Had a great weekend..... since I'm tagged out in Pa and still have the turkey bug, I took a quick solo roadtrip up to NY Friday night after work. Popped into Wally World on the way, grabbed my license, and hit the woods just before dark to see I could put one to bed!
With about 10 minutes to spare, I was able to roost this bird (or his buddy) and was formulating a plan of attack for the morning.
I almost hate roosting a bird!.....so hard to fall asleep thinking about a game plan and anticipation
So with very little sleep, I hit the woods extra early since I haven't been in this particular patch in quite a few years. Needed extra time in case I needed a plan B if I didn't like the surroundings.
I was at one end of a Hardwood and Pine knob with a cut cornfield at the other end. Abandoned pasture to my back and fields at the other end.
Of course I picked the wrong end.
So at first light I tie into him on the limb at about 200yds..... let him stew here and there but enough to keep his interest.
I heard him fly down, and his next gobble sounds much farther already......his next is wayyyyyy over there.
Dangit!! He flew out into the corn field.
So I leave my headnet on and start to ninja scoot out through the woods to try to get to the field edge. I get only about halfway there and just as I clear some thick stuff into the open hardwoods and pines where he was roosted, and BAM! There's a strutting gobbler at 125yds on the lip of the ridge looking right down at me!!
OMG somehow he didn't see me..........and then a distant gobble out in the field. 2 birds! Ahhhhh that explains it.
So I'm standing there like a big dummy but must be blended in well against the background because he has no clue. Then I see a hen dancing around him.
When they both get behind his fan facing away I melt into the only big tree to my left and tuck on the backside. No way to scoot to the front.
I try a few soft calls and he hammers but he isn't leaving that hen and I don't want to push her away so I shut up completely.
Watched him strut for about 20 minutes.
The hen gets bored and walks down the ridge about 50 yds and slips over the lip into the corn field and the gobbler in and out of strut does the same thing!.....time to make my move after I hear a gobble aimed out into the field.
So again with the ninja scoot. LOL
I only get about 50 more yards heading for a big tree about 30-40yds away from the field edge....and YEP. There he is again.
He stepped back into the hardwoods on the little ridge and is in full strut again. AND AGAIN HE DOESN'T SEE ME STANDING THERE! LOL
Now I'm really in a pickle.....he is in full strut, gobbling his head off but only about 70yds in plain sight and a hen there somewhere to boot.
The second he spins and his head is hidden from sight behind his fan I slide over to a huge tree and melt into the side as quietly as possible.
Ok so far so good.
Now I have the gun pointed at him, the hen in sight below him and he has dropped anchor.
Fast forward 45 minutes and I'm in the same increasingly uncomfortable position watching no progress. Gobble Strut, Gobble Strut. Quite the show!
I was hoping the hen would drift my way and tow him so I stayed silent.....just be patient!
FINALLY she gives in and marches right up to him and lays down. Immediately he climbs on her back and makes baby turkeys. As he climbs off she makes a whiny chicken sounding noise, fluffs all her feathers, wags her tail and walks off out of sight over the ridge to my left away from the field. The gobbler confused goes the other way toward the field just out of sight.
Time for another move! Except my legs are asleep!!
Thought I was gonna fall over and blow the whole thing.
I duck walked and belly crawled to the top of the ridge in the direction the hen left, got set up undetected and made a few soft clucks and yelps.
He hammered right back!
A couple more clucks and purrs and bam again half the distance and obviously coming.
Call down gun up.
I can hear him spitting and drumming before I saw him......pffft BMMMMMM. getting closer.
A piece of fan, a gimpse of red white and blue......here he comes.
And at 10yds he clears the last piece of cover, neck out searching, and the hammer drops sending a plume of white smoke and finally ending the game!
Just an awesome hunt.....had everything you hope for. Including large doses of luck!
Now on to the Warrior or Victim part.
A good solid probably 3yr old ..... Just a tank of a bird with one fairly sharp curved 1 1/8" shiny black spur, the other busted and almost grown back in that pearly color they get.
I thought his fan looked a little messed up in strut and turns out he was missing 6 tail feathers! 5 on his left side and 1 on his right. Plus all the secondary tail feathers on his left.
On top of that when I was attaching the tag I noticed he was missing almost all the feathers and some skin off his left thigh that had healed back over still showing the old gouges in his leg. (right leg was normal)
I can only figure one of 2 things......He was a fighter, but some right footed gobbler was kicking the crap out of him? LOL......or possibly he was the victim of a predator attack and escaped?
Either way, a bird with a heck of a lot of character and hunt to remember!