The Silent Gobbler


It was another fun morning in the springtime woods the last weekend in April. The weather was perfect and you couldn’t pick a better morning to be out chasing turkeys around. I could already here the turkeys gobbling as I made my way out to my morning listening spot.

There was a skunk feeding along in the field that I thankfully managed to slip by unnoticed. I walked within 20 yards of the stinky critter and he never picked his head up. When I arrived on the end of the point I found a log to sit on and enjoyed the sunrise as it made its way over the ridgetops.

There were two gobblers gobbling back and forth at each other but they were on the other side of the river. The one sounded like a good bird and he would answer my calls but he wasn’t budging. This went on up until around 8:00. At one point I had the stubborn gobbler fired up and I thought he may come across as I’ve called them across the river before.

As I was sitting on the log listening to all of this all of a sudden a gobble roared out right behind me. It literally blew me off the log. I threw my slate call to the left and my striker to the right and hit the ground. I rolled over into the log pile and got my gun ready.

I could see the turkeys moving through the tall grass and then they started flogging each other. One gobbled again and I could tell it was a jake. They came within 10 yards and put on a show for 10 minutes. I was tucked away well in the log pile and they had no clue I was there.

There were 4 altogether and after watching them I decided to stand up and spook them off so I could get back to calling to the gobbler across the river. I popped up and they just stood there for a few seconds before gliding off. I wasn’t going to shoot any of them and they had me pinned down in the log pile.

My slate call was somewhere since I threw it so I couldn’t call so I made the decision to surprise the jakes with a morning hello. I retrieved my slate call and striker and took up position on the log again. The gobbler was still answering me but I could tell he was heading down river. I sat there for a half hour and actually called one of the jakes back in. He walked within 20 yards of me before noticing the weird object perched on the log.
After he sailed off I had another plan. There has been a nice gobbler hanging in a field at the far end of the property. I saw him out there the evening before and figured he was hanging out there. I’ve never been able to set up on a turkey on that part of the property but I was determined to give it a try.

I eased through the field edge and found a nice spot to set up in a treetop. I dug a hen and jake decoy out of my vest and situated them in the edge of the field under a poplar tree that was providing some shade. I called every 10 to 15 minutes while scanning the field from left to right.

It was nearing 10:00 by then and I had been sitting there for almost an hour. I looked to my left and then right and out of nowhere there he was. He popped out of an island of trees in the middle of the field. His head was as red as a fire engine and his beard looked like a paint brush as he stood there in full strut. It was a beautiful sight and I had to blink my eyes a couple times to make sure I wasn’t seeing things.

He saw the decoys and immediately started walking right towards them. My gun was beside me leaning on the treetop so I slowly moved my right hand towards it as he continued to close the distance fast. I managed to grab my gun and get it half way up before he got to the decoys.

The big gobbler puffed up and I thought he was going to kick the jake decoy but he sensed something wasn’t right. He turned and started to walk into the woods. Thankfully that poplar tree that was providing the cool shade was in the perfect location and as soon as I saw his head disappear behind it I swung my gun and was waiting for him.

His head popped out on the other side and I drew a bead on it and squeezed the trigger. He was less than 20 yards so it was an up close encounter. I jumped up and thanked the good lord above for what had just happened. It was a great hunt.

The gobbler had a 10 inch beard and came in totally silent. I never heard him cluck, purr, or gobble. I usually don’t have the patience to sit and call without hearing anything respond during spring gobbler season but this time it paid off.

Spring gobbler season is still in and ends on May 13. The season limit is 2 and I tagged out with the silent gobbler. Good luck to those who are still after them. The gobblers are still gobbling and the hens are nesting so it should be easier calling in those gobblers that were henned up during the first week. Some of the best hunting happens during the last two weeks so don’t give up.