(actually a LOT more) and occasionally takes a step or two my way. Over the course of 3/4 of an hour, he closes the distance, a step or two at a time, staring for long minutes, motionless. Sometimes, after a couple of steps he'll stand tall, seemingly on tiptoe, then retract, peck and then survey the area normally. I call VERY softly, mostly short strings of 2-3 yelps, and I call VERY , VERY, sparingly. He stops, just out of shotgun range, say 60-70 yards, and stands rock solid a long time, then pivots and begins to walk away again. Do something!!!!!!!!! Nothing to lose, I snatch the gobble tube and launch a choked, hopefully jake like half gobble, then a frantic second, but he still continues to ease away. Now what?

I switch to a soft, all wood forgiving striker and try some purrs mixed with occasional clucks He stops and stares, and starts back up the hill towards me. The entire process begins again, but this time, no yelping, just soft purrs and clucks. And this time he comes a wee bit quicker, but not by much. When he reaches his last stalling point, he thankfully keeps coming, 5-6 steps at a time. Mentally, I'd picked an "in range-shoot" marker long before. In the middle of the ROW a pair of 4-5 foot tall metal service pipes are driven vertically into the ground. When he gets to there, I'll shoot.

Getting the range is important, more so this time. I'm not carrying one of the big 3 inch, super full choked dedicated turkey guns with which I normally hunt. No, this morning I left the house with a 26 inch barreled O/U with standard 2-3/4" chambers. It is a 12 gauge, ..... choked full and modified, a fixed choke gun with a single bead for a sight. The full choked top barrel is stoked w/ W-W XR Longbeard load of 1-1/4 oz of #5 shot. The other barrel has a standard high velocity field load of 1-1/4 oz. of #7-1/2. I've patterned both loads , both barrels, and deemed the tidy little gun good to 40 yds and ideally suited for hunting over decoys from the blind. The full choke barrel for 25 and out, the mod barrel for 25 and under. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Ol'Streatch eases up the ROW and stops directly adjacent the metal pipes. I double check the barrel selector to make sure I've picked FULL (forward and left, two dots ) and snug down on the comb, careful to look down the rib and through the bead NOT over it. I settle my sight picture on his wattles and press the decidedly good shotgun trigger. Though I'd recently patterned the O/U, the milder recoil from the standard (not magnum)shell is a bit of a surprise. I don't lose the bird in recoil, see him crumple, and cover him for a moment or two with the second barrel, comfortingly aware that I've got a second shot ready w/o having to pump or do anything but pull the trigger again if needed. But It's not, he's done.....and so is my Alabama season.

It's 39 paces to the down gobbler. When I look back uphill to my decoys and the blind, I'm surprised that the set is not visible. The curvature and slant of the hillside rendered them unseeable from below. Streatch didn't react to the dekes for the simple reaso...he could not see them!,!!!!

He is big and lanky, He doesn't heft as much as he looks he should, and later the antique scales from my granddad show his weight at 16-1/2 pounds. Earlier in the season he likely would have been much heavier. Upon butchering, he has no fat pad on his breast at all. The beard measures a satisfying 10-9/16", and the spurs at 1 and 1-1/16" respectively. His wing tips are heavily broomed, he's strutted a lot. I'm calling him a good 3 year old. I wonder, could this be the bird I missed, first day last year? I collect my gear, pose some pictures, and sit for a bit on the ridge crest soaking in as much of the moment as I can.
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Old May 1, 2022, 02:46 AM   #24
sako2
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Good job. Always enjoy reading your turkey hunting adventures. Turkey season opened here in PA yesterday. I didn't go it was 32 degrees at day break.
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