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or a textbook kind of morning, it was a cold one.  35F.  It did not seem to bother the gobblers though.    We were pretty well bundled up as we checked into the blind overlooking the Mother of All Honey Holes.  Yes, we’d been there before.  Yes, we had not seen much action out there so far this Spring.  However, I figured that one side faced East into a pasture that got a lot of early morning sun.  If the gobblers needed a spot to warm themselves, there was not any better to be had on the farm.  SuperCore was looking for his second bird.  I was still looking for my first.  The gobblers started hammering as soon as we got settled in.  

Mister Moto had stuck to his habit.  He was roosted about 80 yards away, just inside the woods.  About a half-dozen other gobblers were within earshot.  The sun came up.  They lingered for a while and then pitched down.  Everything went quiet.  Drat.  It was not even 0700 yet.  I did just enough calling to keep the boys on notice that there were hens at The Honey Hole– nothing to demonstrative– just a little here and there.  I was hoping somebody would come back an cut in on me.  Nothing.  We settled back, poured a cup of coffee, adjusted the hand-warmers and waited.  I have just about written off Moto.  He seems to be the kind of gobbler that is stuck on the sound of his own voice, and that is about it.

After a short while, two bucks in velvet came by for a visit.  One nearly came into the blind.  I clucked a little and that was enough to convince them not to come any further.  On the other side, a herd of doe came out to feed in the food plot on our back side.  They played around a while and then took off.  It was all a nice show, but not what we had come for.

A call came out of the woods to the south of us.  It was a deep, clipped yelp.  Nothing like what you hear on the tapes.  It sounded like a turkey hunter that doesn’t quite have the hang of it yet– very hesitant.   It had the quality of one of those balloon rubber single-reed calls you used to find twenty years ago.  Yawk. Yawk-yawk.   Yawk .  Yawk-yawk.  This is the second time I have heard it this season.  It always freezes me, because I cannot quite tell if it is another hunter.  This time I let out an improbable string of yelps to answer.  It shut her up, at least for a bit.  When she turned back on again, she was closer and more insistent, but from where she had moved and how she was calling, I finally became satisfied that we were not being hunted.  She kept on calling here and there.  I could tell she was moving around, and a hunter would have never been able to move that fast through the cedar thicket she was in– at least not without sounding like an elephant on a rampage.

Then we got our first sighting.  Two jakes came from the opposite direction.  They poked their skinny pencil necks up, and then continued on through the pasture. The gobbling had been shut down for over a half-hour by this time.  I was not sure what we were going to have come in next.  Verale still had his mask down, and the sun was now shining off his white hair and his face.  I had him get ready.

The setup we have is a bit over-concealed.  There is some kind of sticker bush growing out in front that makes it hard to see both in and out, but there are shooting lanes we’ve tromped down.  We’re in the middle of a 10 yard-wide raised fence line with 100-year old oaks providing the bulk of the cover.  I usually take the high spot, with my back to an old lighting-struck trunk,  so I can get a better view of the overall situation.  The other shooter has a nice log to rest his back.  I did some feeding calls and used a long stick to scratch in the leaves.  By this time, I’d fumbled around and found a hickory striker  and brushed up the center of the slate on my Heirloom Double-Barrel pot call.  I let loose with the best imitation I could make of the hen I had heard, only I spiced it with a little double-clutch.

Bingo!  Two nice shooters came out of the woods to the south and started making a beeline for our end of the pasture.  

“Don’t move.”  I hissed.  “Two of ‘em.  Coming in on the right.”     SuperCore had his gun barrel pointed in a good direction.  I put the crosshairs on the one open spot in the fence line that I could find.  The lead gobbler held for a moment and then rushed past the opening.  I saw a nice beard, but did not have time for a shot.  They were both keying on the sound SuperCore had made as he shifted his feet.    One head came up over the sticker bushes. Then another, about 5 feet to the right of SuperCore.  The lead bird clucked and then cake-walked out into the pasture to give himself some room to strut.  SuperCore dropped him at 10 yards, just as the bird stuck his head out one last time.  I have this crystal picture of the head and neck suddenly disappearing  and the bird’s tail cartwheeling through the air.  

This was a solid  two-year old.  The spurs looked fresh and untouched from fighting.  His legs were lean and his beard was pristine.  He looked like a teenager compared to the old boy SuperCore nailed on Monday.  SuperCore is now tagged out.  He skedaddled back to town to see his girl right after cleaning his bird.  His first bird went back with him– considerably larger carcass even though they both weighed 20 lbs.  The new bird was packing a lot more fat on his breast.

I am giving the Mother of All Honey Holes a rest for a day or so.  After I finish this, I’m packing up and heading off for Gobbler’s Knob for the rest of the day to test my meddle against the grandsons of  Mister Natural and Silent Bob.  I don’t expect to be back before supper.

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