Don’t overlook a little girl talk during turkey hunt
The first hour of daylight was filled with boisterous gobbles and lustful yelps and clucks from a mixed flock of turkeys.
My daughter Jenelle and I were tucked away in a pop-up blind along the edge of a field and the birds were roosted about 100 yards away in a small stand of towering pine trees. We couldn’t have been more excited.
About the time we decided to announce our location with a few subtle clucks, Jenelle spotted a bird moving into the field about 150 yards down the edge. A quick peak through the binoculars confirmed that it was a gobbler and a very big one at that.
Talk about an early bird. It was 6:10 a.m. and he was already on the ground and on the move. He hadn’t made a peep and had entered the field from a different direction than where the other birds were. He ignored our serenade and promptly headed east towards some nearby agriculture fields.
Minutes later, several hens entered the field, and a few minutes after that two mature redheads who’d been gobbling for the last 40 minutes strutted onto the scene.
As often happens when toms are henned up off the roost, the gobblers paid little attention to our decoys. They were much more interested in the live hens – despite their apparent indifference.
The toms would respond nearly every time we tried to talk to them, but they weren’t budging. They eventually grew tired of the game and the turkeys all headed in the same direction as the early bird.
The morning air was crisp but now fell silent. The flock that had roosted in the pines had moved through. Should we sit tight? Should we go look for another bird? We mulled over our options and decided to stay put for a little while longer.
As luck would have it, a pair of stragglers – a hen and a tom – snuck into the field unannounced.
It was pretty faint since they were downwind of us, but we could hear the hen clucking and yelping. Sometimes the gobbler would respond, other times he’d just ruffle his feathers and visually proclaim his approval.
We knew our chances of calling him in was slim to none so we instead tried to pick a fight with the hen. Whatever she said we’d say right back to her. She yelped four times and we yelped four times, with just a tad more aggression and volume. She’d cluck, we’d cluck.
If she was quiet we didn’t start the conversation, but every time she spoke we made sure we mimicked her and that we had the last word. The gobbler would throw in his two cents every once in a while, adding to the excitement.
After a couple of contentious minutes, the hen decided she wanted to meet face-to-face with this pesky bimbo and started walking down the field edge right to our decoys.
The tom lagged about 20 yards behind and wasn’t keeping pace with the hen, but he was coming in the right direction.
With a little more girl talk between us, the hen ended up in our lap. Realizing, I assume, that the decoys were not real, she continued past us then broke into flight after seeing a truck at the far end of the field some 300 yards away.
My stomach dropped. Would the gobbler spook, too?
He was looking at the decoys so I gave him a nice, soft purr and he started walking. Then he stopped again. He was in range, but I couldn’t see him because my view was blocked by the corner of the pop-up. Jenelle was the shooter though, and she had a bead on the bird.
“Is his head up?” I whispered softly.
“No,” she whispered back.
I gave one more subtle purr, and a moment later, Jenelle squeezed off a shot and filled her 2018 turkey tag with a dandy gobbler. The bird weighed over 18 pounds and had a thick, 8-inch beard.
The ideal situation in the spring turkey woods is to call in a lonesome gobbler who is on the prowl for a hen. Trial and error tells me that when a tom is henned up, the chance of me calling him away from that hen are remote.
Sometimes, though, you can throw a little girl talk out to the hen and bring her in, with the ol’ gobbler in tow.