Justin Newell - West Virginia
Justin & I planned on getting set up before daybreak with decoys in this field saddle just in case there were birds roosted nearby. We got there just in time & as it began to get daylight, we hadn't heard any gobbling yet. It was cool & the sky was crystal clear, just one of those blue bird days we as turkey hunters love. But nothing was gobbling anywhere! Eventually we did hear a bird gobble way off in the distance on a far ridge. Then another distant gobble. As of 6:30, we only heard a total of 4 gobbles from 3 distant birds! Then at 6:37 a hen showed up in the field out beyond our decoys. She slowly pecked her way towards us, but sort of skirted below the lip of the ridge past us. Then at 6:45 or so, another bird started gobbling pretty good across the hollow from us. Justin called to him a few times on a pot call & he hammered back! But he was probably 500 yards away & across a deep hollow. We listened to him gobble for a while, then actually discussed maybe moving on him. But before we did that, I told Justin to drop down into the hollow towards him a little & call to him from there. So Justin went that way maybe 80 yards & started cutting & yelping to him. He jumped all over it! After calling to him for a few minutes, Justin came back up the hill & got set up. Not long after sitting down, that bird gobbled again & it sounded like he was down in the bottom already! A few minutes went by & he gobbled again on our side of the hollow, just below the spot Justin stood & called from! We got ready & the next thing we knew, he was standing twenty-five yards below us staring at our hen decoy. He slowly inched up through the field towards the fakes, strutting as he came. The sun was just coming up & glimmering off his irrodescent feathers. Then he spotted the jake decoy & his attitude completely changed. In a fit of rage, he began rushing the decoys in half strut! As he neared the decoys, he slowed his pace & walked right past the hen decoy, directly to the jake. He approached from the rear of the jake decoy & strutted a full circle around him before finally flogging him! He continued to strut around our decoy, spitting as he attempted to intimidate the intruder. Then he nudged him down to the ground, climbed on top of him & began pecking it's head! We let him put on a show for the camera as we tried not to laugh too loud. I even began cutting & yelping in an attempt to raise his head, but he didn't pay any attention to it! This went on for a few minutes until he climbed off the decoy & started strutting around him again. Finally, Justin squeezed the trigger & put an end to the show at 7:30! What a morning! Who would have ever guessed we could have called that bird across that deep hollow 500 yards away?...Unbelievable!
Sunrise: 6:24 a.m.
Temperature: 35 degrees (clear skies)
Wind: 3 mph
Barometer: 29.76 & falling
Location: northern panhandle of WV
# of gobbles heard: 35