Never got into the hunting aspect of the outdoors for whatever reason. But that don’t mean that I ain’t got some stories. And no better way to share one than “Friday Flashback” as we head back fifteen years ago this week. Below are excerpts from a piece called “Talking Turkey” that I submitted to family and friends on 5/11/2003 detailing a turkey hunt on 5/8/2003.
“I know basically nothing about turkey hunting, so the following tale is based on talking with the man who bagged his first bird in under an hour, Dad. It sounds easy, but from speaking with others who pursue this bird, things don’t always work out so favorably. However, in speaking with Dad and running around outdoors with him a few times over the last, say, twenty-five years, his success was no mistake.
Many times a hunter or fisherman will speak of having “good luck.” In my mind, you make your own “good luck” through four steps: education, dedication, experience and execution. Here’s how these steps led to me getting up at 7:00 a.m. last Thursday to see who in the heck had just left a message at that time of the morning. To my surprise it was Dad wanting to come by and show off his prize. I wasn’t so surprised that he got one; it’s just that Dad’s not a big fan of the telephone or answering machine (must be hereditary as I have the same affliction).
Anyway, here’s the story.
Since Dad recently retired, he figured he’d give turkey hunting a stab. He applied for his permit and prepared for the season. Fortunately, he has a couple turkey hunter contacts to answer his questions and provide knowledgeable advice. Dad is also a fan of outdoor television programs and may have even read a bit on the subject. There was no doubt that he was an educated hunter.
Dad purchased a turkey call and an owl call in plenty of time to practice prior to the season. He then headed to the timber he chose to hunt in order to hone his skills and scout the area for a prime spot to plant his lawn chair (as I mentioned before, I know little about turkey hunting, but I thought the stores sold fancy, expensive seats to accommodate hunter’s rear ends). Dad also purchased a pair of decoys to plant at his site and plenty of shells for his gun. He also made sure to have Mom pick up some camo cloth in order to disguise the white handles of his lawn chair. He was fully stocked with camo to make him invisible in the woods and selected just the right spot near where a cornfield ends and timber begins to get a turkey in his sights. There was no doubt that he was a dedicated hunter.
Beard came in at 9″
Things get kind of weird here.
I’m not a hunter so I can’t relate, but I’ll do the best I can. I asked Dad while we were fishing at Gladstone Lake on Wednesday (the day before the season opened) if he had patterned his gun in order to make an accurate shot when the opportunity arose. He told me that he’d shot the gun for so many years that he was entirely comfortable with its range and accuracy. Kind of like being one with his firearm, and I believed him. He would later mention being “a part of the woods” (I think was how he described it); talking about how the Native Americans must have felt when they expressed feelings of being “one with nature.” Between this feeling and his camo, he became invisible. He said that Uncle Dick, Brent and others could relate to this and mentioned times when he hunted with Uncle Dick and Brent when they disappeared also. He knew right where they were, but, until they moved, they were unseen. Cool stuff that I’m sure other hunters could support, and I believe it from the way Dad told the story. There was no doubt that he was an experienced hunter.
The above three steps culminate with putting a bird in your sights, and that’s what happened early Thursday morning.
Spurs measured 1.16″ on this bird
Here’s the rest of the story.
Dad arrived at his chosen spot around 5:30 a.m. to discover that someone had stolen his lawn chair. Undeterred, he found a suitable log and proceeded to hang up his camo cloth to block out his silhouette and then loaded his gun. Next step was to place his decoys. As he pounded in his hen decoy he heard gobbling. He quickly placed his second decoy, a jake, and headed for his log. Barely five minutes into his first turkey hunt, a tom appeared to his left about 150 yards out. Dad gave four clucks on his call, imitating a hen, and the tom stared right in his direction. More mysterious stuff here as Dad slowly dropped his eyes, because “if you’re not looking at the turkey it won’t see you” (not an exact quote but the basic concept). The tom then walked away and disappeared into the timber. Following instructions learned from his advisors, Dad did not call again in order to get the bird to return. The theory here is that the bird knows where the call came from and will return if his mating instinct sees fit.
Ten minutes later, a hen appeared out of the timber and headed towards the decoys. The tom was not far behind and headed in the same direction. Shortly, the hen ducked into some weeds near the edge of the cornfield and disappeared. The tom began to strut, fan his tail and flap his wings in an effort to impress his potential mate. Dad simply sat tight and watched. When the hen spurned the tom’s display, the tom set his sight on Dad’s decoys. As the tom approached, Dad had his gun poised and ready for the bird to walk into a window where he could take a shot. The tom came into his sights at just under twenty-five yards and it was time to make a decision. A few more yards and the branches of a hedge tree would eliminate the possibility for a shot. The range was acceptable; the bird in his sights and with only his eyes exposed over the camo cloth, Dad decided it was time to squeeze off a shot. Dad’s aim was true as the shot found its mark. Dad made his way to his first turkey and looked at his watch, which read 6:19 a.m. Forty-nine minutes into his season, he had his bird.
Dad told me that he just had to laugh at how things all fell into place so quickly as some hunter’s fail to get a shot for an entire season or an entire year or miss the shot when they get their opportunity.”
Weight on the bird was right about 20 pounds
And so goes another Friday Flashback, once again I am glad that I took to documenting these adventures even if some of those old ones got a little longwinded. Talk to you later. Troy