It was like having tunnel vision, working our way down the steep mountainside in the dark to the valley below. I could hear the roar of the swollen creek below. With waders in hand, we were prepared to cross. Jeff Heil had planned quite the turkey hunt Western style with lots of mountains to climb and adventure to be had.
The quick water rushed against my legs as I slowly I waded across. The water was surprisingly warm compared to the cool morning air. Making our way up the other side of the mountain, my feet slipped in the wet mountain grasses. The sun was beginning to light up the sky when we heard our first gobble. The turkeys were on the ground from the roost and from the sounds of it, moving in a hurry.
Jeff and I rushed side hill across the mountain with the hopes of intercepting the flock of turkeys. I set up, back against a large pine, Jeff just behind me calling with a series of soft puts and purrs. The flock of turkeys was just below us but the tom had his fare share of ladies already and paid no attention to Jeff’s calls.
We made the decision to make a move with the hopes of locating a more cooperative tom or potentially getting back with this particular tom after his hens had gone to nest. The more time that I spend mountain turkey hunting the more that it reminds me of elk hunting; setting up and hoping for an answer in areas that you often find turkeys followed by quick strategizing and implementation.
Our patience and persistence paid off with a faint gobble in the distance. Time to make a fast move and get to the eager tom. This is the exact reason that I work so hard at staying in shape, when it’s time to go after a turkey that makes a living running up and down the mountain, I had better be able to keep up.
Closing the distance, I set up with a large oak at my back and a bit of scrub in front of me for cover; Jeff was slightly behind me and to my right calling his set of soft puts and purrs. Both of us were in a position to take a shot depending on where the turkeys appeared.
There is nothing quite like the drumming sound that a big old tom turkey makes and when he is close you can even feel the vibration coming off of him through the ground. I am sure the hens are quite impressed with the display of this dominance, it certainly impresses me. We suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a frenzy of turkey gobbles. The turkeys that were above us were making their way down and out of the timber towards the grassy meadow that lay below where there was more gobbles erupting from. This was about to be a strut off and we were in the middle of all the action.
The toms strutted right by our decoys on their way to the other flock of turkeys without making any effort or showing any interest in checking them out. After the turkeys had disappeared out of sight, Jeff continued to call softly with the hopes that one of the toms would show back up and wouldn’t you know it, just as Jeff stood, a turkey saw him, let out a loud warning and scooted off.
The rain began to pour out of the sky and the turkeys vanished as quickly as they had arrived. Our western adventure turkey hunt was over for the day as Jeff had to get to work. This had certainly been the most adventurous and exciting turkey hunt that I had ever been on and even though we didn’t tag a turkey that day, it made me look forward to joining Jeff on the mountain for another try at the wild birds.