A little luck on opening day

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Other than the opening day of any deer season, and any time during the whitetail rut, there’s no other hunting day I look more forward to than May 1, the opening day of New York’s turkey season.

I did my homework (scouting), thought I had a good plan and decided to hunt some private land in the Adirondacks where I’ve deer hunted my entire life. But as Civil Twilight kicked in that morning and daylight quickly increased, I began to have my doubts. I just wasn’t hearing any gobbling. But I knew there were some birds around so I’d have to be patient.

Finally, around 5:40 a.m. I heard a distant gobble, but couldn’t pinpoint its origin. Ten minutes later, just about official sunrise, I did a full hen fly-down imitation that included a hen cackle and a few vibrant yelps. Then I just shut up, and listened.

A few minutes later a gobble erupted on the hill behind me. I had no sooner turned to face in that direction when a hen showed up and made her way towards the decoys, circling them before moving on, purring all the while, unalarmed. Where was the tom?

Suddenly, he was there, about 70 yards out. I could see his blue head trough some think brush and he was in full strut. There must be another hen, and sure enough there was. She fed nonchalantly in a circle while he displayed for her. My only chance at tagging him would be to get her attention, so every time it looked like she was in a position where she could see the two-hen decoy set up, I sent some soft purrs, clucks and yelps her way, nothing aggressive.

Many times in the past when I’ve been in this situation I’ve watched – as so many other turkey hunters have – the hen take the old boy for a long walk in the opposite direction. But finally she took an interest in the dekes and started making her way to them, with him about 20 yards behind her.

I already knew he was a big tom, dwarfing her in size and I was anxious to get him in range. In this situation the hunter has to worry about four sets of eyes, rather than two and although I was in a good shooting position I still needed to bear down on him, so when she went behind a tree I got locked in. What was really only seconds seemed longer but once he was inside of 40 yards I pulled the trigger.

It was exactly 6:30 a.m. and about 45 minutes sooner than my earliest opening day gobblerl from two years ago. I had a big morning of running and gunning planned for opening day, but now that will have to wait until another hunt.

For this hunter, there is nothing better than the early days of turkey season with the cooler temperatures, limited foliation and lack of insects. It’s a wonderful time to be in the turkey woods. Slinging a gobbler over your shoulder on the way out is icing on the cake.

Note: check out our New York Outdoor News Facebook Group page and Dan’s video describing the hunt at https://www.facebook.com/groups/outdoornewsnewyork

Categories: Bloggers on Hunting, Dan Ladd, Turkey

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