By Michael Eatherton
-- Opening day of turkey archery season started out with the same anticipation that every opening day holds. I was excited to get to the hunting grounds at dark-30 to get to THE SPOT that would surely get me that big tom that I had scouted, and from previous seasons, I knew would be there.
My preferred hunting ground is a CRP tract that I have hunted for a few years now. I have taken many deer and turkey from this spot, plus a few pheasant, quail and even a coyote. On opening day of archery 2007, I headed for the hunting ground at the usual early time to beat other hunters to the spot. Unfortunately, there was another hunter that was a little earlier than me, so I had to settle for the next option. My hunting spot is such that multiple hunters can hunt without getting in each others way, so it was not a big deal that someone had reached the area before me.
I parked the car, got my gear ready and started down the tree line to find a spot to lure the toms into range. There were a lot of gobbles coming from the roost, so I knew they were there, but I did not know if I could get them to come to me this early in the season or if I would even see a tom, knowing they go down the first choice tree line every day.
I waited until the gobbles stopped, knowing that they were on the ground at that point, and I then prepared to relocate since I was able to see. As I started to leave my position, I was shocked to see the whole flock headed toward my location. I jumped back into the trees and got myself ready! I was shaking with anticipation, and I couldn't even call because my mouth went dry.
So there I was, 30 birds coming straight at me, but I was prepared. The birds seemed to take forever to get to me, but suddenly, I had 8 unhappy hens and a very cocky jake all within 15 yards of me. I don't hunt with a blind anymore, so this made me even more anxious, knowing that if I blinked they would be gone.
After a few moments, I figured the toms were not coming in, so I decided that since the jake was very big and was sitting straight in front of me, that he was the one to take. To my surprise, as I started to pull back my bow, I saw 6 mature birds coming in!
The first tom was huge, so I went to full pull, knowing that if it saw me and ran, the jake was right behind him. One or the other was coming home for dinner!
I was amazed that the tom didn't even flinch, and I let the arrow fly! The thump of the arrow was all I needed to hear, and I knew that the big boy was mine. The tom went 10 yards and that was where I retrieved him. It weighed 24 pounds, had a 9-inch beard and 3/4-inch spurs.
Once I hauled it to the car and headed home, I was kind of happy to see that the hunter's truck was still there. I decided that I was glad he had hunted in my spot. Sorry guys, maybe next year. Goes to show you, sometimes luck beats knowledge. Happy hunting.
Grand Island, Nebraska