Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Back home for 'playoff' turkey hunting

By Mac Arnold
RTWO Editor-In-Chief

You hear in the NBA or NHL playoffs how a road team will try to "steal a game" when traveling to its foe's arena for the first two games of a series.

In some ways, that's what the "Gobbler Man" tried to do in Ohio and Pennsylvania this season.

And dang near pulled it off.

It was close ... oh so close. When the fog cleared that last morning of my two-day trip May 4, a flash of red in the middle of a green hay field caught my eye. Peering with my binos through the openings of small shrubs and saplings wedged along an old wire fence, it was soon clear a nice tom in his majestic glory was parked looking all around with a million pounds of eyes for his supposed hen in need.

I dared not move. The plan was to wait him out and see if he would break my way into the open. His spot at that moment was definitely too far out for a shot. He was at least 60 yards out. As he basked in the sun, which seemed like an eternity, the brilliance of his bronze hue reflected back at me and sent my mind whirling back and forth on whether or not he was in range. I was going nuts, and to boot, dealing with the maddening charlie horses in my legs was only adding to the frustration.

Then, at 9:30 a.m., another suitor gobbled at one of the clucks and purrs I was trying coax Tom No. 1 into coming closer for a shot.

To my dismay, the first bird tucked his head down like they do when they want to get somewhere in a hurry and made a beeline to his competitor in the woods, still well outside the shotgun distance.

Sometimes they link up and come in together later, so I waited for the rest of the morning but they never returned to the hay field.

Going back over the after-action report, it was clear I sat back too far into the woods on the edge of the field. He came into the clearing as anticipated but the fog likely blocked my view of his entry.

The week before a monster from the Ohio hunting spot was enticed inside the magical 50-yard barrier but there was too much debris in between us for a shot and of course, again, he didn't come into the open where I had a decoy set up.

But how exciting.

For what I consider early in the season being it's May 9, to have two close encounters like that in only five total gigs clearly shows I'm on the right track.

Now it's time for a little home cooking in the native state of Michigan. And when that first hunt kicks off -- hopefully this upcoming week -- I will have accomplished my goal of turkey hunting in three states this spring.

As players say, you gotta win the home games in the playoffs.

UPDATE: In all fairness, since I reported in a previous blog post how new turkey hunting friend Chip Regis of Sharpsville, Pa., missed a bird April 19, I should show what happened for him April 30, which also was his birthday.

He didn't miss this time.

Good job, Chip. Way to stay with it. 

Chip Regis of Sharpsville, Pa.,  called in this
nice 2-year-old tom with one of his buddy's
homemade mouth calls. The bird had a 
beard that measured 10.5 inches long and 
spurs that were over an inch long.