Jim Bennett

That gobbler was hot and he was coming in. It didn’t matter if I used my old reliable Lohman box call or rip out loud caws on the crow call, he responded with raucous gobbles from the middle of Paradise Woods. With a myriad of mowed trails and a river running through, it’s a paradise to hunt in. Morel mushrooms, blackberries, trout, turkey and deer make Paradise Woods so very special. The gobbler had now worked his way in from 200 yards to the crest of the hill where I spotted his fanned out tail.

This old bird would gobble a couple times, strut a few steps with tail fanned out, wings curled down to the ground dragging a bit with his head changing colors from red to white and blue. When he spotted my little foam hen decoy standing rigid in the trail he hung up for a bit. In nature the hen comes to the gobbler king but this hen didn’t move so I let out a few love calls from 20 steps off the trail. In full camo I was invisible as long as I didn’t move!

Earlier that morning in the predawn darkness I was with my son Josh in the middle of Paradise listening for gobbles. I had scouted these woods and felt sure we were in the perfect spot. But the gobblers had moved to the south and north so we split it, Josh heading across the road and I toward the river north. 

My love calls did it. This boy was coming in again but oh so slowly. It looked like it was THE PERFECT HUNT!!! That’s when it happened. All of sudden out of nowhere here come a group of 8 Jakes charging in, year old turkey gobblers running down the trail to the old gobbler. All the gobbling had drawn these troublemakers in. Two spot my decoy and head down to her on the run.

Suddenly this old gobbler just blows up and jumps all over the jakes that are acting like a gang of crazy teenage boys messing up his love life. He starts to beat the crap of them with a plethora of karate kicks, wing slaps and beak slashes scattering them in every direction.

But one teenage turkey I’ll call Larry, who made it to my decoy, says to her, (I speak fluid turkey), “Hey, Baby, like my feathers?” while his buddy Joe behind him says, “Hey Larry, I think it’s a decoy!!” Larry doesn’t get it and blows kisses at the decoy. Joe says, “Larry, it’s a trap. I’m outta here!” The old gobbler must have heard Joe and is now at attention ready to wander out of range. That’s when I get a text from Josh, “It’s picture time!” He’s taken a gobbler!

It’s decision time. The temp for the rest of this final turkey season is predicted to be in the 90s. It looks like the big gobbler is going to walk off and I’m wondering if I can call him back. Larry is standing right in front of my decoy in definite range.  Bye, Larry. BOOM! End of story!!!

Jim Bennett is an outdoorsman who lives and worked in the St. Croix River Valley and can be reached at jamesbennett24@gmail.com

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