Donnie Claycomb - Pennsylvania

 My dad & I drove to a piece of public ground close to home first thing this morning.  But there was another truck parked where I wanted to go.  So we drove on.  I couldn't decide where to go as I drove around.  It was starting to break daylight & I didn't like the fact that we were still in the truck!  After some thought, we decided to hit another piece of public ground that is a little farther drive.  When we finally arrived, we jumped out at a few places to call & couldn't get a response.  But it was a beautiful morning, so I hoped we would be able to find one that was willing to play.  We then hit another piece of public ground & decided to just take a walk.  It was close to 8:30 when we headed up over the hill.  We did some cuttin' & runnin' all the way out the ridge & couldn't get anything going.  So we turned around & headed back the way we came.  I wanted to hit a point & call down off it before we headed somewhere else.  It was 9:30 when I threw out some excited yelps & a gobbler hit way across the hollow from us on another ridge!  I cutt & yelped again...gobble!!  I called again...gobble!  I had a good idea where he was at, so we started making our way down off the ridge we were on.  As we walked, he really started to fire up & gobble good on his own.  I knew we had to get to him quick, but we had a long ways to go.  By the time we got over there, it was a little after 10 o'clock..  We got on a two track that led close to where I thought he was at & tried him...nothing.  I called several more times & couldn't get a response.  We just couldn't find him!  So instead of pushing on & risk spooking him, I decided to just set up for a little while.  We got set up at 10:30 & did some more calling, but mostly just listened...still nothing!  I figured he probably found a hen.  But I knew we were in the vicinity.  So at 11:30, we got up & moved out the ridge a little farther.  We found some scratching that was pretty fresh & it led up the hill towards the ridgetop.  So we angled up the sidehill & just before the edge, I yelped & a bird hit right away!  He was on the top & maybe 150 yards away.  So we hurried up to the top & I yelped again...he hit again & it sounded like two of them!  So we got set up in a small clearing at noon.  I yelped & they hammered back again!  They sounded like they closed the distance a little.  Then I heard a hen jump in there & yelp a few times.   I thought about it for a second, then jumped up, ran down over the edge & went out there about 50 yards to call from there, hoping to steer them in front of us.  They jumped all over my excited yelps & so did the hen.  So I ran back & got ready.  Pretty soon, the hen sounded even closer!  I could tell she was just out of sight.  She kept yelping as she came & then I caught a glimpse of her.  We had a patch of spice bush between us which made it hard to see.  But she really jumped on my excited yelps & cutts!  Those gobblers really fired up as she continued to talk.  But she stayed behind that brush.  Then I could see a full fan behind her!  Then another hen showed up in front of us & started coming straight to our decoys.  She pecked around a little as she closed the distance.  Then I lost sight of her behind a tree.  All the while, those birds continued to gobble!  But we couldn't see them very well.  I could hear one of them drumming the whole time.  That hen came from behind the tree & stood there preening not 12 yards away.  Those gobblers were locked up on a little high spot just in front of us at 10 o'clock not more than thirty yards with a bunch of brush between us & them.  Eventually that hen picked her way past our decoys & headed up towards the gobblers.  My dad couldn't see them because of the brush & his arms were getting tired from holding the gun up for so long!  I kept thinking "come on, just twenty yards!"  This went on for what seemed like forever.  I actually lost sight of them for a little while behind all that brush & my dad said "I can't hold the gun no more."  So I told him to slowly put it down & take a rest.  I could hear them scratching in the leaves from time to time & then I would catch glimpses of them.  They just were not cooperating!  They were definitely in range, but we just could not see them.  Then all of a sudden I could see what I thought was a hen coming through the brush & right behind my dad!  It ended up being another longbeard & it walked within 5 yards of him.  He continued walking past us & out of sight.  I was afraid the rest were going to follow him & leave us sitting there wondering what happened.  But pretty soon, I could see the other longbeards coming straight for our decoys.  My dad slowly got his gun back up as they came from behind all that brush.  They came into view side by side & right up to our jake decoy.  The one on the left was in full bloom & the other was holding his head high as he looked down his nose at the decoy.  I asked my dad if he could see them & pretty soon his gun broke the silence at 12:30!  He dropped the one on the right at no more than 13 steps!  The first words out of my dad's mouth were "Oh man!  That took forever!"  I couldn't believe what had just happened.  I finally was able to film my dad take a longbeard for the first time ever!  We had come close countless times.  But for one reason or another, it was something that always eluded us.  I was just thankful to spend a beautiful day in the spring woods with my dad!

 

Sunrise:  6:04 a.m.

 

Temperature:  30 degrees (sunny & clear)

 

Wind:  4 mph

 

Barometer:  30.09 & falling

 

Location:  southwest Pennsylvania

 

# of gobbles heard:  40

 

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