2016 Allegheny National Forest Spring Gobbler Hunt
This hunt started on Thursday night. I went out at 6 pm to walk an ATV trail trying to hear a gobbler as he went to roost. At 7:35, I saw 3 birds walking down a side trail about 150 yards away, I immediately hit the ground and crawled to a tree at the corner of the trail intersection. There was a long beard that went into strut several times, a hen and what appeared to be a smaller gobbler. At 7:45, the hen flew up to the left of the trail, the smaller gobbler followed her a minute later, and finally, the long beard roosted to the right of the trail at 7:50. I snuck out at 8:10 without hearing a gobble but confident I would be in action come morning!
I arrived at the trail intersection at 4 am to be able to set up the hen and half-strut jake decoy, the blind, and a couple trail cameras. By 4:30, I was settling into the blind full of excited anticipation 10 yards off the left side of the trail, 75 yards from where the birds flew up! As shooting light approached, I made a few soft tree yelps and purrs. Five minutes later, I imitated 2 fly-downs, then did a series of clucks and purrs. Shortly after, I heard the long beard fly out of his roost, followed immediately by what turned out to be the jake.
To my surprise, both gobbled 250 yards away on the other trail! After a few more calls and the jake gobbling non-stop up there, I heard putting 60 yards away above the decoys. A moment later, I saw the long beard sneaking back toward where he had been roosted at 70 yards through the thick brush. I then started gobbling back at the jake every time he sounded off, and he slowly started moving closer. 45 minutes later, I heard him fly toward the long beard from 40 yards beyond the decoys. He then resumed gobbling 150 yards down the trail I was set up on. Another 45 minutes passed until I finally saw both birds slowly working their way up the trail toward me. At 50 yards, they stopped behind a tree, the jake gobbled at the decoys, and then both birds swung out through the brush at 70 yards, headed back to where they had started the gobbling that morning. As soon as they reached that spot, the jake began gobbling again! I decided to sneak out and vowed to be set up on their strut zone the next morning, knowing there was a grassy opening on the side of the trail up there!
At 4:40 Saturday morning, I settled into the blind, nestled in the corner of that grassy opening, but no decoys out to spook these heavily pressured birds. I hoped the birds hadn’t been busted by hunters or coyotes the night before and would head to this spot like they had the morning before. At 5:20, I made some soft tree yelps and some purrs, then did a fly down flap with my hat. 5 minutes later, I heard flapping wings come up the hill and heard a bird land in a tree behind the blind. I waited… nothing! At 5:40, I made a series of clucks and purrs… nothing! 5 minutes passed, and then the sound of wing beats down to the side of the blind and footsteps on the gravel trail 15 yards away! I slowly peered out the window to see the blue head and then the beard of the bird as he peered out into the opening looking for the hen he had just heard. As I reached down to grab my shotgun, I heard him spit-drum and take a couple steps forward. I slowly slid the end of the barrel of the gun through the window screen, lined up the sight beads and squeezed the trigger. With the boom of my Mossberg 835, the bird crumpled, I flipped the blind and ran to claim my hard earned prize! I admired his 8 1/4 inch beard, 7/8 inch spurs, and the iridescent plumage of these magnificent birds!
Though he never gobbled, I have only heard spit-drumming while hunting 2 times before and the elusive sound will remain a cherished memory involved in this hunt. Alas, I didn’t leave the woods without hearing the coveted sound of a gobble, though. Before heading down the hill toward my jeep, a gobbler sounded off 8 times in a valley clearing. As I approached my jeep, the rain began, but there was no dampening of my spirits that morning!
Go Turkey Hunting with Double Drop Tine Outfitters
Experience the elation of calling to a gobbler in the wee hours of the morning and watch these magnificent birds compete for their mate.