Success in PA – Spring Gobbler 2018

My 2018 Season

I started scouting various properties in March through April with trail cams and binocular observations on key strut zones along with listening before sunrise at various known roost locations. I located many potential mature gobblers to hunt the upcoming spring gobbler season. In Northeast Pa it seems like the birds roost in different areas throughout the spring. I pinpointed most of the known roosting sites and fly down patterns so I could be setup for the upcoming season.

The week of the season was tough with it raining half of the week & the Gobblers mostly henned up. I had a few close calls the first week including having a gobbler so close I could hear him spitting and drumming. I concealed myself but couldn’t get a shot off because he stayed behind my decoy setup just out of sight. I learn every year about different mistakes and strategies so I added I mental note on that setup along with how to setup and be able to see any potential gobblers strutting in.

Almost everyday the during the first week I had a gobbler just out of reach of gun range because they had hens with them.  I started trying to call in dominate hens to lure the Gobblers in. I setup in a different location the second week where I knew there were other gobblers roosted. We just had some rain the night before the so the birds were gobbling like crazy that morning. I could hear 4 gobblers about 150 yards away. That was a promising sign.  I setup were I thought they would come out and glassed the area when the gobblers appeared with 7 hens. After trying to lure them in for over an hour I knew they wouldn’t leave all those hens. So I sat waiting for another 45 minutes then had 3 Jake’s come in. After I knew they were far enough away not to see me I snuck away from that spot to glass the Gobblers still gobbling out in a hayfield.

I slowly crawled to my vehicle and peeked around the bumper.  Glassing the field slowly I could see the 4 gobblers strutting.  2 were 150 yards in front of me the other  2 around 400 yards and making their way towards some hens nearby.  I used a set of electric line poles as landmarks. I got in the car to make my approach.  Once I got to the dirt road I glasses again I could see 6 hens with the 2 gobblers to my right . I new if I went down the road and circles up around the way they were heading I would be able to set up before they made their way to my location. It was going on 8:30 at this point .

I used the morning sun to my advantage and drove to my second setup location.  There was another farm-road down the other ridge so I parked there and got all my hunting equipment ready, slowly shutting the car door. At this point I’m probably 250 yards from the power poles so I would have to sneak over and glass every 20 yards until I could reach the small hickory  woodlot. As I slowly worked the distance to 150 yards, I could see a hen in the field working towards the main woodlot. I dropped down on my knees peering through the hayfield with the binoculars.  After 6 minutes she was up in the woods where she couldn’t pick me out. No putting was a good sign, she didn’t see me. I waited 5 more minutes glassing the whole time for all birds. I told myself, “Time to move.”

My custom call. He couldn't resist it!
My custom call. He couldn’t resist it!

Working cautiously, I noticed 2 deer at the edge of the hickory Woodlot 100 yards away. If I spook them they might spook the gobbler. I’m checking the wind direction at this point hoping my scent would’t blow in their direction. The deer moved slowly towards the direction I last saw the 2 gobblers with the hens. In full stealth mode I get into the hickory woodlot. I find a dead tree to hide behind and glass again. They are moving over a small ridge in the field now. I can make my move. I slowed my breathing down and began my final approach where I could see the electric poles. I found a big tree that will conceal my outline with the sun to my back.

I start calling with some excited crackles followed by some yelps on my custom-made double glass call made with a photo of a gobbler I shot 2 years before. Midway into my sequence, a bird gobbles. He’s  close! He must be only 75 yards or so. I sneak to the next big tree about 7 yards watching in front of me the whole time.  I still can’t see him but I can hear him spitting and drumming. I got into position and let out some soft purrs with some yelps. Gobble gobble! I have him gobbling and a dominant hen calling back at me. I listen to her call sequence and match it adding 1 more yelp. After doing this 3 times she is fired up and starts moving my way. I can see her now. Time to shut up and have my gun ready.

As she approached I  can see the top of his fan spinning back and forth in the morning sun. He’s starting to materialize.  She’s still yelping at me trying to pinpoint the other hen. “Gobble gobble”  he goes off again. Now he’s 50 yards and following her hot and heavy. I can see his head every time he struts in my direction now. I got my gun up and ready trying not to move. Now I can see his full body as she worked behind me. I gotta be careful now. It’s now or never I tell myself. As he started to show his head my way I take a deep breath. Strutting right at me now, I squeeze the trigger. BOOM!  I see then other hens flying and him flopping in the field. I got him!

My 2018 PA Gobbler.
My 2018 PA Gobbler.

What an unbelievable morning and truly a great hunt. Switching up my strategy played of well. As I fill my birthday tag, I soak it all in. What a beautiful morning and a beautiful, mature gobbler. 1″ spurs 9.5 ” beard 21lbs 14oz. Now he’s in the NWTF Record Book.

What a beautiful bird.
What a beautiful bird.

I’m truly blessed to be able to have such an excellent season along with this opportunity to take such  a magnificent PA gobbler!