May 7, 2009: We spent the entire day driving roads, glassing fields, trying to spot turkeys. We were not hearing or seeing any. We did see pheasants, mule deer, antelope, fly catchers, groundhogs, whitetail, lamas, cows, fox squirrels, rabbits, skunks, coyotes, a prairie chicken and a fox; but again, only ONE hen. Somewhere along the way, we stopped in a canyon to eat lunch; ham sandwiches, Pringle chips and fruit cups. What a beautiful sight the mountains were with the sun shining bright and a light, cool wind. You couldn’t get this view and environment in some of the most expensive bistros or cafes.
We finally had a little luck in the afternoon when we went into Bull Reservoir. Richard dropped me off at a nice spot and went on to check out some of the higher ground. About 10 minutes after he walked out of sight, I heard a gobble over my right shoulder way off. He gobbled several times in the hour that I sat there. At the one hour mark I heard three shots. I wondered to myself if it was another hunter that was with us or even Richard. I was uncertain as to which direction Richard actually ended up in.
A gobbler was still gobbling quite frequently. I decided it was close enough I would try to slip into a better spot. I wanted to make sure that I went in the same direction as Richard did so I could see him on the road upon his return. I didn’t want him to get to my spot and think I had walked back down the mountain only to get to the vehicle and I wasn’t there and he would worry. I walked about 200 yards down the road before I seen a nice bluff overlooking the area where I heard the tom gobbling. I went to the top of the bluff. I heard Richard crow call about 300-400 yards away on the other side of the valley. I heard the tom gobbling just in the woods on the bluff directly across from me and felt I could get down there pretty close to where he was. I snuck down the side of the bluff, across the valley and found the perfect three trunk tree to set up under. I had just got settled when Richard crow called again and a gobble sounded off pretty close.
Every time Richard crow called that tom would gobble. I felt he was pretty close because the gobble was pretty loud. I sat there about 5 minutes before I heard him gobble about 90-100 yards in the woods in front of me. My heart went to racing and the blood running through my veins was now audible in my ears. I froze, searching the entire stretch of woods with my eyes only; careful not to move my head. It seemed like a good twenty minutes passed and I had not heard another peep out of the tom. I had always been told to sit tight and be patient because you never know if that silence is that tom on the move to you.
Richard appeared on the swag in between the bluffs and he crow called; nothing. After one more try I saw him walking across. I started to get worried that I really needed to get up quickly and head him off on the two-rut road so he would know where I was at. I sat another 5-10 minutes and didn’t hear anything. I was going through such a dilemma….should I go or stay. The tom could be headed my way. Just about that time, I heard the other hunter in our party crow call about 60 yards to the right of me. I went ahead and gathered my stuff quickly and headed up the bluff to catch up with Richard.
When I first started this blog, I said I would share the good, the bad, and the ugly…sticking true to that this is what unfolded when I caught up with Richard. When I got to Richard I immediately could tell he was disappointed about something. I quickly explained to him that I watched him walk across the swag between the bluffs and I heard him crow call. I told him that I had set up on the tom thinking he was coming my way. He asked if I thought the tom was headed to me and I told him that I wasn’t sure but another hunter was on his trail now so we needed to walk down. He agreed.
As we started walking down, he said, “Well, I missed my chance.” I asked him what he meant by that. He said did you hear 3 shots? I told him that I had. He said, “I didn’t cut a feather on him. I then asked, “that was you that shot?” He said, “Yes, all three times and missed. The tom was less than 20 yards from me and I missed because he started to walk just as I pulled the trigger. Then I shot at him again as he spooked when I got up. Then I shot once more as he was running away from me and I didn’t even cut a feather!!” He then said, “I learned a lesson that is for sure. I got over confident and I told myself the minute he popped his head up out of the draw and came up on level ground, ‘Yep, I got it; my grand slam.’ Then I shot—and missed!!” He then said, “I counted my chickens before they hatched. I got over confident and sloppy. I didn’t even think to putt and stop him in his tracks. I missed.”
I told him not to worry about it. One good thing about it is that it was a clean miss. Don’t let it get you down….at least not until Saturday, our last day to hunt. He still beat himself up all evening over it. We all learn something new every time we go to the field; even those that have been hunting for over 40 years. I am thankful, not only for the lessons I learn every time I go in the field, but for the wisdom I learn through Richard as my mentor.
© Nancy Jo Adams 2009