As a turkey hunter, we go out and search for that trophy bird, that bird of a lifetime, ones that make your hunting experience memorable and wanting more. Setting up the decoys, fine-tuning those varieties of turkey calls, all the while as the anticipation keeps building.
Then the flock comes in to investigate your decoy spread, you start checking out all the Toms—beard length, spur length, all for the maturity of that bird. There are Jakes mixed in, some birds that are a few years older, then the mature Toms are very noticeable and there is one that always stands out.
This one bird is probably one of the most mature birds of the flock. He’s been through several breeding and fighting seasons. He doesn’t have that clean flow to his feathers, he isn’t as active as the other younger birds are, his tail feathers are beaten up and looks like he was jumped in a dark alley.
Many hunters will pass on this bird, just because of the way he looks, but in some hunters’ eyes, this bird is a true trophy. The stories that come along with this bird must be remarkable, as the fight wounds, disarrayed feathers, all have something to say about the days of his life up to this point.
He isn’t as active as the younger birds that are constantly trying to get the attention of the hens in the flock. He stands there proud and on display but, with his age, possibly hurt in some way, he doesn’t chase, but instead waits for the hens to come to him, he knows that he doesn’t have to spend a lot of energy on looking attractive to the hens.
He may not see as much action as the other younger birds, but over the years of his breeding opportunities, he has had his fair share and his genetics have been passed on. He follows the flock where ever they go and stands proud, overlooking the other birds.
By the colors of the skin on his head, show that he does have some age on himself. These colors still flare brightly in the sun’s light and there is no mistaking that he may be the king of this flock. As the flock moves in and reacts to the decoys, he comes along slowly, following behind and the decision for taking a shot at this bird must be made.
Do I take a shot at one of the younger mature birds, as we leave the jakes alone for now, or do I take the chance at this not so good-looking bird? The decision must be made quickly, as the hens are always moving, and the Toms are staying in eyes view.
As they start moving off, the shot needs to be taken, thoughts race through my head as I pull the bowstring back and lay the sight on one of these birds. The arrow releases and the flock takes to the air as one bird flops on the ground a few times and there is silence in the air once again.
My heart is racing, excitement overwhelms me as I look across at the bird laying on the ground. Satisfaction of a successful hunt has me very excited and I can’t wait to go and look at this majestic bird. Walking up to it, a smile forms on my lips and as I bend down to take a closer look, the hunt flashes through my mind.
This bird has been through many a battle, his tail feathers are nothing to look at as they are in such disarray and missing many areas of them and won’t be worthy of a wall mount. That doesn’t matter at this point, as I had a successful hunt, very proud of taking a bird of this size with a bow and arrow. It is something that I have been wanting to do for quite some time.
Some hunts are done with taking a trophy in mind that would eventually go onto the wall, and other hunts, the satisfaction of making a harvest is the main part of a successful hunt. That is what I had done on this hunt, harvested a mature male turkey, wasn’t the prettiest, won’t be going on the wall, but the time and effort that was put into the field is my trophy that I will keep for many years to come.