He’d been played with before. Two weeks earlier on Youth Weekend. My boy and I came tantalizingly close to bagging his first gobbler (See “A Boy’s First Turkey Hunt”). If not for an ill-advised blowdown, he would have had the tom at approximately 30 yards. Alas, it was for naught.
Two weeks later, my son and I made our way back to the scene of the crime, in a thicket of hardwoods and blowdowns, about 50 yards off a field edge. Facing the same direction as before, I hit my diaphragm mouth call, mixing yelps with soft clucks, as if to tease, “Come here, big boy.” He responded immediately, just over a bank in the woods inside the field. He was barely out of sight.
We hastily sat down against a big tree. I let the bird gobble his head off for two to three minutes. When he shut up, I hit him with the sweet and seductive stuff. Boom! He’s coming! My boy got into shooting position. We should see the turkey any moment!
Except we didn’t. He never crested the hill. He just stood there in one spot, voicing his frustration as to why the “hen” wouldn’t come to him. Well, it was a mix of frustration and a welcoming invite at the same time. However, it became clear that I was going to have to go to him. We played this game for more than 30 minutes. The bird would gobble and when he stopped, I would entice him some more.
Finally, the turkey shoved off, heading the other direction to the middle of the field. There was no way to get closer without being spotted. Desperately, I laid it all on the line for him, giving myself up for him, mixing yelps with clucks, purrs, and cuts. No dice. He kept gobbling but getting further and further away.
Unlike two weeks before, he wasn’t coming to me. He’d played that game and it nearly cost him. No, this bird had been educated. He may not have been convinced that the yelping and clucking WASN’T a hen, but he was not going to walk into shotgun range to find out. Not this time.