My spring turkey hunt ended almost as quickly as it began. Shooting light was 5:15 and my tag was filled at 6AM.
As I arrived at my spot it was immediately game on. I had what sounded to be 3 Toms gobbling a few hundred yards ahead of me in the swamp bottom. I knew these boys had just flown down from their roost and I needed to be the first hen they heard. I called out to the Toms and for a while everything seemed to be working as planned. Suddenly I was cut off by a group of hens. They did not sound happy with my calling and quickly interrupted my love songs to the group of Toms. As the hens cackled over me, they intercepted my toms, leaving me high and dry. The woods were still.
So I changed my plan up a bit. Just as I was about to start running and gunning, another Tom called out from behind me. He sounded pretty far off, so I figured he would play well into my run and gun tactics. But before I could even start moving, he sounded off again, but this time he was closer. It seemed as though this Tom was making a fashionably late entrance to the party. So rather than moving towards him and risking being spotted I moved closer by only about 20 yards, laid on my side and propped the 12ga in the crotch of a tree and waited for his gobble again. Sure enough, he was there, so I called back to him gently. We called back and forth a few times, I would leave him hanging and wait for a second gobble just to keep him interested. But suddenly things got quiet again. I knew this meant one of two things. Either he lost interest and found another hen, or he was on his way. Thankfully it was the latter. As I gently purred and clucked on my slate, he belted out a loud gobble and I realized he was 20 yards over my opposite shoulder. This wily ol' Tom managed to sneak up on me without me noticing. I panicked as he strutted next to me. Thankfully his strut led him behind a small tree. I took advantage of this small window and swung the barrel of my shotgun over to his direction. In less than a moment he popped out on the other side of the tree none the wiser and as he broke out of his strut I lined up my shot and squeezed the trigger. Down he went. As I approached my kill, I was excited to find a double beard. I took a moment to catch my breath, thank him for sacrificing his life, admired his beauty. I tagged his leg and carried him 7/10ths of a mile back to my truck, sun in my face and a smile stretching from ear to ear. A great day, and a great hunt.
It's sort of bitter sweet tagging out in the first hour of your season. I am thankful to have had a successful hunt on such a gorgeous morning. You couldn't ask for a more perfect outcome. Now I have a bird in the freezer and a week to help my friends call birds.
Double bearded Tom
Still wet from the swamp
Now I guess it's time to focus on the approaching game fishing season.