Editor’s Note: Perry Peterson of Manchester, Iowa, is Mossy Oak’s turkey manager for nine states in the Midwest. He has been hunting turkeys since 1994, and wearing Mossy Oak for the last 12 years.
On the opening day of Iowa’s first turkey season one year, the weather had been really cold, and the woods weren’t green yet. I had a good idea where the turkeys had been roosting, because I’d already had some youngsters come to my farm for Iowa’s youth turkey season. I got into the woods about 110-yards from where I thought the turkeys would be roosting, and they started gobbling right where I expected. I also heard four other turkeys gobbling about 60-yards from my stand site. I found out later in the morning that those four turkeys were jakes. Just as day was beginning to break, I started yelping. I heard the jakes fly down and land about 70-yards from me. These turkeys would not commit to come to me. They held their ground and just continued to gobble like crazy for about half an hour. I just kept calling. Finally, the longbeard I had heard about 110-yards away flew down with a hen. When I heard the hen calling, I started calling to her. I got her mad. Finally, I looked over into the woods and saw the hen coming down a deer trail. The hen marched right in to my decoys. That year, I hunted with Zink Calls (www.zinkcalls.com) Avian-X turkey decoys. One of the decoys I was using that morning was a jake decoy.
The tom that was following her finally came to a fence line. The four jakes on the other side of the fence were waiting on him. I could tell that he was wary about coming in to my calling, because he didn’t want to battle those jakes. However, he did finally come on down the fence line through a little draw where I couldn’t see him. Next, he popped up in the decoys, about 15 yards from me. I was sitting in front of one of the only big trees in that wood lot, wearing Mossy Oak Bottomland camo. The hen was 8-yards from me, and the gobbler was 15-yards from me, so I couldn’t move. The hen was really yelping at my decoys. I could tell she didn’t like those decoys at all. The jakes had been watching this entire show. When that gobbler went into his strut, two of those jakes started running straight toward the gobbler. Apparently, these two 1-1/2-year-old gobblers were planning to beat-up that big gobbler and run him off.
I was sitting in a wide-open place with all these turkeys out in front of me, trying to find an opportunity to move to take a shot at the big gobbler. Then, I got into position to take the shot and pushed my safety off. Before I could squeeze the trigger, the big gobbler and four jake heads were all lined up in a row. Apparently the two jakes that had come in with the big gobbler had called in reinforcements. I knew if I squeezed the trigger, I would kill five turkeys. I held my shot. As the birds moved off, I tried to turn to get a better shot at the big gobbler. The hens spotted me moving and began to yelp loudly. The four jakes ran off to the left, leaving the longbeard standing alone, 12-yards from me. When I shot, the big gobbler went down. The jakes stopped and looked back and then came running back to flog the dead gobbler. Feathers were flying everywhere.
I got up and started walking toward the dead bird. When I reached the gobbler, the jakes were 5-feet away on the other side of him, all gobbling at the downed bird. Once I put my foot on the gobbler’s head, the jakes flew-up the hill. When they touched down, they started gobbling. Once I picked up the gobbler, the jakes started walking up the hill. I put my diaphragm call back in my mouth and started calling to the jakes. Those goofy young gobblers turned around and started marching back down the hill, stopping 30-yards from me. Finally, they stopped gobbling, turned around and went back up the hill. I could hear them still gobbling when I got in my truck to leave. This gobbler was really special. He weighed 24 pounds and had two 9-inch beards. When I looked at his spurs, they were only 3/4-inch long. I then realized he was only a crazy 2-year-old gobbler. On the first day of the season, this hunt was quite a show to see. My only regret about the hunt was that I was the only one who got to enjoy the greatest turkey show ever.