My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Stories of your favorite gobbler hunts.
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Cut N Run
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My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Post by Cut N Run » January 30th, 2018, 11:57 pm

This turkey hunt started in early November of 2006 when I was deer hunting during muzzleloader week at the land I leased in Granville County, N.C. near the Tar River. I hiked back to the farthest corner of the lease, where nobody else hunted, hoping to get a crack at the buck who was laying some serious rubs down around that land. Just past daybreak, I heard a gobbler, roosted just across the creek in some hardwoods that bordered the neighbor's land. He was definitely telling the world that he was the man and no other birds challenged him. About 30 minutes after it got good and light, I saw a gobbler moving along one of the deer trails across the creek from where I was set up. He was a good sized bird, but not huge by any means. That gobbler appeared to be moving away from something, looking kind of nervous, and I guessed it to be a coyote. About 30 seconds after the first bird vanished into the underbrush, a massive gobbler waddled down the same trail with a purpose, obviously looking to kick that other gobbler's @$$. I immediately understood why the first bird ran off and I realized which one was sounding off from the limb. I didn't see any bucks worth shooting that day and I decided to keep the big gobbler sighting under my cap.

Fast forward to the end of January, when we were doing our monthly maintenance and improvement work day at the lease. We were posting the property boundary line while the trees were bare and the bugs & snakes weren't out. I volunteered to post that back corner of the land, hoping I might get a better idea where that big gobbler liked to hang out and to keep the other guys from finding any sign of the big bird. We ran out of posted signs before the job was done, so I drove into town to get some biscuits & some more signs. As I was standing in line at the feed store with the stack of signs, an old timer, who was hanging out in the store asked where I was going with so many signs. I told him what land I was going to post and it turned out that he was part of a crew that logged sections of that land back in 1960. He asked me if that great big sawdust pile was still there, but I didn't know it. He described where it was in relation to a very distinct bend in the creek and flat by some big rocks. I knew the creek and where the big rocks were, but I hadn't seen any sawdust pile. The old guy took a nail bag out from behind the counter and drew me a map of where the sawdust pile was. Well, I had walked that area, but where he was talking about was so thick with briars and heavy brush that I hadn't busted through it. I got back to the lease, split up the signs with the other guys, and went in search of that sawdust pile. Sure enough, I followed the bend in the creek, passed the big rocks, and eased into the heavy cover. All of a sudden, the woods & brush opened up into a clearing and a gang of turkeys busted out of the area. The opening was 25 yards wide and about 40 yards long. The ground was rich, black dirt and it was absolutely torn up from turkeys scratching, so much that it looked like a landscape crew had been in there with rock rakes. At the southeast end of the opening was a large sweetgum tree with wide buttressed roots. I sat up against the base of that tree and it was like sitting in an easy chair. I could see every inch of that small opening. I realized that the dark soil was all that was left of the sawdust pile. It was kind of like an oasis for turkeys, where they could hang out and scratch for grubs and worms, while being in shade, near surrounding trees big enough to roost in. If I hadn't talked with the old timer at the feed store, I probably never would have known it existed. I dragged a couple of bleached cedar skeletons up and made a low brush blind in front of the sweetgum. It was a perfect natural set up at a place turkeys already liked to hang out. Over the next two months, I spent a few days making a zig-zag path to it, so I could ease in there in the dark, but anybody else who happened across my trail wouldn't recognize it.

Opening Day of the 2007 turkey season found me up and dressed before the alarm in tha cabin at the lease went off. I left for my secret spot before the other two guys were dressed and loaded the gun several hundred yards from my destination, so I was sure it was ready. I took my time and picked my way to the sawdust honey hole in the dark. A light misting rain had started before daybreak and the turkeys weren't very enthusiastic about gobbling at dawn. I heard a couple gobblers sound off several hundred yards behind me, but nothing from Mr. Big. I could barely hear another gobbler fire up to the west of me, near where my best friend was set up. That bird gobbled four or five times in a row. Then, from the hardwoods, across the creek, about 500 yards from the sawdust pile, a booming gobble ripped out across that corner of the farm and all the other birds shut up. He gobbled again, but I kept quiet. The next time he gobbled, he was in a different place, probably on the ground. I fired back at him with my boat paddle long box. He double gobbled back on top of it. Game On! I let him gobble a few more times with no response. I hit him with a few yelps and clucks on my slate and he'd already halved the distance between us. He knew where the calls were coming from and I knew better than to make too much racket and get him suspicious. He gobbled once down by the creek, definitely on his way towards me. Then it got quiet, almost too quiet. I glanced and the watch face on the inside of my left wrist and it said 15 minutes had passed since his last gobble. The breeze stirred, blowing from northwest to southeast. Right then, I heard a deer coming up from straight behind me. I was covered in bug juice and was imagining the kind of fit that deer was going to pitch as soon as it hit my scent plume. In my mind, could already hear it blowing and snorting enough to run every turkey out of this side of the county. I decided to just brace myself for when that deer started snorting, because I could hear every footstep, even on the damp leaves. It kept getting closer and closer. Next thing I heard was "PFFfftttt VRRROOoommmm. It wasn't a deer, it was that big gobbler and he was about 8 feet behind my tree. I already had the gun up on my knee and I started saying to myself "Be the tree, Be the tree. Be the tree." "Don't move." "He doesn't know you're here, hold tight." I squinted my eyes, so he wouldn't see them move. The footsteps kept getting closer and closer. He spit and drummed again, so close that I could feel the vibrations in my lungs. I cracked open my right eye and he was standing right beside me, with his head cocked, trying to make sense of what I was. I think I was breathing through my ears. "Be the tree, don't move...anything." I could see his head turn, looking forward for the hen he'd heard. He scratched a couple of times and spit & drummed again, still loud enough to feel it in my body. If I had rocked up on my right butt cheek, I could have touched the top of that gobbler's head. He was that close. My heart was in my throat and my chest was begging for me to pull a breath. The gobbler took a few more steps and stole a glance back at the blob up against the sweetgum that was me. I still hadn't moved anything but my squinted eyes. He took a few steps forward and stepped behind where three dogwood trees happened to line up enough to make an 18 inch wall for his head to go behind. I raised the Benelli up and as soon as his head popped out from behind the trees, he thought about turning to look my way again. Two ounces of copper plated number 6s at 13 yards changed his mind. He tumbled forward and didn't even flop. I exhaled roughly and sucked in a big breath. Ten seconds later I heard a shot from over by the round field where my best friend was set up. The earbud to the radio crackled to life, "Was that you?"..."You bet!" "How about you?"..."Tag Spent!" We agreed to meet at the cabin for a victory breakfast of bacon & eggs. My best friend couldn't believe the size of the bird I'd killed. I couldn't eaither, really, He weighed 24 pounds , had an 11.75 inch beard and 1.25 inch spurs. It was the most intense turkey hunt I had so far.

24 pounds, 11.75 inch beard, 1.25 inch spurs.resize.jpg
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Re: My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Post by 2Shooter » January 31st, 2018, 6:35 am

Great story, and bird thanks for sharing!!! Congrats :thumbup:

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Re: My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Post by Yule » January 31st, 2018, 7:34 am

Awesome bird and story. I hunted ducks, up your way, when I was at NCSU in the early 80's.

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Re: My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Post by MAK » January 31st, 2018, 7:50 am

dang boy that will get your blood pumping........ can't wait for opening day, they'll be a strutting and gobbling any day now.

Great bird, great story, thanks for sharing.

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Re: My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Post by taylorjones20 » January 31st, 2018, 9:58 am

Excellent story. Great bird.

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Re: My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Post by jhogue » January 31st, 2018, 12:19 pm

Amazing that you were able to stay that still and him not bust you at that close! What a hunt!

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Re: My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Post by RapscallionVermilion » January 31st, 2018, 1:54 pm

That is some fine writing. Thanks for sharing.

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Re: My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Post by gobblerchsr » January 31st, 2018, 2:17 pm

Thanks for sharing Jim.....those up close and personal encounters with the gobblers that you have a history with are the ones you'll never forget!

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Re: My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Post by hoobilly » January 31st, 2018, 11:29 pm

awesome story!

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Re: My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Post by K9Doc » February 1st, 2018, 1:13 am

Great story. Wish I had been there right beside you!!!

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Re: My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Post by paboxcall » February 1st, 2018, 7:48 pm

Well done; you took me right there with you sitting against that tree, light rain and all. Not easy for a writer to do.

Congrats on a terrific bird!
"Sit down wrong, and you're beat."
Jim Spencer

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Re: My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Post by ncturkey » February 18th, 2018, 3:32 pm

Great story.

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Re: My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Post by appalachianassassin » February 18th, 2018, 4:17 pm

good read...congrats
El Sicario

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Re: My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Post by soiltester » February 18th, 2018, 5:39 pm

I finally took time to read your post, "slowly", as I always scan everything way to quick :banghead:
What a great hunt you endured and enjoyed :thumbup: :cheers:

I've been there and also have been on the "wink" or "not to wink" hunts ... and it really plays on your patience out :stir:
ever wonder where the white goes when the snow melts??

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Re: My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Post by Prospector » March 20th, 2018, 6:55 am

Congratulations on a well planned and worked for hunt!
Go early, stay late, keep a low profile, be a student of the woods; listen to what he’s saying, don’t talk too much, and if you’re lucky- you might get a chance....

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Re: My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Post by ylpnfol » March 20th, 2018, 10:06 am

I may have read that story before, but I don't remember it, and it was well worth reading again....nice one bud!
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Re: My lifetime best gobbler, so far

Post by HennedUp » January 3rd, 2019, 6:18 pm

I know this is an older thread, but I enjoyed your story so much I had to post. I was right there with 'ya brother. I even caught myself holding my breath while I was reading the part where he came right up next to you. I love the rush of having birds that close and knowing that the slightest movement will blow the whole deal, while your heart is in your throat and the adrenaline is going through you like electricity. Very well told. Congrats on a beautiful bird and experience. Thanks for sharing.

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