The alarm went off at 4:30, and I woke up and got dressed. Some guys pulled in and parked near me. They headed up the trail and I followed about 15 minutes behind them. After a while I caught up to them. I told them that since we were the only people hunting this mountain today, we should make sure we did not both try to hunt the same place. I said I wanted to hunt down the south ridge. They replied that was where they wanted to hunt. So I said I would hunt on south ridge, but on the other side of the creek. They said that the previous week some other hunter called in a turkey and they heard every gobble it made until the guy shot it.
I found my spot to cross the creek in the dark without getting lost, most unusual. I have contemplated purchasing a GPS so I can find my way through the poison oak thickets without getting lost! I even found my wading stick that I stashed and use most years (I don’t get to use it when I get lost). I crossed the creek and set up along the edge of a hillside meadow. I figured a turkey might come through the thick stuff along the creek.
I set up my hen decoy and sat there 20 minutes. I heard my first gobble well after light at 6:50. The gobbler sounded pretty far away over a small hill. It was good to know one was in the area. I figured it probably had hens with it already and I might have a chance after 10 a.m. when the hens went off to build their nests. Someplace between me and the gobbler, a real hen replied to the gobbler. He gobbled back a couple times and eventually I could tell he was coming my direction.
Up to this point, I have never called a gobbler in. My friend called one in for me in 2006 and it was too cool!!! The gobbler came up the hill, saw the decoy, went into full strut mode walking in a zigzag pattern right past me 30’ away and up to the decoy. At that point it got suspicious and my buddy said “Take him”, so I flattened the gobbler. My buddy said that gobbler was angry and aggressive because gobblers expect the hens to come to them and the decoy was not capable of doing that. Most other gobblers I have shot were deer hunting style, either sneak up and shoot, or sit and wait for one to come by.
I called a couple times and he gobbled back. I never heard the real hen call again. After 15 minutes I saw a turkey walk through a small clearing about 150 yards away. I expected the turkey to come through the brush, but he was walking along the open hillside meadow. He came into view at about 100 yards and had no hens with him. I thought “I might be able to bag this guy”. I was concerned that the real hen would intercept him before he got in range and lead him away. I called, he gobbled. He responded to each of my calls denoting he was very interested.
When he was about 75 yards away and hidden by some trees I put the gun up. I was in full camo with gloves and face mask sitting against a pine tree. My decoy was sitting 25 yards in front of me. The gobbler continued walking on my left and was online to pass by me out of range at about 50 yards. It saw the decoy and stared at it. At this point, he was supposed to run up to the decoy so I could shoot him. The decoy is supposed to attract the full attention of the gobbler so he doesn’t look around and spot the hunter. This gobbler looked at the decoy and kept walking. When he went behind some bushes I re-aimed the shotgun and called again.
It must have sounded good because the gobbler then walked straight at me for 20 yards, closing the range to 30 yards. He went behind a tree and I repositioned the shotgun and pushed the safety off. Slight mistake there. The very audible click of the safety caused the gobbler to just stand and look, well in range, but obscured by the tree and bushes. I should have taken the safety off much sooner or used two fingers on it to reduce the noise.
Anyway, the gobbler walked out and I flattened it!!! It was 7:25. I suspect those guys hunt across the creek heard every gobble and the shot. Glad they bumped me from my usual spot!! The turkey cooked up real nice! Delicious!!