John Smashes a Last Day NC Gobbler!
What a crazy hunt! I started early that morning deciding I was just going to run to the gobble and pretty much shoot the bird I’ve been hunting for a couple weeks as soon as he hit the ground. I knew I had to get aggressive because the birds have no longer been responding when they hit the ground. It was going to be a run to the tree. Only thing was, there has to be a gobble for you to run to. Yup, that’s right, the day I decide to run to him and meet him at the tree… no gobble.
So kicking myself that I didn’t do it last week, I headed to an interior field that I knew they liked to be in. I set up my decoys and started some soft calling. I waited and waited. Then waited some more. I was getting frustrated and thought, “Maybe someone busted him over the weekend…” After talking myself into the idea that someone else had tagged him, I decided to pack it up. I gathered my stuff and headed to the truck.
Once I got to the truck I unloaded my shotgun, put all my gear in it’s place and headed down the driveway. Just as I was about to pull out I noticed a lone bird walking across the field on the other side of the road. “What is that? A hen, jake or the boss?” I put the truck in reverse and eased halfway up the driveway and pulled over under a tree. I sat there and watched the bird make it’s way across the big field which is about 400 yards wide. It seemed like it took forever. A couple neighbors came out and were looking at me like I was nuts! Just as the bird got closed to the road, I decided I was going to see what it was! I wasn’t going to waste another minute watching a hen on the last day of turkey season! I threw the truck in drive and headed down the driveway. I turned on the hard surface road and put the pedal on the floormat to see what this bird was. Just as I was getting close to where the bird should be on the side of the road, it darted across the road right in front of my truck! While he was in full run I saw what I needed to see, a rope swinging! He dived into a wheat field and followed a drainage ditch that was headed right back to the field I was in this morning. I knew he was going to follow the drainage ditch because the wheat was almost waste high.
I quickly turned around and back up the driveway I went. At this point the neighbors thought I was a madman and the landowner was standing on the front porch! I jumped out of the truck and he was laughing, “What in the world are you doing boy?” I couldn’t help but laugh a little too, “You didn’t see that big ol’ turkey cross the road right in front of the truck?” He shook his head, “Na, but I seen you going up and down the driveway half a dozen times. I didn’t know if you were lost or couldn’t figure out where you wanted to go! hahaha!” While we were joking back and forth I was putting on my gloves, facemask, threw my Bob’s Custom Call Reed in my mouth and shucked 3 shells in the Ithaca Mag 10. Just as I was closing the truck door the landowner said, “You know where he’s going don’t you? He’s headed to my back field, seen him there the other day about this time.” Without hesitation I told him I was heading that way and off I went!
I had to run around the fenced in cow pasture and down the edge of another hay field that’s a couple hundred yards long to head to the back field. As you know I am a little on the heavy side at this point in my life and the 400-500 yard run was whoopin me but I knew I had to cut this bird off before he made it across the back field! Who knows where he would have went if he got across that field. If he did, he would be either in the huge block of woods or a cut over that borders it. Both of which would have been impossible to find him since he wasn’t being vocal. As I reached the end of the lower hay field, there is a tractor path that goes from the lower field to the back field. It was about 50-60 yards long. At that point I started looking for trees and deadfall to my left to dive behind since I was getting real close to the edge of the field. I wanted to find a good hiding spot to be able to spot him and figure out a plan of attack as he left the back field, entering that block of timber. Just as I was reaching the end of the tractor path I was still in a fast pace, sorta sneaky jog, jumping from one bare spot on the road to the other all ninja like…. there he was! He stepped over into the middle of the tractor path at the mouth of the field edge. I slammed on brakes, threw up the Ithaca and barely got the bead on his beak before my trigger finger got spastic, BOOOOM! Straight to rigor mortis! Not enough muscles in his neck to keep his head vertical upon impact of the 10 gauge Federal Heavyweight Turkey Load to his beak.
I bent over trying to catch my breath as I was laughing! I couldn’t believe this happened. What a crazy hunt! I knew the bird was heading that way but I would have never thought he would have stepped out right in front of me at 20 yards while I was running towards where I thought he would be. It pays to know the land you hunt! I took a second to thank the lord for another successful hunt, caught my breath and threw the big ol’ bird over my shoulder.
Just as I arrived at the landowners house he met me on the front porch just laughing his head off! “I can’t believe you got ’em boy!” I dropped the bird just at the edge of the porch so he could see him and we both took a good look at his beard and spurs. He had a nice 9 1/2″ beard along with 1″ spurs. Identical to the bird I killed opening week of the season. They could have been twin brothers!
What a way to end the season. I gladly decided to take the rest of the day off from turkey season, well I didn’t have anymore tags either! Off to get my hog traps in order…