In tight, but almost busted!



It was another one of those clear sky, dark moon kind of mornings.  I slowly made my way up the steep, wooded sidehill searching for roosted turkeys.  The last time I was in this particular roost site was six days ago & I was fortunate to crawl underneath some hens.  But by the time I reached some of the trees they were in last time, I still hadn't found any.  I continued up the steep slope & finally saw a few blobs in the treetops near the very top of the ridge!  They were roosted pretty much right off the corner of a hay field.  I was approaching them from the downhill side & I didn't want to set up below them because it would make it more difficult to film them way up in the trees.  So I decided to get as close as possible in order to get some good video.  But the fact that they were roosted so close to the ridgetop didn't help.  As I inched my way into position, I could see one bird in particular that was fairly low in the tree & it was somewhat in the middle between all the other birds.  I could see at least seven turkeys & I wanted to try to get close to that low roosted bird.  I was lucky enough to get past a few turkeys as I made my way closer to that middle bird.  But just as I sat down & was setting up my camera gear, that low roosted bird began putting!  I froze for a second.  But I knew if I would sit still until it settled down, I may run out of darkness.  So I slowly kept doing what I was doing, trying not to make any unnecessary noise.  Luckily, I got everything set up & situated with some time to spare.  That bird continued to alarm putt a little, but pretty soon a couple birds gobbled at the putting & it seemed to settle down.  Eventually, it quit putting & it too began to gobble!  It sounded like a jake when it did.  I was VERY close to all the birds.  As a matter of fact I had to look straight up to even see two of the birds that were directly above me!  The gobbling began to pick up with no hint of a hen in the group.  I thought I must have got into a group of gobblers again.  But just then, I heard a very soft tree yelp from what sounded like a hen!  I couldn't tell which bird it was because they were roosted so close together.  Once I had enough camera light, I zoomed on the closest bird which was the jake that was roosted very low.  That was the one that almost busted me.  It was sitting down & facing away from me.  As I looked around at some of the other birds, I thought the two straight overhead might be hens.  But there was no way I could even get one of them on video because I couldn't tilt my camera straight up.  So I continued to film the low roosted jake.  Every time a bird would gobble, it sounded like most of the birds were gobblers.  There were also a couple other birds gobbling way off in the distance.  Finally, the hens began to tree yelp more often!  Every now & then a jake would jump in with some one & two note yelps of their own.  There were also some jake yelps that would go straight into a half-hearted gobble.  Some geese would occasionally honk down in the creek & the whole hillside would light up with gobbles!  The jake I was zoomed on stood up & started preening.  I could see other birds preening & stretching too.  So I figured it wouldn't be long until they started their descent.  Sure enough, one bird pitched down over my head a landed out of sight above me (probably in the field).  The hens got a little more excited with their yelps.  One of the hens above me pitched down & in doing so, she broke a limb that cracked & fell in the leaves beside me!  It didn't take long & I was sitting there alone.  I could hear them getting farther away every time they'd gobble or yelp.  As I sat there waiting for them to move off, I saw a lone hen that was roosted farther down the hill pitch out & land in a field across the creek in the bottom.  I assume she's probably got a nest somewhere nearby.  The hens didn't talk as much as I would have liked, but it was still a great morning!  I almost got busted early, but I captured some really good video of that jake on the limb & also some great audio!


Sunrise:  6:39 a.m


Temperature:  32 degrees


Wind:  calm


Barometer:  30.27 & rising


Location:  southwest PA


# of gobbles heard:  50

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