Sitting in Tommy's truck in a field known simply as Hobo's, we pulled back up and watched the turkeys stand in the downpour. They merely hunkered down and waited it out in the open. Within 15 minutes, the rain stopped, as did the deadly lightning. Far out in front of us, the turkey was moving along the edge of the woods, toward the direction from where we had been calling before the storm.
Again, we backed the truck up out of sight, ducked into the woods, and this time, looped around for a setup toward the end of the field the turkey was heading. We could see the turkey in the middle of the field almost 150 yards away, so I bellycrawed to a tree just inside the woods, while Tommy backed down a small drainage in the forest and began calling. Through a thick holly that obscured most of my view, I could see the bird walking steadily toward me. A small lane ran right by my and I aimed in anticipation. Being a typical turkey, however, the tom, rope swinging with each quick step, decided to loop through the woods himself and slanted away from the lane.
Problem was, he was still within range of my Winchester Xtended Range turkey loads (#5s). I rolled my mouth call from the inside of my cheek to the roof of my mouth and gave a sharp cluck. The longbeard raised his head and paused just long enough for me to squeeze a shot of. At the impact, he immediately flipped backwards, his legs driving his body back across the field and his head down in the dirt. I didn't think he was going far, but he was about to become obscured behind the holly, where if I needed to shoot again, I wouldn't be able to. For quick insurance, I unleashed another round. The 4-year-old tipped the scales at over 20 1/2 pounds, had a 10 1/2-inch beard and 1 1/8-inch spurs. There was only 35 minutes left before Virginia's noon quitting time. It was a great way to start the season.
With Sunday off, I spent the day scouting with my daughter and not catching up on any sleep. Still feeling beat, I met up with Tommy at 5:30 this morning. We had spotted at least two, maybe three longbeards, Saturday afternoon heading back to another field where we had had luck in the past, but which had turned cold over the last two years.
It was still dark when we stepped from the truck and heard gobbling right off a small field that was connected to a larger field by a narrow sandy lane. We grabbed our gear, including the Pretty Boy decoy, and as we walked toward the small field, heard two more turkeys farther back. One turned it up pretty good as the others went silent. He was our boy.
We quickly strolled to the back field, set up inside the woodline across from the noisy gobbler, and pitched the Pretty Boy, complete with a real gobbler fan from Tommy's collection, right behind the squatting hen decoy that comes with it. I swear, I have never seen a decoy that looks as real as this one short of Cally Morris's $400 taxidermied turkeys. I set it close to Tommy, within 15 steps, and then we got to calling.
It was one of the shortest hunts I've ever seen. We hit the turkey with a combination of mouth calling and yelping on a Primos slate. He gobbled from the woods. He gobbled from the field, but still out of our field of view. We clucked and purred softly. He gobbld again from the center of the field. He was headed for the lane that we had walked up, which is exactly where I had figured he would go when he entered the field. For that reason, I had set the Pretty Boy up with his back toward the lane. That way, if the gobbler came in to confront the decoy, he would have to come around and stand right in front of Tommy. That's exactly what he did.
When that ol' longbeard spotted that fanned out decoy, he came in at a dead sprint. He paused, 20 yards from the deke, went into strut, started to drum, and not being honored by what he thought was another tom, strutted right around to the front of the plastic bird and bumped up against him. It was more than Tommy could stand. Boom! And the show was gloriously over. The turkey had only been 15 steps away. It was only 6:40.
Of course, we didn't see or hear another thing all day, but then, who can complain. Two days, two birds. I'll take that anytime. Now we just have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.