Al Hevner - Pennsylvania
I met up with my good friend, Al Hevner yesterday in the big woods of north-central Pennsylvania. The weather was gloomy most of the day. But it really began to clear up towards evening & the next few days looked to be ideal for chasing turkeys! Al told me he had heard a bird gobbling on a high, narrow mountain top Sunday morning. So we decided to see if we could put him to bed in the evening. We jumped around to some different spots & tried roosting a bird, then hit that spot where he heard the gobbler just after sunset. But unfortunately, we couldn't get him to gobble. We still planned on going in there after him this morning with high hopes. But we were a little late getting out of the house this morning & it was a long walk back to where Al thought the bird was roosting. So we decided to listen from the road instead of possibly wasting a lot of time making the long trek to a bird that we didn't know was there. The songbirds were already singing as we pulled off the road. As soon as we opened the truck doors, we both heard a bird gobble in the distance! Neither one of us were exactly sure where it was. But after listening for a few more minutes, we could tell he was not where we expected him to be. Whether it was the same bird Al heard yesterday or not, this bird was across the road on another steep sidehill & he was gobbling good! We had to scramble to gather our gear & get up there to him as quick as possible. We got him marked on the GPS & began the grueling climb up one of the steepest ridges you could ever imagine. We were both panting & sweating profusely when we closed the distance to within a couple hundred yards. This gobbler sounded off pretty good & was roosted off the point. We were three quarters of the way to the top of the point & decided we were in a good enough position to try & coax him in. The fog was so thick, you couldn't see more than fifty or sixty yards! As we got situated, Al began to call to him. He hit Al's excited yelps & cutts right away. As I was getting my camera set up, Al told me he heard a hen. Pretty soon, I hear her right out in front of us! She was a lot closer to us than the gobbler. She started out just clucking as she came. As she closed the distance she began searching with soft yelps & even kee kee's! The fog was so thick, I couldn't see her yet. But she was right on top of us! Finally I could see a dark blob through the fog & zoomed in on her with the camera. She walked within ten yards of Al & continued up the steep incline past us kee keeing as she went. The gobbler continued to hit both her & Al as they went back & forth. The young hen stood not fifteen yards from me trying to find the hen she heard calling. She continued back & forth, providing me some fantastic footage! The gobbler closed the gap, but he stayed on top & out of sight. At one point, I thought he was going to come in from behind us. That hen hung around for the longest time trying to make sense of the situation. Eventually, she began to get a little aggravated as she stood right behind me on the edge of the steep ridge looking down on us. Al & I continued to softly call to her. The gobbler was just out of sight, but behind us. That hen stood in one spot, kee keeing & yelping. I eventually turned ninety degrees with that hen in sight in case that gobbler showed up. I didn't want to be handcuffed! That young hen then did something neither one of us expected. She hit Al's excited yelps & cutts with a gobble! Yes, she gobbled! Both of us continued to call to her & she stood on that edge looking down at us, with the fog in the background, gobbling! That gobbler moved back out to the point though & continued to gobble. She toned it down some & went back to soft yelps & whistles as she stood in one spot looking. After a half hour of this, we decided we had to make a move. So with that hen in sight, we stood up & started climbing to the top. She moved off, but didn't seem too spooked. When we reached the spine of the ridge, that gobbler was still sounding off on the point. He sounded like he was getting closer, so we got set up on an old road that ran the length of the point. It was an ideal setup. The fog was still as thick as pea soup! Wouldn't you know, that hen gobbled again behind us as we faced the point towards the gobbler! Within a couple minutes, Al told me he could see him coming right at us! I zoomed in through the thick fog & picked him up as he steadily walked straight at us. At thirty-five yards, he went into half strut & drummed as he walked the narrow ridge top. I told Al I was on him & as soon as he got the chance, he dumped him! Al stood up & started towards him & that crazy hen behind us gobbled again! As a matter of fact, she continued to gobble as we shot some footage of Al's bird & hung around in that fog for another fifteen to twenty minutes. But what an awesome hunt! It was well worth the climb for an experience like that! What a morning!!
Sunrise: 6:01 a.m
Temperature: 45 degrees (thick fog)
Barometer: 30.07 & rising
Location: north-central Pennsylvania
# of gobbles heard: 75