It was a hot and sticky morning already when my boy and I headed into the piece of woods behind my house. The thermometer reading 70 degrees at daylight played the deciding hand in how we would approach this day of turkey hunting. While not my preferred method of going after gobblers, the fact that I was able to come up with an alternative strategy, and seeing that strategy almost work, gave me great confidence as I bid adieu to the 2022 turkey season.
There’s a spot everyone has where they expect success or action simply by being there. I have a personal area for whitetail deer where I almost cockily think that just by showing up, I will fill my tag on a nice buck. I also have a similar feeling for this transition line of hardwoods and pines that runs adjacent to a large field. It seems like every time I go there, turkeys are all around me. It was there two weeks prior where my boy and I had a close encounter with a longbeard (See “They Are Hung Up” from May 10).
Getting to our spot is no easy task. We must climb a power line that peaks before rapidly descending to a low gully, and finally taking us on a logging road up another mountainside. While getting to the spot is difficult, it is tempered somewhat by the anticipation of the turkeys that await us. No, it’s the return home, and the excruciating climb back up that is the killer.
The blazing sun and climbing temperatures forced us to alter our normal strategy of running and gunning, which is to stay mobile while occasionally calling, hoping to strike a gobble. There was no way we were trudging through the woods all morning! We decided to head to the line where the pines give way to hardwoods and park it on the edge of a ridge in order to conserve our energy.
It can be a lonely time in the woods when the birds aren’t gobbling. Despite my infrequent calling to let any turkey in the area know a “hen” was there, only the serenading of the songbirds and the occasional chatter from the squirrels filled the airwaves. It’s a time where one can easily close his eyes and drift off to sleep.
The gobble came at about 9:15 AM, arousing us from our slumber. He sounded approximately 100 yards away from directly in front of us, with the thick springtime vegetation blocking our view of him and his view of us. Remembering our tough luck on past turkey hunts where the bird hung up just out of shotgun range, we quickly slipped to the flat spot on top of the ridge and set up shop against a perfectly placed blowdown.
The bird sounded off again, only this time he was heading to out left, still quite a ways off. I decided not to call, hoping the bird would circle to where we were originally seated, which would put him directly in front of us. He went silent for five minutes, before he bellowed again, this time further to our left and going away. I couldn’t stand it any longer and softly clucked to him, to which he responded with another call. He knew where I was now!
Unfortunately, the tom quickly grew tired of me and sauntered off. Despite waiting it out until the noontime shut off, we didn’t have any more action. This was the end of the hunt, and with it the end of another turkey season, as youth sports and other commitments prevented us from getting out into the woods again. While the season was over, it didn’t go away without one last shot at a beautiful northeast bird.