The Rain Bird
It’s April 13th and so far, turkey season has been a bust! I’m seeing birds but my every attempt has been thwarted! Soooo…I’m up early this morning to try again!
A gusty north wind greets me at the door. Lightning to the northeast provides brief illumination as I scurry to the truck with my shotgun. I almost turn back, but forge ahead into the gloomy morning.
Parking at the gate, the one ton Dodge rocks and rolls as the blustery wind buffets it broadside!
Again I think, “Why don’t you just go home?”.
At 6:45 AM, daylight is breaking through the gloom. I gear up and head across the soggy pasture to my ” spot”. Thirty-knot wind gusts and 58°! It ain’t fittin’ weather fer man nor beast! After fiddling around a bit, I get my gear spread out and set up.
Buffing the surface of a slate call, I send a few yelps into the gale. That won’t be heard until it reaches the next county over! Oddly, I get a reply from across the creek to the east! Cross a creek? In a rain storm? R-I-G-H-T!
I settle back and wait.
The spot is comfortable, but the wind is miserable. Especially since it’s beginning to spit rain. “Just what I need!”
Lo and behold! Out of the storm, I see a jake cautiously approaching. I get my gun up but a small hackberry tree blocks my shot. A little shift and lean to the right and I get him lined up, but it also spooks him and he’s having none of it! He scurries off in a trot.
The rain picks up.
Minutes later, what appears to be a rain-soaked tom gingerly approaches from my left. I suppose it’s because of the rain, but this is one scroungy looking bird!
The rain picks up.
Approaching dead on, I’m having a hard time detecting any “tom” features like beard or fan. One or two tail feathers seem to be dragging the ground.
The bird finally turns far enough to his left that I can detect a decent beard through the rain, thunder, lightening and wind.
The safety snaps to the off position and he approaches dead on. At 20 yards, he stops and stares at me through the rain. (did I mention it was raining?) The recoil is unexpected and he collapses in a pile of soggy feathers.
FINALLY! This was my first bird since 2011!
I retrieve my bird and begin to pick up my gear as the cadence of the raindrops increases.
Two toms appear out of the storm from the east! They had to be the birds gobbling at me from across the creek earlier. I’m in a “2 Tom” county, but they’ve seen me move and all the soft clucks and purrs won’t bring them in. They skirt around me at 70 to 80 yards and head west across the rain-soaked pasture.
I get my gear picked up and reach over to a broken limb to grab my hanging camera. The two toms that came from the east are coming down the fence line from the west…..in the rain!
When I step out into the open, 8 to 10 birds gathered under the pecan trees scurry across the pasture and the two stragglers join them!
I’m covered up with birds! I’m soaked! I’m cold! I’m elated! I’m going home!
This bird only had 7 tail feathers! It appeared that maybe a predator had shredded his tail. Five feathers on the left. The two on the right hung loosely and drug the ground!
I tried several times to pose him for a picture or two. Nothing worked! I finally just snapped a picture of him lying in the mud! It WAS raining, you know!
As the diesel roared to life, I realized that water was still pouring out of my rain-soaked”Boonie” hat and had to laugh! My dad used to tell me, “Son! It was raining so hard, water quit running IN my boots and started running out!” I knew exactly what he was talking about!