I can’t think of anything outside of Six Flags that puts you on a roller coaster more than turkey hunting. Emotionally and physically, it will test you like nothing else. That’s how it’s been for me this season, and I really didn’t expect anything less. While Week 3 was winding down, so were my chances of rolling another bird or two in Georgia before heading west.
I went to south Georgia on Friday morning, April 14 to hook up with Jonathan Barber. We met up at his lease, Laurel View Hunting Club in Liberty County. We had been trying to make this hunt happen for a couple of years, and finally, we were going to get it done.
We didn’t waste any time getting in the woods, and by 4 o’clock Friday evening, we were set up in a pretty oak hammock surrounded by mature pines. I called in four hens within 20 minutes. I was basically just letting anything nearby know we were there. Nothing aggressive; just a few yelps on a diaphragm and a scratch box.
Ten minutes later I started hearing drumming off to my right in the pines. The understory was too thick for me to see him, but he sounded pretty close. All we could do was wait him out because the hens were still feeding around us, one at 8 yards. Even clucking and purring was not much of an option.
The drumming continued another 20 minutes, but I still couldn’t see him. Soon, it began to fade as the gobbler started easing off. I started thinking we were going to lose him, so I asked Jonathan if the hens were still there, since he was watching them while I looked for the drummer. He told me they were out of sight, and that he thought they were leaving. I needed to call, so I called to the retreating gobbler with a few yelps, and within five minutes, he came back. He was closer this time, but I could tell he was going to pass on by. I had turned my head as far to the right as I could, and finally, I saw him as he eased toward me through the pines. He would take a few steps, pop a quick strut, drum and then stand tall looking for me. He finally turned and walked to within 15 yards. He stared me down for a few minutes and turned and walked 60 yards away before angling into the sandy road that lead into the hammock. I could no longer see him, but Jonathan could. I called softly, and the bird turned and walked down the road toward us. I folded him at 20 yards.
Man, you talk about a celebration! He was a stud, needle-spurred 4-year-old that could drum with the best of them. The Drummer Boy took a ride!
We headed out Saturday morning, and I jokingly told Jonathan that there was a dead bird sitting on a limb that just didn’t know it yet. By 7:30, we were doing a victory dance over a solid 2-year-old that I hammered at 30 yards. He was another quiet bird, but he let the hen he was following get him in trouble. Soft calling did the trick again, and I was tagged out in Georgia. I still have a few Georgia hunts that I will get to tag along on before I head to Kansas and Nebraska.
A few others had a good week, as well. My nephew, Walt, called up a good bird on Thursday morning in Jasper County, giving the bird just enough calling to get him into trouble that he couldn’t get out of.
Derek Horne, of Monroe County, killed a longbeard Saturday morning after having one come in before he and his crew could even get their headnets and gloves on. When that one walked off, two more showed up. He removed one of them from the pecking order, much to the delight of his two young sons, both younger than 10 years old. I have a feeling that Derek will have a hard time slipping out of the house without them from now on.
Bobby Knight and I hunted earlier in the week at Cedar Creek WMA and heard birds at daylight and eventually bumped a gobbler with about nine hens at 2 p.m.
Bobby went back the next day and finally got in good position to work a bird into range for his son, Jacob.
Then on Saturday, he spent a few hours working on another Putnam County bird that finally got too close to Jacob, who rolled up the four-bearded, 2-year-old. That boy is on a roll with back-to-back gobblers!
What an awesome Georgia season it has been for me. I hope to see a few more flopping before heading west. It’s all about the memories we make in the turkey woods. I’ve been blessed with a bunch this season. Even the hunts that ended without a bird have been logged in my mind. I am grateful. If it hasn’t happened for you yet, keep after ’em. There’s still half a season to go. Good luck!
About The Author: GON freelance writer Donald Devereaux Jarrett has been with GON since 2003 and is currently on the following pro staffs: JEBS Chokes, Mossy Oak, Conyers Outdoors, South Dakota Hunting Service and Denver Deer Scents. If you’d like to talk turkey with Donald, you can reach him through his Facebook page or through e-mail at email@example.com.
April 10, 2017: Quiet Gobblers During Windy, Rainy Week
April 3, 2017: DDJ Rolls The Boss, Calls In Several Other Birds
March 27, 2017: Henned-Up Gobblers For Georgia Opener
March 23, 2017: Chasing Osceolas With DDJ