Sweat is trickling around on my skin with my breath coming in long steady gulps trying to satisfy the hungry lungs burning in my chest. False dawn provides a twilight feel as I rest, listening for the faintest hint of a turkey, rustling feathers or the scratch of feet shifting on the bark of massive oak limbs overhanging my steep hillside trail.
I am here due to a sudden change of plans, last night a good buddy called to report he heard a gobbler while fishing on the Mississippi River yesterday afternoon. He quit turkey hunting a few years ago, a situation I have failed to remedy. Being the kind of fellow who is always looking for a way help someone, he called knowing I would be interested even though that turkey was atop a heavily wooded cliff, which around this area is usually referred to simply as a bluff.
Since there had been no vocal birds anywhere else I’d been hunting; more than willing ears absorbed this hot turkey tip.
At 5:00 am I found myself at the base of a 500-foot bluff thinking just maybe my friend was playing with me, the mental picture of him holding his laughing stomach, face contorted in mirth caused a moment of hesitation every turkey hunter knows when he starts to think about being somewhere else.
There was no turkey talk going on, a beautiful but silent morning and I’m in an area my boots had never before trod. Up the old logging path, hooting and cawing.
At the top, the woods was open, 5:45 not so much as a cluck.
I set up on the most comfortable tree of the season the sun just a red glow peeking over the horizon at my back. Fighting off a bout of tree trunk narcolepsy I made my first calls – quiet yelps, rising to cackles. Nothing. Let out a series of lost yelps and kee-kees. Still and quiet.
About 6:10 red pinkish sunrise light is filtering thru the upper story leaves dancing and flickering a rainbow of colored bars all around throughout the woods; a gorgeous unbeatable morning, certainly worth the hike as my mind strains to absorb it all into the pages of my mind.
There – I know not, from where he came; the most outrageously beautiful strutting turkey I have ever seen; bathed in the glow of those multi-colored beams of sunrise. Irradiance feathers caught and shimmered those colored rays of light changing into little starbursts of color skittling across my glasses at me as he pirouetted on his toes in a manner that would make any ballerina jealous.
As I had many times in the past, I gazed intently over the gun barrel usually a natural thing at a time like this, but it seemed harsh and so out of place this morning. Tomorrow is another day.