It is that time of year again! It is time for the 35th Annual National Wild Turkey Federation Convention and Sport Show–the mother lode of all conventions for any diehard turkey hunter. The event that sets off a stirring deep in your soul–an awakening that only insures the yearning for sitting at the base of a tree in the dim light of a dew-laden morning when the chill that settles into your bones tells you that the time is near. The season of turkey romance that brings to mind vivid memories of cackling hens, strutting toms and the smell of spent shotgun shells.
My favorite season and one that is sure to bring not only excitement and new adventure…but also some hard hunting. If I had to describe my style of turkey hunting in one word, that word would be meticulous. Preparation for turkey season starts shortly after our deer hunting season ends on January 31st and this season, like last year, is already booked solid with hunts in Alabama, Florida, Kentucky and Oklahoma. My only regret is that I was unable to get Montana and New Mexico on the calendar this year.
It was my hopes that my trip to Mexico would hold true and I could put forth efforts toward my goal of achieving my Royal and World Slams. With all that is happening in Mexico within their society, we felt best to put that trip off until a later date for safety reasons. The cancellation of that trip opened up two weekends to hunt in Kentucky.
I spent an afternoon in the gear room gathering my turkey hunting paraphernalia into a pile to get organized. I sweetened my slate calls and wet a few diaphragm calls driving Jaxon to the brink of insanity. Jaxon ran around the house and across the furniture, not hunting a turkey, just trying his best to run from the sounds emitting through my mouth calls. Whew, I have to be honest and say that I even got a headache.
I went through a mental checklist…
Swatch of ScotchBrite & sandpaper…check
Shotgun….ch….ut oh! Wait a minute…
It hit me! Oh no! I cannot believe that I forgot to send my favorite turkey gun back to the manufacturer for repairs. My shotgun malfunctioned in Montana and became inoperative; with an array of many other things that Murphy’s Law had control of on that trip. We were lucky to find a gunsmith that temporarily fixed the problem who warned us that the repair would get us through the Montana hunt but would need a permanent fix by the manufacturer to render it trustworthy.
This threw me into a panic and a mar in my planning. I remember putting it off because I had “plenty of time” to get it sent in…and now I had less than 30 days until our season opener. WHAT WAS I THINKING?? Okay, calm down maybe I can get through the first part of the season. Or maybe, maybe I could use another shotgun…no, no, that just isn’t going to do anything for my confidence factor.
This is the shotgun that has a lethal pattern, a Mossberg 835 loaded with a 3 ½” Winchester Premium Elite #5 turkey load, and a XXX-Full Comp-N-Choke. This is the combination that has NEVER let me down…from several 30-40 yard shots to a few 55-yard shots. It is confidence that reaps your best performance or lack thereof that causes the demise of success. Aw, this cannot be happening!! Okay, calm down!
The next day on our way home from work I mentioned to Richard about my shotgun woes. I told him I was concerned that I would not get it back in time for the season opener and what my options were. He nonchalantly said, “It will be fine.” I thought, “WHAT? “As I reminded him what the gunsmith said…. he cut me off. He said, “Your shotgun is going to be fine. Don’t worry about it.”
Okay, I had an entire hour to ride home with Richard, did I want to start an argument about how he just brushed off a serious matter or do I want to enjoy the ride home looking at the country scenery. He never had given me bad advice or steered me wrong about hunting since he chose to become my mentor. Maybe I am making a mountain out of a molehill. Richard didn’t seem to be stressing over it so why should I? Easier said than done. Thursday and Friday the issue stayed on my mind.
Friday evening, our friends Greg and Billinda Neyman met us at our house for our weekend trip to Kentucky to look at land. Greg had purchased Billinda a new shotgun earlier in the week, a Mossberg Turkey Thug edition with the pistol grip. I could not wait to see it. As soon as I got in the house I asked, “Where is your new shotgun? I want to see it?” She jumped up and headed into the spare bedroom. She came out with a big blue Mossberg box. Woo Hoo!! I love to see gun boxes and what is in them. This wasn’t my gun but this was like Christmas in February…Billinda and I would be sharing some turkey hunts together and I was going to get to see her new weapon.
She told me to sit down and handed me the box. I said, “You show it to me.” She said, “No, you get it out and look at it.” So she helped me get the box top open. Woo Hoo…look at that camo pattern, look at that……..WAIT!! THIS IS NOT YOUR GUN!! You got the Turkey Thug Edition with the pistol grip. This is a regular stock! AND it is the 935. What? What is up with this? I looked around and everyone was smiling, including Richard. Then Billinda reached in the box and said, “What is this?” As she turned over the flip-flop shaped luggage tag I saw two hearts and my name on the tag. NO WAY! NOOOOO WAY!! Is this my gun? Is this MY new gun!! I looked at Greg who had the biggest smile on his face. Then I looked at Billinda who was giggling. Then I looked at Richard who was smiling and trying to act like he didn’t know a thing about this whole ordeal.
I was in total disbelief!! Could this REALLY be MY new shotgun…just in time for turkey season? Just in time to put all my shotgun woes to rest? Now I understood why Richard did not have any concern over my shotgun issues. No wonder he brushed me off.
Greg sitting there resembled the Cheshire cat who got away with eating the canary. Billinda giggling and giddy like the bubbles released from a bottle of champagne. Richard with a smug, yet convincing clueless look on his face. These folks pulled a good one on me and surprised me. My new shotgun was coined “Amos Moses” by Greg that night before I ever put him back in the box.
WOW! I am still in disbelief as to Greg and Billinda’s kindness in surprising me with a new shotgun. My heart may have skipped a beat or two when I opened that box and realized I was looking at my new shotgun but my heart is definitely still working because I sure feel a little tug on my heart when I think about these two special friends. I am so thankful that the good Lord had it in his plans to place those two in our lives; it was definitely not by chance.
I am waiting on my XXX-Full Comp-N-Choke to come in the mail so I can pattern Amos Moses and mark that off my “To-Do List” in preparation for the season. Just a short 24 days the Alabama Spring turkey season opens. I will start my 2011 turkey season off hunting with Mountain View Plantation in Delta, Alabama. I hope to bring some great tales to my blog to share with my followers and I look forward to spending some time in the turkey woods with friends. Good luck to everyone this turkey season…and don’t forget, when the bird starts flopping, get out there and do the turkey dance–step on his head and watch out for those spurs, it is easier said than done.