Success in Pennsylvania


Getting it done before the rain moved in.

I’ve been pretty busy with work so I was pretty happy to get a day off to go chase turkeys by myself.  I normally hunt on public land up here in Pa but I’ve been hunting clients on some private ground that’s a little closer to our home base.  After finishing with most of my hunting clients for the year, I figured I might as well hunt there myself.  We’ve hit this place pretty hard and I’m going to move on to a new patch of ground for my remaining hunters, but I was pretty sure I could squeeze one more bird out of there.

The turkeys here have gobbled pretty good, albeit a little late in the morning.  I have been out here almost every morning for the past month and aside from a few mornings, the birds haven’t made a sound until they flew down.  Kind of weird.  I know where they roost and a lot of times I hear them fly down, but they will not gobble on the limb.  Their normal gobble time of 6:45 came and went, but I never heard a thing.  Undeterred, I sat still and pulled out my slow and steady tactic of clucking and purring every 15 minutes or so.  I had a commanding view of the area from where I was so I sat tight.  I knew they were out there somewhere, so it made no sense to leave.  Around 9, a bird shock gobbled at a crow about 300 yards away on the neighbors property.  I got creative with my calling and tried to make him respond but no dice.  Back to the clucking and purring.

Around 10 o’clock I heard a distinct sound that was not like the normal bird chirps of the spring woods.  A sound I’d know anywhere…a gobbler spitting.  No drumming, just spitting.  Then I spied the top of his fan over the mayapples in front of me.  Then his head, crown glowing like a light bulb, finally appeared. He was probably 40 yards out just standing there in full strut.  The undergrowth in the mountains has really popped out in the past few days and rather than rush the shot through the thick stuff I just watched him as he moved toward an opening.  Now drumming as well, he just stood there blown up turning left then right.  Behind him were two more long beards, just standing and looking.  What I failed to see was the hen they had with them that kept getting closer to me.  I noticed her about the time she noticed me at 10 yards to my right.  She never spooked but she knew something was askew.  She did that weird head cocked to the side look turkeys give when they can’t make something out and started turning away from me getting ready to make an exit. Knowing I had just a few seconds before she boogered and ran everyone off, I decided to shoot the strutter as soon as he faced me.  I know you’re not supposed to shoot strutting turkeys, but you have to do what have to do.  He turned and the old A5 roared, knocking him flat on his back.  He didn’t even flop.

As I get older, I realize the things my dad taught me about turkey hunting when I was growing up are very true.  Two of his lessons rang true this morning.  1.) They don’t have to gobble to kill them.  2.) Patience kills more turkeys than anything.  I knew there were at least 4 gobblers that weren’t killed on this place.  I was in their house.  It’s where they live and to kill them, you have to live there too.  I wound up with a 21 pound gobbler and one hell of an exciting end to an otherwise mundane morning…all because I sat still and didn’t quit when I didn’t hear anything. Turkeys don’t get the luxury of leaving when the weather is bad or if they get tired of being out there and neither can you.  They just walk around all day.  They’re gregarious animals, and they will investigate sounds of other turkeys.  They aren’t always in a hurry,  but they’ll make it eventually.  Like I’ve said before, it may not be the most exciting method, but it gets the job done when the conditions call for it.  It was a fantastic way to cap my season and I’m looking forward to taking my remaining hunters.  Let’s just hope the birds are a little more vocal.