The hen makes gentle clucks from a treetop behind me, odd perhaps, but this is one of the last days of the 2016 spring turkey season. For the most part, the hens are now sitting to incubating their eggs. The made morning rush is giving way to deliberate calm. At least on the part of the hen, not so with gobbler booming in the morning to my front. He is not in the mood to let go of his dominance or mating drive.
As the rays of sunlight begin piercing the woodland, my mind wanders over the passing days. Reminiscing about a turkey season before completion; who would think that is possible? This morning I’m having trouble shaking the feeling of melancholy, it’s typical at the end of a season to feel a certain reverence, but it’s not quite over yet. As the rays of sunlight begin piercing the woodland, in spite of the hard gobbling tom, my mind wanders over the last passing days.
Gobble gobble at the hen’s soft clucks.
It all started by accompanying my grandson on his youth hunt, the memory of those seven long beards coming in while he caused and earthquake in the magnitude of 3.6. The moment of consternation when he missed one of the biggest turkeys I’d ever seen afield that quickly gave way to a warm, confident feeling he’s on the road to becoming a hunter. He saw that insight that keeps us all hunting for just one more of those sights.
Gobble gobble the hen softly clucks.
My good friend Kody from Alberta, Canada, here on his first ever, heck he was the first Canadian ever to hunt spring turkeys in Wisconsin. Only two days to hunt but we crammed a full array of turkey hunting experiences into those days. This gobbler ushering the morning could very likely be one that Kody set up tight on; it’s in the same area. If only Kody could have hunted one more day. No one can predict the actions or behavior of turkeys; they are so random. The melancholy feeling set in after Kody departed for the airport so I setup in the field point where we had a close call with several different turkeys. I called a few times and let my mind wander savoring the memories of hunting with Kodyhunt’s highs. Suddenly the sight of two toms walking towards the decoy jerks me back into focusing on the now. With two tags still open in my pocket, the last day of the fourth Wisconsin season, I realized the tom’s heads were going to intersect which would allow me to kill them both with one shot. A feeling of frustration enveloped me as stood over the two dead birds; why didn’t, couldn’t this have happened when Kody was here? No predicting turkeys.
The hen’s wings caress the air as she flys off roost to her nest, and I take over her clucking. The tom does not seem to notice any difference and gobbled right back.
Last week Rye, my Grandson from Texas came to visit, he’s seven and wants to hunt so bad. With his help, we set up a pop-up blind, and then he had a blast randomly sticking out the decoys. He called his little heart out, dang, no turkeys showed up only some crows. A couple of years ago I gave him a crow call to use on Texas crows, so I told him to order those crows to go away. Well, I don’t know what he said in crow to make those crows go so wild. Whatever his calls meant to the crows remains a mystery, we were soon witnessing 25-30 crows darting about trees around us, screaming and diving at the blind. Had it been crow season we’d have had to eat a bunch of crows. As it was, he just blew that call with more urgency and laughing between breaths. Oh yeah on the way back he begged to carry my gun, it’s all about fun, so he was my gun bearer.
Gobble, gobble, yelp, cluck.
Those last calls were a whole lot closer with some mind clearing directness bringing my attention fully back to the present, the shafts of sunlight are lighting the woods glistening through the rising mist. The canopy is thick late in the season limiting visibility for that turkey and me. The early morning wet dampened the woods allowed me to move quietly and get real close to this gobbler, him and I have a little contest to settle. The hen quietly flew off to her nest some time ago, so I took over her clucking without the old gobbler realizing the change. His gobbles had an urgency to them now at times he sounded like he was moving away and the next sound like he was in range, but I had not heard him fly down yet. Oh, of course, he is hopping from tree branch to branch trying see me through all the leaves. The gobbling sounded closer and farther depending on which direction he pointed his beak during the gobble.
For a moment all went quiet and then the tell-tale thud, he is on the ground and my gun is pointed at exactly that location. I cannot see him only his feathers are making noise as they shake and rattle with his movement. The turkey is in range all I need to do is see him. Tension has a way of building in these situations; I dare not move, or the turkey may periscope me and then fade away as he did on so many other mornings this season. The gun is comfortable on my knee as I grip the striker for one last cluck while hoping he is not looking directly at me. There is no reaction to my cluck; all is quiet until that red, white and blue pulsing bulb of a head appears as if floating up a little draw in the hillside, it’s all I can see moving along. The turkey’s body is not visible only the head; it’s in range… At the blast, the bright head disappears being replaced by a wing tip skidding down the draw. I race to grab him to avoid joining his slide all the way to the bottom for retrieval.
A genuinely fine bird, double beard, 1 3/8” spurred gobbler. Heck, they are all fine birds I just love turkey hunting.