Under some very difficult conditions this huge NE Missouri gobbler ended-up in the fryer instead of on a limb. (Photo by Bob Cowman)

Muddy Bird

If you hunt spring gobblers long enough you will certainly face bad weather at some point. Spring rains are the most common weather problem this time of year. I have spent many April dawns huddled under a cedar tree or hopefully in a blind. Some of these mornings ended in success. Many others just ended with a towel.

On opening day of 2013 Missouri turkey season the conditions were horrid. It was as bad a morning for turkey hunting as I have ever experienced. It had rained for the previous 48 hours. There were 4-inches of sticky gumbo mud to wade through, and the icing on the cake was winds that gusted up to 40 mph.

Mike Roux’s decoy choice and placement are a major factor to his springtime success.  (Photo by Mike Roux)
Mike Roux’s decoy choice and placement are a major factor to his springtime success. (Photo by Mike Roux)

My pastor, Bob Cowman, had agreed to accompany me that morning to be my videographer. Our 300-yard slippery, sludgy trudge across the freshly planted field seemed more like three miles. Cowman made a comment as we placed the decoys that he felt as though he had been on a treadmill. I was sweating as I agreed.

We sat up in the corner of the same field that has been so good to me for the past two seasons. This corner has blinds made of bales of straw. In November this spot belongs to great friend Steven Lewis for deer hunting. I honestly cannot say how many deer he has taken from these bales in the last two years, but it is at least a half-dozen.

Hunting A Hot Corner
In the spring I take over this hot corner as a gobbler honey-hole. I have called in big toms the past two youth seasons for turkey buddy Drew Hamski. He has yet to score, but his turn is coming. I took a great gobbler from the bale-blind last season.

I told Cowman I would pick him up extra early. Two weeks earlier in the youth season, birds had been roosted within sight of the blind. Hamski had spotted two or three birds on their limbs just after daylight. Assuming the same would hold true, I wanted my decoys placed and the video camera ready well before first light.

The plan worked great and just as suspected there was a tom roosted in plain sight of us. His gobble rattled us as we had not seen him until he sounded off. And with the wind that day we were lucky to hear any gobblers at all. With rain for 48 hours straight and wind gusts exceeding 40 mph, this day had all the makings for a total bust!

We could see the one tom and because he was so close he was the only bird we could hear. The wind was coming directly from our backs so the bales were blocking most of it. Cowman and I agreed that grabbing heavy jackets at the last minute at the truck was a great idea. It was a brutal morning.

The first two birds in the field were hens and they walked out. I am sure they were on nests near the creek. The tom above us pitched off and joined them. I called loudly as they made their way across the field to the northwest corner. Shortly after they got there they were joined by another gobbler.

As we stayed put in the blind I continued to call for about five minutes. I was rotating between the two MIKE ROUX SIGNATURE SERIES Mountain Screamer turkey calls. I have both a box call and a diaphragm call sporting my name in the extensive Mountain Screamer time.

Calling Coaxes A Gobbler
At about 7:15 one of my loud runs of cutting on the box call coaxed a gobble from the ridge above us and a bit upwind. If it had come from just about any other direction we would likely have not heard it. I waited a few minutes and called again and was cut-off by another gobble. I told Cowman to start the camera. This bird was coming.

Within five minutes, three mature toms stepped out of the brush along the creek and approached my decoys. I use two Hazel Creek hens and a Primos B-Mobile jake decoy with a real fan. I place the jake directly over one of the hens and it drives adult gobblers crazy. They were about 15 yards in front of my gun and camera when the wind caused my jake to move suddenly and it spooked the gobblers. I took one’s head off with a load of Federal No. 7s from my Thompson/Center 12-gauge Encore. He weighed 26 pounds.

Under some very difficult conditions this huge NE Missouri gobbler ended-up in the fryer instead of on a limb.  (Photo by Bob Cowman)
Under some very difficult conditions this huge N.E. Missouri gobbler ended-up in the fryer instead of on a limb. (Photo by Bob Cowman)

As soon as he hit the ground one of his buddies immediately came over and began to flog and hook him with his spurs. This went on for several minutes, making for some great video.

Finally, the two remaining toms wandered off only to be called back to their dead companion for more flogging.

By the time I got to my bird he was covered with mud. I had to take him to the creek to clean him up before photos could be taken.

It was a turkey hunt I will never forget!

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