Hunting turkeys in my home state of Utah is an experience I look forward to every Spring.
After a wonderful trip out to California, you can read about that hunt here, earlier this spring, I honestly just wanted to get out and have a great time. Tagging a bird would be sweet, but with a fairly limited bird population, I always set the goal of just having fun. Most of the time, we bag a bird, but that’s just the cherry on top.
With Utah’s general season starting late in May, having to sit back and watch the rest of the turkey meccas kick off their season and enjoy birds in the peak of the strutt is sometimes frustrating, but I’m okay to wait my turn.
After a successful limited entry draw hunt on a property my good friend Alan had knocked a door on, we knew we’d have birds near or on the property. With permission to hunt the same parcel, we crossed our fingers we’d have the same outcome as Alan’s hunt a few weeks prior.
Living 2 hours from the area, I woke up very early to drive to Alans, load our gear and then drive another 45 minutes or so to where we planned to set up for the morning.
We arrived to the field and took a few pieces of gear with us and set up. With a minimal setup of decoys and a location that provided a good hide and visibility of where we anticipated the birds would come through, we set up to wait.
Normally the birds roosted a few properties away and would filter their way up the canyon to where we had permission.
As I began to set my hen decoy, a gobble erupted just up the draw on the same property we were on!
With the dawn starting to break, I quickly relocated my setup and moved closer to where the bird was, hoping that it’d come by me with or without seeing the decoys.
The bird flew down directly behind me, but sitting in very tall scrub-oak did not lend itself to any promising opportunities. I called a little and waited. Knowing that even if this bird didn’t workout, that there was no need to goof the property and potential of having birds work through later.
Things got silent and the next time I heard the bird, he’d made his way to higher ground, as they normally do, and was on top of the large hill behind me.
I moved back to where I originally was planning on setting up, knowing it was the optimal location for a solid opportunity.
After sitting in my hide for about an hour, the sun had come up and its warmth made it really hard to keep my eyes open. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about!
As I fought away the back of my eyelids, I heard a gobble from the same spot I last heard the bird we attempted to set up on earlier that morning.
Now in a better position to see the hill, I took out my binos and glassed the bird atop the hill. Strutting in the sun and proudly displaying his beautiful full fan. What a gorgeous bird!
Knowing that any hens he may have been with in the morning had likely laid down for the morning, I decided he was as vulnerable as he would be that day and let out a few soft yelps..
GOBBLE!! He hammered on top of my calls and immediately struck into full strutt.
I called again and he repeated the same song and dance as before. This time, as he broke strut, he picked up his head to really look around and observe where the calls were coming from.
In a matter of seconds, the bird saw the hen decoy, took off down the hill running and after a few quick steps, took flight and was soaring right towards me!
With only a hundred or so yards to fly, I immediately started fumbling for my gun, a little Savage .410 with a red dot sight, and got ready.
The bird hit the ground behind some brush and no sooner did I hear him contact the ground than I saw him working his way into plain sight.
I let him come..
With the decoys only 20 or so yards away, I figured I’d let him get as close as he would to ensure the limits of the .410 shell weren’t overextended.
He proudly made his way in and held up a few yards from the decoy. Then, he broke strut and stopped.
While I’m not sure to this day why he decided the decoy wasn’t real, it was too late as he was right in the sweet spot of the little guns pattern.
As he turned to walk away, a quick ‘putt-putt’ from the mouth call brough his neck and head to full attention. Just like you draw it up..
BOOM! Or should I say “PEW!”.. Those little .410 aren’t very loud lol.
As good as any shell i’d ever used from my other guns, the .410 laid the wood and the beautiful bird was quickly ended. Heck yes!
Alan came down to high five and recap his experience as he had a first row seat to the entire thing. We were both stoked!
Ending the 2022 Spring Season on a high was as good as a turkey hunter could ask for and we can’t wait to do it all over again!
Shoot Straight and God Bless,
Matt Davis / Founder