When we left each other last week, we had gotten our wild boar in San Mateo, Florida and were heading northwest toward Archer, a small town 19 miles west of Gainesville, home of the Florida Gators.
I had to cover my license tags, for fear of someone shooting me because the Kentucky Wildcats had beaten them three times this season in basketball. I arrived at the Watermelon Pond Plantation right on time at 11 a.m. After talking to the owner, Ms. Kate, for a few minutes to get a heads-up on where she and her hired help had been seeing the turkeys, I headed to the spot where the turkeys seemed to be more active and set up my blind.
I left all my hunting stuff in the blind, except my gun, and went to check into the hotel in Gainesville. I was, as always, excited about opening day. If that excitement ever leaves me, then that is the day I quit. I was back into my blind a good hour before daylight, and it was looking like the perfect day. Come daylight, I heard some gobbles, but nothing close. I knew it was going to be a longer day than I thought. I called until noon, then left the blind to drive the 15 miles into Branson, for some lunch. By one p.m., I was back in the blind.
Keep in mind, if you get a gobbler to answer you from 2 until 5 he is probably coming in, so get ready. The law in Florida changed this year so that you can kill two turkeys the same day — a law I would like to see in Kentucky. I have never figured out why Kentucky feels the need to have you come back an extra day to fill your tags. Oh well. At three I heard some gobblers and they were heading toward me.
The “Great Spirit of Harvest” was smiling on me this day. A jenny hen came and stood next to my decoys and made the perfect set-up. I looked and here they were, five old long beards, side by side, necks stuck out and gobbling to the top of their lungs. Then the jenny held me up from shooting, as I tried to decide if she would be considered a live decoy.
To use a live decoy in any state, as far as I know, is illegal. After thinking about it for a minute, I decided I was OK. I pulled the trigger when the long beards were about 45 yards, and the first two dropped. Game over. They both weighed in at 22 pounds, had 12- inch beards, and 1-1/2 inch spurs. Our Florida hunt had came to an end on the first day.
I have gotten several youth hunts for opening day of the Kentucky turkey season, so we will be talking about them next week.