An Opening Day
for the Books
Lee, Quaker Boy Game Calls Pro Staff
heart rate picked up as the strutting gobbler slowly
entered the edge of the food plot. His iridescent
head was glowing like a full moon in the spring sky.
Making sure the hens in front of him were not looking,
I eased my gun up to my shoulder. He cleared
the first set of trees and I steadied the TRUGLO sights
on the bright red wattles at the base of his neck.
By now my breathing had increased to a level as if
I had just run a forty yard sprint. With my
dad to my left videotaping the magnificent bird as
he strutted into the decoys, dad whispered, "Take
him out." With a loud roar, the woods fell
silent except for the flapping of wings from a downed
I proudly walked out
into the chufa patch, filled with pot hole like scratchings
from all of the turkeys that had been frequenting
the plot for the past few months, to collect my prize.
The beautiful Tom sported a 9 inch beard, 1 inch spurs,
and weighed right on the 21 pound mark. This
was the ninth turkey that we had seen in the plot
this morning, and was the trophy that had been worked
so hard for over the past year. Yes, I said
the past year.
The work began this time
last year as Mr. Charles Clark, the owner of the farm
we were hunting on, had the vision of putting in some
food plots to help us draw in more game. He brought
in heavy equipment; made the plots where needed, cleaned
them up well, and disked the soil so it could be ready
to plant. After applying lime to neutralize
the soil and a heavy dose of fertilizer, the areas
were ready for seed. With turkey hunting being
Mr. Charles’s first love in the outdoors, a chufa
patch was a must!
The time was now mid
summer and about July, the food plots were planted.
With Mother Nature cooperating, rain was in the forecast
and was abundant enough to get some of the best food
plots produced in years. One particular patch
stood out from the rest. This one was called
the "Concealed Patch". This patch
seemed to be in a perfect spot. With a creek
running just south of it and a hardwood ridge running
up the west side of the patch, it seemed to be a magnet
for deer and turkey.
Deer season came and
towards the end, the chufa had matured to amazing
levels and produced more nuts than a Planters peanut
factory. Turkeys began to flock into the patch
on a daily basis and groups of up to forty were seen
feeding in the patch. The table was being set
for one of the most amazing congregation of turkeys
that I had ever laid eyes on.
Charles did his scouting with a nice digital trail
camera and was taking pictures of wildlife at an amazing
rate in this patch. The latest batch of pictures
before the opening of turkey season was 198 photos
taken in less than a 48 hour period, with 20+ of them
being of strutting gobblers!
After some photos and
an exit scene on our video of the morning hunt, we
gathered our gear and headed out of the Concealed
Patch with a gobbler still hammering less than 100
yards away. We decided to go eat a good breakfast
with our others in the camp for the weekend and return
that afternoon for the chance at another bird.
Looking over, I saw dad
nodding off in the shade of the South Georgia pine.
That 5 o’clock in the morning sure is rough on you
later in the day. There’s nothing like a nap
in the woods listening to nature’s sounds to make
you feel at peace. I’d be lying if I did not
say I had just awakened from a nod myself. Then,
a lone hen appeared from the creek bottom. She
eased out into the patch, ignoring our decoys.
Zooming in with the video camera she fed around the
plot. Our focus was on her, when movement then
caught my eye. Straight ahead, I saw a fan!
There was a gobbler coming in straight to us.
Dad began easing his Mossberg 835 around, getting
ready for the shot. The gobbler could not hold
the strut any tighter, with every refresh he would
spit and drum. This is a sound that gobblers
make to intimidate other birds in the area.
The more I turkey hunt, the more respect and admiration
I have for the true beauty of these animals.
A gobbler in full strut is hard to overshadow in the
dad whispered, "I guess you know what that sound
was?", as he took the safety off. The gobbler
closed the gap to about twenty yards when we realized
there was another gobbler behind him. With multiple
opportunities at a double, dad did not want to be
too greedy with his harvest. Instead of going
to the decoys, the gobblers were coming straight to
us. At ten yards dad ask if I was on him with
the camera, I said "Yes", and then boom!
There are few things
in life that can compare to taking time to hunt and
fish with my dad, after all he is the reason that
I have grown to love and enjoy the outdoors as he
does. We have taken many deer together, and
now we are adding to the list of nice gobblers that
we have harvested together. As dad, Mr. Charles
and I walked out to look at the 10 ˝ inch bearded,
20 pound gobbler taken just a few yards from the spot
where I harvested my bird that morning, I could not
think of any better way to kick off the first day
of Georgia’s turkey season. Talk about high
expectations for the rest of the year!
Good luck and God bless,
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