As I climbed the ridge this morning, it felt good to be doing this again for the first time this year! I was actually going in blind because I hadn't had a chance to pre-scout it for any turkey sign. When I reached the ridge top, I checked some of the bigger trees with binoculars, where the birds preferred to roost last season. But I couldn't find any. So I continued on, scanning the treetops as I went. But then I noticed what looked to be fairly fresh scratchings on the forest floor beneath my feet in the darkness! So I knew there had to be some birds in there somewhere. The "whoop, whoop, whoop" sounds of an unnerved raccoon could be heard as I snuck through the leaves. Then finally, I spotted a couple blobs in the treetops on the edge of the ridge! They were roughly eighty yards away & there was an old fence line between us. So instead of continuing in the direction I was heading, I decided to back out & circle around the fence. Once I came at them from a different direction, I felt like I could get close to them without as much noise. I had a little trouble finding them again when I got over there. But I eventually spotted them. I scanned some of the surrounding trees & found a few more as well. There were actually five birds roosted fairly close together. The others were maybe fifty yards beyond them. I could tell one of the five closer birds was a longbeard. But I hoped there were some hens too. So I decided to try to get right under the five birds in hopes of being fifty yards from the others. It took me a little longer than expected to sneak underneath them because of circling around the fence. I knew daylight was approaching fast & I still had to run my microphones out! So I quickly (but quietly) situated my microphones & got my camera/tripod set up just in time! Shortly after hitting the record button, I could hear the birds directly above me starting to stretch & ruffle their feathers. A dropping hit the leaves a few feet from me & I nearly jumped out of my boots! The sounds of drumming filled my ears as the longbeard above me strutted. Then a jake lightly calked as a distant bird gobbled. The gobbling increased as one of the birds fifty yards from me tree yelped. Unexpectedly, the longbeard above me pitched down awfully early. A few jakes followed. Once they were on the ground, the longbeard began strutting around in circles underneath some of the hens. A few jakes calked as if they were telling the longbeard that he was "the man." A hen pitched down shortly after. Then one beautiful sounding hen (still in the tree) began yelping loudly. She continued to raise her voice & it began to "crack" as she broke over. The gobblers underneath her ate it up! Then she pitched down, giving an abbreviated fly-down cackle. All said & done, there were maybe fifteen birds that eventually dropped out of the trees. Things shortly got quiet as they drifted off & went on with their day. Man, it really felt good to crawl under some turkeys again!
Sunrise: 6:57 a.m
Temperature: 38 degrees (mostly cloudy)
Barometer: 30.38 & rising
Location: southwest Pennsylvania
# of gobbles heard: 50