Two hens and three toms strutted about two hundred yards ahead. I had taken cover behind the charred remains of three oaks spaced like the legs of a three-legged stool. Other than these oaks it is wide open between the birds and me. “What to do?” Is the recurring question bouncing around in my head; with their focus on the hens it is unlikely the gobblers will pay any attention to my calls. Meaning the hens must go, only writers hunting on those protected game preserves call in hens who in turn lead the gobblers to the waiting gun. Wild turkeys in genuinely wild places do not act in this manner. Instead, the wild hens are jealous by nature and will try to lead the toms away rather than share. Without a turkey dog, a scatter will not likely be useful.
As the toms fans into the strut, they are all facing away from me, and the hens are looking in my direction; I stand up to make sure those girls see me and see they do as the scoot off into the brush line leaving the deflated gobs trying to figure out what just happened. Before they realize anything is amiss, I yammer out some forceful clucks and yelps on the slate which is the first call out of my vest, putting the birds back into a strut; Although they are standing their ground well out of range as I grab for the next call.
On my knees behind the oaks, hunched over in a semi-ball shape, boonie hat pulled low to the eyes I am hoping to appear like a turkey as the challenge yelps and clucks charge off the Tongue Teaser. I peek around, and through the blackened oaks, one of the toms is within 100 yards and closing fast, I start to shake, oh my! all this may work! How can the gun be brought to bear? As I pick up the little 20 gauge, I feel under gunned.
My poor planning has placed the gun on the left side of the trees, it would have been better on the right side, but in turkey hunting, you go with the situation. All three turkeys stop when I peek around for a look; gently I lay the gun down to pick up the call and striker. My striker’s hand is trembling with excitement to the point it’s sending out a morse code rather any sweet sounding turkey talk. I have to smirk; it’s what I love about turkey hunting, the excitement is still there.
I sway slightly side to side telling myself this is to glimpse the birds. However, it does wonders for the cramping muscles. Not only have I seen the birds, who have moved closer, one of which is now about 60 yards staring intently at the movement in the trio of burnt trees. The gun still lays near at the ready, and this is calming, I scratch the burnt ground with a stick and then make some clucks, exchange the call for the gun and lean to the left.
The nearest turkey is approaching in all his splendor head-on, the sound of his feathers is audible, he gobbles and the electricity of the moment envelopes all of us at this moment, in this burnt field. It is almost a shame the gunshot deflated the moment, but that is why we are called hunters, and that is what we hunt for time and time again.
I may not be the most learned and well read about under the sun, yet I must say –
” he gobbles and the electricity of the moment envelopes all of us ”
is one of my favorite moment in literary history. Not quite Ecclesiastes 9 for me but close! Kudos
Without that preceding moment of calm after the disheveled sensation of being so off kilter during the Hunt in such an open space, watched by such keen eyes, perhaps that deflated boom would have not resounded!
Great work Charlie – from a guy who missed this 2018 Spring Turkey Season in its entirety – Thank You for taking us there with you. You’ve done it many times are beloved.
A nice story but I hope you realize how tremendously lucky you were in this situation ? The average tom would have not been so gullible and would have bolted at the first unrecognized movement. Maybe the toms in Wisconsin spend a few hours in the bars before heading into the woods ?
Way to lay the smack down on him Charlie, hope your seasons all goo good that way for ya this spring. So far I’m battin 50%, Hunters 1, Turkeys 1, 2 seasons left..
Ken McBroom says
Great story of one man’s turkey hunt. Hard to find these anymore.