In tight

 

When I reached the ridgetop this morning, a siren went off in the distance.  A coyote yipped & howled on a nearby ridge which made a jake "shock yelp," if there is such a thing!  So I knew there were definitely turkeys roosted in there before I was close enough to see them.  It rained overnight, so it made for some quiet walking.  But it was dead calm & you could hear a pin drop.  From what I could see, most of the birds were roosted down off the lip of the ridge & not so much on the ridgetop.  As I inched closer, a jake yelped a few times & I could hear the spitting of gobblers on the limb.  Pretty soon, I could see a couple strutters & my footsteps seemed to get lighter.  I was lucky enough to get really tight & set up about an hour before  sunrise.  I could see a longbeard pretty much directly above me in a tree not more than 5 or 6 yards!  Another longbeard, which seemed to be doing all the strutting, was maybe 15 yards in front of me & just a few feet from him was a hen that was sitting on the same limb.  There was a wad of turkeys roosted 20-30 yards away in a big oak tree.  Most of them were still sitting on the limb, but I could see a few that were standing.  This particular flock has consisted of roughly 40 birds (5 longbeards, maybe 10-15 jakes & the rest hens).  Just before I hit the record button, a hen scratched out a few light tree yelps.  Then another hen answered with some light yelps of her own.  I sat back & awaited the show I was in for.  That one jake was the most talkative turkey for the first ten minutes or so.  Then a couple other jakes would jump in with their bugle-like yelps, followed by a gobble every now & then.  This seemed to get the hens excited & yelping more!  Before long, the hens really started to ramp it up & there was a lot of gobbling!  I can't even explain how I feel when I'm sitting under a bunch of hens that are talking!  I just wish those gobblers would shut up & quit drowning out the beautiful sounds coming out of those hens!!  This went on for probably five to ten minutes.  Finally, I had just enough camera light to zoom in on the longbeard 15 yards in front of me.  He was sitting down but gobbling his head off every time a hen would start to yelp!  Then I panned over to a nearby hen that was looking all around & yelping.  She sounded like a young hen, but she kept "down yelping" as the other hens would yelp & the gobblers would sound off!  Pretty soon, I heard wingbeats & turkeys began to stand up.  The sound of jake & gobbler yelps grew in numbers as they started to pitch down one after another.  Eventually a lot of the hens began to pitch down & graced me with some nice cackles!  By then, I could look out of the corner of my eye & see turkeys on the ground & coming right to me!  There were 5 jakes that walked within 10 feet of me & gave some really pretty clucks & purrs!  After most of the birds were on the ground,  there was one older sounding hen that was still in the tree yelping with such nasal quality that it sounded as if her nose holes were plugged!  Eventually, they all pitched down but most of the birds hung around within 80-100 yards of the roost site for close to an hour.  As soon as I got the chance, I snuck out of there.  But there's nothing like getting in tight like that!

 

Sunrise:  7:08 a.m.

 

Temperature:  37 degrees

 

Wind:  Calm

 

Barometer:  28.42 & steady

 

Location:  southwest PA

 

# of gobbles heard:  100+

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