The depression of the end of waterfowl season quickly subsides when preparation for Spring turkey season comes into full swing. The sights and sounds of the Springtime woods are unique, especially when they come alive with the gobbles of a wily Tom. Moments like a gobbler finally answering, the first peek at a multi-colored head or a fan at full strut always keep me coming back to the woods.
The day started like many others. I made my way to the parking area on a public land spot. To my delight, the parking lot was empty. I quickly gathered my gear and headed into the crisp darkness.
After the hike, I set up my Dave Smith Decoy hens on an old skid road. I settled into the blind and readied myself for what the day would bring.
I'd hunted this spot earlier in the week and had seen a bunch of hens. Being early in the season, I was surprised no Toms were accompanying the hens, but they'd yet to show themselves. I was prepared for the long haul and determined to have the day end only by success or the end of legal shooting time, which was 4:00pm.
The woods were quiet and I'd yet to hear a gobble. About midday, I had a couple of hens start their way down the road toward my location. They had a big Tom in tow. Things were looking up and I silently hoped the Tom would follow the hens to the decoys.
The hens came right in and proceeded to beat up on the decoys, while the Tom hung up at 75 yards and put on quite a show. Once the hens were done abusing my DSD's they retreated back the way they came, taking the Tom with them.
As the afternoon wore on, I started to doubt whether I'd get another opportunity. Suddenly, something grabbed my attention. I trained my eyes on the grass and saw an unmistakable red, white and blue dot cutting through the grass backed by the familiar curvature of a tail fan.
I couldn't fully see the bird, but I knew he was mature. He made a beeline toward the decoys. As he came through the grass and stepped onto the road, I could see the beard and began to ready myself for the shot.
He sauntered up and bumped the decoy. I putted, he raised his head and I connected on the 22 lb., ten inch bearded bird.
It made for a great end to a long day and a hunt I'll never forget.