In the past week we had a total of ten inches of rain and things were really soaked. When I previously scouted the new farm the pasture grass was only ankle deep. You could set up anywhere you wanted and the turkeys were plentiful with plenty of sign. How things have changed in a week. The rain had made part of the farm not passable due to the mud across an earthen dam in the valley. Plus, the pasture grass was now knee high.
The experience I have had with tall grass is the turkeys do not like it. An old turkey hunter that is a friend of mine also told me the same thing. The farm was covered in tall grass in a majority of the valleys except around the wooded areas of standing timber. This made hunting really tough. However, the land owner had plunked one on opening day. I have always liked hunting Iowa’s last season because the hens are generally bred out and the toms just seem to be more receptive. The boys are out looking for love and most of the girls have been spoken for.
Another old turkey hunter told me that most big toms are harvested after 8 a.m. which is well after they have come off the roost. I have only shot one turkey that had just come off the roost and that was on another farm and in cool weather. He came out of the tree behind me and commenced to let his presence be known to the girls. I gave him a couple of yelps and some clucks and purrs. He stepped out of the woods only to be made into roast turkey. He tasted good.
Anyway, I got to the farm around 8 a.m. and halfway through the gate two big toms walked across the road and into the woods. There was not time to grab my gun out of the case, load up, and lay out some metal. They were gone, but they were in no hurry. That was a good sign as I planned to head back to the tree line and set up. I wanted to see if they could be sweet talked into coming back to the road’s edge.
I parked the truck a couple of hundred yards from where I saw the birds. I loaded the equipment on my back and headed to the location to hunt. Off to my right was a steep hill with short grass on it and trees at the top. Then I heard a loud gobble. It was obvious there was a love hungry tom in the woods or beyond.
I started up the hill looking for a decent place to hide and one was found up against a tree. It was a little exposed to the front, but my leaf suit and the knee high grass would help for cover. I would be visible from the stomach up while sitting in my chair, but I was well in the shadows.
He gobbled constantly so I gave him the old “Come and see me, big boy” call and some clucks and purrs. He never shut up but did not come to the call. The strategy was shifted to the “Hey, big boy, are you looking for love?” call. Still he did not come. It was strange that he moved from the top of the hill to the lower levels. I picked out his location just by the location of the sounds.
My question was,”What should the strategy be?” I was not happy with my location as it was a long shot to the edge of the timber, even though Hevi-Shot was loaded into the shooting stick. It was obvious he was not coming to the call but would eventually stay close to the edge of the timber. The overwhelming urge now was to crawl through the tall grass till I was closer to the top of the hill. That would put me in a better position and a shorter shot. Sometimes my distance judging skills are not very good. My guess was the edge of the timber was 40 yards from my location. I was getting really edgy waiting for him to appear.
The decision was made to quit calling. He had enough invitations to come and make music with a beautiful young hen. He kept it up. Up and down the hill he went and then all went silent. Just below the top of the hill in front of me a red head appeared. It looked around, then went down. The shooting stick was then positioned against my shoulder. My left arm rested on my leg and the harvesting machine was in my left hand. All I had to do was lift it up and make a short swing.
He did not make a sound. The next thing I saw was his red head sticking up above the ridge line again. He was just on the edge of the timber above me and he kept looking around. I’ll bet he felt like he was just stood up by a hen or two. Haven’t we all been there. Bathed in sunlight he looked absolutely gorgeous. When lit up in sunlight the birds look so colorful. There was no way I could take a picture. Movement had to be minimal and now was the time to harvest him.
With the butt of the gun in my shoulder, the shooting iron was moved off my knee quickly to bring him into sight. He saw the movement and was startled. Just as I cut loose, he was on the move and kept moving. I did not even roll him and his head did not droop at all. With a lot of noise he was off into the woods.
I climbed up to the hill where the shot was taken and there was no sign of blood or feathers. I stepped it off back to my location and the distance was not 40 yards but 60 yards. The most damage done to him was probably a sore butt for a couple of days.
I climbed back to the top of the hill hoping another bird might appear, but after an hour it was lunch time and I headed home.