March 21, 2009: All things happen for a reason. This motto is something I strongly believe in. Sometimes hind sight bops you in the forehead before you ever realize it. This was the case this past weekend for Richard and I. We had planned to hunt the same field that he harvested his Eastern out of this past week. We found out on our way home from work late Friday evening that the property owner’s son and one of his son’s friends were going to hunt in that location. Not an issue at all because I love to see the younger generation out hunting and especially if it meant sharing it with a friend; after all that is what some of my fondest memories are made of—good times shared with friends. However this left us without scouted territory for hunting this weekend. On the remainder of the ride home we put strategy to work and decided we would try an area we had never hunted. This would also give us an opportunity to scout in that area and see what the turkey pattern was like. This particular property had not had turkeys on it in 7 or 8 years, if not longer.
We came home prepared our gear and headed to bed, still strategizing about the morning hunt. I would be carrying a gun into the woods for this hunt. I woke up the minute the alarm went off and was ready to go in about 30-40 minutes…I was really dragging though while thinking in the back of my mind that this hunt would be a dry run. We had a slim chance of even seeing any turkeys this morning but we would at least get to scout the area. We walked a long ways in but still had plenty of time to set up and settle in our hunting spot.
At just about prime fly-down time we heard a gobble come off of the adjoining property. At that point my shoulders had come out of their slump and a smile crept on my face. We might have a chance at seeing some turkeys I thought. The birds were still on the roost but as luck would have it that was the adjoining land owners property which we did not have permission to hunt. Nothing came our way all morning even with Richard’s calling. Which brings to mind another saying that tends to be true in so many ways: so close, but yet so far away. We decided to back out. We scouted on our way out and even drove over to another area that abutted the pasture we heard turkeys in and scouted that area for signs. We were very pleased with the signs we were finding but didn’t really think it would be somewhere we wanted to hunt the next morning. We called it a hunt and headed home.
Around 5:00 p.m. Saturday afternoon we decided to go out and see if we could roost us a bird close to the area we hunted that morning. We parked about a half mile from where we had plans on hunting leaving the truck on a two rut road that runs around the property. I carried the shotgun in with me but was not very confident that we would be able to luck up on a bird. We walked along at an easy pace just looking at tracks….deer, bobcat, coyote, and turkey. We started seeing turkey signs in an adjoining area; several scratching signs, fresh tracks, and strut marks. This area was getting a little more interesting. We came to the bordering property and decided to meander down the property line because Richard felt that the gobbling we had heard came from the land adjacent to this fence line and that it could be possible that they were flying down on our side of the fence. It always amazes me how he can get his bearing on directions at a drop of a hat like that.
We were walking along a fire break looking at the ground when something in a field to the left of me caught my eye. A tom, right there in the middle of a pasture area puffed up in all his glory slowly marching a meditative dance. We went to our knees right there in the fire lane hidden by thick brush from the strutting tom and raised our binoculars and watched as he put on a show. That is one beautiful site that never ceases to amaze me. We watched for a good 5-6 minutes when about the same time Richard was saying he thought he heard another bird, I pulled by binoculars about two or three inches from my eyes when I caught movement to the right of me about 70 yards. I whispered to Richard that there was a turkey on the fire break to the right of us. He saw it. I was frozen with binoculars extended in the air. At first I thought it was a hen then I saw a beard that at first glance looked to be only about 5-6 inches long. So I told Richard it was a Tom but had a small beard.
As the bird stood there, frozen in time, the anxiety was about to burst inside of me not knowing what the outcome would be in the next couple minutes. That tom stood there looking down that fire break in our direction for what seemed like forever. Finally he started pecking the ground around him. I put my binoculars to my eyes and lo and behold his beard was actually longer than I had first figured. This was a mature tom. I whispered to Richard that his beard was longer than I had told him. Then the tom started moving toward us; straight toward us. This can’t be happening. We are sitting here in the middle of a fire break in the wide open, hidden from one nice tom strutting in a field to the left of us and then there is this tom headed straight toward us in the wide open. I whispered to Richard, “Am I shooting this one?” No response. I whisper again,” Hey, do you want me to try to shoot this one?” The only response I got was “Don’t move.” Still not knowing if I was going to have try to get the gun in position, I just sat there on my knees watching him walk straight toward us. What to do? Oh, what to do??
Finally he turned to the right and went through the fence at about 40 yards from us. He went along the fence line at a distance of about 20 feet from us and he was headed the way we came in. Whew, that was close. We both chuckled about that. The tom in the field was still strutting. We didn’t hear a single gobble and eventually the hens and toms were flying up to roost. We had to wait until it was nearly dark to back out to keep from being seen by some hens that roosted in trees that were in sight of us. On our way out Richard wanted to stop in an area that he felt certain the tom that walked past us would fly down in if he roosted in the area he was headed. He found us a great place to hunt the next morning. Will our Sunday morning hunt be successful? Make sure to stay tuned and read the next post.
© Nancy Jo Adams 2009