My 2012 Osceola Spring Gobbler season got off to a fast a furious start. I got the pressure off on the second morning. Nearly everyone I knew that hunted early had experienced success in Osceola-ville.
Now it was my friend Garry Adel`s turn. My old friend and turkey hunting buddy of many years has allowed me the honor of calling up big gobblers for him each spring for the last 15 years or so. Garry is perfectly willing to passively enjoy the spring hunting experience with me while also being enthusiastically prepared to unload a couple of ounces of shot in the face of the first big gobbler that dares to come into range. Garry and I do not often fail. Our amazing first ten mornings of hunting turkeys in tandem in Florida and South Georgia, all ten single mornings spread over consecutive years beginning in the late 90`s, yielded ten shots at trophy gobblers at 25 yards and closer. Nine of those first ten big gobblers that walked up to Garry and I were unfortunate recipients of an early morning spring Remington surprise. The tenth bird got lucky!
In the late afternoon of the second Sunday of the 2012 Florida spring gobbler season I embarked on a scouting mission for Garry`s next trophy with my four year old son, Ben. Late that day Ben and I located four big gobblers, all alone, with no hens in site. We watched from half a mile across a clean wide open pasture through my Leupold spotting scope as the four mature long beards fed in an open hay field while moving toward their roost in the upland wooded terrain nearby. After nearly putting the big birds to bed, Ben and I made our way quietly back to the truck. We phoned Garry on the way home. I would be in Garry`s driveway at 5:15 AM the next morning. We could not pass this opportunity.
Garry and I approached quietly, crossing the half mile wide open pasture in predawn darkness. After flushing what likely was one of the four gobblers off the roost at the woods edge, we quietly made ourselves comfortable, sitting side by side at the base of a double trunk common base live oak. By my estimation we were within 50 yards of the last place Ben and I had last seen the four big gobblers the evening prior. There were probably three big Osceolas still close by, possibly watching us. We hoped not. The Eastern sky was lighting up fast and the crows began their normal fuss. My first owl hoot evoked an eruption of gobbling from the three remaining gobblers on their roosts. If these gobblers were not in shotgun range, they were darn close.
Garry cautiously shouldered his 12 gauge and braced the fore end on his left knee immediately as there would likely be no chance to move if any one of the big birds pitched down close. He did not want to get caught just looking with his gun in his lap when a trophy gobbler glided to the ground. And that could be any minute now. Lots more gobbling before fly-down had us both straining our eyes to find the birds on their roost limbs silhouetted against the early morning brightening backdrop. A few soft and barely audible yelps were all I dared try. Just let these three guys know that the hen was on the ground and close. If the gobblers flew down in the field behind us we could be finished for the morning. But if they pitched down in the woods and walked to the pasture Garry would be in the cat-bird seat.
Almost silently a big gobbler pitched to the ground within shotgun range and in front of us, drumming, strutting, and searching for the hen he expected to see. He was slightly to my right. He was close. At 25 yards the radiant blue-white head of the excited spring monarch shined like a light bulb in the pre-sunrise twilight. I could tell that Garry, sitting to my left, had yet to see the gobbler that was already in range, closing on us, and to the right of his line of sight. I whispered over my left shoulder, “look right, shift when he goes behind a tree”. Garry continued staring straight ahead. Two more mature gobblers floated down, both also within range but behind the group leader who was by now nearly in our laps. The first gobbler, the closest, was only 15 yards out now, in plain view and still closing. We were well hidden when suddenly and expectedly the gig was up! He saw us. “To the right, shift! Shoot him now!” I pleaded. Feathers flew and so did the two other gobblers that Garry never did see. Garry`s spot on shot had successfully concluded one the shortest and sweetest hunts of my 36 seasons chasing spring turkeys. Our superb 4 year old trophy Osceola gobbler tipped the scales at over 20 lbs., carried a 9 ½” beard, and wore 1 ½” curved needle sharp spurs.
Any way you slice it spring season 2012 was a blast in my circle of turkey chasers. After two great missions safely accomplished I still had 27 mornings left to cash in on one more Osceola of my own. But now it was time to gather up fishing gear and pack for an Argentina Golden Dorado expedition with Chuck Larsen and David Morris. This will certainly be the subject of further discussion in the near future. With Chuck and David along adventure is always just around the corner!
Posted by David Shashy