The Story of the Double-Beard too caught up in love.
It was a cold, 4 am, Saturday when I woke up, eyes wide open, to my phone vibrating and screaming off the table. My alarm had just gone off to begin my hunt. The evening before, I had realized it was the last weekend of turkey season. I was slightly depressed, of course, but also determined to tag out (meaning I fill all 4 of my turkey tags for the season). It had already been the most successful turkey season I’ve had and, boy, I sure didn’t realize just how good it was about to get.
I sprung out of bed and begin to warm up the coffee. I, typically, am not one for coffee but once the last weekend or two of a hunting season starts, us hunters are worn down. My brain was running wild with the mission ahead and what my plan of action would be going after such a mature, intelligent gobbler. For nearly two weeks, I had scouted and watched this bird morning and afternoon, always getting close but just never close enough. He would constantly manage to be on the opposite side of the field and I hadn’t gotten the chance to close the deal.
I get my pack ready with decoys, calls, shells, and most importantly snacks. It was one of the cooler morning hunts I had all year as it was nearly 32 degrees as I set out to the Jeep. The brisk 4:30 walk to the car was a chilly one.
There’s always that moment in a hunters head that pings him and says:
“Are you insane? It’s 32 degrees at 4 am and you want to sit under a tree…” – I obviously didn’t listen too well.
10 minutes later, after getting through the gate and down to the bottoms, I knew what had to be done. I needed to get to a specific tree that was no less than 50 yards from where this bird typically roosts. He was up on a cliff that overlooked the whole bottom part of the farm and he was easily the King of the castle. My plan was to set up under that tree early enough that it wouldn’t wake him in hopes that he would drop down off the cliff and “light” (land) into the field out in front of me with his hens.
I’m head to toe in leafy gear, Iooking like a sniper out of the movies, I began my mile walk to my location. It’s cold, it’s fresh off a misting, my boots are soaked and I’m shaking by the time I get sat down under this tree. Pitch black and no noise other than a few faint sparrows.
After getting settled in, it took about 30 minutes for this dude to begin making some noise. On the dot, 5:30 am, this rattlecan starts to shake. Gobblers (male turkeys) are given the name “Thunder Chickens” for a reason. When they get to gobbling, you can hear them from quite a long distance away. Seeing as this bird was a fully mature gobbler, he had a very distinct rasp in his gobble.
Luckily, I was able to get some video/sound of the gobbler as he was roosted and letting the whole farm know where he was. He gobbled every 15-30 seconds for the next 30 minutes. Once the sun started rising, I heard what sounded like an airplane coming through the trees. This gobbler comes flying in along with 15 other hens right over my head into the field. I see the beard on this guy and immediately begin shaking (turkey fever is real, just as buck fever is) as if I’d never seen a gobbler before in my life.
Minutes go by… he’s not answering my calls, he’s not being responsive and seemingly disappeared. Kind of like an ex! (lol) So, after about an hour I decide to get up and pack my things as I assume, depressingly, that he has walked on with the hens over the creek bed and eating in the neighboring field. I slung my shotgun over my shoulder, checked my phone and gear to make sure all is there. My dad had always taught me to look one last time before leaving from your field. So, for one last view, I threw the bino’s up to my face. As I scan the back part of the field, much to my surprise, I see the top 6 inches of this gobblers’ fan in full strut out in the field. No chance he knows I’m here but I sure knew he was.
I immediately fall to the grass and think about my new strategy. This gobbler is nearly 200 yards away and walking the opposite direction, however, slowly. I decided there will be only one option, it’s time to crawl. I throw all of my gear down outside of my shotgun, cell phone and binoculars. Luckily, I have the Vortex Binocular strap and it was super easy to belly crawl without having the binos swing and catch on everything (would advise anyone to check them out). As I truly INCH towards this beast, I would pop up every 15-20 yards or so to make sure that I could still see the gobbler and to catch my bearings on what to do next and if they had changed direction, but it was time to close the deal.
I get within 50 yards and stop. I needed to catch my breath and calm my nerves as I was at the most crucial point of the stalk. I, personally, want to have turkeys within 20 yards (I’m blind and am just not the best shot in the world) so I knew I needed to get closer. Back on my hands and knees and I get about 20 yards closer and “PTT”……”PTTT” (putting noise hens make to warn the group). I knew exactly what had happened, I had been caught. Within the last 30 seconds, one of those hens had seen something that they didn’t like, and it was me.
So, I slowly raise up and much to my surprise, the gobble is still strutting and looking the opposite direction. The beauty of this situation is that when a gobbler struts, he cannot see behind him (word to the wise, young men, you strut too hard you won’t see the danger creeping up behind you). My next move is crucial, I get to my feet to an extremely low and slow walk. One step at a time, inch by inch. The hens are all “putting” at me and beginning to run off, meanwhile this gobbler is so focused on showing off, he stays strutting. I move within 20 yards and stand up fully, yell “hey” and as the gobbler comes out of strut to turn at me.. BANG. “Can’t stop the flop.”
I run full speed at this gobbler and grabbed him by his feet and raise him up as proud as I could. I had chased this bird for so long and had belly crawled nearly 300 yards in freezing and wet temperatures. I accomplished my goal and was able to feed my family another night all the while having one heck of a story to tell. This bird ended up weighing nearly 23 pounds, 10.5 and 7.5 inch beards, 1.25 inch spurs.
I make a few calls and take some pictures and begin my trek home. I end up getting pulled over for speeding but luckily the police officer was more interested in my gobbler than the ticket! (LOL)