You all know this gobbler or at least have met/heard him. He sits on his roost proclaiming himself king for the day. He wants all the other toms to back off and leave all the hens to him. Because he is stuck on gobble every hunter in the areas thinks Mr. Loud Mouth will be an easy mark only to find out this bird is king of hunter avoiding strategies. My advice is when you meet this turkey find another to hunt or you’ll find yourself addicted to killing this particular bird. You find yourself getting up earlier and earlier in order to head him off while each time for some not so obvious reason or maybe an obvious reason you can’t figure out due to the additional sleep deprivation.
Anyone who knows me, knows I can’t bring myself to give up, so my sound advice above goes right over my own head which leads me to unusual or some would say desperate tactics. Such is the case in the following tale of the grass setup.
This turkey out gobbled every turkey in the valley making him impossible to ignore. He seemed to have a easy pattern and at first glance I thought he would be wearing my tag in short order. However, his habit of leaving the roost and walking to the upper field ended the first time I setup there; he walked down hill. Must have seen or heard me, odd all the other turkeys flew or walked into the upper field. Next morning I arrived earlier and snuck into woods middle ridge, it stayed quiet except for the wing beats landing in the field. Then after my 2+ hour wait he started gobbling at 6 O’clock and stayed on roost until 7 before dropping the ground and sprinting up into the field gobbling all the way. His zigging and my zagging went on for days.
Then I remembered my grass ghillie suit. A disappointing apparel purchase mainly because it was very hard to move in. It picked up every sticker and snagged on every piece of vegetation. I realized that would not matter since the field was freshly planted and the 12 inch high grass strip would provide sufficient cover to lay in. There was one particular fold in that field where the turkeys moved through out of range of any edge setup. With only 2 days left to fill 2 tags I smirked at how well this idea would work.
Morning dawned on me lying on dew coated grass wearing an artificial grass boonie hat dressed in a grass suit with gun resting along my right side. Sure glad only turkeys are out in those early mornings. Someone from normal society might try and lockup a camo painted face grass clad hunter. Some things are just too hard to explain to those outside the know.
The target turkey sounded off and stayed on roost while a hen moseyed along staring at me. I had called on a tongue teaser call, she came to point of call. She purred and stared looking for the turkey she had heard. A hunting buddy had told me a story of how he moved while hiding in some logs during a fall hunt thinking he messed up his chances when all of sudden the flock of turkeys came over to investigate. He figured they were expecting to see movement and his movement looked turkey like to them, he shot his bird. So I moved my head and the hen immediately came within a few feet of me continuing to purr. The two us played this game for at least a half hour.
He appeared without warning, I had been distracted playing with the hen and not paying attention of the gobbler’s approach. The gobbler stood at attention staring at me and the fading away hen, she moved up the field past my head out of sight.
The gobbler moved to a 45 angle a few feet from my feet looking down at me. My plan, as had happened on so many other open area setups was to wait for him to strut, pirouette until his fan blocked his vision, rise up with gun pointed and shoot as he came out of strut. Sounds easy, that is, until the gobbler is not in the mood to strut and looking down on you. Come on, there is a hen please strut your stuff….
As the gobbler resumed stiff legging closer it was very apparent he was not going to strut. My fingers found the shotgun’s grip, fumbled the safety off as the barrel aligned with his beak. Pink mist filled the air with the headless turkey flopping on his back, he felt no pain.
The word ghillie is an old Scottish term for a special kind of game warden. Ghillies were tasked with protecting the game on their Lord’s lands from poachers. From time to time, the ghillies would stalk the game by hiding in the grass and lying perfectly still. They would wait for unsuspecting deer to amble by and then leap out and grab it with their bare hands. Ghillies would then haul their prize back to the keep so the Lord could shoot it in the castle courtyard in a “mock hunt.”