By the time ya’ll read this, Spring Gobbler Season 2021 is running wide open across Florida, as well as most of the South. I’m seeing tons of beautiful harvest reports and photographs from all over South Florida and many of you have taken the time to call or message me with your first-hand accounts.
Miss Abbey Swick and her daddy Keith took a ride down to Weeki Wachee in hopes that I could assist little miss Abbey to make her first Osceola flop. I didn’t realize that it was to be her first turkey ever and that really raised the bar on my anxiety.
It was 48 degrees as I left the house that morning and only slightly warmer as we settled into a brushy, palmetto studded field edge alongside a crossroads leading to and from strutting zones to feed spots and dust bowls. Keith and his tiny turkey huntress settled into a blind while I slipped into a scrub oak patch of cover and we didn’t sit long before the show began. A pair of barred owls began sparring back and forth over some territorial dispute or another, waking up a long beard 150 yards to our right. Soon after, a pair of short gobbles rang out 200 yards behind us, and finally, three more opened up and the six toms kept up their song of the Spring, till flydown.
Once the boys hit the ground, I began calling as seductively as I could with my old homemade box call. I was getting responses, but each time the nearest tom would gobble, I’d see another hen or two running or flying down in his direction. I sat back and stopped calling for a good thirty or forty minutes, knowing how futile it’d be to try calling a gobbler away from his girls. Eventually, I switched over to a little trough call I’d recently acquired from Mister Rick Ferlita, of Cypress Creek Game Calls.
I stroked a few yelps out of that caller and followed it up with a lot of clucks in no discernable pattern, just random clucks, then later, I tossed in some feeding purrs. It was right at eight o’clock when I heard wingbeats and cocked my head to witness a pair of fat jakes flying by within ten feet of my head, landing just past my jake and breeding hen decoys.
As soon as that pair of jakes landed, their forward momentum carried them down the lane and out of danger from Miss Abbey. But, a few more strokes across the surface of that trough caller, the young gobblers did an about-face and returned to check out the decoys. I was on pins and needles as I watched the barrel of Miss Abbey’s tiny, camoed .410 shotgun slowly lift and steady up…. Then with a mighty roar, I watched the rear of the pair jump skyward and hit the ground flopping. Her daddy, Keith, was the first to exit the blind in a hurry to secure Miss Abbey’s trophy. But, likely I’ll never forget the grin I spotted as Abbey exited her blind. It doesn’t get any better than that for this old turkey guide!
As always, if you have any questions or a story to share, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]. God bless and good hunting!