Actually it was one of those days that keeps all of us always going back to the turkey woods.
After having terrible luck on my lease, bad weather, and a friend standing me up for a hunt Friday and Saturday; a buddy of mine that drove in from Alabama and I decided to head to my lease in OK to see if the birds were doing anything up there. We drove all over North West TX and South West Oklahoma on Friday after getting stood up and heading to my lease to see zero turkeys on our route anywhere. We were talking about how unreal it was to not see any birds. We pull up to the front gate of the lease in OK at 4:30 to see a strutter literally 60 yards from the gate. Maybe our luck was changing. I had only driven this lease 3 weeks prior with the owner looking at it to determine if I wanted to lease it or not. I had never been on it other wise. So, we parked down the road to not spook the strutter and hopped the fence headed to him. On the way to the bird, there was one hammering over the hill and down on a cattle pasture at the back of the property. He was so hot my buddy from Bama was like let's ditch the strutter up here and head to that bird. On the way to the hot bird a coyote pup starts yelping in that direction and shuts the bird up. Maybe out luck hadn't changed!
We keep walking toward the bird that stopped gobbling as I figured he had to still be out in the field. Sure enough we find him by himself just walking along the tree line on the creek in the edge of the field about 500 yards from us. We are in the tree line to his North, but not really hidden or seated to call one in. We hit him with our mouth calls and he answers us both twice and goes into a strut headed our way. I tell my buddy as soon as he goes behind the only tree in the field to sit down here, and I'll go behind him about 30-40 yards and do the calling. We get set up, and I start to call. I couldn't see the show as I had a bunch of brush/trees between my buddy, the turkey, and myself. The bird answered every time I called. He must have gobbled 150-200 times. My buddy said as soon as I started calling he broke into a full strut, take a step, gobble, look, strut, gobble, you know the drill. It took him 30-45 minutes to come the 400ish yards across the wheat field to him. My buddy ends up missing him. His arms gave out on him. I know it's hard to watch a bird come that far for that long and judge him correctly. He thought he was at 40 and he was actually 65ish when I stepped it off. Not bad for the first time on the property and just hoping we could roost birds to hunt the next day. By now it was 6:30, and we had several more birds gobbling we didn't want to bump. We figured they'd be roosted close, so we headed off to grab dinner, a hotel room, and get some rest.
Sunrise was around 7:05, so we figured it would be breaking day around 6:30. We knew we needed to be across the field he had missed his bird in and on some plowed ground behind it where we heard some birds gobbling. We had a pretty good walk up and down some hills and open pasture and decided to get there early. At least, we thought it would be early. He gets out of the truck at 10 til 6 and hears birds hammering on the roost exactly where we want to go. It's pitch black. I call him a liar and think to myself yeah right. We get to the parking spot, and I can't get the door open good before I can hear them hammering. We make haste and get about 100-200 yards from where we originally wanted to be for fear of being seen. We get two decoys out in the North edge of the plowed field with the birds hammering in a cotton wood on the South side of the field. The crazy thing is we can hear 8 different roosts with 12-15 birds gobbling and these two aren't even the "hot" ones. However, at this point we were pot committed. There was a rise or small hill in the middle of the field where we couldn't see the birds when they flew down, but the gobbled at everything we threw at them. When they came over the hill and spotted our decoys, it was strut all the way in and gobble double gobble until we smoked both at 20ish yards. One of those classic Rio hunts. I bet they gobbled 200-300 times. Two birds on the ground by 6:50ish. Both birds were 3-4 year old birds I'd guess with 10" birds and 1 1/4" spurs.
Picture of the birds:
The birds pretty much shut down gobbling after our shots, so we head back to the truck to take some pictures, grab some water, put the birds in the Ranger, and hope they start gobbling again. For the next 5 hours or so, we chase birds all over the property gobbling but don't find a hot one. Right before lunch we can hear one bird gobbling pretty good across the property from us. We close the distance to half, and he's still a long way off. We cut it in half again sitting up on top of a hill on a different plowed field hoping to get an answer. We call for 30-45 minutes with no response. We probably haven't calling in 15-20 minutes and still no answer from the bird when I can tell my buddy is nodding off. I think hummmm, "A crow call right now would wake him up!"
I get to laughing so hard thinking about his reaction I can barely compose myself to hit the call. Finally, I calm down and let out a LOUD CAW CAW!! The dude jumps about 2' off the ground from a seated position and throws his gun.
It's been a while since I laughed that hard. You know one of those laughs where no sounds comes out. He has a few choice names for me; and says, "I guess you are ready to go to the truck to get some lunch?" My response is, "Of course!" We head out in the field to retriever our decoys. I've got mine picked up and putting in my vest and a bird hammers. It has to be 200 yards from us in the field on the other side of some trees in the middle. My buddy was bent over picking up his decoy and thinks his further away. I convince him he's close and we better get to the trees in the middle. When we get to the trees we realize it's an old pond that the dam is busted with trees grown all around it and grass all in the center. We ease up over the dam from inside the pond to look behind it to see if the bird is in the plowed field. About the time we are on top of the dam we both hear what we think is a hen cluck about 30-40 yards from us just on the other side of the trees/pond. We hurry to get gloves and face mask on. I'm sitting almost on top of the dam with my back to the field looking into the pond incase the birds come thru it. I thought he was looking over the backside into the field. Little do I know he's laid down on top of the dam over my right shoulder. Just as my butt hits the ground, I see the tom on top of the dam with us and too my left about 25 yards.
My gun is sitting in my lap with the red dot off. I guess the bird had heard us crunching leaves walking in the pond and thought we were the hens that he had been answering as he clucked when we heard him mistaking it for live hens. So this bird starts walking towards us down the dam looking for the hens being very cautious. I have no idea what to do as I know I'm pegged if I move at all. He's so close I'm afraid he's going to see my blink. My buddy shoots open sights, so I'm hoping the bird will eventually walk off the backside of the dam and he can shoot him or club him or something. The bird keeps coming and gets within arms reach of me. By far the closest I've ever had a tom get to me. My buddy swears he almost steps on his head as he's lying down being me. Finally out of the corner of my eye over my left shoulder I can see the bird walk off the backside of the dam. We ease up to our feet, peer over the dam, and my buddy smokes the bird at about 20 yards. Not your typical come in stutting and gobbling hunt, but one for the memory books. I'd guess the bird to be a 2 year old with 1" spurs and 8" beard.
My buddy with the bird:
Since my buddy was tagged out, we decided to drive into town to eat lunch with a friend that lives in the area and his wife then clean birds and shoot the breeze until the afternoon. We got back to the property around 4:30PM, and I could see a big storm system to the Southwest. I checked the radar and it looked like the bad stuff was going to the West of us, but we weren't sure. We decided to hang around the truck for 30 minutes, see if the system moves thru, cool off, and see if any birds would gobble. Nothing ever sounded off, so once we could tell the bad part of the system wasn't going to hit us we struck out. We both agreed the best place to go sit and call would be another wheat field on the far East side of the property we hadn't hunted but had heard birds on. On the walk in we spot a hen. We watch her for a little bit to see if anything is with her. Once we decide she's by herself and she walks off, we get set up close to where we originally planned. I look at my watch, and it's 5:30. My buddy is sitting over my right shoulder just behind me planning on watching the show and doing the calling. I hit my box call and an immediate answer in the field to our left where we had just seen the hen leaving. He hits his mouth call and another answer. I go to pick up a slate pot call to give a few sweet clucks/purs; and my buddy says, "What are you doing? Get your gun up! They just answered us twice and are coming!" It doesn't take long before I see two long beards coming across the field headed our way. There's a small creek between the two fields with trees between the birds and us. Once they cross the creek and get into our field, my buddy hits his mouth call and double gobble from both birds!
The see our decoys and go into an immediate strut coming in from about 100 yards. They get to 40, and I'm about to shoot when my buddy says NO let me see the show. So, I let the birds get to 20 yards, and he can tell I can't take it any more. He clucks and the front bird sticks his head up. I like the back bird better as he has the better colored fan.
I can almost hear my buddy mentally screaming at me to shoot. Finally the back bird comes out of strut, and I lay the hammer down. Look at my watch, and it's 6PM with us both tagged out on Rios in Oklahoma. Once the other bird walks out of the field where we don't spook him my buddy tells me he thought I was going to miss I was shaking so bad. He said my gun barrel looked like it was moving 3-4" in a circle before I shot.
I'd guess the final bird to be a 3-4 year old with 10" and 1 1/4" spurs.
I wish all days were like this.