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son bags great "redeption bird" after youth hunt close calls

hoggatorhoggator Posts: 517 Officer
Finally got back in the turkey woods/fields after the youth turkey hunt. This time, I actually had the luxury of scouting one morning the week of the hunt. I located 2 huge gobblers in a field in full strut with hens all around them. Friday morning, we arrive at the WMA nice and early and we set up 30 yards away from where they were a few days earlier. My son is eager after having 4 close calls during the youth hunt, which included shooting one that, unfortunately, we didn’t recover. At first light, we hear both gobbling, but 300 yards to the south. The hens, however, were roosted 100 yards to the east. At fly down, 2 actually flew down from tress 30 yards behind us and landed in front of us. Another 7 flew in from the east. Within minutes, both gobblers join them from the south and they start heading our way. Its on! Well, not so quickly, at 120 yards from us, they make a hard left and headed west. We watched them feed till they were out of sight. Gobblers were responding to my calling, but were not going to leave their ladies for us. One hen walked up to a sunny spot 30 yards from us in the shade of the tree line and cleaned her feathers for over an hour. Her and I chatted about life in general. She told me many things and I shared a few personal stories as well. After an hour, another hen joined her and they walked to 20 yards away for the next 30 minutes they fed and talked to my decoys and purred a little here and there. Out of the south, here come 5 toms hauling butt and acting crazy, they were out running each other, running to the front, then running to the back of the flock. They were 150 yards away. I made one soft purr and they stopped, looked our way, and were gone in a heartbeat. All headed full speed into a cypress head. I couldn’t really tell how big they were. I am guessing they were jakes who were used to getting their butts kicked by the two dominant birds on that field and saw my decoy in full spread and took off. Eventually, my live decoys (hens) also walked away. One of my buddies shot a nice 9" gobbler that morning, but the bird was too far for his son to shoot. Later in the morning, when the field was clear of birds, we moved the blind to the fly down area in the field.

Saturday morning, before day light, we get a text that his good friend is having a birthday party/sleep over that night. My son tells me "We have to get a double early, so I can go to CJ's party." I smile and agree that is a good goal. At 7:10, we hear the first gobble and they are in the same cypress now 200 yards away. I did a soft tree yelp and got no response. A few minutes later I yelped a little louder and both immediately answered. I start second guessing myself about not putting the blind closer to them and be in between the hens and gobblers. Originally, I was concerned that they would roost with the hens and we would be too far south. At 7:15 the hens start flying down. At 7:20 I see both gobblers walking toward us following another 5-6 hens. Our hens start walking north and come through our decoys 25 yards away. I placed my son facing the decoys on his side. I told him to get his gun ready. Now come the second group of hens, but they start moving north east and away from the decoys. Gobblers are walking in and out of strut. I waited till they got 60 yards from our hen and jake decoy and purred. They both gobbled, looked at our decoys, and kept walking NE. When they got parallel to us, I ranged them at 65 yards. Every step after that, they were going to get further away. I called again, and they answered, but kept walking. Too far for my son to shoot! Some would argue that maybe too far for me as well! I leaned across my son, rested my elbow on his thigh, told him to cover his ears, and let the Mossberg 835 with 3.5” Longbeard XRs sing. Hens are flying everywhere. The bird is flopping all over the place. I grabbed my gun and take off running. I catch up to the bird and try to shoot him at 5 yards and missed, so I just grabbed him by the neck, put a boot on him and look back. My son gets there with his 20 gage. I told him I saw the other gobbler go into the pines 30 yards away to sneak up there very slowly along the tree line. He gets there and the 2nd bird is looking right at him 30 yards away. He pulls up and shoots. That bird was also flopping around. My son gets 5 yards away and shoots him in the head. We had our double and were ready for the 3 hour drive home to go to CJ’s party!

These were very mature Osceola turkeys. My son’s had a 10” beard and both spurs measured 1.25”
My bird had a 9.75” beard with 1.5” & 1.25” spurs.

This morning (Sunday) my buddy’s son shot his first turkey. An Osceola jake at 30 yards. He was part of a group of five jakes.

These are from my daughter's bird during the youth hunt, and mine & son's birds from this weekend.
We have been blessed to be able to enjoy this experince together and have this level of success on public land. Much like their dad, I think they both have the "turkey bug" now. I told both that future seasons will likely be much tougher, so really enjoy this one!!


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