Chad Claycomb - Pennsylvania
My good friend, Eddie Malik offered to run the camera for me. So I jumped at the chance to have my hunt on the last day of the Pennsylvania season videoed. The problem was...it's been so tough lately, I didn't know where I wanted to go. But we met up this morning & I decided to hit a piece of public land where I heard a bird a few weeks ago. The weather forecast didn't look good. Scattered storms were expected around mid-morning. But the first few hours looked ok. I figured we could hit that public land early & once the rain came, we could jump in the truck & check some fields later in the morning. As luck would have it, we did end up striking a bird around 7 o'clock. He was on another ridge. But he only gobbled twice & once we got over there, we just couldn't find him. We were going to set up for a while. But storms forced us to leave by 8 o'clock. So we drove over to some farms we have permission to hunt & spotted some birds that were out in the fields. We actually found two groups of birds on separate properties. Both of them had longbeards in them! The rain began to let up & we kept our eyes on them, devising a game plan. The second group of birds were a little easier to make a move on. So we decided to head after them. Finally, the rain quit around 9:30. So we made our move. There were four hens & three longbeards on a steep gas line right-of-way. The hens were just pecking around in the wet grass & preening their feathers the last time we saw them. The gobblers were a hundred yards below them or so. But we assumed they would get with the hens eventually. They were on the sidehill, roughly halfway down from the top. But they were slowly making their way up towards the ridgeline. So we drove around the backside of the ridge, parked the truck & climbed all the way to the top of the ridge. The right-of-way was grown up with waist-high hay, which was going to make it tough! Not only for setting up, but also tough on Eddie & I. We both have hay fever pretty bad! But we made our way through the woods on the edge of the gas line & just before we reached the edge of the ridge (above where the turkeys were), we picked a decent place to set up. Eddie tucked into some brush with the camera, looking down over a small "shelf" on the right-of-way. We both had to stand up in order to see well, because of the high grass & the terrain. I put some decoys out (even though they might not see them) & walked out to the very edge of the hill, in the middle of the gas line, to call from there. I eased into it (in case they were just underneath me), but nothing responded. So I picked up the volume & excitement a little as I went...& still nothing! I called out there (moving around) for maybe four or five minutes & never once got a response! So I walked back, got set up & we waited. Maybe twenty minutes went by & Eddie said, "Chad, here they come!" I couldn't see them yet from where I stood on the downhill slope. But pretty soon, I could see the four hens. They were maybe 35 yards away, slowly pecking their way up the edge of the right-of-way towards us. It wasn't long & Eddie told me he could see a red head coming through the tall grass! Those three longbeards we spotted from the road slowly caught up to the hens. I slowly inched my gun to my shoulder as they came. Eventually, the hens closed the distance to within 20 yards & were still slowly pecking their way through the tall grass. I was afraid one of the hens might bust me as I stood, leaning my left shoulder against a hickory tree (keeping it between me & the birds). The hens were soon going to have an angle on me where they might silhouette me! Eddie told me he was on one of the longbeards with the camera. They were well within range of my 20 gauge. So I yelped to him & pulled the trigger. He folded right where he stood! The sound of the gunshot echoed through the hills as the rest of the birds scattered! All I could say was "Wow, what a way to end the season!"
Sunrise: 5:55 a.m
Temperature: 79 degrees (mostly cloudy - scattered showers)
Wind: 3 mph
Barometer: 29.01 & steady
Location: southwest Pennsylvania
# of gobbles heard: 2