Outdoors Column: Strange Sounds in the Dark

The turkey blind had been set up at the top of the hill, deep in the timber near a place we had cleared several dead oak trees. The clearing was growing fresh green grass and was easily accessed by trails made for the ATV. For a couple of weeks, as we sat on the porch drinking our morning coffee, my wife and I could hear turkeys gobbling in that direction. This seemed like a good place to try a hunt.

 

The dew was heavy in the cool morning air. As I placed my shotgun and bag that contained my essentials, (calls, snacks, coffee, shells, etc.) in the back of the Ranger. Dew clung to both the inside and outside of the windshield. I planned to drive half way to the blind and walk the rest of the way. Since I could not see out even after clearing the glass, I decided to walk and avoid running into a tree or ditch. The woods were filled with the calls of whip-poor-wills as I settled into my blind. Thankfully, nothing else had taken up residence in my absence.

 

Darkness was slowly giving way to daylight and a Tom turkey gobbled from his roost high in an old oak tree a few hundred yards off to my right. I was hoping for some gobblers to be roosting closer so I did not have to attempt to move them that far. It was about this time I heard a very strange sound. It sounded like something breathing, very close to the blind. To hear it that clearly, it had to be something large. I carefully looked out of the windows on all sides. I could not see anything except a squirrel and a cardinal. I knew they were not making the noise. Over the years, I have spent a lot of time outdoors and never heard this sound. It was being to freak me out. Eventually, I was able to determine that the sound was coming from directly over my head. Since I could not see up from the blind, whatever it was would either have to attack or go away without me seeing it first. I was well armed and ready.

 

The sun was almost up when three turkeys gobbled from their roost directly in front of me, less than a hundred yards away. I clucked at them a few times and they answered in unison. This is what makes a hunter’s adrenaline flow. When they flew down, it sounded like one went to the right, one to the left, and the other stayed at the bottom of the hill. I decided to work on calling the one off to my left.

 

There is an ATV trail leading from the bottom of the hill to the trail at the top where I was. It sounded like he was on the trail at the bottom. I clucked a few times on my call and he answered. Waiting a few minutes, I called again. He was much closer when he answered but I still could not see him. The sun was up on a bright spring morning before I first saw the old Tom. He was on the main trail, strutting back and forth. The sunlight glistened off his coppery colored breast and his head was bright red and blue. A few quiet clucks from my call turned the bird toward me and he started up the trail again. He moved into range and I rolled him. There would be turkey for dinner tonight.

 

 

When I shot, a vulture took off from a branch that must have been right above the blind. Apparently, this buzzard had been hissing at me for being too close to its nest. It sounded much too much like breathing. I was glad it was not something large with intentions of eating me as I retrieved my gobbler.