The sky was clear & the moon was really bright as I made the trek in this morning. So I knew it was going to be a challenge to get in tight. I decided to try the roost site I visited a few days ago that ended up being empty aside from a single longbeard. I was hoping they'd be back in there! When I reached the top of the ridge, I took a break to get in sneak mode. But when I searched the treetops with my binoculars, I couldn't see any birds! I eased a little closer & kept looking as I went...still nothing! I continued on & then finally found a few high up in the treetops. They were on the top of the ridge in a big oak tree instead of at the lip of the ridge where they normally are. I could only see maybe a half dozen or so & I hoped there would be more! Then I could see a few more in another big oak past them maybe 50 yards or so. The problem was, I would have to walk directly under the first group to get to where I wanted to be. I was concerned because the moon was so bright. So I crept towards the first group as quiet as I possibly could & managed to pull it off. I reached another large red oak where I would set up shop. As I quietly added another layer of clothes, I noticed the moon was beginning to drop in the sky & wasn't nearly as bright as it was when I left the truck. So I decided to go another 20 yards & put out another microphone in an opening where I hoped some of the birds would pitch down. I was fortunate to pull that off, sneak back & get set up...The first sounds to be heard were tiny, little clucks from a bird off my left shoulder. Then a gobble from another bird behind me off my left shoulder. Immediately following the gobble came a jake calk/gobble from what sounded like where the clucking came from. Then a turkey in front of me (which sounded like a hen) hopped limbs, flapping her wings & giving a short cackle! The gobbling slowly increased & so did the jake calking. Every now & then, I could hear a gobbler spitting as he strutted on the limb behind me. Then a hen joined in with some soft, but excited tree yelps! The sound of robins singing was more evident today than I can remember so far this year. As the eastern sky began to get an orange glow, a few of the hens began to tree yelp more! A few of the birds in front of me were moving around & preening, but some were still sitting with their heads tucked behind their wings. Then the gobbling really picked up which got the hens talking more! I zoomed in on a hen in front of me that was still sitting down when I got enough camera light. She would preen for a while, look around & yelp from time to time. The excitement built more & more from all the birds until finally, one of them piched down! I could tell the hen I was zoomed in on had a beard! A few more birds pitched down & the bearded hen began to yelp more, stood up & flew down right at me yelping as she came! It sounded like she landed right on my other microphone, which was directly behind me! One by one, they all pitched down (some of them landing right where I wanted them too)! I could hear the sound of wing beats, fighting purrs, spitting & drumming, gobbling yelping & rustling of leaves in my left ear because they were all around my other microphone! Another hen in front of me cackled as she made her descent! The commotion around my other microphone continued for a while then I could tell most of them had moved away from it. Then I could hear the sound of wings flogging hard! It sounded like a fight behind me & off my right shoulder! I slowly eased my head that way & could see two longbeards going at it! I couldn't turn the camera that way, so I just watched it unfold out of the corner of my eyes. Eventually the victor chased the other bird off, the entire flock slowly moved away from me & headed towards a pasture. I gave them some time & snuck out as another bird gobbled down off the point below me. I was glad I decided to give that roost site another try after it was all but empty the other morning!
Sunrise: 7:00 a.m.
Temperature: 28 degrees (clear & sunny)
Barometer: 30.11 & steady
Location: Southwest Pennsylvania
# of gobbles heard: 200