The 2009 turkey season started out like no other. Youth season in Ohio opened April 18, and Tony and I decided we wanted to take two little boys out to harvest turkeys. Unfortunately the turkeys would not cooperate. It was weird, for the first time we didn’t hear a single gobble. It was as if the turkeys had vanished. We couldn’t believe it and we were very disappointed, but the boys were still excited to be in the woods.
The following Saturday I couldn’t make it due to work, so Tony went out and again didn’t hear a thing! Which brings me to Sunday April 26; it was my turn to hunt. It was a beautiful morning. Tony and I set up our Ameristep Choice blind around 5:30 am. Right away we heard gobbling and the sun wasn’t even up yet! I knew this was a good sign.
We finished getting everything ready and then made a few light calls. Immediately the turkeys responded. I love that sound, it sends shivers right down my spine! They knew we were here, so now the waiting game begins. About 15 minutes later, we made another call and then heard gobbling. “They’re coming, they know we are here,” Tony said. The calling went back and forth for about an hour, and then complete shutdown. We didn’t hear anything. We were thinking, they’re coming in silent, GET READY! Then nothing happened. We waited, still nothing!
The waiting went on for about 45 minutes and then we heard a gobble. They were definitely closer. Then out of nowhere we saw a head pop up over this little hill in front of us, and then another, and then 2 fans in the back ground. Tony said, “THEY'RE HERE!” I got ready and first was a Jake to come over the hill, then another, then a hen, and finally 2 big mature Toms.
I was so excited. These 2 Toms had huge fans, and the beards were dragging on the ground. I couldn’t believe how big they were. The one on the left had a red head and the one on the right, he was the biggest out of both of them, his head was so white, it looked like a ghost. I said, “I’m going for the white one.”
They came into our decoys, and they were strutting like crazy, but I never had a shot. Either the decoys were in the way or another turkey. I couldn’t believe it. Then I watched them walk away. I wanted to scream. We watched them out of the side of our blind for about 20 minutes at about 70 yards. They were spitting, drumming, dusting and gobbling the whole time.
Tony started calling like mad, and then the hen came back in to investigate, and then she left. Then she came back, and then just as she started to walk away again, the 2 Toms and the Jakes came back. I couldn’t believe it; I was actually going to get a second chance!
There he was the “White ghost” heading in my direction. Tony said, “Relax and take your time.” Just a little further I thought, get out from behind the decoys. There he was just a few more steps. BOOM! He jumped and flew away. What the heck! I missed him! How? What happened? I tried to reload but it was too late, he was gone, I wanted to cry. I looked at Tony and said, “I don’t know what happened.” He said, “That makes two of us.” I was stunned. I didn’t know what to say or think.
It was still early so, we decided to stick it out to see if anything else might come in. We made a few calls and heard gobbling down below us, so Tony said let’s leave the blind and go see if we can find those birds. On our way down the hill we stopped and made a few calls, and they responded. They were not very far, so we decided to stop right on the trail and set up against a few trees.
Not more than 5 minutes later, we heard them again, and saw them. There were 4 of them, and they were heading up the hill to our blind! They were heading right where we just came from. I said, let’s go! So now, we are heading back up the hill to our blind. “Hopefully, we can make it there before they do”, I said. So we crept back to the blind and got in! We made it. Now let’s see where they are.
Tony made a call, and we heard a gobble that felt like it was inside the blind with us. My heart about jumped out of my chest. He’s got to be right on the other side of the brush pile. Get ready! Tony made another call, and then he gobbled again and came crashing through the brush pile. All you heard were sticks breaking. He came 5 feet from the blind and ran in full strut right up to the decoys. He started attacking the decoys!
I aimed, waiting for my shot. He circled the decoy and BOOM! I missed again! What the heck! He didn’t go anywhere! I quickly reloaded, aimed and squeezed the trigger! BOOM! Down he went! I shot my very first Tom!
I have shot Jakes before but this was my very first Tom! I was so excited. I don’t know what happened the first 2 times, but all I knew was that this one was down! Tony looked at me and said, “Maybe you need to go to the eye doctor!” We both laughed!
It was a beautiful bird, a 21 pounder, 9 ½” beard and 1 1/8” spurs! Like I said, I don’t know what happened earlier that morning, but its memories like these that will never be forgotten!!