This hunt started in the final days of the 2020 South Carolina turkey season. Ron Shaffer (my right hand man) and I were hunting a track of land on the Edisto River. We battled with an old bird for 10 days. He would give us a peek at 100 yards, but never come in. He was as wary as could be. We heard him gobbling while walking away from us on the last morning of the 2020 season.
Fast forward to the 2021 season. We had a plan of attack to see if we could find this bird or another bird in this area. We were standing in the area on opening day, but we never heard a bird. This prompted us to walk the property after waiting for a few hours. There were signs of turkeys everywhere, so we could only speculate as to why we were not hearing any birds. All of the conditions were perfect for a turkey hunt. We left mid-morning and headed to the shop.
The conditions were perfect again for the second morning. Once again, the birds were not making a sound.
We decided to take a walk up a swamp run. We eased over in the hardwoods and started our walk. We made it about 100 yards and bam, we found a huge bird! He was feeding all alone on the edge of the swamp. He did spot us and flew off.
On the way back to the shop, I called a good friend of mine, Jason Hart. I knew that Jason would be hunting somewhere close to us. This guy loves to hunt turkeys more than anyone I know.
As predicted, I caught him walking in his house just after the morning hunt. He was experiencing the same problems we were. The birds were not talking at all. He offered his thoughts on the situation.
The weather on the third day was going to be cloudy and a chance of rain, but we still decided to give them a try. We walked in the dark to the same area again.
After about 30 minutes of waiting, the birds lit up! We had three birds gobbling on the roost, two really good birds and a jake short. We rushed to get set up on the edge of the swamp. Ron was about 10 yards behind me with his back to a tree. He started calling quietly to the birds. These birds were on fire!
After about 10 minutes, I noticed the sound had changed. These birds were on the ground. I noticed one bird was getting farther away from us and the other was coming closer.
After about 15 minutes with no sound, I saw the bird coming into range. We walked behind some huge cypress trees, and I loss sight of him.
Ron was behind me, freaking out because I hadn’t shot the bird. His line of sight was not hindered by the trees. A million questions were running through his mind: Was I asleep? Is there another bird? Is there some problem?
The bird finally walked around the trees. That’s when he spotted me. He was at about 10 yards at this point. He clucked really loud and did a 180° and went behind the trees again. I set up for the shot, and when he came out on the other side of the cypress trees, it was all over.
A perfect ending to a tough couple of days of hunting. I don’t think this was the bird from last year, but he was a beautiful bird. He weighed just under 18 lbs and had 7/8” spurs and a 9” beard. A great swamp bird!