The 2018 spring gobbler season comes to an end this Saturday on May 12. It has been an interesting spring to say the least with a lack of lush green vegetation and crazy weather. The leaves have finally decided to make their appearance again on the second week of May and the last week of spring gobbler season.
It was weird walking the ridgetops in Braxton County and not stopping to admire the blooming redbud and dogwood trees during the first two weeks. The woods had a deer season feel to them instead of spring gobbler season. The turkeys have been hanging out in the woods more than the fields this year which required some leg work to find fresh scratching. Find the fresh scratching and you’ll find the turkeys as they weren’t moving very far after coming off the roost.
I heard gobblers on the majority of the mornings I ventured out. I had two different gobblers come in but neither one of them cooperated for a clear shot. It never fails that you’ll have your gun pointed in the direction you think they’ll pop out and then they’ll come in from the opposite way.
On Saturday April 28 my buddy Sammy joined me for a morning hunt. He had told me that he hadn’t even heard a gobbler on the times he was out so me being the nice fellow that I am, I offered to call him one in. I knew the turkeys were staying in one particular hollow and as we eased around the point one gobbled.
The gobbling turkey was one of the birds I previously called in so I had a good idea where to setup. As we closed the distance all of a sudden, we heard and watched as the gobbler sailed out of a hemlock tree down towards the river. He was still on the roost and it was after 7:00 am. We were standing in the spot I wanted to setup at but I didn’t expect the gobbler to still be in the tree.
I looked at Sammy and said “Oh well, we’ll go find another one”. We walked along the logging road on up the hollow and sure enough another gobble roared out. Once again, we eased into position making sure not to get too close this time. We climbed up the bank and hid behind an old dead treetop. Sammy put a decoy up in the middle of the logging road. We got into position and I clucked and purred on the slate call and was immediately answered by the gobbler. A couple minutes later Sammy said “there he is”. “Where at?” I whispered. “In the middle of the road about 100 yards out” he replied.
I looked up the logging road and there he was in full strut. He took his time coming in stopping to strut his stuff. This is a magnificent sight to witness at a close range especially when they throw in a gobble you can feel in your chest. The gobbler saw the decoy and was walking right towards it when I heard Sammy click his safety off.
I knew there would be a flopping turkey at any second but when Sammy pulled the trigger the bird took off in the air and sailed down in the hollow. He looked at me with a puzzled look and said “What the heck happened?” I glanced over and saw a leaning sapling bouncing up and down with shot right through the middle of it.
“You shot that tree” I said with a laugh that would later come back to haunt me. We inspected the blown apart sapling and sure enough it took the bulk of the shot. Of course, I had to throw in a “you should’ve let him take another step before you shot” comment to rub salt in the wound.
A couple days later I ventured to a ridgetop in Braxton County as the sun was rising up over the mountains. I didn’t hear any gobbling activity so I decided to work my way to the left where I had noticed a good bit of scratching on a previous hunt. I setup a few times without any luck. I walked on out the ridge to a far oak point with a gas well. As I neared the gas well there was really fresh scratching so I decided to sit down.
I squirreled in between two big rocks and pulled out the slate call. Just as I was getting ready to make the first call I caught movement at the edge of the gas well. “That looks like a turkey back” I said to myself. I continued to watch and then a red head popped up. I waited for the gobbler to go behind a tree before letting a soft cluck out.
He looked in my direction so I knew he heard me. I readied my gun and the tense wait was on. A couple of minutes went by where I couldn’t see the turkey but I knew he was close. Now which way he was going to pop out was the next question. I scanned left and right with my eyes trying not to move anything else. All of a sudden there he was to my left.
He started walking up the bank and I tried to get him in my sights but he never stopped. I wasn’t sure why he didn’t stop then I looked back towards the gas well and saw the top of a tail fan. I swung my gun and got ready as the second gobbler popped out in full strut. He took a couple steps to the left and came out of strut. I wasted no time as I was afraid he was going to go up the bank like the other one. I slightly moved my gun and found the birds neck in my sights and squeezed the trigger.
He jumped back and ran up the bank. Just like Sammy I sat there with a puzzled look on my face. I walked around before noticing that a tree had jumped out in front of me as well. I went back to where I was sitting down and right in front of me was 4-inch tree with shot in the side of it. I guess that’s what I get for laughing at Sammy.
The 2018 spring gobbler season ends on May 12. Good luck to those who venture out for the last days of the season. Watch out for those hidden trees as they’ll jump right out in front of you.