Outdoors Column: Success

I was finally able to get out to do some turkey hunting Sunday. I like to wait until the last season because it is the longest so I can skip days that it is raining, or I am too tired and lazy to get up at 4:30 in the morning. Though this plan has served me well in the past, it is difficult to sit on the porch on a warm April morning, listening to the turkeys’ gobble, knowing my season had not opened yet.


A person could not ask for a more perfect day to go hunting than Sunday. They wind was perfectly calm, and the stars shown brightly as I left the house at five. The air was cool, but not unpleasant as so many mornings have been. The blind had been set up the afternoon before in a clearing on top of a hill in the paintball timber. Much of the equipment needed to hunt turkeys was in the blind. All I had to bring with me was my shotgun, shells, calls, coffee and, food. A person never knows how long they might be out there.


Sittling in my chair, I sipped on coffee, waiting for the turkeys to make the first move. I would not call until I first heard from them. It was almost light when I heard the first gobble. It came from across the lake, up near the Top Gate. Several more gobblers answered him from the edge of the Long hayfield. I was beginning to wonder about my choice of hunting spots when two gobblers lit up with rousing mating calls just off to my left. The symphony continued up and down the valley for ten or fifteen minutes. I called a few times so my gobblers would think a hen or two were waiting for them on the ground at the clearing. A few minutes later, I could hear the birds flying down from their roosts. I was hoping they would fly down directly in front of me, but it sounded like they just went to the bottom of their roost tree.


All gobbling stopped as all the turkeys in the area flew down and set up in their strutting areas. Before long, the mating call of the wild turkey could again be heard across the area. All the Toms were gobbling, except the two that were closest to me. This makes hunting more difficult, but not impossible. It is nice that they answer a call so a person can keep track of where they are when they are moving in. It is not uncommon for a stealthy old gobbler to circle the sound of a hen when he can not see her. It can be startling to be watching in one direction and have a turkey sneak up behind and gobble from a few feet away.


This was not to be. I could hear an occasional cluck from either the gobblers or the hens that were with them. They would walk back and forth, just out of sight, but close enough I could hear twigs snap as they strutted. They must have had enough hens with them, they did not feel the need to call in more or even to walk to the top of the hill to check out the clearing. I did call a hen to within a few feet of my blind and two deer wandered by, oblivious to my presence.


Eventually, when the coffee and food were all gone, I decided to call it a day. Some days, success is measured in the game harvested while other day, success is just having the opportunity to hunt.