We arrived on the 2nd annual Alabama opening weekend hunt to less than perfect weather. I was able to bring a friend of mine this year, and we made a quick little scouting trip the evening before so he would have a better idea of what we were dealing with for opening morning. We found a lot of good sign at the first spot we checked, and we crossed the creek to check one more spot without going too deep. This property is about 300 acres, and I would normally not want to hunt a place that small with another person. However, the way the lay out is it hunts like about 500 acres, and this guy is like a brother to me. He chose to hunt where we found the best sign, and I went across the creek the next morning.
Opening day started cloudy, windy, and muggy with temps in the upper 60's. Nothing gobbled on the roost, so I sat down next to a clump of trees that gave me a decent view and sort of pinched down in the creek bottom between two clear cuts. There was a fair amount of scratching in the area, and I had seen one track the afternoon before, which is where I stopped and just left. At 7:15, I heard a turkey gobble across the creek to my south. I moved about 30 yards closer to him and sat down next to a red oak tree. The turkey gobbled on the ground twice before I got set up. I yelped to him on my wingbone. He didn't answer. A minute or so later he gobbled on his own a little bit louder. I called again, softly. Nothing. A couple of times the wind caught a ribbon tied around a tree that got me excited because I thought it was a turkey's head. About the 3rd or 4th time I thought I saw a turkey's head, it was a turkey's head. He trotted up there an hopped up on a downed tree about 60 yards away and looked for a solid 5 minutes. I argued with myself about the distance, knowing he was too far. He finally folded his wings, hopped off the tree, and walked back the way he came.
Ten minutes later, I yelped on the wingbone again, and a turkey answered me due east, a couple of hundred yards out followed by another due north. I scooched around the red oak for round 2. I answered them on the wingbone, and the one to the north answered immediately. He gobbled a couple of more times on his own, steadily getting closer. I just let him come, calling softly once or twice along the way. He answered well, and I knew I should see him in short order. He finally stepped out about 70 yards down through the woods. He was a shiny black against the green leaves as he stepped onto a white sandbar along the creek bank. He gobbled hard and strutted there for a minute or so before easing towards me along a game trail that ran along the very edge of the creek. He dropped down into a little bowl on the sandbar and stretched his neck so far up that he looked like a giraffe before coming on up the trail. Once he topped the trail, he was pretty much in range, but I couldn't see him because of the brush. I could hear him drumming, and he gobbled a few times right there, the rattle of that gobble was felt as much as heard. He stayed there drumming for quite some time before he gobbled again and sounded farther away. I felt panic start to creep into my mind. I eased the wingbone up to my lips and gave a one-handed, soft, three note yelp. He triple gobbled, and the rattle was back, louder. He had inched forward; he clearly had his back to me when it sounded farther away. It wasn't but a few seconds before I saw him emerge, in full strut, from behind the original clump of trees where I had started the morning. I pulled the trigger on him at 25 steps. He had a beard that was 11 1/4 inches long and both spurs were 1 3/16.