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Tough Hunts, Dumb Mistakes and an Awesome Ending


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The title sums up my season with another Waterloo Rec Area gobbler over my shoulder to end it. I had the 2nd general hunt period. Monday and Tuesday were 2 of the slowest hunts I've had in a long time. It was cool and windy and the birds didn't gobble much from the trees. They shut up when they hit the ground. I never heard a gobble after 7:00AM both days. A very discouraging 2 days given all the birds I found scouting this year.

The weather turned for the better Wednesday and so did the hunting. I got in extra early to set up close to a roost that held 3 gobblers the previous 2 days. My heart sank as birds were gobbling hot in the distance but there were no birds in the roost by me. I made a move across a swamp and the birds were still ground gobbling. A gobbler was quickly answering and coming to my calls. It looked like it was going to happen and it was exciting until I spotted him. He was jake that gobbled well and I let him walk. He moved off and 2 hens moved in. They were very vocal but even they couldn't call in the 2 groups of toms that were henned up 350 yards out of sight. They moved off and another hen came in with another jake in tow. They slid by at 30 feet. Later, another hen snuck up 10 ft behind me, busted me reaching for my call and started putting. Time to make a move. I got on one more ground gobbling tom that hung up at 120yrds out of sight. He was still gobbling when I had to pull out at 11:30 to get to work. Overall, it was a very vocal morning with hens and gobblers talking off and on for all of it.

The weather was going to be perfect again Thursday. I got set up and had 2 birds 130yrds away, 2 more 400 yards away. They were as hot as they can be from the trees erupting in gobbles to blue jays, wood ducks, crows, geese and the one barred owl in the woods. I didn't call until the close ones hit the ground and they responded. 10 minutes later, they boomed back to a few clucks and were coming in. I made one more call, one gobbled back and was getting very close. I shouldered my gun and he appeared 50 yards out a couple minutes later. He kept coming, I drew a bead and was ready to shoot when he turned and ran. My dumb mistake cost me a bird, I left my sunglasses on the brim of my hat and I'm sure he saw them from his reaction. I meant to leave them in the truck and forgot them. The other close birds were still gobbling across a small pothole. I made a move to get around it. Dumb mistake #2, I went too far and bumped both of them. I was dejected at that point and decided to hit the road to a new spot and a fresh start. That is why I love general permits and the awesome land we have around here.

I made a move to a big tract of land covering both sides of the road with a nice 2 track I could use to cover some ground looking. I went in a couple hundred yards and laid out a soft yelp, nothing. I laid out a loud yelp on my box call and I heard one way off in the distance on the other side of the road. I headed that way, got in a couple 100 yards and called again. He answered, still a long way back. I kept going and he started gobbling naturally. He gobbled 6 times on his own as I approached, letting me move in closer than I expected. It doesn't get any better than that. It sounded like he was on the same 2 track around a bend 150 yards ahead. Time to set up. I plopped down next to a big oak, no decoys. I made a couple soft clucks on a slate and he answered. About 10 minutes later, a few more clucks and he gobbled closer, sounded about 80 yards out. A few minutes later I was going to call again but he gobbled naturally. This bird was hot! He was close, but I couldn't see him and I pulled up my gun. A minute later, I see some black movement through the brush coming down the lane. He kept coming to 30 ft and I shot. He had a 10-1/16 beard and 7/8 and 1 inch spurs. Here he is:


Good luck to everyone still hunting!

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Congrats once again Ed!

I know what you mean about the gobblers shutting up after they hit the ground. I've noticed this especially on public land. Makes it tough cause you never know if a bird might be coming in to your calls. I've sat calling thinking to myself theres no birds here only to get up to move to another spot and spook one that was coming in quietly. Frustrating!

Anyway you da man! Good job on another successful season :thumb:

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