Yesterday was the end of my turkey tags. We’d planned to go out in the morning, before both of us had to work. This time, 4 am rolled around and I was wide awake. Matt, however, is exhausted. Between his job and everything we do on the weekends, he’s getting pretty burnt out, but don’t expect him to slow down any. He’ll get too bored.
Anyway. Intending to take advantage of even the last hour of turkey tags, I went out this afternoon after I ran a bunch of errands after work.
Readers, there are a number of stories I wish I could tell you. That I picked exactly the perfect spot, for instance, and had the entire flock of turkeys walk right in front of me, and that I plunked the tom from 10 feet and he never saw me. That I called the tom in from two hills away. That I picked even a mediocre spot, but made it work with my incredible skillz.
But no. Here is what happened. I parked in the normal spot, and walked up the normal tractor access. Remembering what happened my first day out, I stopped halfway up the access road, and loaded my gun. I continued up the road, and walked carefully over that rise. No birds. I turned to my left, and continued across the field. I came over another rise.
You guys. The tom was standing maybe 30 yards in front of me. He froze, I froze. I dropped into a crouch. I’m short enough that the clover provided some cover. I saw him turn, I saw his beard move as he whirled to run for the trees. If I hadn’t had the turkey decoys in my left hand, I could have brought my shotgun up. I could have had my first turkey before even getting to my spot on the last day. I could have gotten this turkey, this confounded turkey who has been evading us (and presumably many other hunters, as quiet as he is). I didn’t spook him too badly- he sort of strolled off into the trees once he couldn’t see me in the clover.
I am nothing if not stubborn. So, I made my way to my spot. I figured I’d stayed crouched down for a while, and the tom had moved down to the field. Maybe he would come back past me or something. So I sat. Nothing, nothing, and more nothing, so I scootched back down the cut, closer to the field. A tree in my previous spot fell not 5 feet from where I had been sitting. Then the thunderstorms rolled in. There was lightning, thunder rumbled. I got soaked, again. Neither sight nor sound of turkeys, damnit. So, seeing more thunderheads off to the west, and hearing louder thunder, I called it an evening just after sunset.
We learned a lot this season. We saw plenty of birds, even if from a distance. We’ll hopefully spend Summer and Fall checking up on their habits on this bit of land, so we know where the hell they go when they disappear on us. We do still have Fall turkey season this year. Maybe by then we’ll find additional land to hunt turkey on. But now, that tom. Now I totally get how people develop years-long relationships with wily turkey toms. I never in my life thought I would experience heartbreak at the (figurative) hands of a stupid bird.