It was finally here……..the day all us die hard turkey hunters wait breathlessly for each year. OPENING DAY!! Turkey hunting is my favorite season. Spring is coming to the North CarolinaMountains. The days are getting longer and warmer. Green shoots are appearing everywhere and the trees are sending out new buds. There is nothing like hearing a big tom gobble and break the stillness of the early morning hours.
We were ready! We had scouted the area we planned to hunt and listened to those first early morning gobbles. All the calls had been fine-tuned, the decoys were readied and our shotguns were loaded and waiting by the door.
This year would be extra special. I would actually get to share my favorite thing with my oldest son, Ben. We don’t get to hunt together as much as we would like so we were really looking forward to spending opening day with together.
Long before daylight we downed a cup of coffee and loaded everything in the truck. We arrived well in advance of daylight and eased our way into the woods. We set up the decoys and settled back to wait for the thunder chickens to wake up the world.
Right at daylight, a big gobbler let us know he was there and to our horror, he was right up the ridge from where we were. We could actually see his silhouette against the morning sky. Hearts pounding and holding our breath, we stayed still and listened to him every few minutes. Toms were answering all over the mountain. It seemed like hours we sat there holding our breath, afraid to move. When the Tom finally flew down he headed away from us and sailed over the ridge.
He continued answering our calls so we decided to try to close the distance between us and him. We moved up the ridge a short ways and set up again. We found a log with several small trees around that made the perfect setup and provided us some cover. We were calling and using all our tried and true tricks to bring the big tom in. He stopped talking to us but just a short time later we heard him again. He was coming our way, “talking the whole way.”
We kept waiting and calling and he kept answering. We could tell he was still moving in our direction but he wouldn’t come on in. There was a natural rise and he got to a certain point where we could see he was strutting just out of range.
Our calls finally got the bet of him and he started over the top. Ben got his shot and it was perfect. He had his bird, a mature tom, with a 10 ½ inch beard and 1 ¼ in spurs. The entire hunt took less than an hour.
We treasure each and every time we spend with family and sharing these special moments in field and woods.
Making the memories is the most important thing; the harvest is just the icing.