Ideal conditions!

 

It was one of those mornings that are just ideal for sneaking into a roost site!  The ground was still damp from the rain we've been getting.  There's a relatively dark moon & it's fairly warm for the middle of March.  So I parked the truck & made my way to the same roost site I visited on Monday.  When I topped the ridge again, I stopped & cupped my ears like I always do to listen for the sound of gobblers spitting on the limb.  I couldn't hear any, so I slowly moved on, stopping periodically to scan the treetops with my binoculars.  I could see a few birds in one of the "normal" roost trees.  But I couldn't see very many yet.  So I eased my way towards them & again noticed a few birds that were directly above where I would have to walk in order to get back in there!  I continued on, very methodically.  I eventually walked directly under those closer birds & took a sigh of relief after I made it past them.  But then I could see at least eight other birds that were roosted near the lip of the ridge that I hadn't seen!  They were only twenty five yards from me, but I wanted to get back to where I thought the majority of the flock would likely be roosted.  So I slowly contined on & kept scanning the treetops where I expected the rest to be roosted.  But the closer I got to their typical roost trees, I could tell there were very few birds in them!  I kept scanning the treetops & moving to get a better view, but I could only see a few birds.  I contemplated getting under those few birds, but decided to just back up & get under the eight or so birds that I already walked past.  So I turned around & eased my way back the way I came.  I managed to get within twenty yards or so & get set up without any issues.  Once ready, I hit the record button & anxiously waited for the show to begin.  At least an hour and fifteen minutes before sunrise, I heard the very first "vocal" sound.  The slightest, subtle clucks...but only a few.  The occasional sounds of droppings hitting the forest floor around me & feathers ruffling were the only other sounds to be heard.  Then as the songbirds started, the turkeys began to "tree yelp."  I always feel like I'm "stealing" something when I'm sitting under a flock of roosted birds.  There's no other way to describe that feeling.  As daybreak approached, a turkey gobbled behind me & it kickstarted the hens.  They started to tree yelp more often.  Soon, they began to add a little more excitement into their calling.  From more volume to faster cadence, you could "feel" the excitement building.  A distant train whistle blew & prompted a few shock gobbles from some of the gobblers.  One older hen in particular started to do most of the talking.  She had a nice gravely, raspy tone when she leaned on her calls!  I could see a longbeard strutting on the limb maybe forty-five yards off to my left.  I could also here that "boxy" sounding hen from the other day roosted close to him.  The excitement continued to build in their calls & the amount of silence between calls became less & less.  Then, with barely enough light to see, a gobbler pitched down in front of me!  Then another!  They walked past me & under the trees most of the hens were roosted in.  The hens' excitement built more & more until one of them got the nerve to drop out of the tree.  I turned my attention towards that old hen that was doing most of the talking.  Once I had enough camera light, I zoomed in on her.  She was looking all around & her tail would bounce every time she'd yelp.  Then she started stretching her legs & wings, a sure sign that a turkey is about to pitch down.  She walked the limb she was on & her head bobbed up & down almost nervously.  Then finally, she jumped out & made her descent to the ground.  Soon, the rest of the flock followed & they were on the ground behind me maybe fifty or sixty yards.  Only one or two birds cackled as they came down.  Eventually they moved far enough away & allowed me to sneak out without spooking them.  

 

Sunrise:  7:26 a.m.

 

Temperature:  45 degrees

 

Wind:  calm

 

Barometer:  29.68 & steady

 

Location:  southwest Pennsylvania

 

# of gobbles heard:  40

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