Saturday, February 19, 2011
The Clear Cut Gobbler!
With Turkey season 2011 fast approaching, I sat down tonight with my turkey vest to become reacquainted with all of my gear. As I was checking all of my pockets for everything that a good turkey hunter needs, I came across a spent shell with the words "Clear Cut Gobbler" written on it. I was taken back to a wonderful morning in April of 2010 when I had in fact killed a very nice 3 year old gobbler with a nice beard and 1 1/2 inch spurs. It was not the biggest turkey that I have ever killed, nor was it the most memorable turkey hunt that I have ever been on, but it was still very special to me because it was my first hunt in which I did it all by myself. My turkey killing machine father was not on this trip and the pupil became the master for once in his turkey hunting life.
This story starts on a morning hunt that produced no gobblers. Daddy and I had tried to get a bird to talk to us for most of the morning with no luck. I have always hunted turkeys with my Dad and I let him do all of the calling and I also let him determine how we plan to attack. If hey says lets go this way, we go. If he make a suggestion to do something a certain way, we do it. I really do not mind because he has killed more turkeys than me and usually gets his limit each year. He hunts every morning of the season and is in tune with what the birds are up to. Most of the time anyway!
As we were heading home, I threw out a suggestion that we stop the truck on the edge of the woods before we reached the clear cut and see if we could get one to gobble. He stopped and I got out and grabbed a new box call that I had put in my vest. He was content to let me call because it was later in the morning and we really didn't have anything to loose anyway. I hit a few yelps and we had a gobbler thunder back from a long way off. We quickly grabbed gear and headed for a place to get set up on the edge of the clear cut away from the truck and closer to the gobbler. Daddy said to hit that thing again. I did and the Tom fired right back. We sat down and started the dance. We called and he would answer but it became clear that he was not coming in our direction. I sat up to get a better look and thought I saw something in the road about 400 yards away. I fished out my binoculars and it was easy to see our big boy strutting up and down the road in the middle of the clear cut. Hens were all around him and we didn't have a hope in calling him away from them. We let him be.
I spoke up and said that we should try and walk into the middle of the clear cut before daylight and set up on that bird. I didn't get the impression that Daddy thought that was the best of ideas, so I just filed it away determined to make my plan work.
Daddy was out of town working and I got the ok from my wonderful boss to come in late for work on a Wednesday morning. I told my wife that I was going hunting and her reply was, "but your Daddy is out of town." I told her I was going alone and she asked me "do you know how?" Hell yes I know how and I was going to prove to myself that I could do this on my own using my own tactics and my own calling. Daddy had hunted earlier in the week, but he had not hunted the clear cut gobbler. I was determined!
I parked the truck and gathered all of my gear. I was going to have to make a 1/4 mile hike to get to the place where I saw the Tom the weekend before. I made it in plenty of time and set my decoy up in the middle of the road. There were no trees in the middle of this clear cut so I backed up to an old dirt pile and set up my little blind in front of me. I waited for daylight and for the woods around me to come alive. Since the gobbler had responded to the box call the weekend before, I figured I would try that this morning. The box call is a Wet Willy box call from Knight and Hale. It has a high pitch and sounds great. It is also loud and the closest roosting turkey to my location would have to be over 250 yards away if he was there at all. He was there! He started responding to my calling efforts right off the bat. I mixed in some soft calling from my mouth call and then I just shut up. He kept thundering the clear cut and boiling my blood at the same time. I would let him go on for a while and then I would softly purr. He would fire right back so I knew that he knew exactly where I was. He gobbled a few more times and I let a few minutes pass. It got to the point where you start to wonder if the turkey is on the ground or not, so I reached over and picked up Willy. I hit a few notes and he thundered back, still in the tree. I sat the call back down on the ground and looked up. Standing not 50 yards directly in front of me was two bright red heads. As my eyes focused and my brain caught up to what was happening, it became clear that my gobbling turkey was still in the tree, but these silent turkeys were already here.
The bachelor pair, made up of a young jake and his studly paint brush wearing friend, were making their way through a clean area among the cut out tree tops. They stepped into the road just South of my set up. They saw the decoy and the big boy started to put on a show. He blew up and started his best "come to me moves". His buddy was trailing right behind him as they moved closer towards me. I was able to slowly lift my Browning NWTF Turkey Special and fix my florescent sight on the big gobblers head. I would like to tell you that I sat there and watched the big bird strut around a few minutes and admire all his beauty, but that just ain't me. As soon as he got close enough, I let him hold it. He didn't take it very well and his day was ended just as fast as it started. His little buddy took off when he saw me jump up from my stand. I gathered my stuff, admired my bird and called Daddy!!!
I believe my exact words were "I got 'em!" He knew what I was talking about because I told him the night before what I had planned. I sent him a picture of his spurs and was headed home. My total hunt time was less than 30 minutes.
Remember how I said that my gobbling gobbler was still in the tree? You can see where this is going. Since I did not have to use my "come to work late ticket" on Wednesday morning, I asked for another on Friday morning. Permission granted. This time Daddy was going with ME. I parked in the same place. Set the decoys up in about the same place. I let Daddy pick the set up spot and he chose one better than I had on Wednesday morning (that's why he is the pro). We got settled in and I showed Daddy the direction that the birds had come from and where I thought they would be roosted. I sat back and waited for him to start calling. He finally asked me what I was waiting for. He wanted to see me in action. I got Willy again and sang a little song that cut out across the morning. BAM! He answered! We played cat and mouse for a while and things finally got quite. I got ready. I heard Daddy say "there he is". Would you believe that there was again two turkeys? One jake, one gobbler, walking down the same path as two days before. Daddy told me to shoot the gobbler and that he was letting the jake go. He did some soft purring on his call as I readied the Browning. I dropped my second clear cut gobbler of the week not 15 yards from where I dropped the first. The pupil had become the Master! At least for that week!
I'm ready for this season to begin and to get in the woods with Big John! I'll still let him do all the calling and decision making, but at least now I know that he might just ask me what we should do! Besides, he went out and bought himself a Wet Willy box call for his own use so I must be rubbing off on him. I wonder how long it will be before we try that clear cut again?!
I love you Pops! Thanks for teaching me all that I know!