Up until today, it has been a very quiet spring in the turkey woods. I had not heard a single bird in two scouting trips. I had planned on doing one final scouting trip on Friday morning, but a fairly painful sinus infection curbed that plan. Instead, I spent the day doing everything possible to feel better so I could go out today.
I had my alarm set for 4:30am, but oddly enough I woke up wide awake at 4:15am finally able to somewhat breath through my nose for the first time in three days. I figured that was good enough and got up, got ready, and headed out the door. I pulled into the parking area at 5am and was the first vehicle there. From there I made the 20 minute walk to the spot that I had planned to listen for gobbling birds. When I arrived at the spot, I pulled out my phone and typed up a Facebook post about it being opening day. Just as I hit the “post” button I heard my first two gobbles of the day up the hill. I put my phone away and began my trek up the mountain. As I closed in on the area that I figured they were roosted, I paused to listen for their next gobbles so I could position myself for a calling setup. Right on queue four birds sounded off, but instead of being a hundred or so yards out the ridge, they were about 200 yards straight up the hill on the very top of the mountain. My sinuses were already closing up and I could no longer breath out of my nose, but with multiple gobbling birds, I knew this would be my best chance at a bird today.
I took off up the hill, stopping occasionally to catch my breath and listen for gobbles. Every time the birds did not disappoint with each of the four birds gobbling at the same time. Just as I got to the last bench before the top of the mountain, I realized that there was no easy way to go straight up and instead would now have to rock hop the rest of the way up. Just as I got to the edge of the top, I realized I was inside of one hundred yards of the closest bird. I found a tree and began to get set up. No sooner did get my face mask on and I could hear the birds pitching off of the roost. They flew further out the mountain, but having deer hunted this area countless times over the years, I could tell they were still on the bench. My new plan was to head over the top, circle around them and try to cut them off before they got to the top. Just as I got up to the very top, the birds sounded off again, only this time I could tell they had moved up the hill and we’re heading to the top.
My new new plan was to try to get myself to the edge of an opening that I new was up ahead. As I was about twenty yards from the spot, three birds gobbled. This time they were definitely on top and getting closer to my location. I did not want to risk spooking them, so I looked for the closest tree and plopped down. I replaced my orange hat with a camouflage face mask and hat. Then turned on my go pro camera and put that on top of my hat. I placed my H.S. strut “Raspy Old Hen” call in my mouth, took a deep breath and made my first call. The birds did not respond. However, thirty seconds later they gobbled again from the same location as before. I decided to call again figuring that my first call may have been too soft. I made a much louder call and they responded immediately, including a fourth bird that was down the mountain in the area near where I had just come from to get here. Now that I knew that they knew I was there, I would let them come find me. They continued to gobble as they got closer and closer until the gobbling stopped getting closer and the birds hung up in the opening that I was trying to get to earlier. I waited them out for another five minutes before deciding that I needed to make another call or they could move away from me. I turned my head, facing the opposite direction, put hand over my mouth to make my sound like it was coming from behind me, and made a soft call. All three birds responded immediately. Thirty seconds later I could hear them walking out in front of me. I got ready for them to appear and lined my eye up with the bead on the end of my barrel. I could hear them fanning out and spitting as they got closer. Finally, a red head appeared 30 yards in front of me in an opening. I could see a good beard on him and knew that was enough for me to see. I sent a load of hevi-shot 6 shot his direction and he went right down. I darted over to the bird and watched the other two gobblers fly down the mountain. As I was filling out my tag, I could hear several gobbles down the mountain in different areas, including right around where I had originally stopped to listen (it figures). I noted their location in hopes of locating one of those birds for tag #2.
My 6th spring gobbler in 6 years using the “Raspy Old Hen.” This bird went 18lbs with a 10″ beard and 3/4″ spurs. Unfortunately, the video from the Go-Pro did not turn out too well due to a poor angle, low lighting, and the cameras inability to pick up sound at a distance. Still an extremely exciting opening day!
Good luck to everyone venturing out this spring.
When the alarm sounded off at 4:30am, I found no problem getting out of bed as I anticipated the morning ahead. I gathered all of my gear, loaded it into the truck, and then headed for my spring gobbler area. I arrived to the parking area around 5:15am and noticed that I was the first person to arrive. I decided to head to a spot where I had heard a bird sounding off a few days earlier. I arrived to my listening area about 1 mile from the truck just as the daylight began to appear. I no sooner sat down on my usual log when the sound that I had longed to hear that morning could be heard and heard often. I quickly moved down the mountain trail and closed to within 100 yards of the gobbling bird. I set up underneath a large oak tree that had excellent vision in front of it. The bird continued to sound off as I put on my gloves and facemask. Once fully set up, I pulled out my Ring Zone slate call and made a few soft yelps. The bird sounded off in response. He now knew right where I was located. I decided to set the call down and wait to see what he did once he flew down. Within 2 minutes of making my call, the woods went silent as the bird apparently had flown down and found some real hens to accompany him. I sat at the spot for another hour as I made a few more calls and watched a curious raccoon climb a nearby tree.
I moved down the trail in the direction of where the bird had been roosted, when I could hear the faint sound of a bird gobbling on a property that I did not have access to hunt. However, PA State Game Lands border the property on the very top of the mountain. My new plan was to circle up to the top of the mountain and work my way out to where I figured the bird was hanging out. I made the 3/4 of a mile hike to the top of the mountain, where I could pick up the State Game Lands trail that goes out across the top. Just as I arrived at the top I watched a few deer feed in front of me. While watching them I decided that I would go down over the other side of the mountain to see if there were any birds hanging on that side. Once the deer moved out of sight, I walked down over the mountain and found a nice area to make a few locator calls. I slipped the HS Strut Raspy Old Hen call into my mouth and directed my first call towards my left. Silence… I then turned to my right and started with a few purrs then just as I got into my yelps, I was cut off by sound of a red hot gobbler that couldn’t have been more than 80 yards away. I found the closest tree and quickly got set up. About two minutes after getting fully set up I figured I would give another call to let the bird know that I was still here and to see if he had closed the distance. I got the call positioned in my mouth when I spotted a turkey fan spinning around about 50 yards away. At that point I moved the call to the side of my mouth because I would not need to make another call. The bird continued to close in fanning out, strutting, spitting, and drumming. Whenever he would get to full strut, he would do a 360 degree spin as he looked for the hen that he thought he had heard. He continued to close the gap and got to about 20 yards into a clear opening. I decided that as soon as he broke strut I would send a shot in his direction. After making another spin, he broke strut and began acting as if he were no longer interested in finding the hen. I knew it was now or never so I sent the 3 1/2″ Hevi 13 5 shot in 2 1/4 oz from my Remington 870 Super Magnum his direction. The shot found its mark and the bird piled up. When I got over to him I knew that this could very well be my best bird to date. I filled out my tag, loaded him into my vest, and began the 1 mile trek back to the truck.
4th gobbler in 4 years for the Raspy Old Hen.
10 1/2″ beard, 1″ broken spurs (downside of hunting turkeys in rocky terrain), and 20lb 6oz, which is more than enough to make this my best gobbler. Now it’s time to see if I can fill tag number two.