Outdoors Column: Tag Team Turkeys

For the past six weeks or so, we have been over-run with turkeys. They have been standing in the yard strutting and gobbling. I have had to stop at the end of our driveway to wait for them to get out of the way. My turkey hunting did not start until Saturday.


I had been telling my older son, Walter, about the vast number of turkeys and how much fun it would be to come hunt them. He and a friend of his, Dale, decided they would come help thin out the population as much as a public service as the fun of hunting.


Saturday morning, at 4:30, my younger son, Damon, showed up ready to help. Damon and Dale headed off into the Paintball Timber while Walter and I went down by Twin Sluices. Early in the morning, when it is totally dark, the woods can be just a little creepy. He and I were sitting in our blind speaking in hushed tones waiting for the turkeys to fly down from the roost when we heard a strange screeching/scraping noise not far from where we sat. He looked at me, somewhat alarmed and said, “What was that?” The best reply I could come up with to assure us both was, “I have no idea!” Fortunately, we did not hear it again. We both know there are very few things in the woods that could eat us, especially with both of us being well armed, but it still was a bit disconcerting knowing something was a few yards away making weird noises and we did not have a clue as to what it was.


As daylight began to creep into the eastern sky, the songs of the whip-poor-wills gave way to cardinals and orioles. An occasional hoot from a nearby great horned owl would send the roosting Toms into fits of gobbling. I called only occasionally to make sure when the turkeys flew down from their roost, they would know which way to come. When they answered us, we could guess approximately where they were roosting. One was fairly close.



Just before dawn, we heard the birds fly down from their nighttime perches. Turkeys do not sneak off the roost. If anything, they sound like a helicopter crashing. It sounded like several landed on the trail between us and the Top Gate. I called and got an immediate answer. The deep booming gobble sent adrenaline coursing through our bodies. He was less than a hundred yard away. When he made the turn at the bottom of the hill, he would be well in range. The brush is heavy enough, we could not see him but his frequent gobbles indicated he was moving down the trail, ever closer. When he was almost to the fateful turn, he started back up the hill. No amount of sweet talking would turn him around. He went all the way to the top of the hill and we could tell by his gobbling, he was starting down the main trail that came out behind us.


With sweaty palms, we re-arranged our chairs to be facing him when he came out into the open on the other side of our blind. He slowly made his way down the hill. He got close enough, at times we could hear his wings drumming on the ground. For as cooperative as he had been, he suddenly turned, ignored us, and went back up the hill gobbling all the way.


Dale and Damon had luck much like ours. First day of tag teaming turkeys did not work out as planned. We were all sure we would have at least two gobblers by noon. It was a great time anyway, even if we were not eating turkey for dinner.