April 9, 2009: Our guide picked us up at 5:15 a.m. and we headed to some hunting land about 45 minutes North. We rode the Bad Boy Buggy into the road system on this land until we reached a crossroad and stopped, listened, and our guide let out a few crow and hawk locator calls. Nothing! We stood around for about 5 minutes and Billy let out a crow call and a gobble came from the left about 500 yards or more away. We hurriedly gathered our gear and headed in that direction. When we got to the next crossroad, Billy set out the decoy and pointed me to a pine tree base about 15 yards away. Richard set up about 20 yards directly behind me. Billy let out few tree yelps and we got TWO gobbles in return, still on the roost 300 yards to the left of us. It was not too much later when the first bird pitched down, followed by three more. Once on the ground another gobble erupted from the palmettos. Billy yelped a little and got a hen to yelp back a few times. Then we got another single gobble. I had the gun up, resting on my Easton Shooting stick and mounted to my shoulder. We got another gobble and the chills set in. The sun was just at the horizon and would be shining directly on us in about 10-15 minutes. Billy told me to be still and be ready. We heard gobbles that sounded like they were going away from us. He called some more, but we didn’t get a response. After about 45 minutes of no sound and glassing the area meticulously we decided it was time to move on. We scouted some and seen 3 Jakes and two hens before heading out.
About 11:30 a.m. we went and got a bite to eat in town and stopped by some hunting land that Billy has about 3 or 4 minutes from where we were staying. We rode in and were headed to a back two rut road system to ride around the perimeter of the land to see if we could see anything. We saw several fox squirrels scurrying toward tree bases as we drove in. Billy stopped at the fence line and was telling Richard and I about a trophy Tom and a huge hen that he had seen on several trips. He said a hunter had missed taking a 40 yard shot at him two weeks ago and he had not hunted him since. He decided to let out a few yelps and LOW AND BEHOLD a gobble exploded about 200 yards and not far from where we just drove through. Billy told me to quickly get out of the buggy and grab a seat at the base of an oak tree. Richard walked by me and told me to get my face mask and gloves on. I hurried, sat down, pulled my face on, slid my gloves on, and positioned my gun. My heart beat was racing in my ears and my belly was flip-flopping from my lunch that I just consumed a mere 20 minutes earlier. The thought crossed my mind that I might be sick….no, I was too excited for that…that would have to wait. I could hear my heartbeat in my ears, my pulse rising in my neck veins, and I was breathing a little heavy. Billy sat down right next to me on the same tree base and Richard drove the buggy down the road and into the woods. Billy whispered, that Tom is going to come running in, be ready. He let out a few yelps and another gobble erupted over my left shoulder. I must have started breathing a little faster because Billy told me to take a few breaths and calm down. I honestly think he was matching my every breath. We sat a few minutes and nothing. Billy glassed the field; nothing. I relaxed a little and sat motionless. Billy told me that when you get a gobble in the middle of the day from yelps the Toms usually come running in your direction. A few minutes after him telling me this, I heard a hen yelp in the last direction that we heard the last gobbles. Billy said, “Shoot!! He has a hen with him.” He told me it was real unusual for a hen to be out with a Tom this late in the day—that she should be on a nest.
We spent the next hour riding around the perimeter of the property and saw a Jake cutting a rug across a pasture. We returned to the area we heard the Tom and saw his strut line. I took some pictures of the tracks left in the strut zone for those friends of mine that are following this blog that are new to turkey hunting or don’t hunt at all. It is really exciting seeing these in the sand. Strut marks are marks left in the sand/dirt from the Toms wing tips dragging the ground when he is in full strut. You will also notice his foot tracks in the left upper portion of the picture.
Billy gave us the option of coming back in the afternoon to hunt this Tom, but we opted not to pressure him, let him roost where he has been and to go back in the morning for a chance at him. Hopefully he will stick to his routine and follow that fence line to his strut zone. If he does, I will be waiting to witness it. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s encounters.
© Nancy Jo Adams 2009