Turkey Hunting in the Berkshires

Springtime in the Berkshires — also known as turkey season. We set out at 3:30 AM, opening day. 32 degrees and snowing — good for dampening sound, horrible for hiding. We were decked out in our Mossy Oak gear. If the snow continued, we had no chance of getting good cover in our spring getup.

Luckily, a local turkey pro had our backs. Many miles on a dirt road took us to his exclusive hunting location. He claimed any hunter could snag a turkey so we set the decoys and hunkered down.

Stationed for game, we sat and waited. And waited. And waited. After staying for about three hours, we decided it was time to change locations.

A different strategy crossed our minds. We decided to drive from overlook to overlook, calling for turkey until we heard one. Overlook after overlook, nothing. Then just as we were ready to throw in the towel, we heard a gobble. All of our faces lit up with the excitement of a potential harvest. Using stealth, we parked the truck and hiked into the woods quietly. Through the brush and trees, we were able to get close enough, but had to not spook them. It had stopped snowing; hence, our camo ran more of a purpose than being hot and heavy.

There they were! A whole flock of juicy birds. We waited slowly, patiently... until one came into range. There was brush in the way, but the toms had turned and started to walk away. Fearing we wouldn't have a better opportunity, the shot was taken.

Birds scattered. I looked at my hunting buddies and they were as puzzled as me — where was my harvest? One of them told me, “It looked like your shot was deflected by that single branch there.” He must’ve been right. All that waiting and still no turkey.

Exhausted, but ready, we were up and at it again the following day. 3:30 AM. Still dark. We hiked to the initial turkey-pro location. As a gentle dawn swept over us, we began calling for the birds. They were noisy, but distant. We headed their way. The mountain had a tremendously steep grade — about 7 feet for every 3 steps. We operated through the treacherous terrain with as much silence as possible. And then we saw them.

Our vantage point was poor at best: the turkeys perched on an elevated formation, blocking our line of sight. And, of course, they heard us. They were gone before we even had a chance. Another long-winded exhausting day of packing gear with nothing to show for it.

Day 3: up at 3 AM (again). We returned to the original location again, hoping our turkey buddy had pointed us in the right direction. As the sun crept in through the mountains, we called for the birds. We waited impatiently. By this time we were all burnt out on silently creeping through the mountains. We were burnt out on turkey calling and sitting in the same location for hours. But then they showed. I didn’t want to get too eager — three days in and a golden opportunity — it had to be done right. I raised the shotgun and waited, following it in the sights. I wasn’t about to make the same mistake of shooting through brush and trees I needed a clean, open meadow. It felt like hours, but the bird finally moved into the clear. Aimed, fired, and the shot was on target. A successful end to a long patient hunt.

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