What a crazy morning!
Today had to be the craziest day I've ever spent in the turkey woods! This is going to be a long, but I think enjoyable read, just to forewarn you!
My hunting buddy George and I walked in with another friend who'd been after the same birds all week. He said they had him all "frazzled"; little did we know that we'd soon know what he meant, and it was only going to get worse for him! He was going to hunt the creek bottom, so we headed for the field on top.
After crashing our way through 75 yards of brush , we finally emerged at the field edge. Not expecting to hear ANYTHING after all the noise we'd made, we were happy to hear a single tom off in the distance at least, but not the birds that we knew were roosted nearby.
We decided to set up anyways, and soon after doing so, a noisy wood duck flew over and the birds we intended to set up on cut loose with a chorus of gobbles!! GAME ON!
It wasn't long and birds began filtering out of the trees. As hens put down, gobbers cut loose at their cackles.
BOOM! A shot rings out just down over the hill from John position! While MOST of the calling subsided, you could still hear a few hens quietly calling and then the toms began to gobble again! Just as things were reaching the excitement level prior to the shot...BOOM! ANOTHER shot from Johns position! What the heck?!
Unbelievably, after just a few minutes of silence, the birds go back to talking! George catches my attention and there is a gobbler coming towards us across the field. We're set up in the corner (facing the 12 o'clock position) and he's coming from about the 930 position. Instead of coming straight to check out our decoy, he parallels us and enters the woods about 100 yards away to our right. He gobbled the whole way across the field but had other plans on his mind.
I'm calling occasionally, and getting responses every so often, when I hear something behind me as I'm purring. I slowly look over my right shoulder just as a jake peeks up over a log about 15 yards behind us! He came in totally quiet! He watches us for a few minutes and eventually starts to move off. I get George's attention and he points out into the field to my left (9'oclock) and I can see a tom in full strut about 80 yards away! There is also a hen feeding in the middle of the field (about 11 o'clock).
Little did I know that while I was watching the jake, a hen came out in the field and the tom came out and chased her across in front of us!
Well, I start calling to try and get this tom to work into our single hen decoy and he's strutting and gobbling and I'm getting a little footage through all the trees. (It's hard to call AND film, especially when your camera keeps focusing on all the brush!) The next thing I know, I not only get a response from him, but also from 2 birds from the tree line that runs out in front of us (towards the 12 oclock position)!
I'm grinning ear to ear thinking we're set up perfectly, we're in between 3 toms with a hen decoy out and we're well hidden! Those 2 birds are going to hit the field and if they don't go to the live hen they're going to see our decoy and it's going to be a foot race between the 3 birds to see who gets to us first!
Well, sure enough, those 2 toms hit the field and the one is HUGE! I'm talking top 3 biggest bird I've ever laid eyes on! Just a MASSIVE beard! Thick as my wrist and better than 10" long!
So, anyways, these birds hit the field and the race is on.....between the 2 of them to see who can kick the snot out of the lone tom on our side of the field! They (all 3 of them) would gobble their heads off every time I called but, they weren't paying us anymore attention!
The 2 troublemakers chase the first bird out of the field, and out of our field of view and I decide to pick a fight. I grabbed my gobble tube, cut hard on my mouth call and give the tube a shake. GOOOOOOBBBBBLLLEEEE (times 3!!!) The next thing I know, all 3 birds are TOGETHER out about as close as the lone tom had made it and are going NUTS! They're gobbling at me, at crows, at geese, at nothing, just gobbling! I keep up the hen call / gobble routine for a bit and then they start moving off, back across the field past that still feeding hen, and back to where they all came from!
So, I go BACK to hen calling and I'm being as excited and aggressive as I can, a mouth call in, cutting like crazy, and a slate call in my hands doing the same. I never once called that they didn't answer at least once, but they never came our direction! Eventually, after crossing the field 3/4's of the way, the troublesome 2 split off from their adversary turned buddy, and left, gobbling the whole way.
The now lone tom stops and gives us a good, long hard look, does some strutting and gobbling, and then acts like this is the first time he sees the live hen in the field and takes off after her!
I try to fade back, calling as I go but I only make it about 10 yards and he picks me off and they both bust out of the field. Although disappointing, we both had to be to work in an hour and needed to pack up shortly anyways.
Wondering what the heck the deal with John, our friend that sat in the bottom, was, George gives him a ring on the cell phone.
To make John's story as short as possible, as this post is long enough, a tom came in to 40 yards and he shot. It acted hit and before he could hit it again, it took off past him, never offering another shot. Disappointed, he sat there wondering what to do as he could hear the other birds still calling. Unbelievably, a bird starts gobbling from where he saw his land, and soon a bird with the same size beard comes walking back in!! At 20 or so yards, he pops it again and this time it goes down.
Shaking, he lights a celebratory smoke and looks up to see ANOTHER tom in full strut 60 yards away! He sits there, smoking his cigarette, and watches this tom strut and then slowly fade over the ridge. He puts out his smoke and stands up, to see his bird jump up and run and then fly across the creek onto the opposite hillside! Both barrels of his Stoger empty, there was nothing he could do but watch!
So, needless to say, it was beyond a wild morning in the spring woods!
This is one of the few circumstances where I really think a jake or tom decoy of some sort would've netted a bird for us. Those 2 toms seemed pretty bent on protecting their territory and not much on courting any ladies.
Hopefully, by the end of the season, we'll get a real measurement on the beard of that big guy!
Good luck everyone!
"Knowing when to shoot and when to wait is one sign of maturity in a bowhunter. Be patient and pick your aim point carefully." ~ Randy Ulmer
"I suppose it's the way of hunters. We are very odd fellows." ~ Peter Hathaway Capstick
Man that's some Bad Luck!! I'm sure that second bird he shot probably flew off and died somewhere.
The boys really seem to like the Gobble Call in our area, gets them stoked back up. Hope your luck picks up for you!