By Pro Staffer Jim Burns
I guess a turkey can have a long sleepless night just like we do occasionally and just needs to hit the snooze alarm. Fortunately for me I wasn’t going any place and was there waiting for him when he finally left the roost.
It was the second Saturday of our 2012 spring gobbler season in Virginia and my buddy Dan Witt was with me to film my hunt. I have been on a cold streak the last couple of years but really had a good feeling about this morning. The landowner had been seeing gobblers almost every morning in this particular field, the weather was perfect; I was 7 weeks post having a total hip replacement, and feeling good about being back in the woods.
We were set up by 5:45 a.m. The sun crept over the horizon around 6:00 a.m. and the first bird gobbled some ways off from behind us. Within 10 minutes there were 5 gobblers making their presence known and one was well within 100 yards of us. I tree-called on my Eradicator slate and threw in a few soft yelps from my Jagged Edge mouth call and he hammered back at everything! Now I was getting excited. 6:30 a.m. rolled around and two hens left the roost and landed in the field about 50 yards from us. They didn’t seem to like the decoys but hung around for almost 30 minutes clucking<, yelping and just strolling around like a couple of ladies at the mall. This is great we think, as what could be better but two live decoys and all the while the gobbler is hollering from his bed. 7:00 a.m. arrived and the big guy still hadn’t slipped out of the covers; now the ladies had left the field for another store. We went silent thinking this would drive the big guy crazy and get him off the limb but to no avail. 7:15 a.m. was the last gobble we heard that morning, all had gone silent. I glanced at my watch again and it was now 8:00 a.m. I looked over at Dan who was off to my right and although I couldn’t tell for sure but it looked like he too was catching up on some shut-eye. That is when I heard that unmistakable sound of flop, flop, flop from a bird leaving the roost. I turned my head back around and there he stood 40 yards away and looking straight at us. Caught with our guard down, or should I say the gun down, scope off, camera pointing in the wrong direction and off; the stare down began. Every time the bird would look away or peck at the ground I would move the gun a few inches until I finally got it into position. I was hoping that Dan was doing the same thing with the camera. The big guy just wasn’t sure of the decoys so he didn’t budge or make a sound. He just stood there with feathers glistening in the sun. I whispered to Dan “you on him?” No response. I told myself I hated to wake him up this way but I was pulling the trigger now!
The moral of the story is… be patient if you are sure a gobbler is in the area because sometimes they just don’t like to get out of bed early! Oh by the way, the bird went 19.5 lbs, had an 11-inch beard with 1” spurs. I shot him at 8:20 a.m. and Dan was awake but never got the camera turned on. He was afraid if he moved and repositioned the camera he would spook the bird and then get shot by me.