Benji Franklin wanted the Eastern Wild Turkey to be our national bird. (So I have heard) He thought they were smart and majestic. I know they are smart because I have hunted them for almost 25 years now. This is not a post to advocate the turkey as our national bird! This is the story of the bird I killed in the above pic.
It was in May of this year and I had a Monday trip planned with myself. I had been taking a rookie hunter just about every day I could go and he had missed a bird that past Thursday. So I loaded up that morning and headed out about a 1/4 before 5:00 a.m.
I like to time it so I am getting into the woods as light is breaking, but the sun is about thirty or so minutes before busting through. I’ve got a good half mile walk to get to what I call my “honey hole”. At my first fence I have to cross I always stop and make and owl call. This owl call makes a gobbler, well, gobble out of shock. So I lean up against a tree across the fence and blow the words “who cooks for who” and one busts my ears and sounds like he is only fifty or so yards away on the roost. He shocked me as much as I shocked him! I carry a hen and jake (immature male) decoy to set up in front of me for a lil’ better advantage. Since I’m not at the back of the property I hunt, it is darker than it is when I usually set up my hen and jake. I am making a bunch of racket and maybe cussing under my breath a lil’ too loud. I had backed away from him so I figured he was 100 yards out and finally got set up and waited. This time of morning the woods are just starting to wake up except for the whipper wills that are fading out. I wait till I can see enough to shoot and make a very low tree yelp and he gobbles and gobbles. I feel good now (I thought he was spooked). A car go downs the road and he shock gobbles to that. I can hear him walking on the limb he roosted on but can’t see him for the massive sweet gum and the other undergrowth between us. This goes on for about ten more minutes then he starts to cackle and flies off the roost and heads towards my spot I was heading too before he stopped me. This bird was actually in the tree I leaned on to owl hoot. During this ten minutes of him walking back and forth on the limb I heard another bird gobble behind me. He sounded like he was a half a mile away so I struck out thinking I had scared the first bird into the next county. I got to where this second bird was there about and set up and made a loud call. In front of me I heard a gobble at the top of the hill. Hey this is that bird I scared off because he just made the second bird gobble and he was still several hundred yards off behind me. So I sit tight and wait…….nothing I make another call and at the top of the hill he busts out four or five gobbles but he is not any closer. Now I am trying to go against this birds natural instinct in which the hen goes to the gobbler in the woods. After a few more calls I know he’s not coming so I bust a move toward him. I know this is risky for I have spooked several birds trying to do this and really never have had any success doing this. But I had this rookie hunter hit one in the chest after I called it up and I wanted a bird bad cause I got shut out last year! I know he is just over the hill and he gobbles a few times as I am creeping up on him. I get about what I think is fifty yards right under the hill and set up the decoys and make a call. He answers and so does another bird off to my right. My heart is racing and I’m shaking just a lil’ (I just walked 400 yds…uphill). I see the bird to my right and he has three brothers and they are all jakes. Then out of the corner of my left eye I see this bird in full strut fast walking my way then he lunges at the jakes and runs them back a bit. Now I am ready, the Mossberg 835 is pointed right at his head and I squeeze the trigger and the three and a half-inch mag. goes off and he hits the ground like a sack of sand. Most of the time you need to get up fast and get to your downed bird quickly as possible because they are tough to bring down and keep down. This boy wasn’t moving! I had him!
It seemed like the walk was longer than usual back to the truck. I think the 21.75 lb of extra weight had a lot to do with it. It took me three set ups on this bad boy and he is the biggest bird I have taken. I think my count on turkeys is at 19 for 25 years of hunting. His beard was 11 inches long and was thick as a small paint brush! His spurs were 7/8 inches long. He might have been three and a half years old. I just know he tasted better than any turkey I have ever bought at Kroger!