It was the last day of the 2007 spring gobbler season and the morning began with three gobblers making everyone aware they were on the prowl. I had a nice set up, small ground blind, one Jake decoy and one hen. My father attached fishing line to the decoys so you could make them move when there was a gobbler coming in.
Shortly after the three gobblers gobbled, I let loose with a fly down cackle, then bled in a yelp with a slate call. They went crazy. It was looking good, I figured it was only a matter of time. I made a series of four calls in an hour and a half period. It seemed as though the long beards were getting more excited each time they answered, so I figured I would take a break and see if a gobbler would call looking for a response from me.
I waited about twenty minutes, and at approximately 7:30 a.m. I started with a few purrs, then right into yelp. Nothing! I figured they may not have heard me when they got down into the valley, especially with all the new leaves on all the trees. It was time to pull out ole reliable, my box call. I made sure I had fresh chalk on it, and checked to ensure the rubber band was in good shape. I started clucking with it, then worked right into a yelp. It was loud and crisp. That yelp was so loud and pretty, a deaf gobbler would answer it. I waited about 10 minutes and couldn’t believe I didn’t get a response. I called a few more times over the next hour and it was like there were no turkeys on the mountain. Roughly around 9:00 I decided to stop calling and wait to see what might happen.
Around 10:30 a few deer fed through, and I have to say I was getting a little discouraged. I got it in my mind there was no reason to sit here and waste my time. I had plenty of time to get off the mountain and move to another area. I got out of the blind and started walking towards the decoys when I remembered what a friend of mine, Denny, once told me. He said “when the birds stop answering, be patient! They know where you are, and when they are finished with the hens they will look for you.” Denny is the one who took the time to teach me the basics of turkey hunting. Also, the very patient person who suffered while he taught me how to use a slate friction call. I’m really surprised our friendship survived past that point! So I went back into the blind and sat down.
As the temperature was rising, the sweat started to drip off of me. I opened the windows in the rear of the blind to get a little air. Approximately ten after eleven I grabbed the box call and let out a yelp. Not a sound, not even a crow. I laid the box call on the ground, and the Remington 870 across my lap and just got comfortable in the chair. I closed my eyes and just let my mind wander and even though I was going to be going home without a bird, I was just glad to be in the woods. Then out of nowhere came a “gobble!” It was close, real close and it came from behind me. As I spun my chair around two hens came running from underneath a fallen tree running right at the blind. They ran right to the decoys and started feeding right next to them. I looked back to where I first saw the hens and a Jake was on the same path and had the same destination. As I was watching the Jake I was trying to decide if I should take it since it was the last day. Then another “gobble”, behind me. I turned around and a long beard was running right at me. But he came to a dead stop at 10 yards like the blind scared him. I could tell he was shying away; it was like he was leaning back to where he came from, but he didn’t want to leave the hens. I slightly stuck the barrel of my shotgun out of the window, placed the front bead on his head and squeezed the trigger. “BOOM”!
And the hunt was over. I was shaking like a leaf and I couldn’t get out of the blind fast enough to see what exactly I got. He had a twelve inch beard with inch and a quarter spurs. I threw him over my shoulder and started down the mountain, and I couldn’t help but think that if I wasn’t patient, and left for somewhere else I would have missed out on a great bird and a wonderful memory.
Ken Baney is a Western States Sportsman Pro Staff member and experienced hunter and outdoorsman.
Featured Photo: Alan Vernon