Two, perhaps three, tom turkeys gobbled from their roost as soon as the pickup door was pushed shut. Dr. Doug Burch, one of the areas most well-known turkey hunters, smiled as he said, "Did you hear that?"
Burch was following one of the best hunting techniques in preparation for the spring turkey season; he was scouting for gobblers.
The frequent gobbles from the birds sounded off to the southwest, so Burch and I slowly eased off in that direction. As he came to an area where a wooded hollow branched off to the left, he said, "We'll go on around that other hollow and see if we can get closer."
After walking through the leaf-covered woods, we soon came to the edge of a hollow where the gobbling sounds were coming. It was still dark, with a clear sky and large moon. "It's light enough so we can at least see where we're going," he said as we moved on.
"There's no hurry," he said, "I always heard a gobbler won't leave his roost until he can tell a bobcat from a bush."
Soon we were standing beside a large white oak tree. "We'll sit down if we think they'll fly this way."
Soon we saw movement in the trees in the hollow below us, and we dropped to the ground. A large dark spot near the top of a tree seemed to move. Then another large dark spot dropped to the ground.
As the day brightened, the dark spot in the tree clearly was a roosting turkey. Even without binoculars, we were able to see it moving its head and wiggling around in the tree. Then it dropped off its perch and flew to the northwest.
Burch tried a few hen clucks in hopes of attracting the birds to our area. We could see movement in the woods, but no birds came in our direction.
After several minutes of watching, and an occasional cluck from Burch's box call, we decided to loop around in hopes of seeing the turkeys on the ground to the north.
We crossed two hollows and stood near some large trees at the edge of a clearing when we saw movement in the forest in front of us. We froze. Soon, a tom turkey with a nice beard walked into an opening about 40 yards ahead. He was followed by two toms and four smaller birds — hens.
The turkeys walked on, never noticing the two men standing so near. They moved almost silently off to our right as if we were not there. For another five or six minutes we could see the turkeys moving in the forest ahead of us.
We had seen what we came to see.
Page 2 of 2 - Burch later remarked that he would not scout that area again.
"But you know if I come back here to hunt, I'll set up right near when we saw them," he said.
Knowing where the birds probably are is worth the time scouting for gobblers.