On May 20th it was a cool cloudy morning as I loaded my gear up into my jeep and headed out on the road to my morning spot to hunt off the roost. A spot Nick and I had seen a gobbler the night before. I parked my vehicle and got out to see the sun just starting to light up a far mountainside to the east. I grabbed my gear and loaded my gun and headed for the woods. I settled in at the bottom of a big oak tree uphill from the gobbler that was roosted in the pines below. As the woods came to life and the blackness turned to daylight about 100 yards in front of me cracked the first morning sound of thunder….a gobble echoed across the mountain side and I knew I was in perfect position for this gobbler to fly down and work up the hill to the field behind me or so I thought. As the sun peaked the mountain and went behind the clouds this ol’ gobbler just kept hammering off the roost. As the time went by he flew the roost and as it went for me it wasn’t in my favor. He flew down the mountain across the road to another field. I gave Nick a call and said lets meet up and see if we can get one going.
As we cruised down the road from property to property we stopped and called, and stopped and called but we just didn’t hear or see any birds in any of the fields so we went to some more properties and after stopping at about 10 places we decided to poke in at Up in Arms Shooting Supplies because Nick needed a Sling for his Benelli super black eagle 2 that he had just got earlier that week. As we left there it was around 10 am and we figured we would circle back through some properties before we headed for the state line to see if we could get Nick on a bird in New York to fill his last tag. We were feeling discouraged and stumped by those turkeys that day but we just never stopped. Around 10:45am we stopped at our last property before we got to New York and I yelped a few times to a surprising sound of no gobble or at least that I heard. Nick says did you hear that, I heard a gobble. I was like no way man I didn’t hear anything. He said call again so I walked over to where he was and before I could even get another call out about 300 yards away I heard him gobble. With that gobble the battle was on. I said grab the camera and the decoys and lets go as we took off running down through the woods and through the briars as we crawled up into position on the bottom corner of a field. Nick placed the avian X hen and Jake decoy about 10 yards in front of us out in the field. A little sweaty and out of breathe now I waited for his thumbs up sign that he was ready and the camera was rolling. I yelped from my spot about 5 yards in the woods with my back rested up against a small sapling. He instantly gobbled at about 75 yards. Like they say when they’re hot, they’re hot! And this bird was hot. After a few minutes I heard a hen with him and started cutting her off and mocking her and then it all went silent for about 2 minutes. Sitting there gun up, ears listening waiting to hear him gobble again. The anticipation was killing me as I was listening close for my favorite sound in all of Pennsylvania’s woods. I couldn’t take it, the silence broke when I yelped softly and then the thunderous gobble erupted at about 30 yards as he was on top of us just out of sight in the tall grass. Nick whispered there he is do you see him as I looked frantically for him before seeing his white head appear as he went full strut in the tall grass where all you could see was his fan and his bright head.
He closed the distance to about 15 yards before he stuck his head up in the air to look for the decoys as they were difficult to see with the height of the grass. Nick goes shoot em! Shoot em! With the beard buster sight on his head I squeezed the trigger on my Mossberg and let the hevi-shot mix have at it!
The flop was on and my tag was filled. Nick and I were over joyed as our persistence to stay after the birds that morning had paid off. The lord had answered us with this opportunity to harvest this bird after 5 hours of trying to find one to cooperate all morning.
It just goes to show that hunting can go from a bad day to being in the heat of the hunt in the matter of 5 minutes. Never get so far down on yourself while you’re hunting whether you aren’t seeing anything or if you missed. Things can change at any given time and if you aren’t still out there when they change then you’re only missing the opportunities at hand! Do your best and let nature take its course.
– Darton Harwick