I almost hated to pull the trigger on this bird! There was so little turkey sign to be found this weekend he reminded me of the movie “The Last of the Mohican’s”! He was like….the LAST ONE. At Least it sure seems that way anyway.

High pressure Gobbler!

This was the next to the last weekend of the Florida Spring Gobbler season here in central Florida. The last couple of weeks has been some really tough hunting. The hens have been nesting and the gobblers have shown little interest in responding to calling. The gobbling has been reduced to next to nothing compared to the first two weeks of the season.

This weekend was not looking to good. Not only has the activity been slow but we have a front passing us.

I actually hunted in 3 different counties on Saturday! No telling how many miles I put on my ole’ Chevy.

One of the larger tracts I hunt is being timbered right now (good timing) and there is right-of-way work going on as well?

I spent three hours scouting there on Saturday and saw very little turkey sign. It had rained Friday so that did not help much. I finally cut a gobbler track on a hard sand road on the westerly edge of our tract of land. The bird had worked down the road strutting every so often but he would only leave a strut mark about 12″ long. He was on top of the rain from Friday so I knew he had been there that morning. One vehicle had run it over but had not noticed the tell tale marks in the road!

Only seconds to live!

Only seconds to live!

There were several things working against me on this one. For one, this bird had been heavily hunted!! He was actuallyliving and roosting across the fence so I was limited to making him come to me….good luck! Secondly, I only had Sunday to hunt him before the loggers would be back. Third, he’d been hunted real hard for weeks.If you haven’t’ noticed, daylight is coming pretty early now and gobble time is about 6:15 AM. I am about worn out from weeks of chasing turkeys….. guiding, videoing, roosting, running trail cameras and trying to keep my design business going. I was a little late this morning.

By the time I got to where I planned to hunt it was about time for the birds to be on the ground. The only way to really hunt this spot is to hunt the road which I do not like to do. It’s a good way to get your hunt ruined.

I stood in the road and listened for a gobble. There were various owls, crows, etc. going off but no gobbling. I owl’d and crowed and got no response. I decided to do some loud aggressive yelping and cutting on a new mouth call I just added to my call arsenal. I know that seems to go against what you would do when dealing with a highly pressured tom but my gut told me that was the thing to do. I wanted anything within hearing to know I was there and then I’d shut up.

I ran a series of aggressive yelps and followed up with a cutting sequence……nothing! I was committed to putting some time in here so I set up a decoy on the edge of the road and found an oak tree that I could tuck back in about 20yds off the road. It was a great set-up with good visibility.

I had not been there long when I heard a bird free gobble across the fence about a hundred and a quarter. I called at him real quick with some raspy yelping and he immediately answered. It sounded closer than the initial gobble.

I decided to let him make the next move. I wouldn’t have to wait long! The next thing I know he gobbles again and now he’s just on the other side of the fence. I remember thinking, he must be coming on the run to cover that much ground that quickly.

I readied for the confrontation that appeared eminent!

Just then a big black bird with a flaming red head emerged from the bushes! “THERE HE IS!”

gobbler down 4-14-13He looked at the decoy and checked his wings, usually a nervous reaction. He was just to my left but if he moved to his right, getting a shot might get a little dicey! I decided to call at him and take my shot! Needless to say the video is going to be a little short but that is real hunting and if you want to go home successful, you need to take your first best shot!

At the report of my 11-87, the wary old tom hit the ground and the hunt was over, just that easy. There is no telling how many hunters this bird had eluded but there is also something to be said for catching a tom in the right mood.

I spent some time taking pictures to honor the bird and another great hunt. If I could I’d breath life back into him and do it all over again tomorrow.

The Tom was one of the smallest mature gobblers I can remember killing. Though he was a three year old bird with sharp 1″ spurs, he only weighed 14.48 lbs! He did have a nice, fairly heavy beard at 9 3/4″. I haven’t reviewed the video yet but hopefully I had the record button pushed!

Awesome Osceola Gobbler

Best of Hunts,

Larry Stephens

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