I always enjoy seeing the transitions from season to season. I love seeing the leaves changing colors in the fall, and in my opinion, there is nothing more special than the transitions that occur from winter to spring. The temperatures begin to warm back up, and the foliage and native browse turn green again. There are many transitions that occur between winter and spring, but perhaps my favorite of all is when the turkeys begin to gobble again. As the old saying goes, if the dogwoods are blooming, the turkeys are gobbling!
As a turkey hunter, I’ve had many great memories in the spring woods. I learned the ropes from one of the late-greats, Charles Posey, who had been chasing the ever-elusive longbeard since they were first introduced into our region. With a vintage Lynch’s box-call lid hanging out of his pocket, he taught me pretty much everything that I needed to know to kill a wild turkey.
After many trips into the woods with Mr. Charles, and many lessons learned, the story of my two impressive seasons begins in the spring of 2016.
On the morning of April 2, 2016, the weather provided less than favorable conditions with a forecast predicting rain showers all morning. I had a fellow hunter tell me that it would be a waste of time to go hunting that morning with the expectations of rain early on. Regardless of the doubts associated with the weather, I decided to go hunting at a tract of land in Crisp County.
From my experiences, there is no better place to find a turkey during a rain shower than an agricultural field. I decided to hunt a field edge along with a friend of mine, Jeff McKinney. The morning began without any gobbles, just as we expected. However, soon a pair of gobblers entered the field together and began to eye our decoys. As one of the birds emerged into the field, I recall him doing one of the coolest things I have ever seen a turkey do. He shook water off his back as if he were a Labrador that had just returned to the duck-blind from a long retrieve. With some soft calling, we managed to pull the birds to around 50 yards.
Hunters might not hear many gobbles in weather such as this, but with proper scouting, one can be just as successful hunting turkeys in the rain. When using decoys, it is always effective to keep the calling soft in this type of weather and allow the birds to group up just as they desire.
With the adrenaline rushing, I took the shot and dropped the bird that had been strutting for most of the morning. When I walked up to my bird, it was to my pleasant surprise that he had long spurs and a nice, thick beard. The final measurements for my 2016 gobbler were 21-lbs., 10-ozs, with an 11-inch beard and 1 1/2-inch spurs. I was even more excited when I registered this bird with NWTF and learned that it was the new record typical gobbler for Crisp County.
Following the 2016 season, I could hardly wait to take to the woods for yet another spring turkey season. After watching turkeys during deer season and scouting all throughout February and March, I had my sights set on several different locations as the 2017 season rolled around. On the morning of April 3, 2017, I decided to go on a solo hunt in Wilcox County in an area overlooking a local pasture. I scouted this area with trail cameras for quite some time, and I knew there should be birds in the area.
The morning began with the most gobbles I have ever heard, and after a light tree-call and a fly-down cackle, the birds seemed to hit the ground earlier than usual. I was preparing to self-film on this morning, but the turkeys topped the hill so quickly that I was unable to hit record for fear of blowing the hunt. After quickly shouldering my Beretta, with some clucks and soft purrs on my diaphragm, I managed to get each of these birds into range. I shot the bird that appeared to have the biggest beard. After walking up to this bird, it was easy to tell that he too was special. The final measurements for my 2017 gobbler were 24-lbs., 13.5-ozs., with an 11-inch beard and a set of 1 1/2- and 1 7/16-inch spurs. I was also excited after the registration of this bird to learn that it was the new record typical gobbler for Wilcox County.
I managed to kill two record-class gobblers the first week of April. While I have had success in late March, it seems as if my best success has occurred in the early days of April. While I do not expect to follow up in 2018 with anything comparable to these two birds, I do plan on taking to the woods as usual in hopes of yet another interaction with a trophy spring gobbler.
When you kill an exceptional gobbler this season, make sure to contact GON. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (800) 438-4663.
To see all of NWTF’s records, visit www.nwtf.org/hunt/records/records-search.