Record Gobbler, A True Test Of Patience
The No. 4 atypical gobbler ever killed in Georgia was no ordinary bird—not with those beards, and not how the old gobbler made it so hard to hunt him.
By Greg Harvey
I found this gobbler to be one of—if not the most challenging—that I have hunted in my 36 years of turkey hunting. He didn’t roost in the same tree, but all of the trees that he roosted in were within a 200-yard-wide circle in a hardwood drain. He didn’t gobble much, but I could tell it was the same bird by his coarse, rumbling gobble.
I hunted this turkey several mornings at daylight, and each morning was basically the same. He gobbled one to two times in the tree and one time, or none, on the ground after he flew down. Considering that he was most likely an old bird, I called low and very little. Clucks and purrs only. I have harvested a lot of old gobblers with one cluck from my homemade slate call.
After he flew down each morning, hens came from all directions right to him. Their excited calling didn’t even bring a response from him. He and the hens never left the roost tree in the same direction any two mornings in a row. Setting up in front of him wouldn’t work without him establishing a routine route from the roost tree.
With no success in the mornings, I decided to try a midday hunt. At 2 p.m., I eased into the vicinity of where I had hunted the bird. I didn’t try to get real close for fear of spooking him. I set up in a beautiful hardwood drain beside a large oak tree and behind a blind that I made of gallberry bushes. I was prepared for an extended hunt.
Since my retirement as Chief of Conservation Law Enforcement at Fort Stewart, one of the things that I have really enjoyed is being able to stay with a gobbler as long as it takes. I think one of the most common mistakes of some turkey hunters is to try and rush a turkey to the call.
After I settled in the blind, I clucked and purred one time very low. At about 200 yards he answered the call, but only after five minutes had passed. After 30 minutes he gobbled one time, and I could tell he was a little closer. I didn’t reply… he was hunting me.
I always listen to a gobbler and let him dictate how and when I call. After an hour he gobbled again, and I could tell he was closer. I clucked low one time. I wanted to keep him interested and let him know I was still there. It was wishful thinking I guess, but as I was sitting there waiting, I was continuously thinking about how long his beard was, his spurs and weight.
Another two hours passed. Not a sound from the gobbler. Was he still coming? Had he lost interest and left? He was a true test of my patience.
Another 15 minutes passed, and I saw movement about 50 yards in front of me. It was two big gobblers. One of them had a much whiter head than the other. He seemed to be the dominant bird. With them standing in the gallberry bushes, I could see their heads and necks good. I squeezed the trigger on the dominant bird. Four hours had passed to harvest this gobbler.
When I saw the bird on the ground, I could not believe my eyes. What a magnificent gobbler. I have harvested many double-bearded birds, but never one with seven beards.
We are blessed to be able to hunt turkeys, especially old gobblers…
Other Articles You Might Enjoy