Sounds of the fall hunting season; Vic’s paw falls in fallen leaves, alarm putts, large wings clawing for air causing thunderous wing beats as two toms soar over my head from the ridge above. I stop and listen hoping; yes another putt and wings moving in the opposite direction, show time for the caller- that would be me.
Vic trots into sight panting hard. For a 9-month-old pup, he sure puts his heart into the hunt. The ridge is mostly park-like, with acorns strewn about and squirrels scurrying to put up the winter stores. Quite a distraction for my pup but his training focused on turkeys all summer so when he found the toms the squirrels won their reprieve.
We set up against an inviting oak with Vic tired and for the moment content to drink some water and lay on my left side. He barely stirs when I let out the first series of course yelps followed by purrs and angry clucks. The last call from my slate is cut off by the lost tom who is answering with excited yelps and booming gobbles. Game on! My wingbone answers with the bonk sound similar to that of a steel barrel or bucket makes with change in temperature. Don’t ask me why gobblers come to this sound no one has explained it to me why nor have I figured it out, it just works and this tom is no exception, he is on his way coming in quick. Vic goes into his rigid vizsla point directly at the incoming turkey while lying beside me. This is his first real setup I hope he holds long enough for the shot. His leash begins to pull under my rear; my hand touches his collar to reassure him all is well. His excitement travels up my arm like electric bugs. The turkey is 20 yards juking its head to the beat of some music only he knows. The pressure is on, don’t whiff the shot its Vic’s first.
There is comic style of movement at the base of this oak. The leash is sliding free, the shotgun is in motion my left hand has gripped the forearm. One eye is on Vic as he rises for a closer view the experienced turkey realizes his mistake as he hits full escape stride, Vic’s leash is free of me as he coils for the spring, I see he is in the safe zone in my peripheral as the bead appears under the beak, my finger compresses the trigger rolling the turkey into a ball of feathers. Vic at half way stops abruptly snapping his head at me and back at the now still turkey it is as if his eyes are saying “what the heck! That never happened in practice” and then he is on the bird relishing the pungent smell of fresh turkey.