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Lots of Time to get That Gobbler

posted Monday, April 30, 2012 at 3:58 PM by Frank Jezioro

By Frank Jezioro – Director, West Virginia Division of Natural Resources

The first day of Spring Gobbler Season dawned with a howling wind, pelting snow and rain in most of the state.  Many like me didn’t see the need to battle the elements and knew that there was plenty of time to put that gobbler in the freezer.  The second day was better but there didn’t seem to be a lot of gobbling activity where I was.  I heard one distant bird a time or two and one shot so far off that I couldn’t tell for sure what direction it came from.  But Wednesday morning broke clear, calm and bright.  Shortly after daylight I heard a gobbler out the ridge from me and another far over the mountain, near the creek bottom.  I eased out the ridge toward the closer one and found a big tree to back up against.  Quietly as possible I unfolded my little hen decoy and stuck it in the ground about 25 yards to my right and in plain sight for the turkey to see from any direction it approached.  While I was getting set up, the gobbler continued gobbling.

Lots of Time to get That Gobbler Finally in position, I took out the call and made a couple of soft calls.  To my surprise, there was complete silence.  I waited a few minutes but still no gobble from out the ridge I was on.  I did hear the one over the mountain gobble again but dead silence on my level.  The woods weren’t as thick as I thought they would be after the warm weather and maybe he saw me moving as I got set up?  This was the only thing I could come up with as to why he quit gobbling.  After a few more minutes I decided to see if I could raise the one over the mountain. 

This time I took out the old Lynch box call that I purchased in 1961 while in high school.   This old call has accounted for numerous turkeys in both the spring and fall.  When I need to reach out with some volume it is what I depend on.  While I was chalking it up the bird over the mountain gobbled again.  I gave out four loud helps with the old box and the gobbler fired right back.  That was encouraging so I called again.  This time there was no response.  Not wanting to call too much I put the call down and sat there.  In a few minutes the bird gobbled again and I could tell he was closer.  Again I called but again no immediate gobble came back. 

Again I waited and in a couple of minutes he gobbled again, and again he was closer.  Now I figured out that he knew where I was and he was coming.  This time I waited a couple of minutes and gave out a couple of soft yelps.  I had positioned myself so that if a turkey came up the mountain it would have to pop up onto the flat I was on and be within 45 yards or so.  I had the gun up on my knee now and had it pointed where I thought the bird would come up onto the flat.  I had my mask on but didn’t take time to fix it over my ears so that I could hear better.

Now I could hear the turkey walking in the leaves a little more to the left than I thought it would be.  I shifted the gun over to that direction and then heard the turkey walking more to the right of where I had been watching.  Quickly I moved the gun back to the right.  Now I was hearing two turkeys and they were both on the right and left.  Which way to watch, which one would pop up for a shot first?  All of this was going through my head when the question was answered for me.  From the left came three deer walking along and feeding.  The wind was at my back and right to them.

At the same time I saw the head of the turkey pop over lip of the flat and right in front of me.  He took a few steps and stopped behind a clump of greenbrier but I could still see his blue-white head and red waddle.  It was clear that he could see the decoy and the deer.  I didn’t move, the deer didn’t move and the turkey didn’t move.  But in a few seconds he began to gobble.  He gobbled four or five times wanting the hen to respond, I was sure.  Then the deer took a step and looked right at me.  When they did the turkey took a step, putting his head and neck in the clear.  I knew that in any second things were going to happen. The deer were going to start blowing and running, the turkey would duck back over the edge and I would be there empty handed. 

One quick adjustment and the bead was on the turkey’s head.  The instant the gun cracked, he flattened on the ground and began to thrash about.  The deer went over the mountain as I rushed toward the turkey.  There was no need to hurry, as he was hit hard and soon stopped moving.  It had been a beautiful morning to be out.  The hunt went off as perfectly as it could have and I had my spring gobbler at 7 a.m.    When things go right it seems easy.  When they don’t it often seems impossible.  It is that challenge of  not knowing the outcome that makes hunting so thrilling and exciting for those of us that truly love being out on those wonderful West Virginia mornings.

Don’t get discouraged by the on-again-off-again weather we have had since the opening of spring gobbler season.  There is plenty of time and, from what I am hearing from other hunters, the old gobblers are really getting fired up now as a lot of the hens are on their nests and the old toms are cruising the country.  Be safe, make absolutely sure of your target and know where the shot is going if you miss and get out to enjoy one West Virginia’s top hunting traditions.

(Note: West Virginia’s Spring Gobbler Season continues through May 19, 2012.)

Frank Jezioro
Great blog!
posted on Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 2:38 PM by Julie McKowen
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