Vonlinden2Ryan von Linden of Johnstown, N.Y., faced a double-edged sword. On the one hand, he was totally pumped to have obtained access to a new piece of property that he termed “an absolute turkey paradise.” On the other hand though, he had to the learn the land and the birds as he hunted them.

Throughout the first half of the season, frustration reigned. It seemed the birds were always one step ahead of him. But the 25-year-old’s patience finally paid off. He finally pinpointed a group of birds that were roosting just off a field each night. On the morning of May 17, despite a near full moon, he set up off the edge of the field about 120 yards from where he expected them to filter into the open.

At flydown the hunter offered a few yelps, and before long, he was watching six toms and three hens parading around in the field. Forty minutes later, they had worked their way into range, but now, Ryan had another problem. The toms were too close together to get a clear shot at just one. Just 15 yards away from his setup, one finally separated itself from the pack. It was all the opening he needed to nab his first bird of the season (first bird pictured). It was an 18-pound gobbler with a 9-inch beard and 1 1/8-inch spurs.

Vonlinden1A week later, von Linden returned to the same field, but only heard a single gobbler over the hill. He moved to get a look and saw the tom with five hens. He called and they slowly–to the tune of more than an hour–worked their way his direction giving Ryan his second bird for the spring (second bird pictured). Not too shabby. This one also weighed 18 pounds and had a 9-inch beard with 1-inch spurs.

Ryan will be entered into our “Give Us The Bird” contest with prizes offered by Carry-Lite, Hunter’s Specialties, Knight & Hale, Quaker Boy, Primos, Woodhaven Custom Calls and Woods Wise. For complete details and rules, click here.