At the Livermore-Pleasanton MDF banquet/auction, Marty Sexton purchased a turkey hunt for him and his 14-year old son, Nickolas. We finally scheduled the hunt for Saturday April 26th and started early in an attempt to call a gobbler in at daylight.
The early-morning approach meant getting up at 3:00 AM to be exact. We met on Highway 84 near Sunol at 4:10 AM and made it to the ranch before first light. When we arrived at the target location we were greeted by multiple gobbles from at least three sets of roosting gobblers. Good news.
It didn’t take long to find a good set-up and within a few minutes we were settled in and ready to call. As the first rays of light lit up the canyon and improved visibility, I drew the paddle across the box call making a few soft yelps. It was immediately clear that the birds were eager as gobbles returned from seemingly all directions.
A couple hens yelped from the oak trees nearby, adding to the drama.
Not wanting to call too much, I reassured Marty and Nickolas that the birds would come when they were ready. At about 6:15, we were startled by the sound of air rushing over wings. Swooping in from the roost, a gobbler slammed on the airbrakes over our decoys and landed about 45 yards from Nickolas.
As the gobbler walked up the hill headed towards the jake decoy, Nickolas cut loose. The bird was hit, but not fatally. Expecting another blast right away, I was shocked as the bird began to walk away.
“Shoot, shoot,” I whisper-yelled.
The gobbler was a two year old, with a 7 inch beard, a nice trophy. Landing right in the decoys is not typical, but it was exciting.
We spent the rest of the day attempting to find another willing gobbler, but the early action seemed to make the birds nervous and unwilling to come to the call. I guess I can’t blame them.
It was the second hunt of the week. On the previous Thursday, I joined my turkey-hunting friend Tom Billingsley for the day. The plan was for me to attempt to shoot a gobbler with my bow with Tom at the ready to kill the bird if I missed.
Amazingly three different gobbler groups came in to our calling. As Tom made sweet turkey music on his box call, the gobblers strutted and fanned within five yards of me. I cut loose with a couple of shots. I couldn’t believe I didn’t bring one of them home, twice knocking feathers from the big birds, but drawing no blood.
Tom passed up more shot opportunities than I could count, but he said it was too much fun watching me, so he didn’t want to shoot and end the day.
Now I’m 0 for 6 on shots for the season, two of the last three were at 20 yards. I may have to break out the shotgun for the last weekend of the season. We’ll see.