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Author Topic: Heart Attack Tom  (Read 208 times)

Offline tider

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Heart Attack Tom
« on: March 08, 2020, 06:55:23 PM »

One of the few times I was paying attention in school and not daydreaming of hunting, I remember them teaching me about  Newton’s 3rd law.   It states that: for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. 

Now, I’m sure Ol’ Sir Isaac wasn’t talking about turkeys when he discovered his 3rd law of motion, but I was finding his law to be true this spring evening.  Breaking the silence of an otherwise quiet afternoon,  a gobbler let out a thunderous gobble so loud that my first reaction was to hit the ground out of recoil.  It had caught me off guard and had liken’ to have scared me to death. 

I had gotten access to this new property late in the season and this was my first time to step foot on it.   It was late afternoon a couple of days before a “ Turkey Calcutta “ hunt which a friend had asked me to be in.   It was to take place on Saturday that week.  It was a 2 man format, with the largest bird winning the cash prize.   So,  I was out this evening trying to locate a turkey for Saturday that hopefully had not been fooled with.

I  stepped out on a ridge that looked promising and gave a loud owl hoot when he answered me.  He couldn’t have been more than 20 yards away. 
How he didn’t see me, I still don’t know.  Some thick bushes and trees between him and me must have been my only saving grace.   
I dropped to the ground quickly as I could, heart racing, hoping he hadn’t spotted me.    I hadn’t brought my gun nor a single call with me, as luck would have it.   I had only planned on trying to locate one that evening. I had no expectation to have one so close.

It was obvious that he was still on the ground by the rattle in his gobble that vibrated through me like a sonic pulse.     I just laid there on the ground, for what seemed like 30 minutes, but in reality was probably only 10 or so minutes, hoping to hear him walk off.  As it got a little darker, I never did hear him fly up or walk away.  I crawled out slowly back over the rise, hoping he had not seen me. 

I went on that Saturday morning with high hopes.   I knew the approximate area where he was roosting.  I should be able to set up on him before daybreak and call him straight in when he flew down.   This should be easy I told myself.   I’ll have him in the back of my vest shortly after sun up, take him to the check-in, and sit back and collect the prize.    I remember thinking   “Man we might actually win this thing, “

After daylight,  he gobbled exactly  4 times on the roost before flying down.   He then proceeded to walked straight away ignoring every sweet Yelp I threw at him. The rest of the morning was a bust.....So much for the Calcutta. 

I had to go out of town for a week on business the following day.  (Talk about bad timing) ,  I was hoping he would still be there, and wanting to play when I got back. After the long week away,    I got back home and finally made it back to the woods the following week.   I had found a small ridge that worked its way down to a point, and that’s where I set up.   I was sitting facing a fairly open bottom out in front of me, with a branch head that made its way down to the bottom on my right and left side.  Picture an upside-down V with me sitting on the point of the V. 

I was set up in my turkey lounger early that morning waiting for it to get light. 
After 30 minutes or so after daylight,  I  still had not heard anything.  I had not called any yet. I was hoping he would gobble on his own to give up his location when suddenly a gobble so loud rang out that I almost jumped out of my chair.  He couldn’t have been more than 20- 30 yards from me, directly in front of me,  still on the roost.  My heart about jumped out of my chest again. After doing my best impression of Fred Sanford, I calmed back down and regained my composure.  If I play my cards right, this could be a quick hunt I told myself ...famous last words.....He should pitch down straight in front of me and I’ll be eating a cathead biscuit before 7:00.  That’s how it’s supposed to go right.

 He was roosted in a tree directly from the location I had walked in that morning.     I must have walked directly under him on the way in.    It was pitch dark when I came in and I took my time getting to my spot,  so I guess he thought I was a deer and had paid me no attention.

Once he started gobbling, he gobbled like it was no tomorrow. He was wanting every hen in the area to know he wanted some company.    He was gobbling once if not twice every minute.  So I had to just sit there and listen to this joker gobble.   I couldn’t see him through the canopy but I knew he was right there.   I wouldn’t call, afraid he might see me on the ground.  He must’ve gobbled 50 times within the first 20 to 30 minutes of daylight.   

As expected,  it wasn’t long until I heard a Hen coming up the left side of the point clucking and yelping walking directly toward the gobbler.   Any other time I would’ve gotten up and went toward the hen to scare her off, but the gobbler had me pinned down and I couldn’t move. So I had to watch her come in and go directly under the tree where the gobbler was.  She pitched straight up in a tree right beside him.    I don’t know what she told him but had to be something along the lines of “ there’s a fishy looking guy with a gun at the base of your tree, let’s take this somewhere else”.   A short while later the gobbler and the hen flew down the right side of the point some 80 to 100 yards behind me.   

It wasn’t very long til a second hen came in where he had been roosted. She stayed over on my left side and was clucking and softly yelping occasionally.   

The gobbler that pitched behind me with his hen had been gobbling off and on ever since hitting the ground.  I Attempted to call to him, mixing in some yelping all the way to some aggressive cutting.    He would give me a courtesy gobble every so often, but he was not interested in coming back to me since he already had what he wanted.   

 It wasn’t long till hen #2  to my left started yelping and cutting, trying to draw that gobbler back down to where she was.  I was somewhat comforted that he gave her the same treatment he was giving me.  He was not going to leave the hen he already had. Bird in the hand and all....

I have talked to several old-timers when I was coming up turkey hunting and they told me if a gobbler answers you, even though he has a hen,  whenever he breeds that hen or she leaves him, he will remember that hen that was calling him (you)  and come to the area later that morning.  It might be several hours later, but he will come to find the other suitor that was talking to him.   Since the ridge was pretty open and I didn’t want to bump him,  I decided I was going to try to be patient and wait him out.   

Around 8:00 or so, I was still listening to the gobbler behind me serenade his hen.   My focus was totally on him when all of a sudden a second gobbler erupted directly behind me the up the hill. No more than 30 yards away. 

Again...it  almost scared me to death,  only the way an unexpected gobble will do you.  Forget Bungee jumping, you can’t beat the adrenaline rush that an unexpected gobble will give you.   Between the pure shock of the unexpectedness of it all, tethered with the not knowing of the exact direction it came from,  is enough to test even the healthiest of hearts. 
If nothing else, I was getting a good stress test this morning, minus the doctors' bill. 

  I did some soft scratching in the leaves and some soft clucking to let him know I was there.  He was working his way down the ridge coming to my left side, so I was having to look back at a sharp angle trying to try to make out any movement.   He worked his way over the ridge and gobbled maybe three more times.  He was working his way toward that second hen that had been yelping earlier but was staying hidden behind the trees on the ridge behind me.  Once he made it to the bottom,  I did not hear him anymore.  I assumed he must have found the other hen and forgot about me. 

So now  I have a gobbler and a hen behind me to the right, who was still gobbling through all of this,( I’ll call gobbler 1) and another gobbler and a hen off to my left. (gobbler 2). 

Gobbler 1 had gobbled off and on all morning but had started tapering off.  At around 9 o’clock he totally quit gobbling.
I didn’t hear anything for nearly an hour from  either gobbler.   Around 10 AM gobbler 1  finally gobbled again directly behind me in about the same direction he had been most of the morning, except he had closed the distance and was coming in my general direction.     

I yelped to him and he started slowly making his way back down the ridge toward me.  Either he had bred the hen or she finally left him.   Either way, I was back in the game.

He would gobble every 5 minutes or so, being a little closer each time.  He was coming in from my left behind me, similar to the path the first gobbler had came, so I was turned facing where I thought he would show up. 

I raised my gun expecting him to step out from behind the trees to my left, but he never came out.  The last time he gobbled, he couldn’t have been more than 15 yards away, but it was enough cover that I couldn’t see him.   At least 5 minutes had passed and no sign of him.  I had been holding my gun against my shoulder the whole time and I was starting to cramp. With nothing moving but my eyes, I was searching hard for any sign of movement at all.    At some point, he had turned and came across the ridge and had gotten behind me but I did not know it until I heard a single putt. As I turned sharply behind me he putted twice more.    At this point, there was no way I could swing my gun back around where he was and pull off a shot.   So he walked away, with me just catching a glimpse of his head as he disappeared over the rise.   

I sat there another 30 minutes licking my wounds and on the remote possibility Gobbler 2 might be possibly silently making his way in. 
Nothing came, so I got up and walked across the bottom over to a logging road. I walked down the road about a hundred yards and gave a series of cuts.  Gobbler 2 fired off 70-100 yds off to my right in the bottom in response.   I quickly set up in the road with a decoy and tried to call him up the hill.

He moved further down the bottom,  so I got up and moved parallel with him slowly easing down the road.  I Eased off the road and slowly worked my way toward the bottom trying to get closer to him.  I Set up by a tree and started calling.  He would answer me, but he would not leave the thick bottom.   He stayed in the same area for a good 30 minutes answering my calls, but would not budge any closer.   He finally started easing away from me further down the bottom so I moved again further down the ridge and set up.
He was gobbling just beyond a grassy opening on the edge of the bottom.  I got as close to the opening as I could and called.  If he came back to the edge I would have a fairly close shot at him.      He continued to answer my calls but still would not come back to the ridge.

  He finally quit gobbling a little before 11 o'clock.   After trying a lot of different calls, I decided to throw the kitchen sink at him, since    I hadn’t heard him in quite a while and had nothing to lose. 
I cut at him real aggressively with my mouth  Yelper and used my box call to answer my own call with a gobble.    No response....
I hadn’t heard any vocalization in over an hour and it was getting close to 12:00, so I decided to pack it in.  My gun  was laying across my lap when I started putting all my calls back in my vest. All of a sudden to my left and behind me,  I heard a sharp putt.  I looked and one of the largest gobblers I’ve ever laid eyes on was standing within 30 steps of me. 

Newton’s second law of motion explains how the velocity of an object changes when it is subjected to an external force. 

(With the object being the turkey and me being the external force).    In one fluid motion, the gobbler changed his velocity, like a roadrunner being chased by Wiley Coyote, and took flight.   I can still see that wide Long paintbrush of a beard swaying in the wind as he flew away.    All I could do was hang my head. 

Twice in two hours, I had been bested by a bird with a brain the size of a walnut who doesn’t even know who Sir Isaac Newton is.    There would be no fresh turkey breast for lunch, but at least I can cancel that stress test. 

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Offline gdc23

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Re: Heart Attack Tom
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2020, 06:11:46 PM »
That was a lot more excitement than most successful hunts

Offline tider

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Re: Heart Attack Tom
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2020, 09:59:33 PM »
No doubt.   That's why we love it so much. 

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