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An 11th Hour Gobbler: Turkey Hunting in Southern Ontario

Jeff Helsdon hoists a gobbler at the end of a long day of turkey hunting. • Credit: Jeff Helsdon

The morning starts as every opening of turkey season should -- with gobbling birds. My stepson Collin and I are hunting with Mike Gill, co-owner of Prime Time Pursuits, in the rolling hills in the Cobourg area about an hour east of Toronto.

In the pre-dawn blackness, Mike tucks Collin and I side by side behind a fence that separates pasture from forest. Mike is an award-winning caller and quickly strikes up a conversation with a gobbler on the uphill corner of the woodlot, but as darkness turns into the slate grey of an overcast day, the gobbling becomes more distant and eventually peters out.

turkey hunting
Mike Gill of Prime Time Pursuits uses a slate call to attract a Tom in Southern Ontario’s Coburg area. (Photo credit: Jeff Helsdon)

We spend much of the morning on the road looking for birds and eventually pursue a gobbler on a spot known as Chris and Sally’s Hill. There is great turkey habitat here and I know we have a hot bird when we hear a gobble in reply to Mike’s calls. The bird is coming up a trail close to us and I feel my heart pounding as the gobbles become louder and we hear it drumming. We first see the bird at about 25 metres. I wait for Collin to shoot. And wait. The bird walks by Collin and he doesn’t shoot. He tells me later that the bird was so close it freaked him out. Now the fowl struts in front of me at five metres and I hope it will keep moving to give me a better pattern. At six metres its neck goes up in alarm. I swing quickly on it, pull the trigger and miss.

Rain starts as we hit the road again looking for gobblers. The weather gets the best of Collin and he packs it in as Mike and I return to Chris and Sally’s Hill. We see turkeys at the far end of the field, but again don’t find any that want to play. Prospects are looking dim until we spot a flock of birds about 500 metres away in an adjacent field.

We arrive to find that the birds had crossed the field into the bush. Mike assures me they will return. He is right. They emerge from the woods 200 meters away. Mike gives a few calls to bring the six hens and one Tom closer. I lift my gun and rest it on my knee as they approach. When the gobbler reaches about 30 metres, I squeeze the trigger. The two-year-old drops, ending a long day in the turkey woods.

Contact Information

Prime Time Pursuits
Phone: 905-349-2556
Cell: 905-376-5095
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