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On Halloween day 2020 I decided that I would be doing an all day sit at our families land around our cabin in Snyder county. It's a small 11 acre piece on the side of a steep ridge. Thankfully that morning I had decided to throw my 17 WSM in the car so I could make a switch at lunch time to turkey hunt if the deer didn't cooperate. I had seen turkeys on just about every hunt this season so I thought the chances were pretty good that I would happen upon one. At daylight, I was sitting at the bottom of the ridge in a stand of hemlocks in a transition area for deer. For turkeys, I really wanted to try out a new strategy of aggressive calling imitating a boss hen at a food source. I had read a few articles over the summer and fall that spoke of having some success with similar tactics. Out of curiosity, I let out a series of clucks , cutts and cackles interspersed with some rapid yelping right at daybreak on the Cody glass call. A minute went by and I had just started to put the call back in my pocket when I heard a hen cluck behind me 150 yards above me and 40 or so yards east of me. She yelped, I waited a few seconds and yelped back. Then, she let out a putt and started drifting back west. I'm still not sure what spooked her in that moment because I still could not see her and hadn't moved. She drifted about 100 yards east and then yelped again. Confused, I yelped back and that was when all **** broke loose in the sound department. A more mature hen clucked and yelped aggressively back and she was joined by 4 or 5 other hens from what I could tell. They made every sequence of calls in the book and then I heard a gobbler yelp break through the din. The deep, slow three-yelp sequence was followed by another but I assumed it just the same gobbler. The mature hen got even more excited and increased volume and then THREE GOBBLES right on top of eachother cutting eachother off. This was my first experience hearing gobbles in the fall and a triple to boot. The hens began to quiet and started to drift farther away. I did another agressive series of hen calls which received a response from the hens and 2 more gobbles but they were quickly fading away. The rest of the morning passed uneventfully. At 12 pm I decided to ditch the bow for the 17WSM and head to the top of the ridge above where the turkeys had been in the morning. When I got to the three trees I would choose between, I saw what I thought was a bone laying in the leaves. I gave it a nudge with my toe and out rolled the nicest 4 point shed I have found to date. A little gnawed on but still an awesome little decoration for my gun room. Seeing that as as good an omen as any, I chose that tree. I got settled in by 1 pm and around 1:30 the wind picked up. From that point until around 5 I only got three good breaks in the 14ish MPH winds to let out an aggressive call sequence. No responses came. I decided that at 5:30 I would do one last call sequence. The time came, and the wind actually broke just long enough for me to call. As the last cluck on the Cody call faded, I dropped my call back in my pocket and my striker hit something in the other pocket right as I thought I heard a cluck from behind me and on my right. I was setup facing east on the ridge with the sun at my back and had the gun on the left side of the tree but was not ready for turkeys to come in behind me. I thought maybe it had been my imagination but I always get ready just in case. As I put my hand around the stock of the gun. Three clucks in fairly rapid succession came from just over a slight rise 70 yards away. The gun caught on something and as I struggled to get the gun to hand, I saw the first hens head crest the rise. Luckily with the gun on the opposite side of the tree, I was able to get it unstuck while flattening myself against the tree to keep out of sight. Three hens all but ran to 50 yards, the biggest one and one smaller stopped just past the crest of the small rise on high alert looking for the hen that they thought they would find. I should have had a decoy out in hindsight. One of the small hens continued in, stopping behind a thick hemlock 40 yards away. The other small hen turned and stepped behind a big oak tree. The larger bird spun in circles looking all over for the source of the calls. When she turned facing away I eased the gun up to my shoulder and tucked my shoulder against the tree. When she turned broadside, I placed the crosshairs on the point of her left wing and touched the trigger. She dropped and the other birds scattered. Then, to my surprise, she regained her feet and took three running steps taking off and flew (more like flopped) into a smaller gnarled oak tree at the top of the ridge. In disbelief I put the gun to my cheek and struggled to find an opening to her. Luckily she was facing away from me, looking back over her shoulder offering a spine shot with the trunk of a big oak behind offering a backstop. I put the crosshairs just below the top of the rise in her back and touched the trigger again. This time she crumpled and hung for a moment before falling with a "thump" in the leaves below out of sight. I walked quickly but cautiously to the top of the hill and as I crested it, I could see her laying at the base of the tree. Then, I saw a flash of what I was sure was antler 10 yards behind her in a small patch of greenbriars. There stood a spike buck looking bewildered. He gave a snort and took off down the ridge. Walking down to the turkey, I found a bed 2 steps from where she lay on the ground and could see the marks where the bucks hooves had dug into the ground just outside the bed. I can't imagine what it must be like to be minding your own business when a turkey falls out of a tree practically on top of you!
Note: On inspection of the turkey, the first shot had broken the left wing right at the point but had not achieved a whole lot of penetration in the body cavity (I'm still not sure how she flew up 12 feet into a tree. The second shot was true and broke the spine and penetrated body cavity well. I had struggled with taking the 17 WSM for turkey before season but had read in depth and had looked at the performance on other species before deciding on the shots I would take. I learned my lesson and will (if I take the 17 WSM at all) be aiming for a base of the neck shot instead. The bullet hit dead on the joint in the wing so I would assume there was enough bone and soft tissue there to fragment the bullet before it passed into the body cavity. Definitely thankful that this story turned out with the hen on the ground and lessons were learned.
 

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