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Rhino

MS Season, opening week...

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I've been playing guide most of the time, so far this season for rookie turkey hunters.  The first 2 days of the season with my 1st rookie hunter was basically a bust.  A cold front had come through leaving it windy, overcast, and a lot colder than it had recently been.  Well...that added up to not hearing a single bird gobble at all the first 2 days.  My rookie hunter (Lee) had to go home so on the 3rd day I would be on my own.  We made tentative plans to try again this past Thursday (weather wise the best looking gobbling day).

At gobbling time on the 3rd day I was on top of the highest point where I could hear distant gobblers.  2 cranked up on the roost in the distance N and NE of me, one in an area nobody was hunting.  I switched areas to pursue the bird to the NE.  By the time I got around to listen before closing in it was ~7:30.  Waited and heard a bird gobble ahead of me below the ridge I was on.  I moved toward him and busted 3 hens out of a tree at 7:35 a.m. not 100 yards from where I was listening.  2 of the 3 hens flew to a tree where I glassed them.  Then 2 more birds flew down touching down close to me.  One gobbled...terrible sounding gobble too so figured it had to be a young bird.  Then the 2 hens I glassed in the tree pitched down away from me into the W bottom where a bird gobbled while they were in the air.  He never gobbled again.  On to the gobbling birds to the N...they were HOT!  Turned out to be 2 together.  Got above those birds on top of a high ridge.  They were down in a big plot in the area where another hunter was.  From my high perch, I could make out bits and pieces of the plot they were moving around in and pin point where they were.  They gobbled for an hour or so before a vocal hen moved in to meet them.  The last time I got them to gobble they were moving up the ridge on the opposite side of the plot.

I took a couple of days off to rest and wait for what looked like great weather this past Wednesday morning.  Before dawn Wednesday, I was sitting close to where the gobblers spent most of their time when I last heard them in the plot.  It turned out to be colder than forecast at 36 degrees but no wind & clear.  Well the birds didn't like the chill early.  I finally heard a bird about 8:00 gobble at a live hen yelping behind me.  Can't move...they are right behind me and above me.  The 1st hen passes by at ~15 yards trotting into the field followed by a 2nd hen.  Then the gobbler trots right by me.  As I raise I realize I made a rookie mistake.  Never turned on my holosight that morning.  The gobbler caught my movement and continued into the woods on the other side of the field.  He putted once but the hens paid no attention to him.  They hadn't busted me so opted to just hang around for a while right in front of me.  About 10 minutes later I hear more hens off to my right shoulder behind me.  I slowly ease my head around (2 hens still in front) and see a gobbler strutting behind 3 hens ~70 yards away above me.  They stayed at the same elevation on the side of that ridge easing to the north with him occasionally gobbling.  Now the bird that was with the 2 hens (still feeding around in front of me) gobbles just inside the timber across the field from me.  I guess that was their cue to come on.  They eased out of the field to him and he never gobbled again.  The bird to the N with the hens appears strutting in the field about 1 1/2 hours later some 200 yards N of me.  He struts out of the field about 5 minutes later.  Maybe 10 minutes passes when a bird gobbles right across the field from me just inside the timber line.  He apparently was headed my way when I was fruitlessly calling to the gobbler with the 3 hens.  He gobbled back and forth, out of sight and then went silent for maybe 10 minutes.  During that time I just clucked and purred.  Then...he appears in half strut heading right toward me...then goes into full strut at about the 50 yard line.  I dropped the hammer on him at ~30 yards.  My 1st bird of the MS spring season has a 10 3/4" beard and both spurs were 1".

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My rookie hunter (Lee) calls me that afternoon with congrats and ask if he should come hunt with me Thursday or wait till Friday.  Thursday's weather forecast was perfect and he sensed the urgency in my voice to get it done NOW!   After all...I blew my chance on another bird and didn't spook him bad at all.  Then there was the 2nd gobbler too that got close.

Thursday morning we are set up together in the same spot where I killed my bird Wednesday.  Couldn't have been a more perfect morning.  At dawn they crank up on the roost gobbling.  In all we heard at least 8 different birds gobbling on the roost.  The closest are N and NW of us ~200 to 250 yards away.  At flydown time I dish out a cut...then another.  The bird to the N answers...the one to the NW goes quiet.  10 minutes later...here comes the NW bird on a string about 50 yards behind a jake.  Lee is videoing their approach with his iPhone.  I whisper "you better get your gun up...things can go south quick".  Lee does...his bird goes into a full strut at ~75 yards and struts his way up to ~35 yards where Lee gives him a dirt nap at 7:10 a.m.  Lee's 1st ever gobbler has a 10 1/2" beard with 1 1/8" & 1" spurs.

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Conditions look pretty good tomorrow and Thursday morning so headed back to camp this afternoon for more fun and games with gobbling turkeys...I hope!

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Good stuff Rhino! Congrats to you boys on a couple of great birds. Sounds like you guys have a pretty healthy flock of turkey birds.

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Yep...good numbers and will only be better the next few years.  We have a bumper crop of jakes this year.  Between me and a buddy from our 7 cameras in different areas we got from a low of 3 jakes in a pic (1 cam) to as many as 10 jakes in a pic.  In all,  just counting jakes only caught in the same picture from those 7 cams the count is 46 jakes.  Since I started using cams, I've never come close to catching that many jakes before.  After I pulled the cams I read an article from the Mississippi DWFP regarding last year's hatch and most of the state had a great hatch last year. 

Counting gobblers the same way (from being in the same picture from a spot) from the same cams was 22 gobblers caught on cams.  I've heard birds where I wasn't able to run cams too.

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CONGRATS to you and your buddy, Al !!!!!!!!

Off to another running start !!!   Nice pair of birds !!!

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