Roosting was Roasting
By: Forrest Breedlove, DIY Bowhunter
This was the first time since I had taken up turkey hunting that I would miss opening morning in my home state of North Carolina. As I sat beside my client before light behind my calls and camera I couldn’t help but think about those old gobblers by my house. After filming two hunters fill their tags on the first day of the season the ache to chase those familiar birds I had been eyeing all preseason burned deep. Sunday being a day of rest in the Tarheel State, I would get my opportunity on the next legal hunting day to try my luck.
That Sunday morning was spent sitting on the tailgate of my old farm truck listening to five gobblers fire off in sequence from two different perennial roost sites. One of these sites is as perfect of a setup a turkey hunter could ever ask for. They roost in the corner of a food plot behind an old homestead and traverse an old farm road to get to their only true strutting and feeding area. It is extremely close quarters however incredibly perfect if the hens don’t bust you traveling through on the road prior to Mr. Big’s arrival. After locating all the gobblers on the roost I eased out to get a nap before church. About 6:30 that evening I drove by to glass the birds in that strutting area before they made their way down the road toward the roost site. Some 300 yards away my Golden Rings focused on the two big long beards showcasing themselves for four feeding hens. “That’s them,” I said out loud before slowly pulling away wearing an enormous grin.
The well-constructed plan began the next morning as I sat in the Primos Dark Horse ground blind just off the old farm road to the South. The setup location was placed in a proven route the birds use to migrate from the roost site to that feeding area to the West. The DSD flock sat in the middle of the road in a location where they would be visible from the food plot behind the old homestead as well. The jake and submissive hen sat in front row at 11 yards in the dead center of my shooting window. Well before light I sat anxiously awaiting the first gobble of the morning. Just before 6 o’clock he roared a monstrous gobble that echoed in the calm hardwoods surrounding our location. When you are only 60 yards from a mature gobbler on the roost you can feel the percussion of his mating call in your chest. Soon after he and another tom started double and triple gobbling to answer some distance gobblers to the North across the road.
Hens started pitching out of the trees and hitting the ground to my East at 6:35. Before I knew it there were two hens standing among my decoy flock cutting at the new additions to their following. I began to answer them with a well-used glass call that has many photo sessions to its credit. As hens poured out of the trees and hit the ground the now grounded strutters gobbled to every cluck, purr, cut, and yelp that hit the airwaves. Those two hens moved on down the road into the field and two more took their place on the outer side of the spread from the food plot. They began to vocalize and once again I replicated their exact sounds as the Toms moved closer. The gobblers split with one skirting me to the South behind the blind and the other tom slowly strutted toward the North in the mature stand of oaks and poplars. The thick underbrush along the old farm road impeded my vision and I lost him for a few seconds just to be surprised by a bird in full strut running straight down the road. He never broke stride or strut as he ran nose to nose with the jake decoy and threw a few sucker punches at the manikin sending him spinning on his stake. Having hit full draw as the bird ran into the spread now I awaited the best-shot angle at the posturing gobbler. He regrouped and charged the jake again this time knocking him over and standing on top of him momentarily in a king of the hill fashion. My pin followed him as he twisted and turned around the fallen decoy until he paused facing straight away in full fighting posture. The pin locked in at the base of his tail fan and I engaged my release hand. After a few seconds of focused archery technique the Firenock blazed completely through him and now lay burning bright some 15 yards from the blind.
The time was 4 minutes until 7 o’clock on my first hunt of 2010 and I had just filled the first of my two North Carolina turkey tags. This was the fastest turkey hunt I had ever experienced however there was no lack in the dramatic or eventfulness of the hunt. The 23 pound 3 ounce bird lay just 20 yards to my West and as I picked him up I gave my thanks and chalked one up to the dedicated scouting. He was my second heaviest bird ever and wore a solid 1.25” right spur, an injured 7/8” spur that was actually detached from his leg bone under the skin, and a spindly 10” beard.
These hometown birds are the hardest to take of any sub-species I’ve chased or from any location I have ever hunted. Due to the small parcel size and extreme pressure they seem to always be one step ahead of you. Upon cleaning this old veteran I found multiple shot pellets making him the third gobbler in a row I have killed on that property that had been shot at in the past by neighboring hunter. Each and every backyard gobbler I take I feel I gain 5 kills worth of experience and 5 kills worth of accomplishment.
Originally posted 2010-05-20 07:51:13. Republished by Blog Post Promoter