It was still dark as Damon sat quietly next to a large tree in the Long hayfield. Scouting from a few days before told him turkeys would be coming off their roosts in the area and strutting in the hayfield as breeding season started.
The morning was cool but calm, with frost in the low-lying areas. He tried to make himself comfortable while waiting for the day to break.
A turkey started to gobble while still on his roost nearby. The first gobble woke up the whole area and gobblers responded from every direction. That was a promising sign. Lots of the birds in the area would increase the chances of calling in at least one.
It was almost light when the birds started to fly down from their nighttime resting place to begin their day of feeding and breeding. A few landed close by and one old gobbler started strutting almost immediately. He was accompanied by several hens in the open field.
The flock was close, but not close enough to get a shot. Damon needed to move him less than 50 yards to get a shot.
Gobblers usually find an open area where they can be seen and where they strut, fan and gobble to attract hens. They expect the hens to come to them as they put on their show.
I have seen hens travel several hundred yards to a displaying gobbler while the gobbler only moved a few feet. When a gobbler is surrounded by hens, the chances of getting him to move are remote.
His harem moved slowly away, with the gobbler strutting along with them. He would answer Damon’s call, but would not leave his hens. The hens were no help at all as they completely ignored the call. Sometimes hens will come to the hen call, just to see what is going on.
It is perfect when this happens because a gobbler will then follow those hens. This was not going to happen today.
Two or three gobblers were working near the north end of the Long hayfield. Damon decided to put the sneak on them since they would not come to his call.
Creeping just inside of the tree line, he slowly moved closer to where the birds were putting on their display. He could hear their wings drumming on the ground as they gobbled just over the hill from him. They could be no more than 25 yards away, but he still could not see them.
He would call and they would answer, but never came closer. Going out into the open field is just the luck of seeing them before they see you. If their backs are turned, you have a chance. If not, you are busted.
A turkey can duck and run before a person has a chance to raise their shotgun. As Damon was doing the low crawl through the dew-covered grass, he raised his head long enough to be spotted. They were gone in a flash.
Another gobbler, several hundred yards away, had been answering the call since dawn. He was across the creek so getting him to move was questionable.
It is unusual to convince a turkey to cross a creek, fence, or any other obstacle. They will stand their ground and wait for the hens to come to them.
Damon got as close as he thought he dared and started calling while hiding behind a rose bush. To his surprise, the gobbler hopped the creek and started strutting again. Each hen call Damon made caused the gobbler to move a bit closer.
With one last call, Damon readied his shotgun. The fat old bird moved into the clearing and it was lights out for him and smoked turkey on the grill for Damon.