Some of you may have already seen these pictures and read this story, as I’m pretty sure Royce Steiner also posted it on Vaturkey.com, my friend Freddy McGuire’s site.
This is a long story, but as I tell my editors when they complain about my long stories, “It’s a quick read.” It’s that good! I encourage you all, when you have a couple minutes, to read it. If it doesn’t get you pumped for spring turkey hunting, nothing will.
“Well boys and girls, I finally have a story for you. I apologize in advance (but not really) for the length of this, but it is now my favorite story to tell, and possibly the most incredible experience of my life.
This is the first season that I have really gotten after the big birds. I killed one with a buddy a couple springs ago (my first turkey), and had only been out by myself twice last season while having no clue what I was doing. I have been prepping for this season for a couple months now, and finally learned how to use a diaphragm call. I even took an old big game vest and sewed pockets and modified it into a turkey vest. Spent a lot of time on the interweb learning everything I could about these birds and hunting them, including a bunch of time on here! Needless to say, I was pumped about opening day!
Well, the week before opening day I bottomed out my car and she got towed to the shop. I was hoping she would be fixed by the Friday prior to the opener so I could get out and scout, but she stayed at the docs until the following Monday. No opening weekend for me.
The following weekend, I went back to Richmond to get on a hunt with my father in Cumberland County. We heard a few but couldnt get set up on one. Heard a bird gobble at 8:30 and set up on him but no response to calls and never heard from him again for another 30 minutes. Walked to a logging trail and got stopped in our tracks by his fan and big ole white head strutting towards us. We were both able to get our guns up and were just praying he would close the distance and not see us. Here is where inexperience sent me packin the first time. I am a very poor judge of distance, and had NO IDEA he was at 30 yards… thought he was at 45 or 50 (first time I had seen a bird strutting within 100 yards). So I didn’t shoot, and should have. Had open shots when he stuck his head up at 30 yards, just didn’t shoot. Then he goes behind a couple trees and, like a darn fool, decide it would be a good idea to kneel down. DON’T EVER MOVE! EVER! Next thing I see is his back side as he is hauling tail the other way down the trail. I about died.
Back in Roanoke now, I planned on going into the Jefferson National Forest on Friday of this weekend (4/26) to a place I had never been before and give it a shot, scout, spend the night there, and hunt Saturday as well. All of last week was spent poring over maps and trying to figure out where to go at daylight. I have only been in the GW NF up by Deerfield hunting grouse a couple times, but other than that I have no experience with NF land. Picked a spot in the Jefferson that seemed a ways away from towns and had some flat looking land with decent aerials.
When I got to the spot on Friday morning, the full moon lit the beautiful open hardwoods like I had never seen before like daylight. At 5:15, the whippoorwills were talking from every direction. It was a tad chilly, but nothing a sweatshirt couldn’t fix. I had no idea what to expect in this brand-new-to-me setting, and could only hope. I geared up and stepped away from the truck about 30 yards and stood waiting for daylight. Light in the east yielded a couple of owl hoots, and my hopes rose for a gobble to follow. Nothing.
Read more »