Eddie & I started the morning on a familiar ridgetop. It rained overnight, was fairly warm & still very cloudy. We only heard a total of three gobbles at daybreak! One of which was huntable. We moved towards that bird & did some calling to see if we could raise him with no luck. But we did fire up a hen across the hollow from us! She & I went back & forth yelping & cutting for a few minutes & to our surprise, not a turkey gobbled anywhere! So we decided to cutt & run our way back to the truck, then drive down the road about a quarter mile & see if we could strike one on another ridge. We jumped out of the truck & walked back an old gas well road to call down into this hollow. Sure enough, a gobbler hit my excited yelps at 8:45! He sounded far & we weren't exactly sure where he was at. So I hit him again with some more excited yelps...he hammered back right away! So we figured he was worth going after. He sounded like he was out the ridge several hundred yards, around a steep point & high on the ridge. We made our way towards him & I hit him again with a few light yelps. He responded again & he sounded a lot closer! So we scrambled to get set up about halfway up the sidehill in some really open hardwoods. We knew we had to hurry because he was coming! I got the camera set up & called to him again...nothing. A few minutes later, I yelped to him again...nothing! Our first thoughts were we must have spooked him! I went quiet hoping he would either show up on the point in front of us or throw out a searching gobble. But we never heard him again. So we assumed he must have busted us getting set up because it was really open in there. So after giving him some time & even calling a few more times with no response, we got up & headed back to the truck. We drove about twenty minutes to another piece of property to spend the rest of the morning cuttin' & runnin' there. We made it to the top of the ridge at 10:40 & did some calling the whole way out the ridge. Before running out the ridge in the other direction, we figured we'd walk out to the edge & call down the other face of the ridge. At 11:05, we struck one! At first we thought he might have been across the hollow. But after hitting some of my plain yelps again, we could tell he was on our ridge! We could drop down off the edge & set up in some open woods, but there was some thick stuff between us. He gobbled again on his own & he was closer! So we set up where we were & tried him at about 11:15. He hit right away & was even closer. We were concerned he might not come through that stuff & even discussed moving. I can clearly remember hitting the pause button on the camera as we discussed making a move. But we decided against it. Pretty soon, Eddie said he saw him! I hit the record button & waited until I could see him in the viewfinder before zooming in on him. There ended up being two longbeards together! They came up through that thick stuff & into the open woods right below us within thirty five yards. I zoomed in on the back one & told Eddie to take him when he could. He shot & both birds erupted into the sky! I zoomed back & saw Eddie jump up & say "his head was behind a tree!" Then he saw the bird he shot fold up & fall to the ground! He said "he's down!" So he ran down the steep sidehill. After I lost sight of him, I hit the pause button again & I noticed it kinda stuck. So I looked in the viewfinder to see if it was recording & could plainly see it was still on STANDBY! As soon as I saw that, I thought "uh-oh!" So I reviewed the last clip to see if the turkeys were on there & sure enough, I missed the whole encounter somehow!!! I know I hit the record button when those birds showed up. All I can figure is that the button depressed, but didn't quite push in far enough to engage & record the encounter. To say the least, I was a little frustrated. That's never happened to me before. I always make it a point to make sure it is recording when birds are in front of me. For some reason, I guess I didn't do it this time! But I didn't let it get me down too much. I was glad to see Eddie have some late morning success. It will still be etched in our memories forever. He was a two year old gobbler. But he was sort of a unique bird in that a few of his wing feathers lacked the black barring. They were solid white with just some black shading scattered throughout the feather. His beard had a little kink or curl at the end as well. Also, as we cleaned the bird, we checked the turkey's crop & found it completely full of locusts! As far as we know, the locusts have not even emerged from the ground yet. So the birds must be digging them up. It turned out to be a pretty good morning, despite the slow start. So far, we've been pretty fortunate late in the mornings!
Sunrise: 6:18 a.m.
Temperature: 57 degrees at daybreak (69 degrees at noon)
Wind: 4 mph
Barometer: 29.9 & steady
Location: southwest Pennsylvania
# of gobbles heard: 20