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Arkansas Mountain Boss

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Arkansas

4/10/2019

Monday morning found me Steve and Tony on the side of a mountain in NE Arkansas. We had some bad rains at day break but it cleared out and was a beautiful morning. I heard a bird gobbling his head off way down a ridge on some private land and saw 7 jakes and two long beards headed to where Tony was set up. I hear a shot and turkeys gobble. I send a congrats text but didn’t get the text I was expecting back, he had missed.  Man I hated to hear that.  Nothing else happened that morning so we did some riding around and looking at the county side and ended up in a really nice place that afternoon and we set up on a field edge hoping one would come to the field. We sat a few hundred yards apart and I was on one end when I start to hear a bird gobbling on the distant mountain, he gets closer and I make a call and he gets fired up. But he’s on the neighbor’s  property so I listen from our side and get a mark on where he goes to roost.  After we get back to the truck I asked Steve if he got my text about the bird gobbling and he said no he had left his phone in the truck. I told him where the bird was and he said oh yeah you can hunt that, Son of a ……. I told him that was some need to know info. And we laughed as we made a plan for the morning hunt. 

Tuesday morning we were sitting 80yds below the roosted gobblers on the field edge.  For 30 min we had 5 birds hammering on top of us while on the roost. Perfect setup, we have a hen pitch out and land about 100yds out, she’s walking to us then fly’s over the decoys and lands then walk into the decoys at 10yds and she is chatty and the birds are hammering. I just know it’s gonna be any second and they are gonna drop all around us. She mills around then walks to a higher point to our left and she takes flight and the gobbler shut down. We didn’t have a clue as to what just happened but it wasn’t what was supposed to happen. After 20 more minutes of silence we hear a distant gobble and decide to make a loop, that’s when we get about 200yds from our set up and I look back to see a guy standing in the middle of the field on the high ridge sky lined on the horizon. Another guy that had permission to hunt walked across the field after day light so that morning was over. 

Tuesday afternoon we get a hot tip from one of Steve’s friends that they had been hearing a bird by their house every day. So we have to go check that out that afternoon.  Sure enough we strike a bird up but he’s across huge valley and on the next mountain. He gobbles 250+ times that afternoon if he gobbled once. It was crazy he literally ran out of breath gobbling a few times. But we couldn’t get him to fly to our side. He roosted and I marked him on my map and we made a loop to see if we could get to him.  Steve thought it would be public but then he deflated me with the news that he’s on private and it’s the one place that is off limits because the landowner is saving it for his grandson. I wanted to cry. Lol

So Wednesday morning we go back to the area we had been Tuesday morning because tony had seen 2 birds cross a field and we set up in that corner hoping they would come back by.  Sure enough they start gobbling up the mountain from us but when they hit the ground they skirted us and went out into the middle of the field with 6 hens. 

 

(Disclaimer we are on a piece of private land that is landlocked by public but there is only one access and we walked down it, the mountains are too steep to access from any other point)

The wind picked up to around 20mph and we discussed where to go over breakfast. I said I’d like to go back to the area we were in the first morning because I wanted to check on the bird that was down the ridge (now that we had gotten permission to hunt it) and see if he was in that area.  He was gobbling to good on Monday and was going to any other gobbling bird so I figured he should be in the area. We get there around 4 and start our hike in about half way in in-between the whipping wind we think we hear a faint gobble.  We keep heading towards that ridge and get to the bottom of the field that leads to that ridge. We hear a distinct gobble and me and Steve look at each other and then another gobble. We point to the top and both say he’s in the edge of the field, at that time I’m reaching into my vest and grabbing my fan. I told Steve I was going to ease up to the top and see if I could spot him to get a game plan.  As I reach the top I’m peeking through my fan and I see him standing about 300yds away in the corner of the field and he sees me and gobbles. Then blows up in strut and gobbles again.  I’m about 50yds out in the field from the wood line and I decide to give it a try, my Alabama experience was the first time I had actually been in on a fanning of a bird and this was my first solo try. I ease down below the ridge and close the distance and the next time I see him I’m 75yds closer and now crawling on my hands and knees. He’s still in the same spot but has started gobbling more. I stop and start moving the fan around like a strutting bird then turn it so that he can see the back of the fan, kinda like I was turning my back to him and wasn’t worried about him. Well here he comes, he’s walking my way slowly but surely and now I’m starting to get nervous. He makes it to a small sway in the field and disappears and now I’m freaking out because I don’t know if he’s gonna flank me and I don’t want him pop up and be able to see my side profile . So I ease up farther and higher until I see his white head coming through the grass and I settle back down only this time my stake hits hard rock and it won’t stick and once again a little panic sets in, lol. I ease up a few more yards and find a soft spot and plant my fan in the ground and I’m looking through the gap in the feathers as this gorgeous bird struts and drum’s his way to me. Now I’m a nervous wreck and I’ve lost the feeling in both arms and hands and I can barely breathe. Looking through a single hole with one eye is tough to judge yardage but since I could basically see the reflection in his eyes I figured he was close enough so I raised my gun and slid it through the gap in the  tail feathers and I believe he was at the point that he was about to rush me because is changed into a different posture and got about half strut and started leaning my way and that’s when I punched my Arkansas tag.  After the shot rings out and I see him fall to the ground I just lay out on the ground because I’m my normal wreck after the shot, Lol. Steve walks up and was telling me how amazing that was and then looks at me and says if you’re gonna need anything other than cpr you’re not gonna make it.  I told him I’d be ok in a few minutes. After I regained my composure we high fived and shook hands and then we walked over and looked at this magnificent creature. The Good Lord sure does some beautiful work on these birds. He’ was the boss of the mountain.

 21lbs 3 beards 10” 7 1\8” 6 1\4”,           1 1\8” needle sharp spurs and some really nice color.

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