Opening day results are in!
Up early Monday and set up in the back 82 acres at 5:20AM facing south on a gently rolling hill that goes down into the holler.
5:25 AM and I hear a Tom gobbling like all get out. I hit my Cody Drop Dead slate and get an immediate response. At my direct right off 40 yards is the end of my property line. About 20 yards out is an old stone fence put there during the 1700's by farmers.
The stone wall runs south to north and the other side obscures the Tom. I see him fanning but I just see the top of the tail feathers. At 5:30am I see a turkey fly down off the roost but I can not tell if it is a Tom or a hen. I call and get a response but the Tom stays on the other side. For 40 minutes he calls and struts and occasionally. I see him in full strut. He responds to my calls and I try to not to over do it. Then off he goes straight off to my right and deeper into my neighbor's property. Then, silence. I felt that was it but I was still excited to have held a Tom that long and have him calling so often.
Deer come up from the holler and follow the same path the Tom took.
About a half an hour later he comes back calling. The deer are also back and now I see hens with him!
I call gently every now and then. Finally after 30 minutes, I peak his interest again with my occasional calling. Over the wall he comes. I hold and wait as some downed trees block a clean shot. He is call and strutting and his wattles are deep, deep red.
One more call sequence and he commits and moves across me going right to left.
At 20 yards I see a clear opening. I raise my Mossberg 835 Ulti Mag and get the Bushnell Holo Sight and get his head dead center in the sight. The Hevi Hot 3 1/2" shell sings out and he does a back flip and down!
It is 7:15 AM and I have all my gear packed and bird in tow heading back to my truck and then to the check station.
I surprised the guys at the Firehouse that night with a fully cooked Tom with all the fixing.
I have gotten significantly larger Toms over the years but I have never had a Tom so close and calling so long and often. It sure made for a memorable opening day!
Remember the 343
George Johnson, Ladder 157
Dan McWilliams, Ladder 157
Bily Eisengrien, Rescue 2Scott Strauss NYPD ESU