As we walked up the valley I'd yelp a few times every 1/4 mile in hopes of a reply to locate other birds. I am as deaf as an oak post nowadays but Lexi could hear at least 2 replies from different toms. As we're very familiar with the terrain I made a mental note of the locations but knew the birds would roost in a different area come sun down. At one stop I let go a string of yelps and was answered with a single gobble by a bird well above us on an aspen knoll. I yelped three other times with no reply and elected to continue another 1/4 mile up the canyon to a spring and call one last time before walking slowly back to our camp site. We reached a point in the canyon that was the highest I had ever gone looking for birds called a few times, scanned the hill sides and seeing nothing that resembled turkeys we began our decent back towards the tent.
When we again reached the area we'd heard the last tom I yelped a few more times and was answered almost instantly from what had to be the same bird we heard earlier. This time I could hear him quite well so he had to have been less than 300 yards away. I had 2 Avian X Hen decoys in my pack but decided to set up on the edge of a creek bed, call a few more times and then determine our next move as I have never had great luck in calling birds downhill on this property. We had about an hour and a half of daylight left.
Lexi got her Model 12 pointed in the general direction of the birds replies and I sent another string of yelps towards knoll. This time the tom answered immediately and was no doubt on the move down slope towards us. I elected not to set up the decoys, sit tight and just call. Every time I'd yelp the bird would respond, we had "incoming".
There were a couple of open shooting lanes to our left and our front but a mass of brush and cover to our right. If the bird came in through the brush we'd likely never have a shot. Nothing is ever perfect hunting these great birds so you roll with what your given. I kept up the conversation with the tom and soon saw him up the slope perhaps a hundred yards from our position. In full display and dragging his wings and now gobbling every 60 seconds. I thought I could faintly hear "Doctor Love, Paging Doctor Love!"
Lexi shifted her position and ever so slowly and moved the muzzle towards the oncoming bird. All the years of hunting with me for these gobblers was now showing in her demeanor. As the bird altered its approach, she countered her position. The bird now hung up at about 70 yards away straining his head, looking into the opening below him trying to locate the hen that had talked him down the ridge. As some are well aware this is a point where a lot can go wrong on a turkey hunt. I shut up and waited for the birds next move. He gobbled and displayed six or seven times in rapid fashion trying to locate and impress the unseen hen. The woods went silent for another 5 minutes as he looked things over very carefully trying to decided his next best pick up line. Then I hit him with soft cackle that he answered instantly, for every gobble I fired right back with another cackle. That was all he could take, playing hard to get wasn't working, time to meet her on her terms, he started down the slope and began walking towards the best shooting lane we had.
The heard the safety click off as Lexi tracked the bird into the open lane. I yelped just once to check his stride and softly whispered "now" before I finished the word she sent a load of Heavyweight # 7's into the area around his beak at just over 30 yards. The tom dropped into the grass never to regained his footing. Lexi had just taken her second gobbler. We admired the bird for quite some time, made a guess that he was a 3 or maybe a 4 years old and took a few pictures She finally took a moment to call her Mom and my cousin Jay, a true master among turkey hunters to share with them the news. She was all smiles, I was feeling pretty good myself.
As warm as it was that evening we now had to gut the bird, return to the tent, break camp and walk to the truck to get the bird home before it spoiled. We made it to the truck well after dark. This was by far the easiest bird that has ever come to call on this property. We'll add this afternoon into the journal. The general season hunt starts this Monday, you can guess where I'll be ?