jake back on April 29. I tried to wake up! Honest!
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
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.
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.
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
This big boy's smarts enabled him to live another day.