Sportsmen hunt all different kinds of game and I'm no exception. Turkey hunting is another sport which I ended up falling in love with but didn't start turkey hunting until later on in life.
When I was young we didn't have turkeys around here and if we did, there was very few. I remember applying for a turkey permit years back after they got established here in Vermont and the state finally allowed the taking of them. It was a time when the only way to go turkey hunting was to apply for a permit. You had to go sit in a crowd of hopefuls and wait to see if your name got drawn. It took a couple years but I finally was lucky enough to draw a permit and tried hunting them for the first time. I never did get a turkey then and kinda gave up on it until a few short years ago, here's my story of how things turned out.
Well, needless to say I wasn't up on turkey hunting with all the calls etc. out on the market but read my share of articles on them and how to use the calls properly. I got pretty good with a diafram mouth and a slate call but the box call still needed some work. Oh, I did the normal thing all of us do, spent a lot of money buying decoys, clothes, masks and calls. When I finally had everything I needed, I was set to try for my first bird.
It was spring time in late April and I had been scouting this farm area I got permission to hunt and had picked out a few places I thought would be perfect ambush sites. Before opening day I would stand on the edge of one of the many field's that spread across the farm and have been hearing turkeys gobbling at daybreak. The farm was spread out with rolling hills and corn fields surrounded by tall pines and hardwoods. It was a perfect haven for turkeys to flourish as they had plenty of cover as well as food. The tall grasses of some of the fields that were not planted with corn held plenty of small insects for them to forage on.
I was anxious to try out this new sport to me of turkey hunting and when opening day finally came I had everything ready to go. With permit secure in my pack along with my calls, number 6 shot shell's and my old Mossburg shotgun in hand I was ready. I reached the farm about 45 minutes before daybreak and parked my truck near the owner's hay barn and proceeded walking up one of the logging roads to a clearing that was nestled inside the surrounding trees which were still in their budding stage. This made it easier to see further into the wood's. The clearing was a good place for them to cross during the morning hour's as they rummaged around for food undisturbed and out of sight of the nearby road. I had picked out this spot because of the many tracks I seen in the dirt at the end of the old road leading into the clearing plus from hearing them in this general area as I listened preseason by standing at the edge of one of the many fields at daybreak. I was getting more excited with every gobble I heard and with a week left before the season opened I could hardly contain myself.
Upon entering the clearing I slowly walked the 75 yards to the other end of it. Being as silent as I could I took my two hen decoys from my back pack and placed them so they would be in plain view of any tom that may be roosting in the nearby tree's, or so I hoped. I picked out a tree to sit by which was just off the edge of the clearing and still only about 20 yards from my decoys. Placing my ground blind around me and putting on my face net and gloves, as daybreak was coming fast, I was ready to start the hunt.
No sooner had daylight begun to appear when on the far hillside about 150 yards away, a Tom had gobbled and in turn made another gobble. This got me excited thinking that it wouldn't be long that they would be flying down to the ground and maybe heading my way. I picked up my slate call which I had laying on the ground beside me and with a few soft clucks and yelps I got an immediate response which excited me all the more.
This went on back and forth for almost 10 minutes when I could hear the distant flopping of wings through the trees as he hit the ground. He was dedicated to my calling or so I thought but the sounds of his gobbles seemed to be getting further away. Maybe he had some hens with him which would have made him ignore me from the time he landed, I wasn't sure so I waited a couple minute's then called again. He gobbled back but it sounded to me as if he was now heading away towards where my truck was parked. The second turkey that had gobbled at first never made another sound so I thought that once he hit the ground he must have gone away from me towards one of the main corn field's that lay along the road.
Now I figured that both of them were long gone so I just sat still without trying to call that one back while listening for any other sound's for what seemed like 10 minutes when the silence was broken by a tom's gobble coming from the other end of the clearing which I traveled up through to get to where I was now. 75 yards away, I thought, so I pulled down my face mask and resting my shotgun on one knee, I put the diaphram call in my mouth and made a couple clucks. To my surprise he returned my call immediately and then another. He's coming to me, stay calm, I said to myself, don't make any mistakes. I clucked again and again he returned my call but closer now. Try as I might, I couldn't see him but I knew he was close then his head came into view comming straight up the center of the clearing. My decoys were still out of his sight and I had to get him just a little closer so he could pick them out. Now only 40 yards away he came into full view, stopped in his track's and went into full strut as he seen my decoys.
I clucked softly with my mouth call just to tease him into range and just as I've seen in the videos I watched he would drop his strut, take a few steps then back into Strut again. My heart was beating fast as I tried to coax him in closer. His full attention was on the hen decoys as I slowly moved my finger to the safety and pushed it off. Still at about 30 yards, I wanted him just a little closer and had a smile on my face as I watched him do his dance of strutting then a couple more fast steps. What I wouldn't give to have a video camera I thought, This was surely just like in the videos.
A couple more steps, please! just a couple more I said to myself. With a single soft cluck of my mouth call he dropped his strut and at 20 yards took those final two steps I was so wishing for. As I squeezed the trigger he was mine. I was up in a flash and ran to see my first turkey. I gathered my things and my decoys and slung him over my shoulder as I proudly walked back to my truck in a hurry to get home to tell my wife and show her my bounty.