Who's Calling Who the Turkey Here?
Who's Calling Who the Turkey Here?
Let me first say that a 19-26 pound, 3 foot high, feathered, red-headed bird with a brain the size of your big toe can outwit, outlast and overcome even the best hunters in the woods. Unfortunately I found that out this spring taking out hunters and hunting myself. Truthfully, I couldn't have been more fit for my five day hunt in Wisconsin . . . although I already knew that it would only take a single day before Mr. Longbeard hit the dirt. This year was different, I did twice as much scouting, twice as much hunting, and three times as much day-dreaming. For a strenuous two weeks before season, I was born with the roosters and died with the moon then reincarnated the next morning. Only to repeat the process over and over again. I was in what us serious turkey hunters call Gobbler Mode! Eat, sleep, and of course dream of turkeys. It was our one and only opportunity of the year to pursue these birds. Five days goes by fast, only faster when your prey is dormant.
The occasional grogginess feeling swept over me about 1st hour of school everyday. Sporadically dozing off threw the interminable lessons of the Great Napoleon or was it the Russian Revolution? It didn't matter, it was TURKEY SEASON!
The count down of days began then ending on Tuesday, April 20th. The day before season. Unwillingly, it poured and it poured until I tallied inches of wet, miserable rain. Although, I haven't any control over these things.
I fearlessly trekked afield to set-up my, "kill zone". Blind, decoys, chairs and I'm out of the woods in the speed of lightning. Only know coping with sleep and a gobbler awaiting on roost.
Day 1: Believe it or not, I was awake before the alarm clock tormented me. In glowing numbers it read 4:00 a.m. There is nothing other than hunting that will arouse a teenager to wake this early! Effortlessly slipping into my mossy oak brand camouflage made me feel invincible to animals. I scarfed a light breakfast and I was out the door and on a mission. I told my mother that I wouldn't be home until I bagged a tom. Which made me feel significantly older and more mature.
The swift gurgles of my four-wheeler abruptly ended after the turn of the key. In pitch black conditions, I ventured toward my destination. Arriving to the blind in only minutes. Well, there I was, an hour till' what I've been waiting for since last years success. As time passed the sun grew tall.
I poked around in my turkey vest until I fumbled upon Blodgett's Premier Double Trouble friction call. With two arms suspended out the blind window, I eagerly stuck it to em'. Soft yelps to cackles blared out of that sweet call and not even a whisper of a gobbler toned my ears. I felt insulted and in disbelief. I barked out some more language with my diaphragm call and yet... nothing. "Ok, the birds must have lock-jaw due to the stormy weather", I kept telling myself. Finally at 7:00 a.m. I caught a weary juvenile bird come strolling by with noone accompanying. Hours after hours of peering out a Hunters View Blind screen window can do a number on you, let me tell you. I looked yonder to appeal my eyes to what looked to be two hens. And it was. Yet, nothing I'm in search for.
To make a long day short, I sapped eleven hours in the woods and stared at the same tree's, forage and brush until my eyes couldn't take it. Day one was extremely unsuccessful, but brighter light shines upon tomorrow.
Day 2 : I figured yesterdays hunt couldn't get any worse. Thursday I sat another five hours without seeing a turkey. I couldn't figure it out. Where did all of these birds vanish too? It was only Tuesday morning when I heard the toms ferociously gobbling back and forth at each other establishing dominance. The last two days I haven't heard a peep. I finished the day literally baking in the black interior, coffin-like blind. I imagined I was in a sauna, only in the middle of a lush green forest. Basically, day two was none other than a waste of time, simply stated. Nevertheless, brighter light shines upon tomorrow.
Day 3 : Friday, was game time. The cameraman and I drifted south, way south. We were in a new area that hasn't been pressured by hunters. Thursday night, we were fortunate to roost 5 separate gobblers in the same area. No more screwing around, we had the big boys on our hands. The cameraman met my approval when he smoothly laid out a picture perfect plan.
Taking in consideration that turkeys usually come to the field to scratch for worms and grub, meant a setup on a field edge would be our best bet. Sunshine pierced through the storm clouds and arrayed a breathtaking scene. I staked my Renzo's jake and two hen decoys out to enrage the gobblers that this immature boy is stealing big daddy's ladies.
After talking to the camera, I started the morning off with soft tree yelps to direct the gobbler toward me. In a millisecond the gobblers responded to my surprise. High hopes and expectations soared threw my body. My blood actually started pumping again, because the last two days I felt as if I were dead in sorrow. The Double Trouble friction call and I gave it more than our best. After finishing up my last series of calling, I laid back and let them come to me. A few switches here and there in the blind and I was awaiting my prey. An enormous smile and high level of confidence to add to the scene. I even drew back my bow and aimed readily pondering the scenario.
CRACK, CRACK, CRACK, CRACK, CRACK, one more... CRACK!!!! As soon as I heard the shotgun fire directly behind me I stood up, and threw my blind over. O! I was more then furious. I directly stared into the cameraman's eyes and they reflected red fiery, bloodshot eyes. Just after that a big sack of woeful feelings knocked me over and smothered my pitiful self into the ground. Twenty-four hours down the drain once again. What more can a man do, I thought?
Friday I eat my tag again and just waited for my fourth chance, because brighter light shines upon tomorrow.
Day 4 : A prominent morning was ahead of us. We repeated the process of yesterday and got up close and personal with a gobbler. As daybreak follows as it always does, I waited to listen for the tom to gobble. Last night he sure did when I pressured him with the old owl hoot. This bird never made a sound, let alone flew down. It was eight o'clock, when we stepped out of the blind in disarray. He questioned me, "Did that gobbler mislead us?" Just after he finished mumbling the word "us, the gobbler took flight with his wings spread like a 747 jet in flight. He booked out of our presence in a matter of seconds. We both looked at each other and had to laugh. "It just gets better and better don't it", I said aloud. We walked miles that day, so many that we took a break and fell asleep under the shade of a cottonwood.
Gobble-gobble-gobble!! "Did you hear that?", I asked the cameraman? No more than 100 yards away was a bird I thought. Only a dream . . . right? Just in case I sprinted for my decoys and staked them each fifteen yards away from us. One thing I've learned is that turkeys will always catch you off guard at that one moment you don't pay attention. I called he gobbled, he gobbled I called.
It went on for only 10 minutes until the love-sick tom couldn't take anymore teasing. Everything was happening in fast forward motion. I could actually hear him spit n' drum. Still didn't intimidate me one bit. He slowly peeked over the ridge and undoubtably puffed up and came to full strut. When a tom flares up, he appears much bigger than what he actually is. Almost like some men who noticeably stick out their chest like their actually going to impress someone. After a brief show of his performance he threw up his head and examined the decoys again. His keen eyes were locked on the jake decoy. The last I saw of him was his clumsy-softball looking head jogging the wrong way. I pulled my head net off and buried my face into my hands. Not crying, but sure feeling like it. After forty-four hours of hunting, anything will break you down especially having my luck. Thoughts of a empty handed season haunted me throughout the day. Only to know surely brighter light shines upon tomorrow.
Day 5 : I drug the cameraman out with me for one last day. I reassured him that we'd get a bird, because I could almost feel his tension building up. There was no luck sitting so we started walking and calling hoping to intercept a lonesome gobbler, but of course we didn't. We came to a hill top to take a breather and collapsed to our knees. We laid back staring at the clouds miles above us and started playing the cloud game. It was dejauvue all over again, I could vaguely remember playing it when I was seven years old. The cameraman pointed at a cloud that identically matched a tom in full strut. We had to chuckle, for that was the only bird that hasn't ran away from us. Only time and it to perished. It was odd, but we both said it at the same time, "Taking off?" I asked. With a stern nod of his head he shook my hand and walked back to the truck speechless.
Exactly forty-five minutes separated me from an unfilled tag. I could feel depression nestle rite next to me. All hope out the window. I tried to piece together any highlights of my hunt, but only could find low-lights.
I yawned and firmly straightened to my feet. Wait! What was this? Could it be a turkey?! My muscles galvanized in disbelief. In astonishment, my Nikon binoculars told me a different story. It was only my cameraman. "Phhhht thmmmm", the sound of a brute monster shook the fertile ground. It's amazing how them birds catch you off handed isn't it? Looking like a puffy marshmallow no more than thirty yards away was Mr. Longbeard. The Renzo's Juvenile Decoy had done it's job. He finally showed up ten minutes before closing time. I wasn't going to let this s.o.b. tamper with me whatsoever. In a Texas minute, I was mentally focused and my radar was on him. He never stood a chance. With a quick draw back, smile and release, the bird hit the dirt. It was the end of my bird, my season, and more importantly my goal, taking a bird down with a bow!
Conclusion : Obviously weather plays a key role in turkey attitudes. They simply change their habits and act like a different bird they were from yesterday. Having no luck locating the gobblers only affected the hunt even more. So we sat, moved and called our way to a twenty-five pound, eleven inch bearded gobbler to remember.
When they show this attitude you need to bare with them. I stuck with them and eventually fate had it that a gobbler was bound to come in. Spending precisely fifty-five hours in the woods chasing birds and shooting one in merely a minute is nothing more or nothing less than what hunting is all about. It's an incredible fight that winner takes all. Sometimes serendipity is just around the corner, and put it this way, "Your not gonna get one sitting in the house". In contrast, get out there and exert yourself. Turkeys play hard you play harder. They wouldn't call it hunting if it were a one day wonder hunt every time. Hunting is fun and as long as you don't have any regrets after the season you're a happy hunter and made your notch in the ever so popular; Turkey v.s. Hunter Rumble.
By Brandon Wikman, Team Outdoorsmen Adventures Pro Staff