Thursday, May 5, 2011
Everyone's first is special. I don't imagine that my first was any different than anyone else's. I was nervous of course. Stumbling around in the dark, so to speak. I didn't really know what I was doing. The courtship was rushed and I can say that I wasn't overly selective on who would be my first . I was functioning on the "first willing" rule. My excitement mounted and like all guys I was afraid of doing something dumb that would bring it all to an end prematurely. I admit I rushed it all a bit. I could have dragged out the whole process but instead I raced to the climax. Typical man I'm told. But I didn't want that stupid turkey to escape this time.
After a not so great opening day I have to admit I was feeling a little bummed. I complained on facebook about my lack of good turkey space and a friend said I should come and try the back of her farm. I stopped by her house to discuss it with her. She showed me roughly where her lot lines were. She then pointed of in the direction she heard turkeys gobbling the day before. This and a quick look at a satellite photo was what constituted a scouting trip as I planned on hunting it the next morning.
I wasn't sure what I was going to find when I arrived at the tree line the next morning so I planned to arrive early. My goal was to be there a full hour before it was time to start shooting. I followed the trail she mentioned existed to the back corner of her hay field. The trail turned east and followed the edge of the tree line. I knew I only had a fairly narrow distance before I hit the lot line on the other side of the property. I started to look for a suitable tree and set up spot immediately. There were lots of large trees but the density of scrub at the field edges was quite thick. I kept looking.
After a 100 yards or so the trail suddenly turned into the forest on a tractor path. There, on the western corner of the path entrance was a big tree. There was good cover for anything approaching from the west but directly in front of me and off to the east it was wide open. I decided this would have to do and paced twenty yards off and planted to foam hen and a jake decoy. It was a bit of depression as the ground in all directions rose to a higher level . I settled into my tree with a gentle west wind blowing in my face and waited.
Not knowing what to expect I was delighted to hear the sound of gobbling to the west of me and behind me. I listened for a while and then, as dawn approached, I made some soft tree calls. You could tell they were tree calls because I was sitting against a tree when I made them. They probably weren't the same as a hen's tree calls but I kept it soft and just tried to do some little clucks. I didn't call much or often. I used my new glass on slate call as well as my other pot call that has slate, copper and some other surface on it. My theory was that f I kept changing they would think there were lots of hot chicks waiting anxiously for them. My own version of those telephone chat commercials.
It was a little after 6:30 before there was any sign of action. The gobblers seemed to go quiet and suddenly I saw movement coming over the rise. Within moments I had two hens strolling towards my decoys. I was ready to go . Convinced I was moments away from seeing the gobblers arriving all hot to trot and in tow to the hens. They slipped past me into the bush at about 10 yards. As the wandered slowly out of sight behind me I realized they weren't going to provide me with what I needed. There were no toms to be found. I quietly put the safety back on and settled down to wait. Every 15 minutes or so I did a calling sequence with no response.
I had settled into a nice easy calling routine when it arrived. The wind. Actually maybe wind is an understatement. Not quite a tornado it probably came close. Apparently it was at least 83 kilometers an hour (50 Miles and hour) but I think it was more. I knew it was nasty when the tree directly across the path from me fell away from me. Scared the crap out of me. If the wind had been blowing the opposite direction I would have been lucky to avoid getting smashed by it. I looked out at my decoys to see them almost touching the grass sideways as the wind laid them over on their pegs. I used the string and nail trick out the back of them to keep them from spinning. I could see them straining against their tethers when suddenly one of the hens and the jake decoy folded up. I snuck out and picked them up and tucked them into my vest.
I put the three surface call way and worked the glass on slate call as loud as I could yelp. My poor little hen decoy was surviving as it stood facing me broadside to the wind. I kept waiting for it to fold up as well but it clung stubbornly to life. It did, however, slip somewhat on the peg and soon it looked more like an egret standing there. I considered sneaking out to fix it but I looked upwind to see I had company.
The first bird walked into site and stopped. I couldn't see him well and I was worried he had hung up. I slowly started to reach for my call when I saw what every hunter likes to see. Full Strut. A few seconds and he started forward again to show that he was one of six toms all strutting and vying for the affections of my rather sad excuse for a hen turkey. They didn't pause and came marching forward down the edge of the trees. I quietly raised my shotgun and decided that I wasn't going to have a repeat of last year. No bionic superman turkeys allowed. I decided the first turkey in my shooting lane was going to be the trophy of the day. The red dot of my Vortex Strikefire settled on the turkey's head and I started to track him from behind some wild grape vines. I gave him about two steps into the clearing and hammered him with a 3 inch load of #6 Remington Hevi shot. He was ten yards away.
He fell like a ton of bricks and immediately two other toms jumped him. Feathers were flying as the poor guy got the crap kicked out of him. Fortunately it wasn't a repeat of last year. I finally managed to retrieve my first turkey. He weighed in at 19.25 pounds and had a nine and three quarter inch beard and three quarter inch spurs. So now the first one is done and I still have another tag to fill. I'm already thinking there should be a grand slam in the future.