No, this isn’t going to be one of those super exciting, action packed hunting stories. But, it is the story of one tom, one very obsessed lady (me), and the power of perseverance. I also hope to clear up a major misconception while still trying to provide some entertainment.
First, let’s set the background. I live on a 10 acre property, with over half of it being wooded, and turkeys and deer come into my yard on a fairly regular basis. Hens always seem to be around, and the boys just show up from time-to-time. Seems to be pretty much the same for the deer around here, lots of does; rarely ever a buck. Although, I did take my biggest buck to date from my backyard, and the best part is that I hadn’t even been truly pursuing him.
However, as far as turkeys go, I have now taken 4 in my short turkey hunting career, which truthfully just seriously started last year. And, yes, all four have been taken in my backyard. This is where the misconception comes in. Some people have this crazy idea that if the animals come into your yard that they are somehow tamed. This is absolutely not true. It is no different than a deer or turkey stepping out of the woods into an open field. My house just happens to be sitting on the same property. I promise you I can’t walk outside and mess around in my yard without spooking them away. I’ve never been able to pet one. And, I don’t have cute little pet names for them. They are 100% wild animals! And, just like all other turkey hunters everywhere, I had to call every one of my birds in.
Now, let’s get to this year’s tom. If you follow me on social media, you know I’m slightly obsessed with capturing turkeys with the camera lens. And, if I can get then on video, even better! I got my very first pictures and video of this tom on March 18th this year. I knew as soon as I saw him, he was the one I wanted. I watched out my window frequently to see if he was out there, or if there were other toms running around. There were lots of jakes, and of course, plenty of hens. But, he was the only tom.
At that point, turkey season was a little over a month away, so I continued to watch out my window…a lot! I was able to capture quite a few pictures, and even got him on video again. However, for the most part, I mostly saw the jakes and hens, including a bearded hen who also peaked my interest. I debated back and forth as to whether or not I would shoot her. I had decided that I would. After all, it’s not every day that you see a bearded hen.
As far as the jakes go, I was able to get some great footage of them, as well. I just love the sights and sounds of the boys gobbling. They really can put on quite the show! How do I feel about shooting a jake? I have absolutely no problem with taking a jake. And, I did just that. Exactly one year to the date of my very first turkey (May 3, 2017), which was also a jake, I shot another one. For me, there is such a feeling of satisfaction and pride in calling in my own bird, especially considering I’m so new at it. I will happily take a jake every single year. Of course, I’m always going to want a tom, but reality is it just doesn’t always happen.
So, with one bird down, I still had one to go. I continued to hunt every chance I got, and my eyes were glued to the window. Though, I could still hear occasional gobbling, sightings had slowed way down, and at one point I decided he was gone. I figured someone else had been lucky enough to harvest him. Then on May 12th, I happened to be walking past the window and there he was, in full strut. He was putting on a show for the ladies. I threw some camo on real quick, grabbed my gun and my mouth call, and snuck out the door. As I was heading out, the hens were heading back into the woods, and as expected, he followed. I tried to call him back in, but to no avail. He had hens in front of him; he wasn’t leaving. My heart sank; I felt defeated, yet elated at the same time. I knew he was still alive, and I was determined to get this bird!
Fast forward to the next day, May 13th, Mother’s Day. It was a very hot and miserable day but I was on a mission. The plan was to hunt as long as I could. This was going to be my day. I knew I would have to leave at some point for a little while to go visit my mom, but every other second of that day was dedicated solely to getting my tom. Well, let me tell you, things did not go quite the way I had planned. First of all, I was sitting out in an open blind designed for me by my wonderful husband. And, I absolutely love that spot. However, there was just one problem that morning. I was surrounded by yellow jackets. I am very sensitive to stings, to put it mildly. Actually, a sting would have probably landed me in the emergency room; there was no time for that. So, I decided to put up the big old Double Bull blind and sit in it. I knew I would have to close up all the windows and just keep the mesh down in the front so I could keep an eye out. And, that’s just what I did. There were yellow jackets flying around the blind, but I felt pretty confident they couldn’t get in. But the heat, now that was rough. I was drenched with sweat. It was over 80 degrees outside and that blind had very little air flowing through it. I didn’t care. I was going to get that tom. And, then it happened. He popped out of the woods off to my right. He walked straight across the yard, all the while staying out of range. And, just as quickly as he appeared, he disappeared. He, too, was on a mission. He headed straight into the woods where the hens nest. I tried my best to call him back in, but again it was no use. I wasn’t giving up though. I was determined to sit there in that hot, miserable blind. And, I lasted about another 45 minutes before a yellow jacket decided to join me. Let’s just say I didn’t know I could move that fast anymore. Yep, that’s how that hunt ended. Defeated again!
Of course I was back at it that evening. No sight of him. In fact, not a turkey anywhere. Then the next day as I was getting ready for work, he popped out. 4 p.m., and he’s strutting his stuff; there was nothing I could do but watch. The next day, the same thing. 4 p.m. ; he was out again. This time, I didn’t care. I’d never been late for work before. So, what would it hurt to at least try? He was heading into the woods. So, I grabbed my gun and told my husband to do some calling for me so I could hear where he was. I was able to get pretty close, but never could find his exact location. That tom was driving me absolutely insane!
The next morning when I got home from work, I went straight to bed. My plan was to try and go that evening, but wasn’t feeling too good. I had a fever, sore throat, and just achy all over, so I just slept the day away. Thursday morning I woke up at 5 a.m, and just stared at the clock. I still didn’t feel good and had absolutely no desire to get out of my bed. After staring at the clock for a good 30 minutes, I finally got up. I knew I would be mad at myself if I didn’t at least try. There were only 4 days of season left. I had to go. So, I put on a pot of coffee and got ready. With coffee in hand, I headed out the door. I set up my decoys and got comfy in my nice open blind. Turkey fever had won out over my real fever. Not even sickness was going to stop me from getting that tom.
The morning started out pretty quiet. I had a hen or 2 pop out and run around, but the boys were all no shows. Then about 2 ½ hours into the hunt, I finally heard some gobbles. They were off to my right, and pretty far away. I did a little calling and then just sat tight. I watched and waited; waited and watched. My eyes were glued to the area where I had seen him come from in the mornings. There was dead silence. The gobbling had completely stopped and I didn’t see anything moving. Then out of the corner of my eye, I suddenly saw him. He had gone around me and came in from behind. He caught me completely by surprise! I had my video camera all set up and ready to go. I was going to capture this moment. I got as far as turning the camera on, but then had to make a choice between moving my camera or getting the gun on him. Needless to say, I went with the gun. I got him! After 2 months of watching him, and 1 very long month of hunting him, it all came together. My determination and perseverance paid off! I can’t even describe the feeling I had. A whole flood of emotions came over me. I finally got the tom that had haunted me the whole season. I truly never knew just how excited a person could be over a turkey! Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled with every single turkey I took, but there was just something special about this one. I guess you could say we had a little history together!
Well, there you have it, the story of my 2018 turkey season and my obsession with one tom. No, it may not be the most exciting story in the world, but it’s mine and it’s one I’m very proud of. I do confess though, that I miss seeing that big ole’ tom out running around my yard, and I find myself looking out the window quite often to see if he’s there. But, even more so, I am filled with a great sense of accomplishment. And, this just goes to show that persistence and perseverance really can pay off!