1st Jerzey Tom; 1st Day of the 2009 Season
Well, I have gotten plenty of Toms in Georgia and Missouri but none here in New Jersey, that is, until today!
The day begins.
The alarm went off at 3am. I had gotten back late last night at 10PM from the FD, so I was a really bushed and hit the sack right away. Suddenly, the alarm goes off and I hit the snooze button because I just laid down, didn't I?
Again the alarm goes goes off, again I hit the snooze button. Finally, at 3:30 when the snooze goes off for the 3rd time I realized today is the 1st day of the season for me! What am I doing? I can't sleep in even as the bed seem to beckon me to stay there.
I push through the sleep to wake up. I get up knowing I have lost some time!
Good thing last week I had organized my hunting clothes and gear and it was in my "hunting room' in the basement!
I had also preloaded up all the pockets and such of my Cabelas Tactical Tat'r Vest. I then go through my inventory in the vest quickly to make sure I did not forget anything. License attached to the vest, check. Primos Heart Breaker Box call and Cody Drop Dead slate call, check. Face mask, hat and gloves, check. SureFire Flashlight, check. Hevi Shot 12 ga 3 1/2" ammo, check.
Then onto my other gear. Primos B-Mobile decoy, check. Hen decoy, check. Mossberg 835 Ulti Mag 12 Ga with Bushnell Holo Sight with fresh batteries, check. Hunters Specialty Backpacker blind, check.
Then for the food and refreshments: Diet coke, check. Beef Jerky, check. Little Debbie cakes, check.
Pack all the gear into the truck ASAP. Oh my goodness, it is 4:30am and I got to get going! I looks at the temperature reading in my read view mirror, it is 43 Degrees, So I hit the road!
Into the woods.
I arrive at my hunting land at 5:30 am. The Temperature is 53 degrees. Looks like a clear sky, waning crescent moon above and a light to steady breeze. A bit too steady of a breeze if you ask me. The tops of all the trees were swaying petty good and I look up hoping to see some roosted birds in the blue night sky but there was nothing. I walk into a spot without needed to use my flashlight. I set up my bind.
This was the first time I used the Cabelas Tactical Tat'r Vest for this season and was I happy I got this one. The cushion was excellent. I did not feel the tree digging into my back as it would have with my other vests. I settle in very comfortably hoping something would show up soon.
Not a gobble, not a cluck. Nothing. I see a flash of action to my right but it winds up a herd of deer trotting through the woods and going away from me. Oh well, at least it was something. Other than that the woods was quiet.
I sat there until 8:30am am and I realized that last year I had hunted further into the woods off to my right. There are a lot of low rock walls from the 1700's that used to mark some old boundaries all over the land. Last year, I had a Tom answer my calls and he got close but would not come over the rock wall between us. I heard him continue on his way without ever getting to see him. So, this year I though maybe I should move to that spot but get on the other side of the rock wall. Up and off I go! The sun was up, the wind had died down and it was warming up a bit.
Around 9am am I gave out some calls, nothing responded. At 9:30 am I tried again and got an gobbler to answer!! I called again and got an answer! Again I called, another answer! Then, suddenly there he was about 200 yards off to my right. I remembered a hunting TV show that said to stop calling once you see them so I did stop. He didn't. He flared himself into a strut a few times and kept coming closer and gobbled again. I had the turkey decoys straight ahead facing towards me at 30 yards. That Tom was looking right at them. he started to move with more caution and I was blocked by the trees. I saw him poke his head out from behind the trees but I did not want to take a shot like that.
Finally, he moved out from the tree, I raised my shotgun and got a good bead on his head.
Off I run to the spot, he was flopping a bit but not too long!
It was 9:50am. Moving and knowing what I learned last year helped put me in the right spot to intercept my very first New Jersey Tom.
The Check Station.
Details were are follows:
9 1/2" Beard
1 " Spurs
The final steps
One of the Captains from my FD house was off and he came out to see my bird. Like any FD brother we went from talking about the morning details to the two of use breasting out the bird and getting the wing bones to make some home made calls. Never had to ask him he just jumped right in and we made quick work of that bird!
My first 'Jerzey 'Tom and I got him to come in all a strutting! What a way to remember my first 'Jerzey' successful hunt!! Well, that's how they pronounce it up here, go figure!!
Remember the 343
George Johnson, Ladder 157
Dan McWilliams, Ladder 157
Bily Eisengrien, Rescue 2Scott Strauss NYPD ESU