Turkey hunting seems easy enough on paper but . . .Following a night of restless sleep my son and I huddled together in the woods as a chilly dawn broke on another day. We were blended in seamlessly amongst a small stand of pines for just over an hour before our hopes faded; there would be no big tom turkeys dancing out of the forest for us.
Following a night of restless sleep my son and I huddled together in the woods as a chilly dawn broke on another day. We were blended in seamlessly amongst a small stand of pines for just over an hour before our hopes faded; there would be no big tom turkeys dancing out of the forest for us.
It’s easier to get a turkey if you know where they’re going to be when morning breaks. That makes sense. Turkeys will roost at night, and you can find them by getting the toms to gobble from the trees, after that you simply set up close to that spot early the next day. The turkeys will wake, get down and walk on in. It’s easy, on paper.
The locator call I have is a crow call, which when blown makes the sound of a crow in distress. It causes turkeys to gobble wildly, and scares the “bejesus” out of crows, I know because I’ve run off a few crows in my time
As mentioned, at first our morning was proving uneventful. We neither heard any gobbling nor saw any birds. We were soon back in town having coffee with my in-laws, and an hour later we were heading home. The plan was to rest up for a bit to go fishing in the afternoon.
But, wait. What’s that up ahead, to the left?
Pulling off the road Jack and I both stared at three turkeys pecking their way across a field. We smiled broadly. The birds were about a hundred yards away, and the thrill of the hunt consumed us. We giggled.
To cut to the chase, I secured permission to hunt the field, and Jack and I began making our way along the edge, trying to remain undetected. I’ve never actually hunted turkeys before. I had a ‘tag’ last year, sat in the woods a few times, but never saw any birds. I’ve heard that stalking turkeys is nearly impossible, but there weren’t any other options.
Along the field and hunkering into some brush, we set out a decoy and settled in, with the turkeys still about 100 yards away. Jack was working our box call, while I was somewhere up ahead trying to get into shooting position. Together we grinned under our camouflage facemasks.
The turkeys heard us calling; they definitely did. Periodically they would strain their necks skyward to give a listen, and they would give us a bit of a look. But they didn’t want any part of introductions and kept on moving through the field. It was obvious they weren’t going to decoy. Not here. Not now.
Changing tactics Jack and I grabbed our gear and monkey-walked with stooped shoulders along the edge of the field. I was hoping we could cut the turkeys off somewhere up ahead. Several hundred yards along we came to a spot that had a rise between us and to where I thought the turkeys should be, if my calculations were correct. They couldn’t see us and we couldn’t see them. From here we belly crawled close to 75 yards into the field, and ever so slowly crested the rise to where we could just barley see the turkeys.
There they were, between 30 and 40 yards away.
I couldn’t tell if any were toms. Actually, I couldn’t see any beards at all. But Jack whispered he could; the middle turkey was a jake. I squinted.
“I don’t know, I don’t see anything,” I whispered.
“Trust me, Dad, the middle turkey is a jake. It’s a jake, I can see a little knob,” was the hushed response.
“Are you sure?” I whispered.
“Just shoot the middle turkey.” I hesitated. “Please, Dad, shoot the middle turkey. Trust me, Dad. Please.”
Well, I had read that a turkey choke extends a 12-guage out to 40 yards. I had turkey load shells. Jack is saying the middle turkey is a jake. And we are here and the time is at hand, so it’s now or never. Placing my cheek down on the shotgun, I squeezed the trigger.
I have never seen my son smile bigger or brighter as we walked back to our vehicle, a jake in hand. I’m not sure who was more proud, him or me. I probably would have passed on this bird if it wasn’t for Jack’s urging. And he had been a part of every minute of this hunt. We bagged a turkey, a first for us — for both of us.
I asked Jack if he was OK watching me shoot a turkey.
“I had my eyes shut,” he said. Why? “I didn’t want to see it run away when you missed.”
Read more from Darrell Pendergrass at outtherewithdarrell.blogspot.com.