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#3148474 - 02/01/13 05:33 PM The Individal Bird That Stands Out In Memory
Mike Belt
TnDeer Old Timer
16 Point

Registered: 03/26/99
Posts: 18623
Loc: Lakeland, Tn.

Let's here some hunting stories about a "special" bird that you've hunted whether you killed him or not. I'll start...

I set up along the edge of a field one seemingly ideal morning in an area where there had earlier in the season been alot of gobbling. Across the field from me right after sunup I had birds gobbling and hens talking. I couldn't get them to head my way even though the gobblers were responding. They wanted to come in but they wouldn't abandon the hens that were with them. The hens went through the timber headed deadaway from me with the gobbling gobblers in tow. I followed with the thought of working around in front of them but before I could get there they made it into the cove of field. This was a large field. Across from the cove was a timber covered drainage with another field cove on the other side. The bulk of the field was beyond that point in front of that drainage. The birds (13 hens and 3 gobblers) made their way across the cove and fed out in the field around the point of that drainage. The only way to do a sneek was to stay in the timber and work my way to and around the end of the cove and up the drainage. I did and made it to some cover at the end. The birds were out into the field off this point but too far for a shot. I'd call and the gobblers would go crazy but the hens would walk away and they'd follow. They headed for the opposite side of the field so back down the drainage and around the end of the second cove I went. I made my way up through the cover and set up in the area the birds were headed. Here they came. A couple of clucks and the gobblers went nuts. One of these birds was my obvious target because he was a big bird and for sure the king of the flock. As soon as I called the hens turned again and headed back across the field. I circled on around the far end of the field and again worked my way up in front of them. Another couple of clucks and they headed away from me down the inside edge of the field back towards where they had originally entered. I looped around again but this time I lost them and never heard another peep nor did I see them again.

My next trip to the woods found me set up pre-dawn in the area where they had come off the roost on my last trip. They were roosted just below me. When they came off the roost they flew away from me down through the timber towards the end of the first field cove. They didn't talk long and I lost them again and couldn't pick them back up.

Ok. This next trip I'd take a couple of dekes along and see what happened. I set up along the drainage towards the far edge of the cove across from and below where they liked entering the field after flying off the roost. After sunup they gobbled for 30 minutes and finally flew down. The hens made it to the field first with the 3 gobblers strutting and gobbling right behind them. The hens saw my dekes and slowly fed their way in my direction. I did a couple of clucks and yelps and they turned and went back into the timber and again I never heard or saw them again. I may not be the very best caller in the world but I'm decent and have called up a bunch of birds in the past but these birds were making me feel like I had no idea what I was doing. I don't think they were overpressured but I was beginning to believe these were some mighty jealous hens that didn't want to share their boyfriends with any other birds. Back to the drawing board.

Hmm-m-m-m. OK. They keep roosting the same area. They keep entering the field in the same spot. They seem like they're attracted to my dekes. They don't like to hear another bird. New game plan. The next trip I again set along the cover on the edge of the drainage only this time just above where they liked entering the field. With my 3 dekes set up in the field in front of me I waited on sunrise. At first light the gobblers were going ballistic gobbling. The hair was standing up on the back of my neck and I was biting my tongue to keep from calling back to them. For another 30 minutes they gobbled non-stop just inside the cover of the timber and then all was silent. For the next 1/2 hour that silence became deafening. I was second guessing not calling back to them when the first hen popped her head out of the timber followed by another, then another, and then another until all 13 hens and the 3 gobblers were in plain view 150 yards away. The gobblers had slowed their talking down but were trying to outstrutt each other the entire time. Just as the hens came over a small rise in the field they saw my dekes and headed my way. I was still sitting there biting my tongue. Here they came with the boys right behind them. They made it to my dekes and fed and scratched among them not over 15 yards in front of me. The gobblers were strutting around each other so tightly that for 15 minutes I couldn't get a shot off for fear of killing all 3 birds. Finally there was a gap. BAM! My big bird was on the ground flopping while the other 2 gobblers were in the air flying away. I guess they figured now was their chance so they dropped back to the ground, whirled, and came back in on the dead run. They pounced and flogged and spurred my bird so violently that I thought they were going to pluck him. Finally I'd had enough of the show and I stood up. Reluctantly they left and I went after my bird. An ounce short of 25 pounds, 1 1/2 inch spurs, and 5 beards; the longest being 11 1/2 inches. Fun hunt and a deserved end result. It did serve to drive home the point that you don't always have to fool the gobblers but you better make sure you do fool the hens.

Edited by Mike Belt (02/01/13 07:42 PM)

#3148482 - 02/01/13 05:45 PM Re: The Individal Bird That Stands Out In Memory [Re: Mike Belt]
12 Point

Registered: 11/06/02
Posts: 7406
Loc: savannah, tn., usa

I cant pick one. They are all special.
Let em go and let em grow!
There is a difference in a turkey killer and a turkey hunter!

#3148483 - 02/01/13 05:46 PM Re: The Individal Bird That Stands Out In Memory [Re: Mike Belt]
Wes Parrish
16 Point

Registered: 06/12/02
Posts: 19470
Loc: Knoxville-Dover-Union City, TN

Great story Mike! Thanks for posting it.
When I have more time, will try to post one myself.

#3148579 - 02/01/13 07:15 PM Re: The Individal Bird That Stands Out In Memory [Re: Wes Parrish]
Boll Weevil
8 Point

Registered: 06/26/11
Posts: 1332
Loc: Hardeman

This one's easy...Gobbler #1.

It was clearly more luck than skill considering I'd bumped his hens in the dark on the way in (of course I didn't know he was still in the tree at the time). Flustered, I just sat down and waited in silence as the woods came alive figuring I'd already blown it for the day. The way my heart thumped when he gobbled on his own from just 70 yards away...I have no idea how he heard the crappy yelps on that beat up Roger Latham boxcall over my ragged breathing!

It was only a minute or 4 (though it felt longer) and he simply pitched down and walked right to me. Boooooom...turkey #1. I made the mistake of running over and picking him up; those spurs ripped my glove and left a pretty dang good gash in my palm. Lesson learned. \:\)

#3148696 - 02/01/13 08:47 PM Re: The Individal Bird That Stands Out In Memory [Re: Boll Weevil]
10 Point

Registered: 08/06/05
Posts: 4032
Loc: Hendersonville Tenn

I had what I thought was one on a steep hill.I would call and he would gobble could not get him to come down. After about a hour of this I desided to go to him. The futher up the hill I would go the closer to the ground I got and he would still gobble even I wasn't. Finly I was on my belly crawling to a log I just knew he was on the other side. When I raised up over the log I not only had one gobbler I had four and one hen. I walked back down the hill toteing the biggest one.
"No I am not a good shot, but I shoot often" Teddy Roosevelt

#3148871 - 02/02/13 04:37 AM Re: The Individal Bird That Stands Out In Memory [Re: KPH]
Uncle Jesse
4 Point

Registered: 04/04/11
Posts: 297
Loc: Estill Springs

I was walking down a logging road one morning before fly down not really sure where I wanted to go when one gobbled about 100 yards in front of me. I got set up as quick as I could. For some reason I couldn't get my box call out of my pocket and the more I tried to get it, the more it squeaked. It sounded terrible to me but I look up and here comes 2 strutters straight to me. They gobbled and strutted all the way to me and I never did get the call out of my pocket.

#3149091 - 02/02/13 11:00 AM Re: The Individal Bird That Stands Out In Memory [Re: Uncle Jesse]

Registered: 11/06/07
Posts: 30563
Loc: Chester County

I haven't had one individual bird but two separate groups of toms, One group stayed on the backside of a swamp and the other in another bottom, I spent alot of mornings after those birds and never did get one, even saw the ones by the swamp one time out of range and had the other birds in range a few times but never saw them cause it was so thick.
Work to live, Live to hunt

#3149108 - 02/02/13 11:40 AM Re: The Individal Bird That Stands Out In Memory [Re: Uncle Jesse]
4 Point

Registered: 08/04/08
Posts: 156
Loc: Eads TN

Great hunt Mike.

While they are all special to me, the one that really stands out is a bird I didn't even kill but the experience stands out more than all the kills.

It was opening morning and I had made my way to a point on a large field. The field has a rise in the middle and the farmer had built a berm on top of that, I was sitting below the rise so I could only see about 80 yards out into the field. As day started to break I made a couple of soft yelps on a slate and several birds responded in the timber across the field. I decided not to call again until the birds were on the ground since they were freely gobbling on their own. Once the birds hit the ground and gave me a few courtesy gobbles they shut up. After a few minutes I called... no response... few minutes later I called again... no response. This went on for quit a while with no response from the gobblers. The field was a good 200- 250 yards across so I new that the birds could be in the field without me seeing them. Good thing was that I had not heard a hen all morning, bad thing was I hadn't heard the gobblers in a while either.

As I sat there trying to decide my next move, I called one more time and to my surprise several birds rattled my cage from just over the berm. Readying the gun, I sat waiting and as I watched, seven birds strutted over the top of that berm... It looked like a shot from an old western with the Wild Bunch atop their horses rising over the crest of a hill... The sight of those seven birds strutting side by side on that berm with the sun just cresting over the timber across the field behind them made the killing part a faint thought... don't get me wrong, I planed on killing one, that was for sure.

Now even though I knew the birds were coming and I had no need to call again, I just could not help but give them a couple quick clucks on my mouth call to get them to gobble and all seven, atop that berm, responded with those gobbles you feel as much as you hear.

Well the rest of the story didn't go so well, as they slowly made their way to me, one big bird separated off from the others, when he was in range I put the bead on his head, pulled the trigger and ... missed!
That bird took off back over the berm, the others scattered and I didn't even chamber another shell as my eyes tried to explain to my brain what I was seeing... no turkey flopping in front of me! No branches, no grass, no nothing between me and that bird but air and I missed...

Well, as I left that day I wasn't totting a turkey, just a memory but man, what an encounter.

#3149145 - 02/02/13 12:57 PM Re: The Individal Bird That Stands Out In Memory [Re: Layne]
Mike Belt
TnDeer Old Timer
16 Point

Registered: 03/26/99
Posts: 18623
Loc: Lakeland, Tn.

I love feeling those gobbles...and that fffff-t-t-t sound as they strutt round and round at point blank range. I don't know anyone who's turkey hunted long that hasn't missed for whatever reason. The gun's loaded with 3 shots but I never expect to take that second shot so I'm never prepared to take it either. Once since I started hunting I've emptied my gun. I knocked a bird down one time and he got back up and started running across the field with me right on his tail. I fired the second shot on the run and missed. Just as he was starting into the thick brush along the edge of the field I stopped long enough to fire the third shot and rolled him into the timber. Got to love it.

Edited by Mike Belt (02/02/13 12:59 PM)

#3149459 - 02/02/13 07:10 PM Re: The Individal Bird That Stands Out In Memory [Re: Mike Belt]
16 Point

Registered: 11/10/10
Posts: 17592
Loc: Franklin TN

I have only killed 3 longbeards since I started hunting but of course the first one stands out the most. it was public land and I doubled up with a guy from arkansas whom I had never met before. In fact I didn't know he was there at first, he came in and had set up his blind and decoys out across the field. I got busted by a red headed bird at 5 yards after 3 gobblers flew across the river to my side where there were some hens. After that one bird saw me, they went out in the field to his decoys, he shot one, they came back and I dropped my first longbeard, 12.5 inch beard and spurs were barely 1 inch.

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