Eric Lawler and Jerrod Vila with their New York record book toms.
The following article was written by NYSOWA member, Jerrod Vila, and was originally published @ Downwind Outdoors
Longtime hunting buddy, Eric Lawler, and I set a goal for this turkey season. The goal was to harvest a double, meaning each of us would take a mature longbeard together in the same setup. This is not a new goal, however it is a hard task to accomplish and the probability of it happening is very low. Nonetheless, we still have our group of guys that roll in for the opening weekend of the season each year. Aside from harvesting birds, our other goal is to have a good time, the probability of which is much higher! With all the boys accounted for, there was plenty of time to get out in the woods and roost some birds. While making the rounds through our properties scouting for potential toms, we all ogled in amazement over a Facebook photo of a bird shot on opening day in Herkimer County, NY that sported a quadruple beard. Little did we know how epic our 2018 New York turkey season would become and that we would be ogling over our own photos soon enough.
After putting multiple mature longbeards to bed that night, the anticipation for the next morning was high. Two groups of us set out to brave the high winds of opening Saturday. The normal coffee ritual took place around 4:15 A.M. and we walked into our setup by 4:40 A.M. Eric and I were looking to set up approximately 150 yards off the suspected roosting area since we didn’t know which specific trees the longbeards flew up into the prior evening. From past experiences in the area, we were quite confident they would pitch down and naturally work their way past our location to get out to the known morning strut zones. As we traversed the edge of the woodlot looking for the perfect tree to lean up against, we passed by two giant concrete culvert sections. We both stopped and looked at them, then looked at one another. Instantly we knew what the other was thinking. If we could roll one of the culverts out just a bit, we could sit right down between the two. It was still dark enough to pull off a move like this without getting busted, and that is just what we did. It was the perfect concealment of a makeshift stone bunker. We were all settled in by 5 A.M., just waiting on that first grey light to begin to poke through the eastern horizon. We joked around about how the absurdness of sitting between these two giant pipes could quite possibly be the most comfortable setup we had ever been in. Shortly thereafter, the first gobble erupted from exactly where we thought it would come from, then another slightly farther out. At 5:14 A.M., Eric looked over to me and says, “Hey, one just pitched down into the field already!” All I could think was, “Wow! It’s practically still black out”! Then, 2 minutes later the other bird crashed down through the canopy of budding limbs and into the field. Both birds were gobbling to every call but just out of sight over a roll in the terrain. After 10 minutes or so, rather than working in our direction, they went into an open hardwood flat and acquired a severe case of lockjaw. How dare they! We sat tight for some time only to have a coyote come through and send everything in the vicinity scattering, including the birds. Best to abort this mission and head to another location...