Justin Newell - Pennsylvania
Justin saw a couple gobblers late in the evening yesterday. But he didn't know where they roosted. We thought we knew where they might spend the night. So we decided to start the morning on the ridgetop between two points. But as luck would have it, we never heard a bird gobble on the ridge we were on this morning! We bounced around, calling as we went & heard a couple turkeys gobble on distant ridges, but nothing close. Finally, around 7 o'clock, we heard a bird gobble across the hollow from where we now stood (on the ridge we just came from). Justin & I were both calling to him (just to see how he reacted) & another bird gobbled close! The sound was muffled, so I knew it had to be over top of us (we were just below the ridgetop). So we used the terrain, ran out the sidehill & backed up to a better spot to set up. Sure enough, that bird really started to fire up! We got set up on the ridgetop in some pretty woods & started calling to him. But he never answered! We sat quiet for a few minutes & he finally gobbled again, this time closer! Another couple minutes went by & I caught movement maybe 80 yards out. I yelped to him once as he closed the distance. But he didn't respond. He just kept coming. Then at 50 yards, I lost sight of him with the camera behind a rose bush. I was expecting him to walk out from behind it any minute. But he never did! He dropped down off the edge & we never saw him again! But he continued to gobble. So we made a move, set up again & even got another glimpse of him. But he didn't want to come any closer than 100 yards or so. Around 10 o'clock, we got up & moved out the ridge a little farther. We thought we heard a bird gobble off the point. So we hit that point & did some calling. Sure enough, one hit just underneath the edge at 11 o'clock! We ran back & set up with an hour of legal shooting time left. I didn't even have my camera gear completely set up when a hen showed up right where we were calling! Luckily, I was able to get the camera on her as she pecked around in front of us. She even yelped a few times for us! After loafing for a while, she eventually walked to the opposite side of the ridge & dumped down the other side. After she was out of sight, Justin got up, walked out to the point & did some more excited cutting & yelping on a box call...that bird hit again several times down off the point! With about a half hour to go, Justin came back, sat down & said "Let's just give him a few more minutes." We weren't exactly expecting him to show up. As a matter of fact, we were both sitting there without masks on. Justin's gun was laying on the ground beside him & as we sat there discussing whether to pack up & leave, I looked up & saw a red head periscope up over the edge of the point where Justin was calling just minutes before! To say the least, Justin was in a bind! I was able to get the camera on & zoomed in to see not one longbeard, but two! They spotted our decoys & were making a beeline for us. The bird on the right blowed up & his tail was missing so many feathers, it didn't even look right! The problem was, Justin didn't think he was going to be able to get his gun up! Plus, he wasn't even able to get his head around to look at them! The birds marched in side-by-side as I kept Justin informed on their progress. Once they reached our decoys, I told Justin to slowly turn his head. He was able to at least get an eyeball on them. But one of the birds saw a booger & was about to get out of town. The one bird popped it's wings, Justin yanked his gun up & made one heck of a shot as the tail bird made a mad dash for parts unknown! Talk about down to the wire! We had less than twenty minutes of legal shooting time left when Justin pulled the trigger. Not only that, but my camera battery died as Justin walked back to me with his longbeard! Wow! Another great memory in a season that just seems like a dream!
Sunrise: 6:08 a.m
Temperature: 62 degrees (clear & sunny)
Wind: 6 mph
Barometer: 30.14 & steady
Location: southwest Pennsylvania
# of gobbles heard: 80