I was running late yesterday morning and didn't get to the woods until 8:00 am. No big deal, I just wanted to get out there.
So I drive to a spot and start walking about 100 yards off the edge of a clearcut in some hardwoods. A few hundred yards later, I hear a gobble wayyyy off. We're talking 400 yards easy.
Sp, I head that direction and cut the distance in half, set up on the down side of a ridge, and give him a few yelps... nothing. Maybe I spooked him? Gobbbleee. There he is, in the same place he was when he first gobbled. For the next 20 minutes or so, he gobbles sporadically but never actually responds to me.
Then I notice the gobbles getting faint. I pick up and move towards him, this time I'm 150 yards from him. I yelp, nothing. A few minutes later he gobbles again.
By this time I realize that he's on a hen, and she's moving away from me. He gobbles again, and he's put 100 yards between us.
I get up and start heading towards him again. He's still gobbling enough for me to keep tabs on him.
I cross a creek, crawl through Vietnam, and finally get to about 100 yards of where I last heard him gobble. I hear his hen cutt a few times, so I set up and wait. 10 minutes go by, and finally he gobbles again. I yelp to him, and he hammers.
Now I may be getting somewhere... He actually responded to me. Over the next 20 minutes, the bird worked closer and closer to me. I feel my chest rattle every time he gobbled.
Then it got quiet, and I started to hear footsteps in the leaves. I pick a spot where I think he'll appear, and there he is.
Boom. Quiver. Not a flop, from 17 yards.
Now its 10:00, and my season has come to a bitter sweet end.
He had a 10" beard and the longest spur was a hair under 1 3/8". I didn't weigh him, but he would've been a lighter bird. Probably 16 or 17 at best.