Pleasant surprise!

It was a little breezy when I got out of the truck this morning. It had rained through the night & the sky was very dark. But the forecast looked good for the day. I made my way up the ridge through a cow pasture to one of my most dependable roost sites. But the last time I was in there, (March 27th) I was only able to find a couple jakes. There were more birds roosted off the edge in a different place than I've ever seen them roost. So I kept that in the back of my mind as I headed up to the ridgetop. Before I got to the top, I scanned some of the trees where I thought those birds roosted last time & sure enough, I saw a few birds! I didn't even make it into the woods yet & I found some turkeys! I don't know why, but for some reason this year the birds have not been roosted in their traditional roost trees very much. They've really jumped around this year. Anyways, I only had to cross a barbed wired fence & sneak about twenty yards into the woods to be right underneath them! I could see seven birds roosted in two separate trees. It was thick out the sidehill from me, which was a little uphill from the trees they were roosted in. But I noticed they had a clear "runway" right out to the pasture or the very top of the ridge. So I assumed they would pitch down one of two ways. I got into position early & waited on the morning to unfold. As soon as the songbirds began chirping, a bird gobbled out the ridge from me about sixty yards! He was on the other side of that thicket from where I was sitting & I hadn't seen that bird. Then I could hear a bird spitting as he strutted above me. I looked with my binoculars & could actually pick out the silhouettes of two longbeards above me! I could also see at least one jake. The bird out the ridge gobbled maybe a half dozen times, but not a peep from either of the gobblers in front of me! Then I heard a very subtle tree yelp from a hen above me! The one bird that was doing all the strutting still didn't gobble. Then a jake yelped. Once I had enough camera light I zoomed on the strutter just to get some video of him on the limb. I had a clear view of him. That hen tree yelped a few more times & the bird out the ridge gobbled. But the longbeard I was zoomed on just kept strutting. The bird out the ridge gobbled sporadically. Pretty soon, the strutter sidestepped to his left on the limb, strutted once more & pitched directly at me! He flew right over my head & landed behind me. A jake yelped excitedly a few times then he pitched down as well. I'm pretty sure they both landed in the open woods just above me. It got quiet for maybe a minute, then the hens started to tree yelp a little more. I zoomed on one of the hens as she looked all around. Another bird pitched down & the hen I was focused on stood up. The tree yelps became more numerous & they all began stretching their legs & wings. It sounded like some young hens. But there was at least one raspy, older hen in there too. It also sounded like the gobbler out the ridge had an older hen roosted with him as well. She jumped in a time or two with some nice yelping of her own. The yelps became louder & the excitement grew by the minute! The hen I was zoomed on switched limbs & began to act nervous, almost like she couldn't find a clear "runway" to pitch down. The one older hen out the ridge opened up a little with some excited yelps & cutts. Then she went right into a flydown cackle! The gobblers hammered! Within a minute, the rest of them pitched down & for the most part, it got fairly quiet. I could see them all in the pasture. The gobblers were strutting around while the hens were feeding. Eventually, they all moved off & gave me a chance to slip out of there. I knew going in there that I might have to check some trees as I made my way to the more traditional roost trees. But it was a pleasant surprise to find them where I did!

Sunrise: 6:43 a.m

Temperature: 44 degrees (dropped to 39 by daybreak)

Wind: 6 mph (with gusts to 12 mph) - calm after daybreak

Barometer: 30.01 & rising

Location: southwest Pennsylvania

# of gobbles heard: 40

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