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Foggy Day, Foggy Memory

Spring turkey season is one of my favorite times of the year. I love waking up early and getting out into the woods. Watching the sunrise and hearing those lovesick gobblers is exhilarating. Each spring I look forward to chasing longbeards and trying to fill my tag.


April 27th was the opening day of the regular Pennsylvania turkey season. That morning I found my way out to my blind to hunt with my Mathews Vertix bow. It was a nice morning and the Toms seemed fired up on the roost. It wasn't long after the sun came up when I saw six hens come out into the field where I was set up. The hens fed on bugs as they worked their way towards my blind.


Three loud gobbles thundered as I saw two longbeards enter the field. The six hens stopped their feeding, turned towards the two strutting gobblers, and walked in their direction. I yelped a few times and the Toms broke strut and ran towards the hens.

The hens froze in the field as the gobblers sprinted in their direction. As the two gobblers closed the distance the hens scattered in all directions. Shocked to see what was going on I looked around to see why they hens took flight. Off to my right, a lone coyote was slinking through the wood line. The two gobblers stopped 60 yards from my blind, saw the coyote, and flew out of sight. The coyote stopped momentarily, saw the birds were gone, then kept moving. My hunt had ended that quickly.


Halfway through the week, I received a call from my friend, Dan Kuzma. He wanted me to hunt a family property with him. He sent me pictures of 9 longbeards he had been scouting. We discussed the details for the hunt then decided to meet at 5 am on Saturday, May 4th. I told him that I would be bringing my daughter's Mossberg 20 gauge and leave the bow at home. He found this odd so I explained to him that there was a new Tactacam FTS scope mount I had added to her gun. Dan said he would have a video camera as well to get some footage.


Looking at the weather forecast for Saturday the morning looked great. The night before the hunt I talked with Dan one last time. From the pictures he had sent me I was confident that we would at least see some gobblers. As I was packing my truck I had second thoughts about taking the bow. After a few minutes of internal debate, I settled on just taking the shotgun.


Driving to the property the next morning, I could see a million stars and the temperature was already in the 50s. It was almost 5 o'clock when I arrived at the property. While waiting for Dan to arrive I organized all of my gear.


Dan arrived with a smile on his face and said he had a surprise for me. As I helped him unload the blind I noticed a full mounted strutting gobbler in his back seat. I asked about the mount and he said that was the surprise and his secret weapon. Now I was upset with myself for not bringing my bow.


Together we walked across the open field, in the dark, to the gas well road. Dan found a good spot for the blind where two trails met. As he set up the blind I placed the gobbler mount about 15 yards away from the blind. We settled into our seats, set up the camera, and waited for the first gobble.

Waiting in the dark for the sun to rise Dan told me about some of the successful hunts he had with the full mounted gobbler. He figured that this property was safe enough to place the decoy so he brought it for the hunt. I was hoping it would bring me luck.


As the first streaks of orange appeared on the horizon I was listening for the first gobble. Looking out the blind window I could see something slowly creeping our way. Dan and I agreed that what we saw might mess up the hunt. We hoped it would just go away and stop coming towards us but it seemed to be getting worse!


Thick fog was blanketing the woods and making it impossible to see. The heavy clouds covered everything with droplets of water and I knew the turkeys would not gobble at all. Dan suggested that I make a few tree yelps to see if there were any gobblers around. After a few yelps, I stopped to listen and heard nothing. My excitement turned to frustration as the clouds got thicker.


With it still being early Dan and I felt we could wait until the fog cleared. For nearly 4 hours we sat in the fog talking about old hunts and places we had been. Every so often I would give a few calls but nothing wanted to talk. The two of us discussed moving to another property or even just calling it a day.


My legs and back were getting tight and I needed to stretch. Slowly I unzipped the blind and got out to stretch. Dan followed and we stretched our tight backs. I walked over to grab the strutting decoy and Dan stopped me. He said I should give a few more calls just one last time before we cleaned everything up for the day.


Placing the Mountain Hollow Prima Donna call in my mouth I sent out a few sultry notes. Immediately a gobbler exploded and he wasn't far away. Dan said to call one more time to make sure we weren't hearing things. Another few soft calls and the Tom triple gobbled! He was hot and ready to see the lonely hen that was talking to him.


Anyone watching would have thought Dan and I were the Keystone Cops. As we ran back to the blind we bumped into each other a few times. Laughing when we reached the blind we frantically struggled to get seated and the camera set up. The bird was close and we hoped that he hadn't seen us running back to the blind.


A loud gobble erupted behind us as the lonely Tom had cut the distance. The heavy fog had moved though and now there was just a light fog making visibility better. I could hear the bird spitting and drumming but could not see him yet. Dan turned on his camera and was waiting for the bird to appear. Again the gobbler broke the silence and through the light fog, I could finally see him walking our way.


Walking at a quick pace in a semi strut the gobbler hit an opening and saw the mounted decoy. Immediately he began running towards his opponent. I had already shouldered the Mossberg 20 gauge and was tracking the unsuspecting Tom. Dan had asked me to make sure I shoot the gobbler before he could attack the decoy. I was waiting for my moment to pull the trigger.


Gobbling and closing the distance he was challenging the strutting bird he saw. In one split second, he stopped on the gas well road to eye up his competition. His white and blue head was easy to see in the fog. I exhaled, found the gobbler's head in the scope and touched off the trigger.


Everything went dark and I remember hearing Dan say, "Nice shot! You leveled him." My head was throbbing and I felt what I thought was sweat running down my face. I slowly turned to Dan and he started to laugh. I asked what was so funny and he asked if my head was fine. I reached up and wiped my brow and then saw the blood on my hand. Dan recommended I look at my head in my cell phone. I opened the camera on my phone and to a look.


Shocked and surprised to see a large gash above my eye I wondered what had happened. The Tactacam FTS had come back and cut me. There wasn't enough eye relief to cushion the shot from the 20 gauge. Dan took a few pictures as the fog cleared from my head.

Sitting in the blind waiting for the blood to stop Dan had said he felt he got some good video. As for me, I completely forgot to turn on my Tactacam camera and had zero video footage. Looking out the window of the blind I could see the gobbler about 15 steps away. I should have brought my bow for this hunt.


Outside of the blind, in the light fog, Dan and I took a bunch of pictures. The blood had finally stopped from the gash above my eye but I still had a huge headache. The gobbler had 1-inch matching spurs and a beard that was almost 9 inches long.  He was a heavier bird and was going to make a great dinner later on that evening.



Dan decided that he wanted to leave his blind in that spot to bring his daughter for a hunt. We packed up the rest of our gear and headed back to our vehicles. The fog still lingered in the woods but had cleared up significantly. I figured it would eventually burn off and be a sunny day.


Once everything was packed up I hopped in my truck and headed for home. When I arrived at my house my wife suggested that I clean out the cut and maybe get some stitches. I cleaned out the cut well and then put some antibiotics on it. I figured the cut would heal just fine and leave just a small scar. Besides, each time I looked in the mirror I would have a reminder of the foggy day gobbler hunt.



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