Pre-dawn, my good buddy Josh Grossenbacher cut the truck’s engine near the barn. Day 2, with four longbeards taken by as many hunters on the Kentucky opener, we were feeling right. We eased past fragrant autumn olive, beyond a pond and up a trail into a hollow where we’d listen down below between two ridges.
Windless, frosty, and a sky full of stars, we wouldn’t be disappointed. A gobbler just below the near ridge top cleared his throat, maybe a 100 yards away from us. Others followed here and there. At one point, it sounded like two birds were roosted below the near ridge. We weren’t sure at that point. We hatched a plan: we’d drop back, move away from our position, climb to the top, ease toward the gobbling, and pick a setup above the roost.
Everything fell into place, including this blunder which proved to be just the opposite: we busted a hen on top, just over the rise, above the gobblers. She flew downhill, away from all of us. We whispered, picked a spot. Josh snipped some branches and we set up.
I’ve bragged on my bud Grossenbacher before. As one of ZINK Calls’ turkey guys, he’s a high-ranked competitive caller. He also builds the calls. He uses them in the field. He’s a master of soft calling, and you’d think you were sitting next to a live hen at a setup. His ZINK Signature Series triple-reed V-style call, framed in thin red tape (Ohio Buckeye colors he reminds), with tightly stretched reeds, rides in his mouth from hunt start to finish. I’ve love its rich, raspy quality, and will carry it on upcoming hunts (www.zinkcalls.com). Nuff said.
Safe to say I was in the company of a guy who could put you on turkeys, and call them in. As a result, I had the shotgun. We’d only need one by the end of it.
We set up. Two gobblers sounded off. I could hear one strutting on his limb below; the drumming was distinct in the windless air. Josh softly called. They barked back. Down they flew (heard, not seen) roughly 80 yards away on the side hill. The strutter appeared not long after, and moved away at an angle. Hidden by cover, I scratched some leaves as Josh yelped. The bird wheeled to face us, and began his way to us. Another longbeard, not strutting, followed. Up the hill both came. Both walked the little spine on top of the ridge. After the strutter passed a broad tree trunk, I let him have it at 14 yards.
The other gobbler flew-hopped to the other side, semi-spooked by the bang, but not far away. “He’s still there,” I whispered, handing the shotgun to Josh as he confirmed what I thought. He softly called. Leafy steps moved closer. Josh dropped that longbeard inside 10 steps.
The two-headed, four-armed, one-shotgun hunting machine had doubled.