I had to work at 10 on Saturday and just couldn't get out of it, therefore I couldn't make it up to our lease in Hunting Co. I called my cousin, who lives nearby to see if he heard any birds behind his house since he had seen several in late squirrel season in January. He hadn't been up scouting so we went up Friday night, long enough to see some sign and hear one gobble. We got out of there so we didn't spook anything and planned the attack for the morning.
We got up on the mountain before daylight and setup near where the bird gobbled the night before. He sounded off at first light, but just on the other side of the ridge from us. He sounded good. Then other birds in several directions started gobbling. It was on!
After he got down, we could tell he was getting close, then we spotted him come over the ridge. He just wouldn't commit to coming down to us. He strutted and gobbled his head off at 80 yards, passing back and forth three times before leaving. He was a huge bird with a long, thick beard. no doubt the boss gobbler in the area.
He seemed to want to strut on the logging road we were on, but up on the top of the ridge 100 yards away. We quickly re-located to that location and set up. Within 5 minutes we had 2 birds gobbling off to our right...we expected him to come from our left. One was answering every call and getting closer. I whispered to Joe to spin around the tree with me and he did just in time to see movement in the hemlocks. The bird was coming on a string, pausing to strut and gobble. It was an awesome show. As it went behind a large oak, Joe moved the gun to the other side...out popped his head, I whispered "take him" and a load of #4's put him down.
We're not sure it was the same bird as before, but nonetheless a NICE first ever bird for Joe, on his first real spring gobbler hunt. It was funny, sitting shoulder to shoulder, when the bird disappeared behind that tree, Joe was panting like a love-sick dog. I had to re-assure him by jokingly saying "DON'T MISS"! Luckily he didn't. At 25 yards it was a chip shot.
We took some obligatory pics, and since there were several other gobblers in the area an had a little time, decided to sit right there and see what happens. Within 5 minutes Joe whispered "birds to my left". I couldn't move. They were at 30 yards and completely behind me. With Joe to my left and no way to swing around, I could do nothing but watch. They sensed something was wrong and started moving to my right, getting out of range.
Joe tried to get me to swing over him and shoot, but as they walked off, I got a better look. Just as I suspected, FIVE jakes. The first four barely had any beards, the last was about 3". I didn't want to risk it, and I really didn't want a jake. It would have been nice, but there was no need to educate 5 birds and possibly wound one of them risking a long shot. It was fun just to watch. Plenty of season left, maybe we'll get a crack at one next week?
Here's Joe with his hero shot. The bird was a great one. It had a 9.5" beard, weighed 20# and sported 1" spurs. This bird was way bigger than anything I ever got, but it meant more to me to get Joe a bird than to fill the tag myself.
I snapped this on the way out. Aren't they beautiful birds?