If we had given up and gone in at 0900, we would have still counted it a success. This was the last hunt Angus was going to make as a youth hunter. Around 0830 this morning, a gobbler honored one of my calls way way out. He was well off the property, so we decided to pick up from the Honey Hole and close the distance a little.
This had been a trying Opener to Kentucky’s Spring Gobbler Season. Saturday, we had lots of turkeys at flydown, but they all hit the ground and took off for the south east corner of the property without any further action the rest of the day. This morning, we came back to the Honey Hole– only place on the farm with any action whatsoever, and was greeted by a blank. The gobblers that were sounding off were way off the property.
Sunrise came and went at 0700. By 0830, I was contemplating an early exit from camp. The latest weather report was dim. High winds would start soon and last until sundown. Then would come rain, thunderstorms, falling temperatures and eventually an inch or better of snow. Things would not moderate until Wednesday afternoon. We had heard only a few shots in two days– the lowest I had ever heard over an Opening Weekend. I had been throwing an exciting yelp here and there just to test what was out there. Finally a gobbler honored one of the runs, but he sounded far off.
Just for grins, I had Angus mount up and we headed back towards the southern extreme of the property– about a quarter mile from the Honey Hole. About half of the way there, the gobbler answered us, and it was obvious he was coming. We set up an ambush along the road to the campground. Angus was in front. I moved back up the road a bit with the idea of calling the bird past him. There was a tense few minutes. Finally I saw Angus’ gloves come off, and he walked back to me. The bird had come to him by way of the turnout to the campground, instead of the main track. Angus slewed his barrel and had briefly had the bird in his sights at 30 yards, but had opted for a better shot as the bird came out in the open. However, his barrel nicked a seedling ash tree, and the resulting movement was enough to send the bird back from where he had come. I was too far back to see any of this. My son was happy for the chance, and we adjourned back to the Honey Hole.
Along about 0930 things were looking for dismal. The forecasted wind began to gust. We resolved to leave by 1000 if nothing developed. I kept up the occasional yelps, now adding cackles and such from my home-brew shamanic slate-over-glass pot call. After a few tries we got another answer. This was down the hill from us. The pasture directly in front of the Honey Hole drops off quickly, about 20 feet in the 60 yards to the treeline. There was a gobbler and a hen out in that treeline, and the gobbler was answering my calls, but not really walking all over them. The hen was responding, however. I was getting her cranked up rather sincerely. Turkeys have come from this treeline before, but usually circle to the left or right and avoid the steeper part of the ridge directly in front. Neither Angus or I had on our face nets or gloves– we really were not expecting much.
The broom sedge is tall and thick out in front of the Honey Hole growing to within 10 yards or so of the tree line. Suddenly this amber wall parted, and a hen turkey emerged like an exotic dancer from behind a bamboo curtain. She crossed the 10 yards of emerald lawn and stood there, staring at me. I was transfixed. Indeed we both were, for she had the sun in her eyes and I was in deep shade with my shoulders buried in the breadth of the rotting trunk of an old tree. I whispered to Angus not to move. The hen was behind his head, off the back of his left shoulder.
For a good long time, she hovered about in the green grass looking straight at me, and finally decided to go in search of the hen that had been calling. She went a few yards up to my left and then came back to the right and crossed in front of Angus. When her view was completely blocked by the large cedar that shields and protects the Honey Hole, I told Angus to move carefully and get his gloves and net in place. I did the same.
In a few minutes the hen returned and this time entered the treeline, coming in behind a large tree about 10 yards to our south. She could not see Angus, but I was in full view to her. All the while, the gobbler was down the hill having a fit. I was hoping she would pass through the treeline and out into the field behind us. However, this hen decided that now would be a good time to clean herself. She pecked away at her feathers, oblivious to the two shotguns pointing her way.
At last the gobble showed himself. He advanced from the edge of the broom sedge and immediately broke into a strut. The hen was unimpressed and kept up her preening. Angus had the best shot and the gobbler going from half to full strut before stepping into an opening in the weeds.
“Roll that sumbitch!” I hissed, and Angus complied.
The gobbler was a 2 year old with a half-blond beard that went 9 inches. He sported a left spur of 1″ and the right one was 1 1/8″. Angus has decided to opted to call for SuperCore when he comes back next weekend.