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Old May 14, 2019, 02:57 AM   #1
bamaranger
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Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
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AL Gobblers, part 2, birds that got away!!!

I spent a great deal of time scouting for this season and had located a goodly number of birds, both on private and public land. Looking back, seems as if I had 18 birds located, about half of those I had listened to multiple times and felt I had an understanding of their ways.

Opening eve, I roosted a tom on what I will call the Mud Club. At this spot, there had been two gobblers before season. This bird gobbled twice, right at dusk some half mile or so distant. I knew there was a modest clearing in that locale, a likely spot for birds to go to and fly down from roost, and the next AM I was there early. At dawn, a bird dropped out of a tree immediately behind me, very close.... I could not see it, never did see it, but heard it as it walked away. About half hour later, a tom began to gobble from his roost, some 150 yds away, but we were separated by a dense thicket. He flew down, stopped gobbling, and last heard, was headed away, up the creek bottom. I stayed in the area, and at 10:00, what I believe was the same bird began to gobble again. I closed in, called, got responses, and believed I was in business, but actually the game had just begun. After an hour, I gave him the silent treatment, he went silent as well, and 20 min later, he gobbled hard off my right shoulder, in range, but I was stuck, still covering forward. When he ducked behind a tree, I swung the gun, but he saw me, putted, and eased off. I got on him briefly twice, but was not happy with the shot and he walked away . This sly old tom did really whipped me, he crossed the creek unseen, went up an embankment into some thick cover, and got above me before he rocked my world with the close range gobble. All stuff a tom is not supposed to do. As I only heard the one tom that AM, and there had been two there pre-season, I suspected that the other bird had been poached pre-season, and made my opponent that AM wary. I named that tom Big Robert, after a known violator in that area. Big Robert whipped me two more mornings, a second time two days later, and again in week two. When I returned in week 3, I did not hear him. I hope he survived the season, 'cause I have a score to settle with that bird!

I had a number of birds get away in an area I will call Big Hollow. On Day3 of the season, at one point I had 4 toms just out of range, gobbling and drumming. On another morning, that same bunch led me and a 70 yr old pal on a cross country jaunt that nearly did us both in. We got several answers, and at one point, had a bird just out of sight over the crest of a ridge, but never did get a shot. On another morning, I had a pair of gobblers so close I could hear their footsteps, 40 yds or so, but the vegetation had come out, and I never did see them. One of those birds whipped me good a few days later. He answered my calls, closed in, then went silent. When he did gobble, was hard off my right shoulder, close, and I must have jumped 6 inches. He saw me of course, and putted off.
I managed to kill two birds in Big Hollow, but I left plenty for seed!

I had another drove of toms that frequented an area I'll call the Country Club. A combination of cutover, pasture and ROW's, it resembles a golf course more than turkey country. Birds could see incredible distances, and I got picked off plenty. If I did get in place first, my calls and decoys went largely ignored. On 3 occasions, I watched lone gobblers either walk away from my decoys, or slink off from what I thought was pretty decent calling. Eventually I killed two there, using decoys, a blind and light calling. More than anything else I likely used a good bit of luck.

The other frustrating locale was Big Pasture. I cannot hunt the actual pasture, just the woodlands adjacent, and if the birds get to the pasture, they are usually immovable. One afternoon, I spotted a lone gobbler in the open pasture. Feeling certain I knew where he would leave the fields and funnel through on his way to roost, I set out to ambush him. I took longer than I thought, he picked up some hens along the way, but I calmly let the hens walk past, then cleanly missed this tom when I was sure he was duck soup. I dunno what happened. Lucky bird. I returned a few days later in the AM and called up 3 gobblers, one of them no doubt the one I missed. Two of those birds got in range, and just as I was to shoot, the one I was on spun about, and hightailed up to the pasture, where he got with live hens, taking his pal with him. The Lucky Strutter stayed just out of range for 20 minutes before joining the party in the field. The next AM running late, I walked right into the two subordinate birds, not realizing they were that close. Lucky the Strutter, gobbled twice about 200 yds away some 15 minutes later. I answered him, and he came in silent, showing up about an hour later. When he gobbled, he was just under the lip of the hill, maybe 45 yds away. I got turned about and set up his way. When he gobbled again, he seemed like he was setting on the end of the gun barrel, but I could not see him. He then drifted left and gobbled again. I shifted left, just KNOWING I was gonna kill that bird. BUT, he went to the right and appeared hard off my right shoulder (again?!?!???), extremely close, saw me in profile along side the tree rather than in front of it, and sailed off that hillside and out of my life. I looked at my watch...I'd run 3 mature gobblers off in about an hour and a half!!!!! I was about as low as a guy could get.

There were other goofy moments too. I hunted one wet, cold morning in wool deer hunting clothes, when 3 days earlier, I was in a "hot shirt" with lightweight pants and ball cap. Serious weather swings. On the first gobbler I killed, after I shot, I stood up, took a step, and keeled over, head over tin cups as they say, my left hip was so numb, it would not support me. On another hunt, after calling to a bird and deciding to move (he went away) I left my slate call setting on the ground next to where I'd been sitting. In my new set up, when he gobbled on his own at about 150 yds........I did not have my favorite call, it was laying back yonder on the ground. I used a moth call, to good effect, but ran him off (as described in the Big Hollow account above). On one afternoon, I was so darned tired, at quitting time, as I picked up blind, decoys, etc, I realized my gun was empty!!!!!, I'd forgotten to load it.

I think I'll do one more part to this season, briefly listing my kills, a bit later.
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Old May 14, 2019, 03:24 PM   #2
sako2
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Join Date: April 12, 2009
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Sounds like your having a lot of fun. Here in PA the weather is just horrible. Either windy or foggy and raining. We're able to hunt all day now for the rest of the season.
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Old May 15, 2019, 09:21 PM   #3
bamaranger
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Join Date: October 9, 2009
Location: North Alabama
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PA hunting

The 70 yr old fella I described in the previous comments is from PA, south central. I've not talked with him since y'all opened. Many, many moons ago, I killed my first spring gobbler on public land, in PA. Too, 2016 I think, I returned to PA for a spring hunt, and took a jake off public land, and was not ashamed of him at all!!

All day hunting will put a new dimension in your gobbler hunting and I think you'll like it. If nothing else, it puts you in the woods in the PM and you may hear one for the next AM.

Lots of avid outdoorsman in PA and serious rifleman in PA, no doubt.

Best of luck.
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Old May 15, 2019, 09:31 PM   #4
bamaranger
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Join Date: October 9, 2009
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oh yeah, more goofy stuff

Forgot to mention these tidbits. I got my old Bronco so STUCK that I pitched ALL the belts off it and had to leave it in the woods. My old buddy (70) and I called one of my other pals for help. We took our shotguns and vests, left the truck, and walked to a better access point, and Sammy came in there and got us, bless his heart. Got home about 11:00 pm that night. Repaired the Bronco and got it out next afternoon.

Another rainy afternoon, scouting by vehicle, I drove under a hanging tree with my old Toyota P-up, brushed some low branches, and it fell on the truck! Broke windshield, radio antenna, and bent wiper arm. I can live with the small dent in the roof. Getting it off the truck, myself, without further damage, was a trick.

Lord, I love to hunt gobblers, but this year had it's up and downs for sure.
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Old May 16, 2019, 05:30 AM   #5
Mobuck
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Join Date: February 2, 2010
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I don't hunt turkeys much anymore but I did bump a hen out of my backyard yesterday. Heard her "putting" when I walked out the back door and there she was on the far side of a 3 bay carport.
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