Turkey Hunting: Shake Your Head

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If there was one morning that defied all logic, it was a hunt that took place in the 2006 Alabama spring season.  My father and I were hunting on a tract bordered by the Tombigbee River in west Alabama.  Despite being a picturesque morning, the gobbling was scarce on the roost.  We soon found ourselves amidst a world of silence, with the only exception being a loud mouthed gobbler on the other side of the river.

As we collectively stood on the bluff high above the river bank, we listened as the turkey tried his best to contract Laryngitis.  We began calling aggressively to him, more out of amusement than purpose.  However, the turkey took us seriously, and began easing down the opposite bank. When he neared the spot directly across the river from us, we knew he meant business.

We hurried back to a position 100 yards off the bluff and kept calling as we retreated.  It was less than ten minutes later when a thunderous response echoed through the mature pines like a drill sergeant on a bull horn.  Three minutes later, the roar of my shotgun ended the suspense, and the gobbler lay limp at 22 steps.

While I have had experience in calling gobblers across creeks, sloughs, and small rivers, that mornings' occurrence was a different matter altogether.  The Tombigbee was more than 300 yards wide at the point in which the gobbler pitched across, and the Vegas odds on him doing so would have been 250-1 at best.  Yet turkey hunting is a sport where odds are meaningless numbers, which is why it is not a sport for the faint of heart.

We have all had a morning that left us puzzled, whether it be an inexplicable miss or a flash hunt that comes out of nowhere.  The fun of the sport is that the next series of calling around the next bend in the road can turn a dull morning into a exhilarating-or heartbreaking- one.

This past spring my dad and I had the pleasure of taking Fox Haas out for an Easter morning sunrise service.  The turkeys had a serious case of lockjaw at daybreak, but thirty minutes after flydown time, chaos broke loose.

We located a turkey that was, at the time, around 450 yards from us.  We jumped on the electric cart and cut the distance by 150 yards, parking just shy of a small food plot.  As soon as we stepped off the buggy, the turkey gobbled, and it was clear he was much closer.  Suddenly, time was of the essence.

We really needed to drop off the back of the field in order to overlook the bottom that the turkey would most likely be approaching from.  As soon as we stepped into the field, the turkey gobbled just under the lip of the hill, and it was an all out dash to find a tree-any tree- to sit by.

We were forced to sit by three small pines, each the diameter of a baseball bat, on the edge of the field.  We were as naked as a newborn baby, although we had confidence in our Mossy Oak camo.  As soon as we sat down, the gobbler roared from less than fifty yards away, followed by a loud drum.  We subsequently flicked our safeties off, and in a matter of seconds the lonely and willing longbeard appeared at thirty steps.  He was on a mission, walking on a line towards us until stopping at fifteen yards.  Haas put a bead on the gobblers' waddles, squeezed off, and watched as the gobbler quickly sailed off towards greener pastures.

When you have turkey hunted as long as 81 year old Fox Haas has, you surely have seen it all.  But the good-natured southern gentleman admitted that the hunt we had just experienced was as chaotic as any he'd had. The total time between the first gobble to the heart-wrenching miss was less than five minutes.

It is easy to get frustrated by a silent morning or a streak of bad hunts, but as these two hunts proved, the beauty of the sport is in its affinity for the dramatic.     We must, as turkey hunters, treat each moment we are in the spring woods with  the same alertness we would have if we were walking though a haunted house.  While I hope to avoid any chainsaw wielding psychopaths while hunting, I do hope to encounter a love-crazed gobbler who has been waiting for the right sonnet to break him from his slumber.  Until then, I will remain ready, anticipating the unexpected to occur at any moment.
Wild Turkey Report Staff
Wild Turkey Report is the internet's new destination for information on the sport of turkey hunting. Follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wildturkeyreport and on Twitter @wildturkeyreprt!
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