Chuck and his son Ethan opening day of youth turkey season

Two gobblers were about 15 yards from me with just a few strands of green brier between us, I didn’t dare breath and hoped my camo disguised me enough so they wouldn’t see me. I expected at any moment that Ethan off to my left would send a load of Number 4 turkey shot into the head of one of these redheaded jokers. …..

Gobbler track on sandy road was hard to miss even in the dark

Our day had started many hours earlier as in the dark we slipt across a large clear cut and down the hill to a field for our morning set up. The logging road across the cut with the sandy soil glowed in the moonlight and a number of places we could see gobbler tracks that excited us all for the opening of the North Carolina Youth Day. I got the invite to tag along with Chuck and his youngest son Ethan a few years ago I hosted Chuck and his older son Carson for a youth hunt.
It was barely cracking light when the first gobbler sounded off I looked at my watch and it was 5:56. We heard 4 maybe 5 gobblers sounding off and responding to Chuck’s calls. Things were looking real promising but as any turkey hunter knows things don’t always go as you plan. The gobblers hit the ground and shut up…. We couldn’t coax any one of them to check out the hen decoy in the field.

Trolling along the creek bottom looking for a hot gobbler

About 8:30 we abandon the field and begin walking trails and roads calling to see if we could find a gobbler. We wandered around the creek bottom where most of the gobblers we heard this morning seemed to have been roosted but despite the abundant sign we came up empty.

When calling be prepared to take cover if the bird is close

Old homesites can be great places to find wildlife


We moved to another part of the property and we set out down the farm road into the pines. Chuck had called a few times as we walked by some old houses that had long ago been reclaimed by the vegetation. Near the second old house Chuck’s yelps were cut off by a roaring gobble from a turkey that had to be extremely close. We quickly scrambled to find places to sit and within a matter of a couple of minutes I found myself eye to eye with two gobblers.

Chuck softly calling to coax the gobblers up the farm road for Ethan

Although Ethan & Chuck were only about 15 feet to my left it might as well been a mile because they did not have a clear view of the gobblers. The gobblers turned back passing in front of Ethan but the roadside brush was especially thick in front of them and they could not see enough of the bird to be able to take the shot. We hoped they would come right out into the farm road giving Ethan a shoot. They strutted a bit on the other side of the brush and then walked away.
These gobblers were smart and crossed the old farm road out of range and began trying to circle around us looking for that hen. Taking advantage of the old house between us and them we fell back into the pines behind the house and took up a new position hoping to call a gobbler in for Ethan. It wasn’t long before we could see movement in the pines about 50+ yards out in front as the birds were moving towards us.

Gobblers not within camera range but they were right in front of us about 50 or 60 yards


I’ll admit it I was excited and knew that within the matter of few minutes Ethan was going to get a crack at one of these birds. Then as suddenly as they started working then they turned and walked away into the pines. Had they seen something? Were they going to circle us some more? As the thoughts raced through my mind the sound of an approaching vehicle gave us the answer. The landowner and his truck and trailer loaded down with ATV’s passed within 10 yards of us but they never saw us.
A hard lesson especially for a young man on youth day with birds so close . I felt bad for Ethan but anyone that has been hunting for any length of time has had the experience of having a hunt messed up by others. Absolutely nothing you can do about a situation like this savor the memories of an exciting morning of hunting. I told Ethan that things like this are part of hunting and make you really appreciate it even more when you kill a turkey besides how boring would it be if every time we went out we killed a turkey? Ethan looked at me and said “That wouldn’t be boring”.