Opening Day “Tom”

The Turkey opener is a Wednesday and there is no way you are going to be able to get away from work so opening day for you will have to wait until the weekend. The weather has been lousy, in fact real lousy for the last two days with cold rain and even snow. You are sitting at work looking out the window of your office telling yourself that you are really not missing anything because the skies are cloudy and the birds wouldn’t be moving anyway. Suddenly you get a text message from a friend hunting 180 miles from you that he just took a nice Tom with his shotgun and tomorrow he would be trying to fill his second tag with the bow. Suddenly your thought pattern changes, the cloudy sky now looks more like a clearing sky and you begin to realize you’ve missed an excellent opportunity. This is what went through my mind opening morning of the 2012 Turkey season in Ontario. As the day went on the skies turned clear and blue and the temperatures rose in the afternoon sun. I stepped outside for a coffee around 2:30pm and just couldn’t take it anymore. Luckily I have a very nice hunting spot only 20 minutes from the office but I hadn’t planned on this so if I was going to do it, I had to go home and pick up my gear. Again, not a big deal as I live 15 minutes from work. The decision was made and off I went. By 3:45 I had arrived at the farm I was going to hunt and touched base with the owner. He told me he had seen some birds the previous week but with the cold miserable weather we had experienced the last few days he hadn’t seen any at all. We both agreed that with this bright warm sun the birds should be moving and off I went. As I approached the field I was going to hunt I spotted a nice big Tom strutting his stuff. A Hen was close by but they were right on in the middle of the field and approaching them without being seen would be difficult. I decided the best approach would be to skirt the field along the bottom of a ravine that ran adjacent to it and then climb the embankment where I thought the birds might be. I proceeded to do exactly that and when I reached the top of the incline I couldn’t believe my eyes. I had somehow judged my location perfectly and walked up on the two birds standing about 200 yards out in the field. I surveyed the area and found a good setup on the ground where I could kneel down with only my upper torso above the drop off. This was good but the problem I had was I couldn’t set up my decoys without being seen. I tried calling a few times but luring the Tom away from the Hen wasn’t working. He was obviously a “one Hen Tom..or was he?” Right about then I caught some more movement off to my left and when I turned to look I spotted two more Toms and two Jakes running towards the birds already in the field. I watched as an impressive display of the spring mating dance unfolded in front of me with all three Toms strutting their stuff. This dance soon turned into an all out brawl with feet and feathers flying everywhere. Suddenly the Hen broke loose from the pack and rain off up the field with everyone in full pursuit but the original Tom. He just stood there in the field with his chest puffed up walking around in circles. A minute or two passed and he slowly started to walk away from me in the direction of the other birds. It was at this point that I decided to try something drastic. I reached down and grabbed my Hen decoy and thought ….what are the chances of throwing her into the field and having her land right side up. I remember thinking pretty slim at best but I had nothing to lose. I leaned back and launched her into the air. To my amazement she did a full somersault in the air and landed right side up in the field. Even more amazing was that the Tom had seen her going through the air and when she landed he looked at her and then let out two loud gobbles. I couldn’t believe my eyes and my ears. I crouched down and watched as he slowly worked his way towards the Hen decoy. At about 75 yards he seemed to lose interest so I let out a few low Hen calls. His only response was an outstretched neck and look in the general direction of the decoy. He continued to move away and I lost sight of him about 100 yards to my left. I waited for 5 minutes then stood up and moved out from cover. Looking up the field I spotted the birds from earlier and thought that the big Tom had joined up with them. Slightly depressed, I decide this was my opportunity to set the decoys up properly so I proceeded to move out into the field and put out the Tom decoy and add the stake to the Hen decoy. I started to move back to the cover when I noticed movement not 50 yards off to my right. I glanced over and there was the Tom working his way through the brush towards the decoys. Obviously he hadn’t seen me so I slowly moved back into the cover and picked up my box call in one hand and my crossbow in the other. I could see him now weaving through the trees so I gave a very light Hen call. In a flash he entered the field and let out a series of loud gobbles and then without hesitation he proceeded to strut towards the Tom decoy. Slowly I raised my bow and at 12 yards I released the bolt. The big bird jumped in the air doing a somersault of his own and flopped for a few seconds before expiring. I couldn’t believe what had just happened and my mouth dropped when I saw the beautiful bird in front of me. He had an impressive 9 inch long beard and 1 ¼” spurs. When I checked my watch I couldn’t believe that only 20 minutes had passed since I set-up on the field and my Rage broadhead had found its mark. This was truly another one of those stories that you had to be there to believe.

Opening Day Beauty

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