Into The Field: Spring Turkey Season Begins With Success

Stephen George shows off the turkey he got from a recent hunt. (Photo provided)

The truck’s thermometer read 28 degrees and the frost on the windshield confirmed the chill in the air.

“I’d still rather have a frost than 12 inches of heavy snow,” I mumbled to myself. Once the windshield was clear, I walked down the sidewalk to the logging road to meet up with my friend and his son for the first morning of turkey season.

My friend’s son has a busy schedule, and this would be one of the few days he can hunt. so we decided to hunt together to try to get a bird for the young boy. We had chosen to hunt the “Northern Ridge” on the property first. Birds had been roosting on this ridge in the evening the previous week so we thought this would provide the best opportunity to get a bird’s eye view.

About halfway up the ridge on an old logging road we heard a gulp. However, it was on the ridge to the south and not where we had planned our first hunt. After a few repeated owl hoots and gobbles heading south, we changed our plan and headed in pitch black towards this bird. We decided to set up on the edge of an old log landing where we had caught birds before. We placed the young hunter in front of and between the gobbler and us making the call so he would get the best shot on the bird, if he came around.

Beginning the call with soft yelps, clucks and purrs to mimic a waking hen, the bird on the crest responded with a loud gurgle after each call. “He’s hot,” we whispered to each other as we sat down on the cold floor.

After about 10 minutes we could tell the hot gobbler had left its perch and was on the ground. Each time he swallowed, you could tell he was getting closer and closer. As he descended the ridge toward us, we could tell he was accompanied by at least one other gobbler and a few hens. Once we found out that the hens were traveling with the gobbler, we thought that might not happen as the hens rarely allow a gobbler to go for another hen.

When the herd moved 75 meters away, they locked in and did not approach. The toms swallowed our every call, but the hens responded with aggregated, aggressive calls of their own. To escalate the situation and drive the hens crazy enough to fight off this new intruder (me), I imitated and aggressively called the hen. Within 10 mins. the whole herd left the ridge and descended in single file to the log landing. When the lead bird, a nice tom with long beards, came within 30 yards of my friend’s son, he aimed and shot the bird with his 12 gauge Browning. He was a dandy of a bird with a 10 barb, 3/4 inch spurs and topping the scales at 20 lbs. The young hunter was as proud as can be, as were his two older companions.

Later in the day I was able to hunt alone in another wooded area and where I have seen turkeys before.

There are large oak trees on this ridge, and deer and turkeys love to climb there to feed on acorns. I found a beautiful big oak tree to sit against and sat down to enjoy the sunshine and the sounds of spring. I started a call using a box call as they are loud and calls can echo far down the valley below.

After about 20 minutes I heard a low growl in the distance. I kept calling and used a mouth call and a slate to make it sound like a large flock of hens feeding at the top of the ridge. Soon the bird’s goblets are getting close enough to get us ready and ready to aim.

But the big bird was not going to cooperate. He followed a path up the ridge that put him 15 yards behind me. Out of the corner of my eye, I watched this big old tom strut around within spitting range for 40 minutes. Without a decoy in front of me, the gobbler strutted around and hoped the hen would show up. Luckily for me, a real hen showed up and fed in front of me.

Soon the tall gobbler was heading towards her and in the direction I had pointed the gun. My leg had fallen asleep and was numb from sitting lifelessly in one position for so long.

Then the gobbler moved into position and the Remington 870 Super Mag loaded with

Winchester Long-Beard’s No. 4 shot rang out and the big old gobbler was down. This bird had a 10 inch beard, 1 inch spurs and weighed 21.5 pounds, a real Boss Gobbler.

Sharon P. Juarez