Location: Upstate New York, mid season.
Challenge: After calling in a hen, which flushed when it saw me, I raised a longbeard, which gobbled on posted land while I sat on state property.
Advanced Tactic: Had the gobbler been with the hen? Maybe. I staked a hen decoy on ridgetop public property not far from where she flushed, and set up. I called. The tom halved the distance, coming up the hill. I made ready, my shotgun pointed toward the deke. Crunching leaves to my left materialized into a turkey, beard swinging. He stepped into range, stopped right at the fake, and eyed it suspiciously. That was the last thing that bird saw.
Stats: Spurs: 1 and ¼ inches. Beard: 10.5 inches. Weight: Nearly 22 pounds. He’d seen a decoy or two.
Location: Southern Maine, late season.
Challenge: “I missed a big gobbler this morning,” my buddy said. “It was with another one. What should I do?” My response: “Let’s get right back out there tomorrow.”
Advanced Tactic: Same spot, private land where he had permission to hunt. Same turkeys. Yep, they gobbled, but hesitated to come to the calls, hanging up in the near woods where I saw a red-daub in the edge cover. Cement feet. Almost all morning, with shooting hours closing at midday.
“Give me that deke,” I said, crouching down, belly crawling forward. “And what do we expect to prove by this?” he hissed, frustrated. I ignored him.
I slowly lifted the hen fake over the field grass so that it could be seen 100 yards away. I bobbed her foam head, made like she was feeding. Once. Twice. It was Academy Award stuff — until the red-daub gobbler broke out of cover, sprinting toward us!
I crab-crawled back through the tall grass, a push-pin call in my right hand, working it as I made like a guy in boot camp going through a drill.
I waited. “Boom.” I stood, looked, and saw a gobbler running away. My buddy did nothing. “Shoot! Shoot!” I yelled, my math skills diminished by the excitement. He just grinned. The longbeard lay at his feet.