The first nine days of the Georgia season has been a roller coaster ride! I spent Monday and Tuesday on Cedar Creek WMA and came close to connecting both mornings, but being close doesn’t help the mindset too much. I had one in range Monday morning, but there was a rise between us that saved his life. Eventually, his lone hen companion took him away.
Tuesday morning I got tangled up with a bird for several hours. I got him to the 60-yard line where he gobbled himself out before turning around and walking away. Another time, buddy…
I spent the next two days at work, and by Thursday night, I was so keyed up that I could barely get to sleep. I woke up Friday morning and headed to my hunting club for the first time this season. I went to an area where I killed a bird last season and liked my chances at a repeat performance. I heard three birds at daylight that were roosted off the property. They gobbled hard on the roost, but when they flew down, only one continued to gobble. He hammered until about 7:20 and got quiet. I stayed put until he started up again around 8.
I moved as close to him as I could and started cutting at him each time he gobbled. He would jump all over it, and I’d shut up until he gobbled again. We played that game for about 30 minutes, and I backed off. I went back to where I started at daylight, calling as I retreated, and within 30 minutes a hen showed up.
Five minutes later a beautiful longbeard showed up. He passed by just out of range, so I passed on the shot. Man, he had a paintbrush!
The bird I had been hearing was still firing off, and he continued to do so until 15 minutes before I rolled him at 22 yards as he slipped in silently. He was a stud with all the stuff you want in a bird—a long beard, heavy weight and long, sharp spurs. I do believe he was the boss of the woods there. It always feels extra good to break the ice on a new turkey season.
That afternoon I went hunting with Cal Marsh, of Milledgeville, and called in the bird with the paintbrush beard. I sat up 30 yards behind Cal and worked the bird in to 18 yards where Cal applied some serious head trauma. He was a beautiful, 3-year-old gobbler with sharp spurs and that super thick beard.
Sweep the porch, Brother! It was a special bird for me, since it had been a while since we had killed a bird together. Cal is the man responsible for getting me into turkey hunting back in the 1980s. He aggravated me for two years before I gave in and went, just to shut him up. He hasn’t been able to shut me up since.
I went back in the same area with Michael Hatcher, of Milledgeville, the next morning. I called in two longbeards at 8:57, and Michael rolled one of them at his first available opportunity. A 30-yard shot did the trick, and we were soon celebrating over a good 2-year-old. I guess one of the coolest things about these three birds was the fact that they all got hammered within 50 yards of each other. It’s always special to watch how quickly turkeys realize the Boss is gone. I guess there have been some quick promotions in the pecking order in that neck of the woods the past few days.
I’m hearing mixed reports from friends around the state. Henned-up birds are the norm, but some of those are still dying.
Jonathan Barber, of Bryan County, doubled up on April 2 in Liberty County and tagged out. He worked the hens, giving back everything they gave him. It kept the gobblers fired up, and they both went home with Jonathan.
Lynn Stanford, of Eatonton, called in an 3-year-old gobbler for his grandson James Major on opening day. Lynn then killed a hoss on April 2.
There are some tough reports from some hunters just not hearing birds at all. I believe the best hunting is yet to come. If you’re able to get on a bird, stick with him if you can. If he’s not saying enough to follow, sit tight and give him a call every now and then.
Mid mornings have been good, and mid afternoons are paying off, too.
Y’all keep after ’em!
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.