The first time I hunted the Fordon farm in New York was nearly nine years ago. I positioned myself at the base of a hickory tree and set up. I had no blind, no mosquito netting and it was a very humid day. I stayed still, except to call and before long I spotted a red head peeking at me from thirty yards. Unfortunately for me, it was a hen and she had already spotted my movement. She locked on to me for a few moments, refusing to leave until my leg fell asleep and I had to move due to the tingling sensation. In retrospect, I wished I had stayed put in case a tom or a jake was with her, but I let my mind take over and she bolted. That was the only turkey I would see for weeks.
The second time I ventured into the hardwoods was a few weeks later. I made a makeshift blind, set up and began calling. I had a tom answer my calls for about a half hour and then it abruptly stopped. I figured he was either locked up with a hen or on his way to my location, so I patiently waited. After over an hour with the woods being silent I turned and sat down facing an alfalfa field where the edge was only 20 yards away. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a shape moving toward me and slowly raised my Mossberg 20 gauge. It didn't take long for me to see a hen walking the edge. This time I waited to see if a tom would be in tow only to be disappointed. That encounter was the end my season for that year.Those were great encounters, but my most memorable turkey hunt took place eight years ago. For weeks, my friends Bill Fordon, Matt Laursen and I had been discussing how the largest tom turkey we had ever seen was appearing on a near daily basis. The only problem we had was that he was staying on private property and the owner of said property was afraid of hunters shooting up her property. (She was really scared of the sound of a shotgun.) That's a story for another day, and we followed the law and stayed off her property. Our only option was to drive to the back edge of Bill's family farm, hit the edge of the the adjacent field and hike a few hundred yards to the border of the property. In fact, I opted to stay about 75 yards into their property and try to call this big tom in. I called and heard him answer, but he was at least 300 yards away. For an hour, I would call and he would answer. All morning I waited to see a glimpse of a turkey, but the only movement I saw came from the Pterodactyl-like mosquitoes found in the Northeast trying to take off my head.
When I couldn't take it anymore, I packed up my gear and hiked right up to the edge of the private property. I searched the field and saw nothing. I KNEW he was over there, but how was I going to get to him? I reviewed my map and stayed just inside the property line to the South. I slowly crept through the woods until I found a vantage point. Over the edge I peeked and there he was. With him were quite a few hens, but they all stayed close near a point on this woman's property. They were EXACTLY where they had been feeding for the past few weeks. I called and tried to entice him, but he would have none of it. Frustrated, I turned around and hiked back to my vehicle.
Here is where the story gets exciting! On the way out, I decided to drive down the road and glass the field just to watch him. I pulled over and glassed through the passenger side window and saw nothing but green alfalfa. He had moved off and I thought he MAY be heading back into the woods from whence I came. So I put the car in drive and made my way to the road not 100 yards away to make a U-turn. That's when I saw him on my left in another field! I made a quick K-turn and drove back slowly so as not to spook him. He was there with a single hen and seemed to be protecting her. With the car off and knowing full well I could not shoot him from the road, nor from the other private property I decided to see what he would do. I slowly got out of the car and made my way to the back with my diaphragm call in my mouth. I let out some soft yelps and he lost his mind! He charged toward the road and stopped 20 yards from me in full strut! He turned slowly from one side to another giving me quite a show. His head was a beautiful mix or red, white and blue and he was puffed out to the max. A few more yelps and he gobbled right back at me. All the while, the hen had stayed put. The tom walked an imaginary line of about 10 yards back and forth from left to right, gobbling as he strutted. It was amazing and I thanked God for giving me the opportunity to see such splendor. I toyed with the gobbler for fifteen more minutes just to watch his antics before I put the call away and let him be. He would live to see another day and I would have a story to tell for the rest of my life.