April 11, 2009: I woke up this morning knowing that this day had the possibility of being the hardest hunting day on this entire Florida trip. We were down to the wire and I still had not harvested my Osceola. There was a big chance that we might be in the woods and on the move the entire day. I took a shower, quickly got dressed paying more attention to my mental “To Do List”, ate a bowl of cereal and packed the small back pack with water and only essential gear. Richard was not going to carry a gun this morning and would carry this backpack instead of his turkey vest. We were ready and waiting for our ride at 5:10 a.m. and as we stood out by the truck the thermometer read 70 degrees. We were talking about how humid and hot it was already and that this would probably have an effect on the turkey and keep them quiet today; this was going to be a big disadvantage to us.
We had an hour drive to a town called Chiefland, Florida. Once we arrived at the hunting land we stood outside the truck to see if we could hear any gobbling or tree yelping. About 20 minutes of hearing nothing, our guide let out an owl call and we received no response. We then walked approximately a half a mile to our first location and settled at tree bases, Billy put out the decoy about 30 yards from an oak tree in the field and about 30 yards from me. We were there about 35 minutes before we heard a gobble a long distance behind us. Billy sounded off with a couple tree yelps and later tried a crow call; still nothing. We decided to move on. We walked back to the truck and drove to another area of the property.
We walked about 500 yards down the road and we heard a gobble to the West of us just in hearing distance. We took out across the planted pines. This area of the property had a large hog population and the ground was badly rooted up. The ground was so unlevel that in some places it made it very hard to walk in. My foot in its current condition made it a little harder than it would have normally been. I still kept up a pretty good pace but it winded me with the struggle of trying to lead with my left foot, rush as I walked and to keep up the pace with our guide. Something else didn’t feel right and I just couldn’t figure it out. I had wore a different pair of hunting pants this morning and I knew the waist was too high and the stride was too long… but I just couldn’t figure out what the deal was; more about this later.
We walked through some pretty rough ground with all the ruts and overgrowth. It was so humid and hot. We made it about half way through when we walked up on 3 black hogs. The wind was blowing in our faces so the hogs never winded us. We quickly discussed going from turkey hunting to hog hunting but came to the conclusion it was too hot to fool with a hog harvest, so we stuck to our agenda. We got within 30 yards of the hogs when our guide picked up a stick and slung it in their direction. They looked in the direction of the log and meandered back the way they came. We walked up onto the edge of a field and glassed the field. We saw the hogs walking across the field in a single file line; in no hurry. Our guide spotted two birds on the edge of the field on the same side we were on.
We quickly sat down as Billy put out a decoy. Richard was about four feet to the right of me and Billy took a seat behind me. He made a few calls but not many because those birds they were headed in our direction when he saw them through his binoculars. We sat quietly waiting. For some strange reason, I started struggling with taking a nap. You would have never thought that in that exact moment when there was the possibility of a good turkey walking out in front of me that I would be fighting the nod. It was an absolute struggle. Finally, I heard Billy stand up and I looked back and he was glassing the field, he walked out slowly toward the decoy all the while glassing down the field for those birds. They were nowhere to be found. We stood up, gathered our gear and headed in the direction where the birds were.
As we came around the edge of the field to step into the road Richard said “Hold up! Two birds.” We backed up real quick and walked into the edge of the woods right at the point where both fields joined. The birds were walking down the road between the two fields. We were right at the edge of the road and Billy and Richard both could see the birds; a Jake and another bird with a short beard. Billy told me to kneel down and place my gun on a branch off of a sapling and get a good place to shoot through. Richard quickly dug the decoy out of Billy’s turkey vest and they both decided that Richard would crawl out to the small ditch and put the decoy just on the edge of the road and then he could crawl back to us.
Billy kept his binoculars on the two birds the whole time and guided Richard as to what they were doing as he crawled back. When Richard got back to me and was kneeling right behind me, Billy said the birds saw the decoy and one of the birds went into a partial strut and his head turned white. Billy yelped some and he said those two birds turned toward the decoy with necks stretched. He whispered that the birds had started walking toward the decoy so get ready. I clicked my safety off. Billy kept yelping. Richard could see the birds from where he was but I still had not seen them. He whispered the one in front is a jake with a small stub, shoot the one behind him. A few seconds passed and Billy yelped some more and said, “The jake is still in front, but they are right there on the road.” I still couldn’t see them. Everyone was silent.
Then I saw the jake and I whispered, “I see him.” Richard said, “Wait for the second bird.” Then I saw the second bird. The first bird walked about another five feet and was behind a small sapling when the second one came across the small shooting lane without stopping. The jake turned to head back in the direction they came and stopped in the shooting lane. The other bird turned and walked toward the jake and stopped side by side. I couldn’t take the shot. Then the jake walked out from behind the tom and I squeezed the trigger. The tom jumped in the air landed in the field, flopped about two times and just kicked like he was running. I said, “I got him.” I ejected my shell and jumped up. Richard and Billy were already standing in the road. Richard smiled real big and said, “This harvest was a group effort—all three of us had a part in this one.” I shook Billy’s hand and high fived Richard. It was 9:30 a.m. and the day was not looking so long after all.
This bird was not a huge trophy bird but in all sense of the matter he is a trophy to me and is my Osceola species toward my goal of a grand slam. This tom weighed in at 14 pounds, had a five-inch beard and ¼” spurs.
While we waited for Billy to bring the buggy back to where we were waiting with the bird, I had to step into the woods and tend to a nature call. Well, remember me saying something just was not right with my hunting pants. I have to share this little funny with you…something I will never forget… and I definitely will not forget to check when I dress in the mornings to go hunting. Low and behold while I was struggling to get my skivvies up, I noticed I had my skivvies on COMPLETELY wrong…. My waist was through a leg hole, my right leg was through the waist and everything was COMPLETELY wrong. I guess in my hurry and deep thought this morning I overlooked taking the time to properly dress. It was too much trouble to unlace my boots and properly redress right there in the woods so I ended up having to walk in this twisted manner until we returned home. This is the second season that my skivvies have been an issue during turkey season… I will save that first story for another time.
© Nancy Jo Adams 2009