My dad called me Friday night and told me that he THOUGHT he heard a gobble on a piece of property that we have permission to hunt. He wasn't sure if it actually was a gobble and he was actually reluctant to even go in the morning because he had to leave for work by 7. I convinced him to give it a try for an hour to see what happened.
We met in the morning at a little before five and started the long hike in. We got across the creek and down the logging road a ways and decided to stop and wait for a gobble. With the full moon still high in the sky and the sun coming up on the horizon, the woods were quite bright and we expected to hear a gobble any minute...but we didn't. Time kept ticking away and still no gobbles. My dad started to second guess himself on hearing a gobble and he no sooner got those words out of his mouth when two sounded off about 150 yards up the ridge. We moved fast to get into position and as we were on the move, more started sounding off down the ridge. I set my dad up in a spot where two logging roads intersected and I got into position about 30 yards behind him. We were now about 75-100 yards below them on the ridge and I let out a few soft tree yelp and they hammered back. The lighter in got, the more fired up they became and at one time, at least 7 of them sounded off at one time. Pretty soon a hen opened up and I knew it was time. I let out a fly down cackle and they boomed back. Right after that, a hen pitched out of the tree and went right over our heads and into the field behind us. I heard flapping up the ridge and then muffled gobbles that revealed they were on the ground. I took up the tone of my yelps and 3 of them sounded back in unison, directly above us along with two more further down the ridge. I hit them with some yelps again and they fired back, obviously now closing the distance. With in no time they were on top of us and when I gave a few soft purrs and clucks they roared, just out of sight. I then saw three white heads come into view, strutting down the logging road. They were closing fast and soon were 10 yards from my dad. He had to wait for them to separate and then dropped the hammer on the middle bird at 6:10. At the shot, the two further down hammered once more. My dad and I went to admire his bird, a 22 lb 2 year old with a 9" beard and 7/8" spurs. After some congrats, he tagged his bird and then reluctantly had to get going. He asked me what I was going to do and I told them that I was going to stick around because they were still fired up and gobbling as we were talking. We said our goodbyes and he wished me good luck and started the hike out.
After he left I headed down the ridge a way toward a know strut zone to see what I could get going. I got set up in a nice, grassy opening and let out a few soft yelps. I got an instant response within 100 yards. I hit him again and he answered, closing the distance. I saw him pop into view at about 65 yards. He looked around for a bit and then just walked up the ridge, periodically gobbling as he went. After a bit I decided to relocate and head back down the ridge and then UP that steep bugger. I went about halfway up the hill and set up along another logging road. I hit the call and had one answer again, within 100 yards. He seemed to close the distance yet again and then started heading the other way once again. The hens had him on a string, it was obvious now that I was going to have to try and stick with him and wait it out. I moved back down the ridge, along the field, anticipating that they were going to head that direction eventually. I found a good place to set up and just sat there and didn't call. The sun was shining now, the birds were chirping, and it was just a nice day to be sitting in the woods. After about a half hour, a crow flew over and let out a caw and two sounded off just out of sight. I hit them with some yelps and they responded right away. Here we go, I thought. They were inching closer and closer, to the point where I should have been able to see them. They hung up there for 20 minutes and would not come into view. Hens were still with them... They eventually started fading away once more and heading straight up the ridge. After a while, I could barely hear a muffled gobble, clear at the top of the ridge. It was 10 o'clock and I contemplated leaving them for another day, but I decided that as fired up as they were, once the hens left, I could pull them in. I started working my way up the ridge, using the switchback logging roads to my advantage. It was getting hot in the sun and I took my time, working my way to the top. I was 100 yards from the top when I checked the time. 11 o'clock on the dot. I hadn't heard a gobble in about a half hour and was running out of time. I carefully and quietly made it to the top of the hill and as soon as I broke over the top, two boomed CLOSE. I don't know if they heard my feet rustling the leaves and thought I was a hen or what but something made then sound off as soon as I hit the top of the ridge. I found the closest tree and set up as fast as I could. I let out some really soft purrs and clucks and they hammered again, extremely close. I could hear them walking now and knew that they were on top of me. I saw a head pop up just over a rise in the logging road and then disappear again. He crossed the road and started cutting through the woods to my left. He went behind a big pile of brush and I positioned the gun in his direction. I then caught movement back on the logging road, and there was the other one looking for the "hen". I thought then that maybe I had screwed up because I has my gun in between the two of them and now one was looking right at me and I couldn't move. Luckily the second one followed the lead bird behind the brush and I was able to get ready. The lead bird them let out an ear shattering gobble and then stepped into an opening at 25 yards. The TruGlo bead was on the base of his neck in a snap and BOOM, he was down for the count. I looked at the time, 11:20.
Whew! I am not the type of person that ever thinks they DESERVE anything, but I sure felt like I deserved this bird. I put a lot of time and miles in and it finally paid off with an 18 lb 3 year old, with a 10" beard and 1 1/8" spurs. Not sure why he was so light but apparently he was spending more time strutting and gobbling and wasn't eating very much. When I took care of him, he only had 2 blades of grass in his crop at 11:20.
Anyway, one of the best hunts ever with nonstop action all morning that culminated in one of my best birds ever.