- November 23, 2022
While success came late in this spring’s gobbler season, it certainly came early in my granddaughter’s turkey hunting career. With the season winding down, my granddaughter, Sierra Hornberger, just bagged her first gobbler last Wednesday afternoon. Sierra, now 21, has only ever hunted spring gobblers a couple of other times. Several years ago I called
While success came late in this spring’s gobbler season, it certainly came early in my granddaughter’s turkey hunting career. With the season winding down, my granddaughter, Sierra Hornberger, just bagged her first gobbler last Wednesday afternoon. Sierra, now 21, has only ever hunted spring gobblers a couple of other times. Several years ago I called in two mature gobblers, but no doubt her nerves got the best of her — and she missed — sending the birds in an all-out sprint, but this past week’s hunt ended much differently.
Because so many other things kept getting in the way, I had not been out gobbler hunting myself. With time running out, Sierra called me and wanted to know if there was any chance we could get out for a while. Sure, it was late in the season, everything was leafed out in green, and it didn’t “feel like” it was still spring gobbler season, but I knew better. I had seen gobblers fanned out only a couple of days before she called; I felt we still had a good chance of calling one up.
Wednesday was a foggy, wet morning, so we were in no hurry to hit the woods. We set up in our first calling location at around 7:30 a.m. — nothing. We moved a couple of hundred yards out the ridge and set up again — still nothing. After our third set-up without a response, I was beginning to have some doubts of my own.
It was nearing noon when we began moving to our fourth set-up location. I hardly began calling when a hen showed up — wow, at least we saw a turkey. As we contemplated heading for home for lunch, we both heard a faint gobble off in the distance — it was coming from the same location that we started in that morning.
I knew we had to move quickly. We grabbed the decoys and made a beeline back to within a couple of hundred yards of our starting location. I quickly set up the jake and hen decoy at the edge of the woods, only 30 yards away, and we both got set up against a big oak tree. I made a series of hen yelps on my box call, and we immediately got a response only 50 or so yards away — no time to even put on our face masks. Almost out of nowhere, a hen and three jakes showed up. I told Sierra to wait — more gobblers are coming — and I think they are what we all really want. Soon, two big gobblers, side by side, began a steady walk right towards the decoys. I whispered, “When you get a clear shot at one take it.” The twelve gauge, over/under, loaded with magnums barked and the bird was down. The gobbler at about 18 pounds had a nine and one half inch beard and inch and a quarter spurs.
Being with someone, especially one of your kids or grandchildren, when they take that first gobbler, is a real treat I’m sure many of you have also enjoyed. In addition to being such a memorable experience for us, it was also a bit unique in that it took place late in the season and later in the day.
For years, many of us spring gobbler hunters seemed to feel we had our best chances early in the spring season, and you had to be in the woods before daylight. While that is often the case, it is also true that gobblers are still interested in hens even late in the season. My biggest gobbler, several years ago, was shot close to noon. My granddaughter’s was taken at noon also. Recently, my friend Rennie Rodarmel, Sr., told me he killed his big gobbler late in the season and also in the afternoon and it was gobbling up a storm when it came to him.
As I write this piece, I realized I still have tomorrow to hunt spring gobblers — I have to think about that, but one thing is for sure — it will be hard to beat mine and my granddaughter’s hunt this past week.