Opening day of the 2015 turkey season for the Caledon HuntBlog crew was far from perfect weather wise as it delivered a little bit of everything. The day started with over cast skies and within a half an hour of sunrise it began to rain. Temperatures were very cold and rain soon turned to a sleet and wet snow mix. Adding to the discomfort was a strong north wind blowing in our faces.

Even with the elements against us ours spirits remained high because we had been scouting for several weeks prior to the season and we knew we had a good population of Tom’s roaming the property.

The three of us fanned out across our hunting property trying to take advantage of the fact that the birds were scattered around the farm. Herb was set up in the bush and Pierre and I were set up on the west side of the bush bordering a cut corn field. We had some early action with gobbling all around us including a deer that walked up to Herb in the dark and stood directly in front of him at five yards.

Around 7:00 am I had a couple of gobbling Toms behind me that closed to within 50 yards but wouldn’t come any closer. Pierre had Toms gobbling behind him as well and a small Jake that came into his decoys shortly after daybreak followed by two curious Hens.

Around 9:30 we had two Tom’s enter the south end of the corn field and although we were pretty sure they spotted Pierre’s decoys they just didn’t seem interested in coming over. They fed out in the corn for about an hour then headed back into the bush. Around 10:30 the weather improved a bit as the skies began to clear but the temperatures remained cool as the north wind continued to blow at around 30 km/h.

Herb headed back to the truck around 11am and was greeted by a visit frim our local Game Warden. After a quick chat and check of his license and equipment he moved on down the field to check on Pierre and I. Of course everything checked out and after a friendly conversation he wished us good luck and was on his way.

Its a game of patience
Its a game of patience

At noon we met at the truck for lunch and chatted about the morning’s lack of production which none of us could explain based on the large number of birds we had seen during our preseason scouting trips.

Around 2:00 pm we headed back to our setups except this time Herb had relocated to a spot in the fence row bordering the east end of the corn field. Around 3:30 pm we had two Hens come into the corn field and they worked their way across the field towards Herb’s location. About 100 yards from him they decided to take cover in a piece of long grass that was situated in a low area in the corn field. We continued to glass the fields from our individual locations when I spotted a very nice Tom enter the corn field from the south. He was feeding across the field at a steady pace. At this point I alerted both Herb and Pierre of his presence but only Pierre could see the bird because Herb was blocked out by a hill in the field. I had a perfect vantage point, albeit from a long ways away, but I had a good view of how the bird was moving across the field. When the bird was about 200 yards from Pierre, he decided to try a few hen calls to see if he could draw the birds attention to his decoy set. This appeared to grab the Toms attention as he started to strut towards Pierre’s setup. He closed to within 100 yards of Pierre and then gradually started heading away from him in the direction of the two hens that were concealed in the grassy depression in the corn field. At that point I radioed Herb and let him know that the Tom had changed direction and was heading east towards him. At this point the Tom made a very deliberate point of cutting across the corn field and enter into the clover field were Herb had a major decoy spread set up.

I say major because Herb had a very elaborate setup consisting of a two feeding Hens, a Jake and a strutting Tom. Unfortunately the field the Tom was in had a number of small rise and falls in it and Herb could not see the Tom as it began its approach to his setup. The Tom on the other hand had a perfect view of Herb’s decoys and began to approach in full strut. The only inkling Herb had that the Tom was approaching was a few short gobbles. We decided to switch over to text messaging so that the Tom wouldn’t hear us and this proved to be a good decision. The Tom let out one last gobble when he was approximately 50 yards out from Herb. It looked like this was coming together perfectly for Herb when suddenly the two Hens located in the grassy depression in the corn field popped out from their cover. They had obviously heard the Toms gobble and came out to investigate. The Tom quickly took notice of the two Hens and appeared confused. He was still focussed on the decoy setup but he just couldn’t resist the attraction offered to him by the two live Hens.

Fortunately for Herb the two Hens were moving up the field towards his locations so I texted him to stay motionless. They walked through the corn and passed by Herb at around twenty yards with the Tom hot on their trail. Herb didn’t move a muscle and from my long distance vantage point I could see the Tom approaching Herb at full strut. My last text to Herb was get ready buddy he’s about to pass you.

I watched closely as the Tom strutted through the corn field right up to Herb where he laid in wait quiet, calm and motionless. At 15 yards Herb rose up, shouldered his 12 gauge and delivered a deadly shot to the head of the passing Tom dropping the bird in its tracks.

Good preparation can mean everything for early season birds
Good preparation can mean everything for early season birds

All three of us erupted in unison with yelps of joy none louder than Herb. As fast as we could Pierre and I made our way towards Herb pumping our fist into the air to help celebrate our partner’s success of the hunt.

The bird was a beauty with a 9 inch beard and one inch spurs. We shared some laughs and the excitement grew as we replayed the hunt over and over. I can honestly say that the only thing bigger than the bird was the smile on Herb’s face. The key to the success of this hunt was help from Herb’s hunting partners but most importantly Herb’s ability as a seasoned hunter to remain calm and motionless.

Story by HuntBlog Prostaffer

Greg Mather

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