I just spent another wonderful weekend at Mountain View Plantation in Delta, Alabama. This time I was chasing a turkey in those foothills. We arrived Friday evening to a wonderful dinner of fried turkey, mashed potatoes, yellow corn, gravy, biscuits, banana pudding and some of Alabama’s finest sweet tea. I tell you, if that isn’t enough to make your taste buds slap the roof of your mouth, you haven’t had true southern cooking.
The turkey was compliments of Chase Miller who was lucky enough to score on the bird the prior morning. MVP head chef, Stephanie Hendrix, cooks with the wisdom you would expect of an elderly woman who has learned all the secrets to divine southern cuisine. If you go hungry while visiting MVP, it will definitely be of your own doing; as soon as one plate is done, a bowl of dessert is placed in front of you. Absolutely divine meals.
We were up early Saturday morning with plenty of time to spare. By the time we drove to our destination and unloaded Hank the HuntVe it was still dark. The full moon helped light the two-rut road that we crept down on Hank. Our first spot to check out was a beautiful ridge. We had nearly walked to the point of the ridge when we decided to stop and wait a little bit before making any noise. The morning was warm but not really humid and the temperature was surely going to rise fast once the sun came up.
As soon as it was light enough to hear some tree yelps, we made owl calls…we got nothing in return. We waited a bit then made some soft tree yelps, still nothing. We followed that up with some tree yelps, a few more owl calls and then finally a fly down cackle. No sounds from turkeys at all. A few songbirds and cardinals were beginning to chirp, but no turkeys.
We drove the road system creeping along and surprisingly we were quiet enough on Hank to slip up on several flocks of hens, mostly feeding in green fields. We saw a total of 23 hens and two unknown birds because they flushed from a side trail out of the brush before we could get a good look at them. When the birds started slipping out of the hot sun and into the woods we headed back to the truck. The turkey woods were really quiet—not only did we not hear a gobble, yelp, or purr; we didn’t hear a single fly-down.
When we returned to the lodge, we could smell the ham cooking when we stepped out of Clyde. Another fine meal was in store, no doubt. Saturday’s lunch included baked ham, pork tenderloin smothered in cream of mushroom gravy, pinto beans, cream potatoes and gravy, yellow corn and apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream. I was so thirsty from the hunt I drank 3 glasses of sweat tea. I was now in dire need of a nap…in a chaise lounger outdoors.
MVP was hosting a Continental Pheasant Hunt just after lunch and Richard was there to videotape some footage of the hunt. I thought I would step over to Clyde and catch me a nap—that didn’t happen, I was too busy watching the shoot and seeing what birds were shot. I am definitely going to have to give this a try sometime in the future. I had the opportunity to do it on Saturday but I knew all too well that if I got down there on that field with my shotgun in my hand, shooting at those pheasant—I was not going to want to come in to go roost a bird, and after all, that is what we came for. I wish I had but glad I didn’t. It was really fun watching the shoot and I was even able to “fetch” a few downed birds.
We headed back out to the turkey woods around 4:00 p.m. and boy was it hot; 86 degrees and it wasn’t much cooler in the shade. We set up on a strut zone in a well-traveled area where we had seen numerous tracks. We stayed there until dark and never got the opportunity to see a turkey. We still had not heard a turkey—hen or gobbler—all day.
When we arrived at the lodge from our afternoon hunt, we were able to visit with some of the shooters from quail hunt earlier in the day, including Hank from Wisconsin aka the “Damn Yankee”; who is now a transplanted Alabamian. It was interesting sharing stories from what seems to be two different worlds. We headed to bed early and looking forward to Sunday’s hunt. We already had a place in mind which Richard had already brushed in the area for us to sit earlier in the day. I went to sleep with the thought that surely we would hear a bird tomorrow.