One has to be careful during the Virgina Spring Gobbler season because if you blink you could literally miss it. The majority of the season only allows for birds to be taken before noon followed by just two weeks of full-day hunting. Unlike last years deer season, I haven’t been able to get in the woods as much as I’d like too. I was fortunate enough to take a trip with Will Jenkins up to Highland County VA to chase some birds and trout fish for a few days. Although we didn’t punch any tags we had a great time in the mountains, you can read more about our trip on Will’s blog in his two part article Hunting Highland.
A few days after our hunt, I received an email from one of our Virginia Huntography readers, Regg Simmons, a turkey hunter that has kept his eyes wide open so far this season. Simmons was happy to tell me that the turkey hunting was “hot and heavy” in northern Virginia. The photos that accompanied his email didn’t lie. With two great gobblers on the ground within a week of opening day, I’d say Simmons having one of the best spring seasons of anyone I know. I asked him if he’d like to recount his season thus far and he kindly obliged. So without further ado here is his story…
On the morning of April 13th I rose at 3:00 AM to make the drive from Manassas to my hunting spot in Fauquier County. It was a long cold, hike up towards the crest of Naked Mountain where I set my single hen decoy and settled in to a pile of cut timber to await the coming of dawn and the start of the 2013 Spring Gobbler Season. Toms were answering owl calls by gobbling on the roost at 5:30 AM so I knew things could interesting once the sun came up. With sunrise the birds got all fired up – 5 Toms gobbling at all points on the compass. I was sitting in Tom central ! By 6:00 AM I had a Tom in sight at 100 yards – strutting and gobbling like crazy answering the yelps and purrs coming from my long box and diaphragm calls. Well that Tom was locked up at about 80 yards when off to my right, just over a rise and out of sight, came thundering gobbles from at least two more Toms. A few soft purrs from the diaphragm was the deal closer – over the rise came three Toms, with the biggest boy leading the pack. When they crested the rise and spotted my hen decoy all three Toms went into full strut, spitting & drumming making a beeline for the fake hen. As they closed the distance I had my Remington 870 locked on the leader of the pack. A round of Hevi-Shot Turkey load sealed the deal with the Tom at 18 yards. One of the surviving Toms flew away while the other ran a short distance then stopped to survey the scene. Just for fun, a few soft purrs called him right back in to gun range but of course he would have to wait for another day….
Tom #1 weighed 23.4 pounds, had a 12″ beard and 1′ spurs.
I got back after them on Saturday, April 20. Once again I hiked up Naked Mountain in the pre-dawn darkness this time hunting near one of my favorite deer stands. As the sun rose I could hear gobbling but it was coming from way down in the creek bottom. Having learned a long time ago to “sit down, be still and be quiet” I decided to stick with my spot rather than go “running and gunning”. The gunning I can handle but the running is getting harder every season…. Other than “tweety birds” the mountain top was quiet, no turkey talk other than my occasional plaintive calls. By 9:00 AM my patience had worn thin so I decided to pull my decoy and slowly walk back down the mountain towards the truck. After picking up the deke and getting my gear stowed I decided to make one more loud series of yelps before leaving the area. I yelped and a Tom thunder gobbled, 75 yards uphill of my location. At break-neck speed I reset the hen decoy, stumbled back into a pile of weeds and tried to regain my composure. Another yelp – another gobble, even closer. Then I spotted that red/white/blue head coming through the brush at 35 yards so up came the Remington and off went the safety. Spotting the decoy the Tom went into full strut at 20 yards and closed the distance to the deke. The Tom circled the decoy several times, strutting and displaying the whole while. A soft putt from my diaphragm got his head up for the kill shot at 15 yards. After recovering from a mild case of hyper-ventilation I recovered my bird and made my way back down the mountain…..Tom #2 weighed 22.25 pounds, had an 11″ beard and 1″ spurs.