It was a chilly 28 degrees when I got out of the truck this morning @ 4 am. The fog was thick & we got a hard frost overnight which makes it hard to get tight to turkeys on the roost. But I had a mixed flock of roughly 35 birds roosted & I was excited to get out & try to film some turkeys for the first time this year! Not only did I have the crunchy conditions to deal with, but I had to walk right past a lone longbeard in order to get closer to the majority of the other birds. The moon was really bright as well, but the fog helped conceal me. I breathed a sigh of relief when I made it past that lone longbeard! But I still had to sneak another 80 to 100 yards to get within spitting distance of the rest of the flock. It took me an hour to cover that distance, but I managed to pull it off! I stopped just shy of the roosted birds to put some extra clothes on & prepared for the cold, motionless sit. I scanned the treetops with my binoculars & found a cluster of birds. Then I slowly moved within 25 yards of them. I got my tripod & camera set up, got covered up with some leafy-cut material & anxiously waited...Just after 6 o'clock, I could hear a few gobblers begin spitting. It was at least an hour before daybreak, but they were already getting started. Then a hen jumped in with some soft, scratchty, tree yelps & I said to myself "man, I love this!" Other than a few soft clucks & tree yelps, the only sounds being made for the first 30 minutes were the sounds of the gobblers spitting. Then a gobble rang out & made me jump! Just before 7 o'clock a hen began yelping & I could hear a few other birds shaking their feathers. She started to get a little more excited with her yelps & it made a few gobblers sound off again. As the sky began to slowly brighten, I could make out at least 14 birds right in front of me. Then I watched as that same hen began to get louder & raspier with her yelps. The gobblers ate it up! After an hour or so, I was able to make out details with my naked eye. I zoomed in & focused as best I could on one of the strutters. He was standing on the same limb as a hen, within 5 to 6 feet of her. Some of the other hens began to tree call using single & double-note yelps. Then, they too began to get more excited. Another bird, a quarter mile across the hollow began gobbling. Then without warning, (at a little after 7:30) a turkey that was roosted behind me pitched down & landed beside me not 10 yards away! I couldn't turn to see what it was, but it started a chain reaction. A few other birds pitched down & they began fighting! Then several more hens began yelping. One of them had a nice, "boxy" sounding yelp! The majority of the gobblers were the first on the ground & I could hear them strutting in the frosty leaves. I kept the camera zoomed in on the hen that started all the talk. She was still sitting on the limb watching all the birds beneath her. Part of my camera's lens was a little blurry from all the moisture in the air. But I captured some decent footage of her yelping on the limb! Another hen gave a flydown cackle as she decended to the ground. Eventually, the hen I was focused on stood up, turned around & pitched down. There was a lot of racket once the majority of the birds were on the ground. The longbeards strutted around & followed the hens. One hen in particular "played" with one of the longbeards & I thought she might let him breed her. But she stood up when he got close & ran away from him. All in all, it was a pretty good morning! Especially for my first time out this year! They talked really good this morning.
Sunrise: 7:24 a.m.
Temperature: 28 degrees - clear, but really foggy
Location: southwest Pennsylvania
# of gobbles heard: 40-50