The End of the Terror Twins
The End of the Terror Twins
I will admit. After thirty-one years of breathing fresh air in this great country, I have never taken a wild turkey. Plenty of rabbits, squirrels, and deer have fallen to my hunting skills. My father-in-law had taken upon himself to make me a turkey hunter. After seven years of following him through the woods, I had not taken a bird yet. Was it bad luck, stinking fate, or just not the right time? Take your pick. Every time I got close something would go wrong.
Don't get me wrong; my father-in-law is a great turkey hunter. His name is Charles and he had taken many birds through the years. One example of my fate; Late last season, we hunted all morning with no success. As we walked home, we decided to check out a field we call the Bosche field. We sneaked in the brush to take a peek. In the middle of this field stood a hoss of a bird.
He was feeding slowly. Charles and I sat up the best we could in the under brush. The bird never knew we were there. Charles opened up on a slate. The bird acted like he didn't hear the sweet yelps. Charles tried again. Nothing. The monster continued chasing down grasshoppers and pecking grass. Charles popped in a mouth call. The secret weapon as I called it. Charles cackled and cut. The bird stopped and looked our way. For five solid minutes the bird did not move. I was getting nervous. As I looked through the brush, Charles and I whispered. "I don't think he is coming." I said. "If he doesn't I don't know what to do. I've done everything I can do."
The turkey continued on his way. We settled back and discussed the situation. It was nine-thirty and growing hotter by the minute. I was finished for the day. I told Charles it was useless and I was going home. Charles decided to continue the pursuit. Thinking my father-in-law had finally lost the remaining of what marbles he started out with, I headed home. I was covered in sweat when I climbed the back porch. I took a shower and ate an early lunch. Watching the hunting channel, I fell asleep.
I woke up to the sound of Charles and my wife talking. "Wake up, sleepy head. You can't kill turkeys sleeping all day." "You get him?" I inquired. "Come look for yourself." he said.
I stumbled sleepy eye to the back porch. He was a monster. He sported an 11 and 3/4" beard and 1 3/4"spurs. I was disgusted. I missed another opportunity to take a bird. Well, I had two choices here. Continue getting my feelings hurt and maybe out of blind luck I might get one. As they say; even a blind hog can find an acorn every now and then. Or study my game and learn as much as I could about them. I wanted to become a "Turkey Master". So the following summer was filled with videos and calls. Hours on end I would practice on different calls. I bought a slate call and it came with a video to learn how to use it. The video was worn out when I was confident I could produce the right sounds.
Deer season came and went as I continued studying my prey. Any and all videos were watched countless times. I'm surprised I'm still married. I guess she's use to it growing up with Charles. Now the opening morning had finally arrived.
Charles and I stood on a ridge in the hardwoods in the darkness. I would let Charles do the calling this morning. I would be the shooter. I had patterned my 870 Turkey Express a few weeks earlier. We stood in silence as the day began its beautiful music of different birds. I have stood here before. Maybe not in these woods but the start of a new day has always impressed me.
A Tom was heard northwest. It was to far and on some else's properties. Birds opened up all around us, eight in all. The excitement was unbelievable. A bird gobbled behind us. On the same ridge as us and not very far. "We walked under that bird coming in." Charles whispered. The day was brightening and we needed to make a decision. "Let's sat up on the side of the ridge." Charles was on the move as soon as the words were out of his mouth.
I found a good size oak and sat down. Charles sat beside me and pulled his calls out. We let the bird gobble on his on. After a few minutes later, Daddy Charles began his magic. The bird said nothing and the morning continued as usual. The gobblers that were all around us had slowly came to a stop. I listened as troop of turkeys made their way in front of us. I couldn't see them but I knew they were hens from the clucks and cuts. They were headed to our gobbler. The situation was not looking good for us. If the Tom got in the troop, the chance of us getting a shot was slim. The flapping of wings let us know he had done just that.
Charles did a series of cackle and cuts that mad the boss hen go nuts. She voiced her angry back at him. For the next hour the calling continued. The troop made a big circle as Charles, the hen, and the gobbler exchanged calls. The best weapon a hunter could use in the turkey woods is patience. Mine was running thin at the moment. The other gobblers, that had filled the morning, were now gone. The only Tom doing any calling was the one in front of us but he had a posse of hens with him. When the troop made their way back to us, the gobbler acted like he wanted to come to us. He would come almost close enough for us to see then he would back off. Sometimes I could see movement through the brush but never a good enough shot.
"I'm going to move back and put you between me and the Tom." Charles whispered smiling. "I'm going to use my new call."
He had purchased a gobble tube a few weeks earlier and was curious to know if it would work on a real bird. He slowly made his way behind me. From his calls I knew he was on the other side of the ridge. I heard Charles worked the gobble tube. Mr. Tom fell silent. The next ten minutes no turkeys made a sound. The hens seemed to have disappeared with our gobbler. Charles yelped. Nothing came back. Charles gobbled on the tube. Nothing answered him.
Suddenly I saw moment. It came at from my two o'clock position. I'm a right handed shooter so this was not good. Then two gobblers showed themselves. They were now three o'clock from my position and heading over the ridge. I slide around the tree and ended up on my side but my barrel was pointing at them. The brush and trees were thick and I waited for my shot. The gobblers saw my movement and got nervous. They paced back and forth and tried to decide just what to do. Should they continue over the ridge or turn around is what they were thinking. I had one chance between two pine trees. If one of them stepped there I would take the shot. I was uncomfortable and breathing heavily. Lying on my side with a root sticking in my side was starting to get to me. Two minutes past as the birds did their pacing. They really wanted to get to this gobbler that was in their territory.
Finally, I got a break. One of the birds stepped in my open spot. Neck stretched looking at me. I placed the bead on him and squeezed the trigger. As soon as the load exited the barrel I knew it was wrong. The birds flew off without a scratch. Dumbfounded I stood up. I walked to where the bird was standing when I shot. I stepped it off as Charles walked up. It was a forty yard shot. An easy shot for my 870 Express. After investigating the scene, I have determined I pulled off and hit the right pine tree. It sucks but it happens. I have killed plenty of deer in my lifetime but I have missed plenty as well. My ego is not so large as to think I'm a perfect shooter. Never the less, I was disappointed/angry/peeved/mad/distraught/and embarrassed. I have once again failed to produce a bird. Life will go on, somehow.
The rest of that Saturday was a bust as we walked around our hunting property. None of the gobblers that were heard that morning could be found. Degusted, I drove home. I wallowed in my disappointment for the next two days. I dubbed the pair of birds "The Terror Twins." They haunted my dreams.
Monday morning, I found myself on the very next ridge. Charles was at work and I was off for the day. I sat at the base of big oak and waited for daylight. I was sat up plenty of time before the birds would wake to start their day. The only call I was confidence with was a pocket puppy slate call. I had been practicing for several months before but never actually called a turkey. I was a greenhorn and I knew it. Could I take a bird by myself? Time to find out.
The day started with not one gobble. It was a picture perfect morning and I could not image why the Toms were not working the hens. Where were they? Did I even have any more turkeys on my hunting property? For two solid hours not one turkey made a sound, hen or gobbler. My morning was not a complete bust. I watched as three does feed in the hardwood bottom. It always thrills me to watch wildlife. I have spent many hours sitting in my climbing tree stand waiting on a deer, watching the various wildlife.
I held my slate call and wondered. It had been thirty minutes since I had tried it. I had been yelping on it, trying to get a gobbler to response. I yelped my series of yelps I had practiced so hard with. Listening, I thought I heard something due north. I waited a few minutes. I ran through the series again. There it was again. If it was a gobble it was far away. With nothing else to do, I packed up and started that way. The hard wood bottom curved and went into that direction. I slowly made my way towards it. I traveled just like I would while sneaking up on deer. I did more listening than walking. Finally, I stopped and called again. Yes, it was a gobble. I was still a good piece from it. I continued that way. I wanted to break and run but I held fast.
Nervously, I sneaked along the bottom. When the hardwood bottom curved to the right and away from the gobbler, I sat down facing a huge ridge. The day was warming up and I was sweating. After I got set, I yelped on my slate. The gobble was thunderous. It sounded to me that he was on top of the ridge or maybe a little beyond. My heart hammered. What do I do now?
I started through my series but was cut off by the gobbler. I set the call down and placed my gun on my knee. I shook as the adrenaline rushed to my brain. This is what hunting was all about. It's not the kill but the rush brought on by the hunt that people enjoy. Two minutes past and nothing else happen. Suddenly, two birds topped the ridge and headed my way. In a half run, they came down the hill, crossed the bottom and started up my side. The first one saw something he didn't like. He veered to my right and came to a walk. His brother was close behind.
They must have seen me breathing heavily because I had not moved a muscle. They putted and clucked as they tried to figure me out. The first bird came to a full stop and gobbled. Trees and brush prevented me from getting a good shot. I found a opening and decided that's were it would happen.
With the first Tom standing still, his brother walked past him and right into my shooting lane. I placed the bead on his head and pulled the trigger. Bingo! He fell and flapped his last flap. His cocky brother spun and ran away. When he got to the top of the ridge he had descended from, he gobbled. I was standing over my bird smiling.
My first turkey was a fine two year old. I was happy/exhausted/proud/and excited. I examined my bird as I caught my breath. I pulled my cell phone out and dialed Charles' work number. I told him the story never once taking a breath. I'm not sure he understood me or not but it didn't matter. I hung up the phone and dialed my home number. Taking a breath while I waited for my wife to answer, I ran through the story again. I picked up my bird and headed home.
He was a nice two year old that measured 10 1/2" beard with 1 1/4" spurs. Not a bad bird for my first time. I heard his brother a couple more times through the season. Strutting on his ridge top, gathering hens. I didn't hunt him because I was chasing other birds but next season, I will try to take the last of "The Terror Twins."