I had been out about 10 times this season with some close calls, but no luck until closing day. Here's what happened:
I had decided not to go out because my allergies were killing me. I was sneezing like crazy and feeling terrible. I slept horribly, and finally got out of bed at about 9:30 am on the final day of the season. While sipping coffee with droopy eyes, my wife told me I should go out, or I'd probably regret it. My allergies still had my eyes watering and nose dripping, but I decided she was right, and at the very least, I could get some exercise if I got out of the house.
I left the house at 10:30, and arrived at my hunting spot at about 11:15. I rarely start hunting this late in the day, but what did I have to lose? I threw my pack on and began hiking to what I thought might be a good spot. I had never hunted this particular area before, but had scouted this location twice, about 6 weeks prior. I had seen sign in a certain area, and thought I'd give it a try.
I began walking out to the area, and after a short distance, I unexpectedly came across a flock of about 12 males, most of which were Jakes.These Jakes were right on the path I was travelling, and some had already seen me. I froze on the trail and wondered what I should do. With my binoculars, I could see at least one was a Tom as he strutted with an evenly-rounded fan. I'm guessing the flock was 100 yards away. Surprise encounters with turkeys seemed to be happening more and more as I hunt them. Dang it!!! What do I do? I decided to employ a strategy that some hunters use in the fall: scatter the flock and hope they return to their former location. I've seen turkeys do this on more than one occasion during the off-season. I didn't want to scare them away to the next county, so I began to slowly walk toward them until they ran into the brush. As I walked, they wasted no time finding cover. I hurried to where they flushed and set up a hen decoy and full-fan Tom decoy. During my experience this past year, I think my full-fan Tom had intimidated some Jakes, so I placed the hen decoy closer to any approaching males than the Tom decoy.
I sat against a tree in full camo, and waited a few minutes. I then let out a few soft hen yelps. After about 20 minutes of waiting, a cooper's hawk started screaming, which prompted a male turkey to gobble in the near distance. "Holy cow", I thought. "They're still in the area." I softly yelped once more. Suddenly, a hen turkey crossed the trail I was on, but then continued on out of sight. I knew that the males couldn't be far from this female, and just waited. As I was about to yelp some more, I saw a turkey walking down the trail. I didn't know its sex, but it was dark and shiny, which was a good sign. At about 70 yards, I could see a beard dangling,and knew it was a mature Tom. He slowly closed the distance to about 50 yards. He stopped abruptly, and craned his head to see better in my direction. He knew something was wrong. I'm not sure whether he saw me, or was getting a better look at the Tom decoy that he perceived as a competitor, but I wasn't going to wait to find out. Fifty yards was by no means optimal, but I use an XX Full Turkey choke on my 12-gauge, and knew that the distance wouldn't be a problem with the 3 1/2" loads. I pulled the trigger. The Tom dropped. It was 12:01pm.
The Tom was likely a 2-year old based on its 3/4" spurs, and was 17 pounds. He had a 9" beard. Take a look at the picture of the primary feathers on the wing. They are no longer round, as this Tom was strutting all season and dragging his wings in the dirt. This boy was on fire! I believe I owe my wife a night on the town for talking me into hunting the last day of the general season!
That's almost like one of the TV shows where on the very last day of the hunt the guy shoots a huge bull. Great job ! Way to keep at it. Most of my friends gave up after getting shut down on opening day but you'll never get one if you don't try. What ammo were you shooting & had you patterned it before ?
Thanks for sharing.
Last edited by wedgy; 05-07-2012 at 07:52 PM. Reason: spelling
Yes, I patterned the shotgun a couple years ago. I buy the cheap ammo. I used Winchester Supreme's in #5. I think I paid ten or eleven dollars at Walmart. The pellets fly at 1,300 feet/second, and have no problem penetrating at that distance.
what a great hunt, thanks for sharing
Awesome man, congrats!!! And as you found out, doing a scatter during the sping can be very effective!!!!
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