Man, that's tough Miguel. It's hard to hunt them when they aren't being vocal. Stay after them brother, they'll show up at some point.
I had some excitement first thing Saturday morning. My girlfriend and I stumbled down the hill in the dark to a box blind that sits on a shelf, snapping twigs and slipping and sliding like we had never been in the woods before. We made it to the blind at 5:45 - still plenty dark - and I swung open the burlap 'doors', pulled out my cell phone and used the light to check around the inside for any beasts that may have made it their home overnight. Seeing it empty, we climbed inside, got settled and anxiously waited to hear the first gobble of the season.
Well it was only about 15 minutes later that we heard it - behind us in a tree only about 25 yards away. My heart sunk. I figured he had to have seen/heard us coming down the hill, and he couldn't possibly have missed my cell phone light since the doors of the blind faced the tree he was roosted in, and I just knew he was going to either fly down onto the middle of the hill we'd come down or he'd just fly directly away from us and get the heck out of there the moment he hit the ground. So I told my girlfriend that we most likely would not get a shot at this one, but since he was still gobbling his head off, I figured I'd try to use my brand new slate call to fool him into thinking there was a hen roosted nearby. So put the slate just outside the window of the blind on the opposite side of where he was roosted, and I made a couple of soft cuts. He answered with a gobble each time. Then I stopped calling for a couple of minutes to tease him, and peeked back out the open slit in the door and finally caught sight of him. I waited for his gobbling to get even more frequent, then went back over to the other window, put the call out and cut a couple more times, and he responded again each time.
He finally flew down right towards the blind a few minutes later, and I told my girlfriend to get ready. I was able to get a really good look at him - a big, mature bird with about a 8 or nine-inch beard. He gobbled once just after he hit the ground and then again right before he started walking toward the side of the blind that my girlfriend had her Mossberg poking out of the' window.
There was about a 30-second period when I lost sight of him from the door slit to when he finally reappeared out another small slit next to my girl's window when I was praying that he didn't make a left turn and head up the hill we had just come down. But he got the memo, and was holding to the script perfectly.
My girlfriend gave me the sign to stop him, and I 'chirped' softly with my diaphragm call and a shot rang out almost immediately after.
But as I bolted out the door to run over to grab what I expected to be the flopping bird, I heard my girl snap, "Oh no!" just as I saw this big gobbler flying off.
She had missed him clean at no more than 5 yards. And she was heartbroken. She said she was so disappointed in herself because I had been able to call this bird over and outwit him after he had certainly seen us stumbling down the hill and into the blind not twenty minutes earlier from his roost, and she told me she felt that she had let me down.
I told her straight up, "Don't even go there. It happens to the best of us." and then the old cliche, "That''s why it's called 'hunting'...." It took the next couple of hours sitting in the blind for me to actually talk her off the ledge, settle her down and get her to smile again, relating stories of the first bird I missed several years ago, and the one I missed just two years ago about 75 yards from where we were currently sitting, and then all of the ones I was blessed with being able to tag in between those misses. Everyone has at least one story of a miss of some game animal at some point in their hunting career, but they serve the even more important purpose of making you hungrier and more determined to not forget to do all the little things right before pulling the trigger or releasing an arrow. I've always felt that I've learned more from a miss than I ever did from a clean hit.
On Sunday morning when she came out of the shower, she was feeling better about it and she told me that she had replayed the shot several times in her head, and said the next time she was lucky enough to have one in her sights, she would not 'pull' the trigger....she'd squeeze it just like all those times out at the range shooting the paper targets. I couldn't help but smile when I saw that unmistakable look of determination in her eye.
I'll keep you all posted if we get lucky enough in the next couple of weeks to get another shot at a bird...
Good luck the rest of this season, and be safe.