Outdoors Column: Patience is a Virtue

The turkeys were active Saturday morning, the first day I was able to use my tag. The morning was clear and just cool enough to require a jacket. The Tom turkeys were gobbling as they sat on their roosts high in the branches of oak trees in the surrounding timber. By 5:45, I could hear them fly down to begin their day of courtship. I called a few times and nearby gobblers would answer me. They did not seem to be moving much, but they were at least talking back to me.


My wife was on the porch, enjoying her coffee, accompanied by the surrounding symphony. From her vantage point, she could see the gobblers as they strutted into the open pastures and called the hens to them. The usual one came down to the top of the dam where he strutted for most of an hour. One came down the driveway, past the garage, through the garden, and went out into the field below the dam. Another came from the north into the same area where the two birds had a staring and strutting contest. While this was going on, my attempts to call one away from their flock of hens were being ignored. I finally gave up, knowing there will be another day.


Knowing where the birds would naturally go, even if I did not call them, I moved my blind to the pasture below the dam. I was ready for them and was sure I would have a turkey shortly after 6:00 Sunday morning.


Saturday night, it rained briefly, but was clear and chilly when I settled into the blind in the darkness of the early morning. It was just beginning to get light when I clucked on my turkey call a few times. I wanted to locate them while they were still on the roost so I would know from which direction they would be approaching. Nobody would answer my call. As the sun rose, there was still no gobbling. The activity was just the opposite of what it had been the day before. Saturday morning, shortly after dawn, I heard at least a dozen different birds gobbling as they strutted for the hens. This morning, nothing was gobbling. The only difference between the two days was a small weather front had moved through during the night and dropped a tenth of an inch of rain.


Knowing the birds were there whether they gobbled or not, I waited patiently for them to make the same travel plan as they had the day before. Nothing happened. Eventually, a couple Toms did gobble a few times, but it sounded like they were several hundred yards away. After a few hours, between lack of activity and running out of coffee, I decided to call it a morning. They were not going to follow their normal pattern this morning, for whatever reason. I stretched as I came out of the cramped quarters of the blind and soaked up a bit of mid-morning sunshine. I unloaded my shotgun and headed toward the house. When I rounded the corner of the timber and looked up toward the gate below the garden, the big old fat Tom my wife saw the day before was following the same path he had the previous morning. In four or five minutes, he would have been within a few feet of the blind. Instead, he paused briefly to assess the situation, turned and ran into the timber while I tried to remember which pocket contained my shells.


They say, patience is a virtue. If I was just a bit more virtuous, I would have had turkey for Sunday dinner.