March 19, 2009: Richard harvested his first turkey species of our 2009 Grand Slam Quest; an Eastern turkey that weighed in at 21 pounds, 11 ounces, with 7/8th inch spurs and a 9 7/8th inch beard. Here’s the story:
Richard and I left the house this morning at 5:20 a.m. It was 47 degrees, partly overcast and calm; the perfect morning for a successful hunt. We parked just off the dam of the pond and walked the half mile into our hunting spot. Richard had decided to put a blind up at the edge of the field where the birds have been flying down from the roost. As Murphy’s Law would have it, the flashlight went out when Richard was trying to put the sticks in the pop-up blind. It just went out with a snap; from light to dark. I was hoping that wasn’t an omen for how the way the morning would unfold. Richard set his decoy hen at about 25-30 yards from the front of the blind. We were on a slight incline and it took us a minute or two to get comfortable in our stools.
We sat there for what seemed a good hour just listening to the morning. We whispered back and forth about turkey strategies and this and that. I noticed that you don’t hear and feel the morning wake up as clearly in a blind as you do on the ground uncovered. I still got that moments chill when the Earth woke up though; clean to the bone. At some point my stomach grumbled a quirky sound and Richard looked at me and asked, “What are you trying to call up?” I looked at him and said, “a crow.” Within a split second his stomach grumbled back…. he said, “I answered.”
The first tom gobbled at 6:18 a.m. and shortly thereafter a second gobbled; then two gobbled together and then a whopping four toms belted out a gobble. The chills set in!! It was looking like a good morning so far. The first bird flew down at 6:40 a.m. directly over the pop-up blind and I could tell before it landed that it was a jake. Then in quick succession three hens flew down; one directly over the blind to the jake and the other two just to the immediate right of the blind at about 18 yards. Then a long beard flew down followed by a second long beard to the right front of the blind about 18 yards. Four more hens landed in the field with a tom in tow. We had 7 hens, 1 jake and 4 toms in front of us at this point. Within a matter of a few seconds I heard the safety go off on the shotgun and I knew Richard was about to pull the trigger on one of the long beards. I covered my ears and I could hear my heart pounding and the blood pulsing through my veins.
One tom went into a partial strut and the other one belted out a gobble that I didn’t hear; but I could tell by that neck jutting and tail bob that he did that he was gobbling. Then both toms started bobbling into each other and a hen walked directly in front of the tom. I could tell Richard was ready to let his gun roar by the way he was looking down the barrel with that serious look. I looked back out just in time to hear the shot go off and the tom jump up in the air. All the other birds bolted about 10-15 feet and stopped. The tom Richard got flopped for a few seconds then lay there. He told me to sit still. We needed to let the other birds wander off since we have plans to hunt that location again from that blind. It was 6:50 a.m. We sat and watched those birds slowly meander across the field.
As we sat and watched the birds go across the field, Richard noticed a black blob about 500-600 yards away in the dip of a terrace bank. It was another tom all by himself. We glassed him for a short while and sized him up as a trophy bird. It was about 20-30 minutes after Richard’s shot went off that we decided we would move. I had just stood up and Richard tugged at my arm and said be still. I looked out the blind window and a hen landed on the ground in front of the blind. Then three more flew in right behind her. Darn, we were stuck for another short while. As these hens meandered to the right of us down a path in single line they looked like they were on a mission. They looked like they were headed across the field to the lone tom. We waited for them to get out of sight then came out of the blind, packed up, retrieved the tom and headed to the truck.
On our walk out we decided that we would keep that lone tom in our notes for another hunt. Today we saw a total of 11 hens, 1 jake, and 5 toms….of course one of those we will no longer see out there. We took photos, measurements, cleaned the bird and put him in the refrigerator and were on our way to work by 8:20 a.m.
© Nancy Jo Adams 2009