Putting the Spurs to the Three Bearded Tom

by | Apr 6, 2022 | Hunting | 0 comments

Spring Turkey Hunting Captivates Hunters Year After Year!
Chasing Ole’ boss tom turkeys in the spring woods is an absolute rush! The spring woods come alive with gobbles every year, and for those of us with the turkey bug, it’s an amazing season. Last turkey season was a tough one for me, but this season was full of promise. This season was full of strutting toms, gobbles, and some dang good huntin!

Tom turkeys are wile and wary, they don’t get old and wise by making mistakes. Spring time is the one time of year that old mature gobblers let their guard down in search of a hen. With breeding on their mind, tom turkeys sound off with resounding gobbles into fields, along creek bottoms, and into wood lots, letting all the surrounding hens know where they are, and any challenging toms know they are ready for a fight. Strutting, gobbling, spitting, and drumming; the spring turkey breeding season is a spectacle to behold!

The Trophy Tom Turkey
I first spotted the three bearded boss tom two years ago, in a green field of spring fescue. The springtime air was still cool from the morning, and the tom fed along the edge of a terrace, gobbling to his hens every so often. Watching through binoculars, my heart raced each time this ole’ tom stretched his neck out to feed. A piled up heavy beard dropped down to reveal three beards every time he pecked at the ground. Every little bit this wise old bird would stretch out his neck and fire off a fantastic gobble, then puff up, spread out his fan and show off for the hens with him in the field. I knew then that I had to hunt this turkey! What I didn’t know was it would take me two years and lots of encounters to get the job done. Hunting this old tom became a passion.

I spent the next two turkey seasons with a mission, with a goal, doing whatever I could to try and make a play on the three bearded boss tom. I hunted this turkey early in the season, late in the season and everything in between. Many times I was able to get him to come to a call, only to hang up 70 or 80 yards out. A few times I called him inside of 20 yards but there was always a tree, or a rock wall, or a brush pile between us and I was never comfortable with the shot. The three bearded boss tom was either really smart, really lucky, or a little bit of both.

Turkey Hunting Strategy
I hunted this bird early in the morning off the roost, late in the morning when most of the hens had gone to nest, in the afternoon hoping for a chance at midday, and even fighting the evening roosting instinct, hoping for a chance late in the day. Several times I called in other turkeys, but they weren’t the three bearded boss tom. I deployed decoys that seemed to only hang him up, I changed calls and tactics from sit and wait to run and gun. This ole’ turkey was tough, and that my friends, is why I had to hunt him.

This turkey and I had a saga, a history, a story between the two of us. A few times he snuck in on me silent and I never knew he was there until I decided to get up and move, then off over the horizon he’d go. He stomped around the same creek bottom spring after spring, and just like clock work he’d be out strutting when the springtime afternoons started to warm and the days began to grow longer.

Spring Turkey Success!
Finally, on a warm and damp spring morning in mid May, I had a chance to close the deal on the three bearded tom. I made my way in the morning darkness across a tall grass field heavy with the evening dew, and as soon as the morning light began to sliver over the eastern horizon I heard a loud gobble from high in an old oak tree. It wasn’t long till the morning was in full swing. A doe and her brand new fawn wandered by the edge of the timber I was hiding in. A pair of owls fired off hooting down the hardwood creek, in turn sounding the tom off with a gobble each time they called. The tom turkey pitched down when the sunlight began to stream through the broken skyline, not long after, a lone hen scratched out a yelp and off they went. I figured the rest of the morning would be spent reading a paperback under a tree and waiting for my tom to return, but it was only a matter of minutes till he gobbled at me again and he was moving my way.

Armed with a hollow wooden box with a nail in it, and a striker stone; I made a series of soft clucks and an easy yelp. The tom covered up my calling with a loud gobble, and I quickly knew that the hunt was on. With a few more soft calling sequences trying to convince that old wile bird that I was a lonely hen, he gobbled every time I called but he wasn’t interested in looking for me. There was an open meadow between the bird and me, and I knew that he had my location pinned down. My options of trying to close the distance were slim. In nature the tom calls to the hens with his gobbles and the hens go to him. The hunter works on the toms instinct trying to get him to come to a stubborn hen, sometimes it works.

Quickly I came up with a plan to close the distance. A deep banked creek dropped off just to my right, and acted as a hidden path between the timber I was in, and the stronghold the tom was gobbling from. Crawling on my hands and knees I slipped down into the creek, wading into water just over the top of my boots. The cold water seeped in over my boots, soaking my socks, but the hunt was worth the discomfort. Slowly and quietly I crept along the creek, staying tight to the dirt bank 8 feet or higher between the myself and the turkey. Slipping along slowly, I closed the distance and carefully found a place to climb up out of the creek bottom, hidden by the may foliage. Silently I slipped in behind a few small cedar trees, not knowing where that ole’ turkey was, but knowing he was close.

Carefully I scratched out a soft yelp with my nail call, and the three bearded tom answered back before I could finish. He was close, really close, close enough that I could feel his gobbles on my chest. Knowing this turkey’s history with hanging up and not coming in close, I decided to play hard to get. It didn’t take long till the tom gobbled, and gobbled again, looking for the hen he heard call just off behind a few trees. Up till now, I still hadn’t put eyes on the tom I was hunting, but I had a good feeling that it was the tom I’d been after for so long, maybe it was just wishful thinking. Watching through the green leaves and around every branch and shadow, I saw movement 40 yards out through the timber. Along a gentle rise near an old well with an old hand pump I heard the tell tale spit….. and drum. Just above the rise a red and blue head appeared in front of a magnificent fan filled with the morning sunlight. I sat in the spring woods, full of gratitude and immersed in the hunt, then 30 yards in front of me that magnificent tom stretched out his neck to gobble and three beards hung down from his breast.

With the bark of my 12 gauge, my hunt was over. The Three Bearded Boss Tom gobbled his last time, and I was filled with excitement, gratitude, pride, and a sense of closeness with this turkey, the woods, and the springtime. After years of pursuing this wise ole’ tom turkey, I was finally able to hang my tag on him. Just like that, my turkey season and the hunt for the three bearded boss tom was over.