I was lucky enough to have my Dad go hunting with me this morning. It is only the second time he has ever gone turkey hunting, so I hoped I'd be able to get a bird in range or at least hear a bunch of birds. It's also my last day of turkey hunting this year, so I hoped it would turn out to be a great morning.
We got out to the farm at 5:30, and at 5:50 heard our first bird. He was in the same place I have been hearing birds the other two days I hunted this season. We eased back towards the birds, and as we crested a hill to drop into the woods, four other gobblers fired up. I pinpointed where they all were, and Dad and I set up 100 yards due East of where the hen was roosted the other day. It turned out that the two closest gobblers were in the same tree she was. The boys put on a show, and we must have heard about 150 gobbles before they flew down.
I started doing some tree yelps and was getting regular answers from the two gobblers in the tree West of us, as well as the other three to the South. We were lucky enough to be able to see one of the gobblers strut while he was in the tree. I did a flydown call, and about 5 minutes later both birds flew down towards us. The birds got quiet for awhile, and then I did a cutting sequence and we got lots of gobbles from everywhere, all within 200 yards.
A few minutes later, I started scratching the ground, trying to sound like a feeding hen. I also clucked and purred and all of a sudden, GOBBBBBBLLLLLEE, right in our faces, within 50 yards.
Unfortunately I set Dad and I up in a bad way, even though it was a good spot. Instead of sitting together, we were 10 yards apart. I should have sat with him so I could talk him through the process, but instead I had to whisper loudly, and when the bird was close, not at all. He was also torqued around to his left to try and get on where the bird was coming from.
Then, a white head came down the trail.20 yards, no shot. Bird hangs up, I cluck, and he starts walking. Ten yards from Dad and still no shot. It was a Jake, with a 5 inch beard, so I figured Dad couldn't see it and wasn't sure about shooting. Being afraid the bird would see us and run, I purred and he stuck his head up, but still no shot! So I hissed SHOOOOOT, right as Dad shot and the bird turned away. The bird flew a few feet, and then headed for the hills.
Turns out Dad couldn't see a beard so he was hesitant to shoot. He also had a small tree in the way, and because I was at a different angle I didn't realize he couldn't shoot. Needless to say, I am distraught, but Dad is laughing it off and saying how much fun it was. He's right, it's about the hunt, not the kill. I need to realize that I am still pretty new at this, so our combined inexperience is what cost us this bird.
This was probably the best hunt of any kind I have been on. It was beautiful this morning, there were lots of birds around, and we had a very close encounter with a bird. The best part is that I got to share it with my Dad, and I think I may be getting closer to getting him hooked on turkeys...
Here's a video that I took right before fly down. The gobbler answers my calls right at the end of the clip.