MO Youth Weekend Success
Wow, what a difference a day can make. Yesterday we were greeted with nasty storms and quiet birds. This morning was just the opposite. We snuck in to a ground blind placed on a ridge known as Honey Ridge. The thing about this ridge is that if there is a gobbler at the top, success is almost guaranteed. We got set up with 2 hens and a half strut jake, and a few moments later the first gobbles roared from the ravine below. 5:40 am
Soon gobbles started to spread across the area. At least 7 distinct gobblers could be heard, including the group of 4 longbeards that has become known as "The Gang". I have many photos and a few visual encounters with the group this spring. However, the most intriguing gobbles came from a bird roosted 100 yards are so up Honey Ridge. Only 2 gobbles came from the bird, but I had a good feeling he would make his way towards us. Flydown 6:10 am
As I expected the ruckus on the roost did not continue on the ground. The Gang heading away, most likely following there hens, one bird was a little hot in the creek bottom, but was also moving away. The birds would sometimes answer our calls, but rather would scold the geese and crows for jabbering. I continued to scan up the ridge behinds expecting to see a sneaky gobbler. Shhhh.......Be quiet. 6:20 am.
The wind was blowing pretty good but I was sure I heard a distinct sound. Dad quickly agreed on what I heard. Drumming!!!! I slowly scanned the ridge. Did not see a bird, when a ground shaking gobble erupted from up the ridge. He within 70 yards but I can't see him. There, movement over the lip of the ridge. I whispered, "He coming fast" I needed to say this to get my nephew and dad ready for a shot, but it also made my nephew shake like crazy. It also did not when I exclaimed on how big his beard looked. The bird would trot down the ridge, stop and strut, drum, and do his dance, and then trot a little more. 50 yards 6:25 am
Now, we had the decoys past us on a oak flat. The gobbler was actually approaching the back of the blind. We figured he would simply pass by the blind towards the decoys, offering a nice shot through the main window. Therefore, I did not open the small window I was using to look behind us very much. This is key.
The bird steps out behind a tree. Full strut, red, white, and blue blazing. 20 yards away from the blind. Perfect shot for me, but my dad and nephew could not see him. However, he continued on his path making it within 5 yards of the blind. He was also ringing our ears with the drumming, which in return caused my nephew to nearly hyperventilate. Now the bird is in the blind spot. We waited for him to step out in front but it never happened. He peaked back out and too my surprise the bird was walking away! He was in no hurry though thankfully. After a few tense moments rearranging for a shot out the side we were ready for the shot. The bird slowly raised his head and BOOM!!!! Flopping turkey 6:30 am
I had a video camera ready, but it happened so fast that I didn't even chance it. It is his second bird in 2 youth seasons. His bird last year was shot a mere 40 yards from the blind this year.
22lbs - 1" spurs - 10.5" beard.