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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