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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