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Finally got a S FL public land bird ( Long read)

bohunter0328bohunter0328 Posts: 87 Greenhorn
Drew a permit for a good S FL WMA last weekend ( 3/18 - 3/20 ). Was going to take my daughter's boyfriend from TN so he could try for his first Osceola. They were driving down and meeting me at 5 am on opening morning, but I got a text late the night before saying they were about 3 hours behind schedule. I told him not to worry and that I would just go to listen were the birds were. I ended up running late because of a road closure that I forgot about and pulled in to the check station at 6:30. I joked with the woman there that because I was ina hurry and running late, I would probably get lucky.
I got to my spot and no one else was there. I threw my gear on, grabbed my gun (I know, I'm supposed to only be listening) and jogged down the fire break. Right at first light and about 220 yards from where I wanted to be, I hear a gobble. I cut into the woods and head towards the gobbler, but about 50 yards in I hear hens already on the ground. I found a good tree and sat down and called. The hens responded and so did the gobbler. I waited quietly and heard the hens heading straight away from me and the gobbler didn't move (probably still on the roost). I tried to move between the hens and gobbler, but as I was moving I had more hens almost on top of me. I jumped into a clump of tall grass and cut one time. I had at least one hot hen looking for her competition and she was yelping at me every 15-20 seconds. The gobbler would respond about every other yelp.
After what seemed like 10 or 15 minutes of this madness, I finally see movement to my left at about 50 yards. It is a hen and I purr and putt one time. She takes her time walking by me looking for this hen that she can't find. At one point, she was only about 3 yards from me and I had to close my eyes so she wouldn't see me blink. As she was working away from me I noticed movement at about60 yards or so out in front of me. It was another hen and she was moving quickly to catch up to the first. The first hen went back to yelping and the gobbler who was MUCH closer hammered in response.
My heart rate was increasing noticably and I just had that feeling that it was gonna happen. I see movement straight out in front at about 100 yards and it's him. He's moving at an angle towards the hens that won't give me a shot. I give a short couple soft yelps and a purr and he stops, goes into full strut and gobbles 3 times. AWESOME!! At this point the hunt is already a great success.
He starts towards me and at 50 yards the hen yelps and he stops, gobbles, and struts again. I think about taking the shot, think about not shooting and saving my permit for my daughter's boyfriend. I call and he breaks out of strut, heads my way, stops at 35 yards to look and without even thinking, BOOM- dead gobbler.
I ran out 35 yards and put my foot on his neck while he finished flopping and had a good laugh, part because I was tickled to have finally killed a public land bird, and also thinking of daughter's bf's face when he sees me pull up with a bird.
He weighed just under 19 lbs. had a 8 1/2" beard, and 1.25" spurrs.
P.S. daughter's bf didn't get a bird, but came close on a Central FL romp and stomp. He had a good time and said he understood.
P.S.S. Spfldbowhunter, good to see you, sorry I rushed off that morning, but glad I did.

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