North meets South

John Coit, Dave Bryan and Greg Epperson, Jr. head north where they brave the bright lights and big cities enroute to turkey-hunting paradise in the northern part of the state. Will New York prove to be as good as South Carolina? Read on to find out.

Spring of the year 2000 brought with it an incredible turkey season to the clients and guides of our hunting operation at Old South Outdoors. We ended the South Carolina season very successfully, yet not quite satisfied: we wanted more turkey hunting, and this time, we wanted to be the guests! After arranging a hunt with some outfitter friends from Albany, New York (Northeast Outfitters, I prepared to introduce two born and bred Southerner friends of mine to the New York wilderness.

An all-night drive through some of the largest, most populated cities in this country had my hunting partners, David Bryan and Gregory Epperson, Jr., less than convinced of my sanity. New York City at night is downright scary to us Southerners, and certainly not what a turkey hunter is seeking. "Just over the mountains boys," I would say, "lies some of the best turkey hunting I have ever experienced in my life." It was the truth.

We arrived at the lodge at 3:30 A.M. Our host, Dave Abrhams, was waiting for us with plenty of hot coffee. He seemed somewhat surprised to find us getting our camo ready after 14-hours spent driving through the night. Nevertheless, we started to make our plans for the morning's hunt.

Daybreak found my flatland feet and lungs fully unprepared, and my mind seriously concerned about surviving the rest of the trip. I was huffing and puffing, and not very sure of my ability to produce air enough to power my diaphragm call. I felt reasonably certain that Greg and Dave were also suffering the pains of these Catskill foothills.

A few birds gobbled well from the roost that morning, but we could not turn them towards us. We stayed with our set-up, waiting in vain for any quiet birds that might be sneaking in, then made plans for our next move. Paulie, that morning's guide, made us climb a ridge to an oak flat where he had seen several gobblers during the late morning hours. We set up there -- Paulie on camera -- while Greg and I prepared to stage a mock hen fight. Greg cranked up first using a custom-made Widowmaker box call. I followed suit on my Quaker Boy "Old Boss Hen." The sounds of a phony 'hen war' filled the Albany woods.

After 30-minutes, I began to question our strategy. As slid over to confer with Paulie and Greg, in true wild turkey fashion a 20-lb+ longbeard slipped in on us unannounced. Score one for the gobblers.

Later that morning , David Bryan, co-owner with myself of Old South Outdoors, connected with a fine 20-pound tom. The bird had a 10-inch beard and 1 1/8-inch spurs. Dave had set up in a low area near a corn field. A liberal dose of patience helped him harvest his first New York gobbler and helped convince him that New York was more than just a big city.

On day two, I set up on a ¾-mile long ravine just behind the lodge. With Paulie manning the video camera, I broke out my old boss hen call. Some soft yelping at just the right time resulted in three tremendous gobbles that came from about 150-yards down the ravine. I added a fly-down cackle for good measure.

Two-and-a-half hours passed. Booming gobbles continued to sound from what turned out to be three old longbeards. Paulie and I were pinned down by the toms from where the birds were strutting on a shelf in the ravine. The toms weren't budging and we were to timid to move. Eventually, our gobblers grew tired of the "hen who wouldn't cooperate" and left.

Paulie and I made a quick tour around the area as I mentally planned my strategy for the next morning. That evening Greg Epperson, Jr. and I returned to the ravine to roost birds. Greg made a few serious fly-up cackles, while I flapped my hat both in the leaves and upon my chest. This tactic has worked for us in the past. We felt confident it would again. Little did I know how well.

The next morning I set up in total darkness. Dave Abrham was accompanying me, mainly because he'd never before seen our fly-up tactic and was interested to see if it would work. I waited anxiously, wondering what my tree yelps might bring. Right on schedule, a mature gobble pierced the stillness of dawn. One bird! I'd expected three! Not to worry. I focused on the gobbling bird and started cranking him up. Louder yelps, clucks, and then a healthy fly-down cackle. This bird was coming in.

Click HERE to find out if John bags this bird!

For Gobblers
By John Coit

NY State of Mind!!
Article first appeared at
NY Gobblers!
By: John Coit
Date: 7/18/2000

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