Outdoor Chenango: Exploring The Black Hills
Published: May 22nd, 2024
By: Eric Davis

Outdoor Chenango: Exploring the Black Hills

After our day of traveling and turkey hunting, we headed into town to get checked in to the Airbnb but on our way, we swung by the grocery store. We bought some frozen pizzas for dinner and some food for breakfast and snacks throughout the week.

When we arrived at our Airbnb, a couple of the guys were already there so we exchanged hunting stories from the afternoon before they went to the grocery store. I was wiped from getting up early to get to the airport roughly 15 hours ago so after eating my frozen pizza and agreeing on a wake-up time, I went upstairs to bed.

My alarm went off at 3:30 and I got out of bed. I took a shower to help wake me up before heading downstairs for breakfast. The six of us sat around eating, drinking coffee, and discussing hunting locations we planned to hit.

Soon it was time to commute from town up into the National Forest. As we drove up to where we wanted to start hunting, we had a low level of worry that someone else might be in that spot when we got there. As we passed the different parking areas on the main road, we looked for vehicles and there were a few in some of them. When we got to where we wanted to park, we slowed down to pull off the road and saw there was no one there before us. After parking the car, we got out and put our vests on and grabbed our shotguns. Then we started walking down the truck trail that cut through to the next road over a mile away. There was a hump or knob in the terrain, and we had heard a turkey gobble there the evening before, so we hoped he hadn’t gotten far before flying up to roost. As we got about halfway to where we wanted to go, we came to a smaller open area and decided to wait and listen for the first gobbles from there just to be safe. It took a few minutes, but a turkey finally gobbled back across the road from where we parked the car. Next, a bird gobbled in the valley behind us. Then a bird way farther down the truck trail gobbled. Now finally a bird gobbled from the knob. We walked down the trail until we were only 150 yards roughly from the gobbling bird. We cut off the trail and found a couple bigger trees to sit against. The bird kept gobbling every minute or less, with birds in the distance all responding to each other’s gobbles with their own. Then a coyote started to yip and howl not far beyond the knob, and this made all the turkeys shock gobble. We could hear six or seven different turkeys gobbling on the roost.

After the coyote quit making so much noise, things quieted down slightly in terms of gobbling. So, my friend Sean started to make some light hen sounds and the tom on the knob gobbled immediately. After a minute, Sean called again, and the tom answered again. Then after the second gobble, I heard a hen calling up on the knob that must have been roosted close to the tom. Between her calling and Sean’s calling, the tom gobbled probably a hundred times. Then when it was light enough for fly down, things went silent. After a few minutes, the tom gobbled on his own about 250 yards away, meaning he was headed in the opposite direction from us.

The truck trail skirted the knob, so we walked the trail to get around the knob and hopefully head off the tom as he worked away. When we got to the spot where the truck trail turned away from the knob and dropped off, we called, and the tom gobbled only 100 yards away or so. We quickly sat down, and Sean stayed a few trees behind me so if an incoming tom hung up, he’d still be in range for me. He called some more, and the tom gobbled once or twice but again he was getting farther away and not closer! The hen with him must have wanted to avoid the competition of another hen (us calling) and was walking away with the tom on her trail. With the direction they were headed and the terrain, there was no way that we could try to get ahead of them without being seen. So, we turned around and walked back to the car. We decided to try going up the road a little farther to where we thought another bird had been gobbling on the roost.