As spring approaches and Waterfowl season comes to a close, I can be found scaling the Alabama mountainsides chasing the elusive eastern tom. My passion for turkey hunting began several years ago when my dear friend Chase Handley invited me out for my first hunt. Over the years he and I have been very successful and unsuccessful while hunting together. Despite the outcome of the hunt, the fellowship is incomparable to anything else.
All of our hunts have been special, but one hunt in particular stands out more than my first turkey. It was unseasonably cool for a late spring morning in Jackson county, and the birds hadn’t been gobbling much on previous hunts. So our expectations were not as high as usual. We were set up in a pasture with clumps of trees stretching across it. Historically this location was known for producing several birds annually. As daylight approached there were a few faint gobbles in the distance but nothing close enough to go after. We were contemplating on leaving the blind to do some stalk hunting throughout the property. Just before we decided to leave Chase says “don’t move” at that point I knew birds were in the field. He scanned the flock for any gobblers with some binoculars, with no luck. It was simply a group of jakes.
Although shooting a Jake was very enticing, I decided to wait fo a mature long beard. While we were watching these birds feed, it felt like something was staring a hole through me. While slowly turning my head, I see six toms in full strut just out side of shooting range. The sight was something I had only seen on shows in other states. They all strutted towards the jakes, except for the one that was intrigued by our decoys. He quickly approached the jake decoy as if he were going to attack, but stopped long enough for me to deliver the perfect shot. Immediately following the shot Chase flipped the blind completely over and we raced to retrieve my first long beard!! With all of my excitement I let out a yell that rang all through the valley. Since then we have have many successful hunts as well as made memories that will last a lifetime.
I am forever grateful for the time Chase has spent teaching me how to hunt the ole elusive tom. Turkey hunting, in my book, is simply one of the most rewarding adventures I’ve ever been involved in. It takes patiences and perseverance to fool these birds. Over the years I have gained a lot of knowledge from watching Chase work birds in many different situations, but the best knowledge while turkey hunting is when to quit calling.
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