Written by Tom Shank
Another week in the woods of North Carolina found me with a new turkey client. I decided on a farm where previously several gobblers were heard, but I was unsuccessful in putting one down. Expectations were high and the morning was clear and quiet.
We took a position inside a ground blind looking toward a field with woods behind and to our right. A swamp bordered the woods, which was a prime roost site for turkeys. This location had it all. Again, I used “Henry,” my full strut decoy, with three Avian X hens to round off the setup. Any gobbler that would fly into the field from the woods would have no problem seeing the decoys, and it was hoped that “Henry” would cause a confrontation. As it is known, turkeys especially in the spring dislike any newcomers into an area.
It began to get light, that transitional time from darkness to the beginning of a new day. Gobble and then another gobble was heard. I responded with my friction glass call with some faint clucks and yelps. Both gobblers responded back. We were in perfect position.
The waiting game began, and I remained quiet. Their response assured me they were close and had to fly into the field from their roost since the water of the swamp was behind them. I hoped they would use the field as their landing strip and taxi themselves straight to us.
Yes! They did just that. Two mature, long-beard gobblers stood like statues directly in front of us. A beautiful sight to behold, with full-fans, red and white heads and long “paint-brush” beards made both North Carolina spring trophies.
They wanted “Henry” bad. A quick, straight run with some stops along the way to full strut and gobble was a fantastic sight. The distance was closed quickly and both gobblers went to “Henry.” It was a turkey hunter’s dream. It was in the bag.
The show was a one-sided street fight with my poor “Henry” getting the worse of it. The gobblers jumped on him and spurred him with their spurs. Feathers flew and eventually “Henry” was knocked completely over by the tag-teamed gobblers. It was time to shoot one of them, because any further delay my poor “Henry” would be destroyed.
My hunter was on his Remington 11-87 12 gauge shotgun and was in the ready position. Ka-boom! Ka-boom! What seemed to be a sure harvest at 6:25 a.m. turned out to be three complete misses. Both gobblers exited the field with no harm. My hunter was dumbfounded to say the least. He was in total disbelief in the blown opportunity to kill a gobbler at such close distance.
We tried to gather our composure and shook it off the best you can when you miss. Not to give up, we decided to move to other parts of the farm and do random calling. Similar to a run-and-gun technique only that I set up first and then call. This allows you to be ready immediately if a gobble is heard.
Two hours went by and on our second setup, a faint gobble responded back to us. It came from the direction of the swamp and it appeared to be getting closer to us. The more calling we did, the more he answered us. My hunter was using a scratch box he made that gave a raspy sound that the gobbler liked. I stopped calling and waited silently 30 yards behind him using a stump for a back rest.
There was more gobbling and then complete silence. This gobbler was close, and I expected a shot at any minute. I wasn’t disappointed. Three loud booms broke the silence. Finally, I thought my hunter had his gobbler. I hurried over to him and saw him standing looking down. Oh no! The gobbler was standing up at 40 yards. I told him to shoot again and he shook his head. “Out of shells.Only took six.”
Now we had a major problem. Since I was guiding, I carry no gun … thus no shells. The gobbler was wounded, but how hard. Could he fly or run? I didn’t know, but I had to do something. My plan was to wait him out in hopes he would expire within sight. That plan went out the door when he began to walk away toward a swamp.
Plan B was then activated. I removed my vest full of equipment to lighten my load and told my hunter to flank me on the right. Using trees and underbrush to shield me, I darted from tree to tree as the turkey’s view was obstructed. It was working. I was closing the distance and actually made it within 15 yards of him.
I was so close, when suddenly he made a right turn directly into my hunter. A swing of a tree limb went as a strike as my hunter missed him. This miss made the turkey run with me right behind it. Thinking I was close enough I made a lunge for him and missed the open-field tackle. I leaped up, gathered myself and sprinted after him.
No! No! I couldn’t believe my eyes. This darn turkey became airborne surely to get away. As it flew upward toward the upper canopy of tree limbs it crashed into them and plummeted toward the ground. It crash-landed, and this time I was on him in a flash.
I held on to him as we rolled around on the ground with feathers flying and wings flapping, but no way was this gobbler getting away from my strangle hold. The turkey expired soon after my one on one wrestling match.
My hunter got his turkey in the craziest manner. Unbelievable to say the least, what could go wrong did but luck and persistence prevailed. We gathered our thoughts, laughed and chuckled; no one would ever believe what just happened in the woods and water of North Carolina.
Thinking the story is over? No, we had the turkey and the hunt was over. Now we had to hunt for my hunter’s shotgun that he laid down on the ground during the chase and my turkey vest that contains every imaginable piece of turkey equipment known to man.
The hunt for both took 10 minutes and were found without drama. No miss, no foot chase, and no wrestling match.
This ends my 2016 spring turkey season in North Carolina.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 12 July 2016 16:17