Saturday, July 7, 2012

Success During the Last New Jersey Spring Turkey Hunting Period

I have to admit, I have not hunted much since I shot the jake back on April 29. I tried to wake up! Honest!

Since this week and next are the final turkey hunting period in New Jersey ('Week E'), I wanted to make sure to hunt at least a few more times. So, I set my alarm clock for 3:45 AM this morning and headed to the the turkey woods.

I wanted to try a different spot, so I went to a turkey hunting location where I almost had some birds last year. I set two turkey decoys in a freshly planted field on the edge of a woods and found a nice tree. I leaned back against the tree about 5:00 AM and faced the woods. Around 5:15, I heard at least 5 birds gobbling no more than 30 yards from me. I hurriedly repositioned myself about 10-15 yards closer to the gobbles. By 5:30, the birds were gobbling incessantly to my left, while several hens were yelping to my right! What luck! I set up in a perfect spot! Well, almost.

Since I was so close to the birds, I began calling softly with a diaphragm call. Every time I called, the birds would gobble back. (In fact, they gobbled at a passing ambulance's siren, a calling crow, and some blue jays.) I had to compete with live hens who felt the need to yelp like there was no tomorrow, so I made a couple slate calls. I then heard a sound I never heard before. Directly above me, in the tree I was sitting against, I heard a one-note cackle-gobble-yelp. Yes, that is the only way I can explain it. It was so loud it scared me! A couple minutes later, I saw and heard a hen fly out of the tree and land on the edge of the field. I watched to see if it looked spooked, but she didn't seem to care. However, I heard no more gobbling and no more yelping.

Fearing I spooked the birds with my hand movements on the slate call, I almost moved. I looked to my right, and my eyes caught some movement. I then saw about 12 birds all walking -- silently -- toward me! I quickly scanned and saw about 7 jakes and a handful of hens. One hen walked within 5 yards of me! I really wanted a nice tom, but I didn't see any! Then... I saw a final bird bringing up the rear. With most of the birds strutting, I could tell that none was a mature tom. However, this last one, looked a bit bigger and had a longer beard, though it still was not dragging the ground. The birds were within shooting range for at least 10 minutes. Seeing no true trophies, I decided to take the biggest bird.

I already had my Remington 11-87 resting on my knee with the butt against my shoulder. I still had to get the gun the remaining 10 inches or so to eye level before I could shoot. With so many birds so close, I knew I had to be quick. Picking the biggest turkey, I raised the gun in a split second, leveled the sights on the target, and squeezed. He dropped instantly.

With turkeys flushing everywhere like a covey of wild quail, I jumped up to retrieve the downed bird. As I did, a giant tom flew from the tree I was sitting against! Can you believe it? That bird must have made the phantom cackle-gobble-yelp. He probably saw me walk in and never flew down. Even with all those other birds on the ground, this smart old bird chose to stay silent and roosted.

This big boy's smarts enabled him to live another day.

1 comment:

  1. Hi – Will you please post a link to your Blog at The Turkey Hunting Community at vorts.com? Our members will love it.
    Members include: Turkey Hunters, Guides, Outfitters, Experts, etc.
    It's easy to do, just cut and paste the link and it automatically links back to your website… it’s a win win. You can also add Photos, Videos and Classifieds if you like. It’s free and easy.
    Email me if you need any help or would like me to do it for you.
    The Turkey Hunting Community: http://www.vorts.com/turkey_hunting/
    Thanks,
    James Kaufman, Editor

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