Dale has been hunting turkeys, without success, for two years. Both my son, Damon, and I have been acting as guides, never able to get a gobbler quite within range. This year, things were going to be different.
The first morning out, he and Damon started in the Long hayfield. They sat off to one side, camouflaged with their ghillie suits, so a blind was not necessary. As daylight slowly replaced the darkness, they found themselves surrounded by turkeys, gobbling from their roosts. They were close enough to the roosting trees; they could hear them fly down into the hayfield. A few light calls elicited immediate response. A person’s heartrate increases quickly when you get a bird to answer your call and start moving closer. Three young Jakes were interested in what the hunters had to say. Soft clucks and purrs moved the birds in the right direction. Things were going well with calling the Jakes when an old Tom gobbled right behind the young birds. The Jakes must have had a run-in with him before as they turned tail and ran back toward the woods. The old gobbler would make a better trophy anyway, so they started calling to him. He answered a few times before wandering off with two hens that he had called in.
Two more mature gobblers were starting to approach from the south when three deer walked past the hunters. Though they could not see the guys disguised as bushes, they did get their scent and spooked. The ran directly at the turkeys who turned and ran off.
By lunch time, Damon and Dale gave up and came back to our house for a break. Dale and I went to the One Thousand Yard Bench in the Paintball Woods and set up the blind. I like to hunt from a blind as it allows a person to move around more than being out in the open. Turkeys have extremely sharp eyesight and can spot the slightest movement from a considerable distance. We made plans to be in the blind early the next morning.
It was raining at 4:30 in the morning. It is not impossible to hunt in the rain, but more difficult. Toms will generally not gobble when it is raining so a person cannot tell where they are. I also do not like to get wet and cold. We gave up and went back to bed. Later, over coffee, Dale decided to go out since there was a pause in the rain. I stayed where it was warm and dry, and the coffee was hot.
Dale set up in the blind and made a couple of calls. The gobbler answered from across the fence and just down the hill. Knowing the old bird would not cross the fence to come closer, Dale decided to move toward him. Keeping his line of sight blocked by a big oak, he crept carefully to the fence and hid behind the tree. He got ready and called again. The gobbler moved into sight about forty yards away. Dale called and the Tom gobbled and turned around in a strut. Dale pulled up his shotgun when the bird’s head was blocked by his fanned-out tail. When he turned again, the bright red, white, and blue head came into view and Dale shot. The turkey was down instantly. The entire hunt between rain showers lasted about fifteen minutes.
When he got back to the house, Dale was grinning from ear to ear. It took three years to be successful, but it proves, the third time is a charm.