Turkeys, some say that they are a dumb bird, well, if that holds true, then I must be a complete idiot, as I’d been trying to hunt one for several years with no luck.
I’m not really sure how many years I have tried, as I have lost track after 4 seasons. It wasn’t due to lack of persistence, because believe me I hunted hard. I tried everything from old decoys, to the newest and latest, greatest decoys, with real turkey tail feathers.
I tried calling and sitting quiet, I tried sitting in a blind, running and gunning. I even tried reaping (where you hide behind the decoy or fan and move closer or have the tom come to you). Some videos of this type of hunting are pretty intense, but I was up to trying just about anything to fill that tag.
My best success was reaping a few years previous. I had two hens come right next to me; so close I could’ve reached over and pet them. But no luck with the tom, he wanted nothing to do with me. I began to wonder if maybe I was just turkey cursed.
Last spring, good friends of mine, Tim and Cathy, gave me a call and said that I “HAD” to come down to their place and turkey hunt. They had turkeys practically in their backyard every morning.
I’ve known Tim and Cathy for many years and we’ve been taking quite a few hunting and fishing trips together, so I knew that even if I didn’t fill my tag, that we’d have a great time together. We talked several times before finally getting a weekend that would work for all of us. The dates were set, and I was pretty pumped up!
Cathy would text me several pictures in the coming weeks of birds in their driveway, birds in the woods, birds on their trail cams, birds everywhere. I tried not to get too excited, because I’d been in this situation many times in the past. There would be several good birds on the property I was going to hunt, but when it was my time to hunt, they had moved on and were nowhere to be found. Deep down though, I couldn’t help but feel, and hope, that this year would be different.
Finally, the time had come. I packed my gear (ok, I admit it, I’d had it packed for several days before because I was too excited), we got in the truck and headed down to Wyoming, MN. My husband was driving and Cathy and I continued to text back and forth as we drove down. Apparently there were several birds getting ready to roost and Tim and Cathy were watching them to see exactly where they were headed. I teased Tim and told him to “sing them a lullaby” and get them to bed.
Within a few hours, we were at their place and my excitement was at an all-time high. We spent that night talking and getting a game plan for the next morning. Finally, we decided we’d better try to get some sleep.
I’m not sure why we even went to bed as I was so nervous, but crazy excited. I kept getting up and checking the time on my cell phone. I was positive that my alarm wasn’t going to go off and that I’d over sleep.
Finally, I must have dozed off because I was woke to “beep, beep, beep” at 4am. I quickly got dressed and quietly went downstairs to meet Tim. It had been decided that Tim would sit with me in the blind, as he was a really good caller, something that I haven’t perfected yet. We grabbed my bow and headed into the dark to the blind.
Tim got a couple decoys set up about 10 feet from the blind. He was using a hen and a Jake, for him, that’s what works. Who was I to argue? I was up to try just about anything and had to trust Tim that he knew what these birds would come to.
Sitting in the darkness of the blind, listening for the gobble of a big tom or the soft purrs of a hen, waiting for the sun to rise. Every now and then, Tim would give a “chirp, chirp, chirp” from his mouth call to see if we could get the birds to respond. Every once in a while we could hear a faint gobble, but the boys were being pretty quiet.
As I was scanning the field to my right, Tim poked me and said “Look”. To our left about 200 yards, there were some hens. They were scratching at the dirt and pecking at what I was guessing was bugs. Birds! Yeah! That was a good sign!
Pretty soon there were a total of 6 turkeys. Slowly they parted, with some heading to the left and a couple heading in our direction. The two heading in our way were both jakes and I was completely ok with shooting a Jake; I just wanted to get my first bird under my belt. They continued our direction, but at about 60 yards, they decided to veer left out of our sights and my life. My heart dropped and I thought well, there goes my opportunity.
Tim called softly and we waited, hoping that maybe one of the jakes would come back. “Tammie look,” he pointed back out into the open field where the other birds just were. I smiled as I watched a beautiful tom strut and show his stuff. This was something I had wanted to see for so many years! He’d fluff his tail feathers and proudly displayed the colors of his fan were glistening in the sunlight, watching him made my day.
As I continued to watch him strut in awe, he all of a sudden started heading our way and not slowly! He was coming in on a string! “Hurry up! Get your bow!”
I quickly grabbed my bow and got into position. That turkey practically came running to us. Holy buckets! This was going to happen! My heart was racing!
I slowly pulled my bow back and was waiting for him to turn broadside, nope, he continued to come straight on. 40 yards, 30 yards, 20, I decided it was now or never. I placed my pin directly in the middle of his chest and released my arrow.
I knew I’d made a great hit as the bird hunched up. He stood there, took a couple steps and was now broadside, slowly rocking back and forth. “Nock another arrow, “Tim frantically whispered. I knocked a second arrow and let another release. The bird dropped!
All of my emotions came pouring out! Tears flowed down my cheeks and my hands were shaking from the adrenaline, the release that many hunters can understand. Tim and I hugged each other and celebrated that I had finally done it.
We walked up to the bird, I placed my hands on his body and said a little prayer of thanks. I snapped a quick photo and sent a text to Darrell and Cathy, who quickly came down. More tears of excitement and lot of hugs in congratulations were given.
As we got ready for some photos, I was in complete awe of this bird’s beauty. All of the brilliant iridescent colors on each feather. People say they are ugly, but I disagree. They are stunning.
I am blessed beyond words to have finally taken one of these magnificent birds with good friends by my side. Finally my curse had been broken, and maybe, hopefully, my second bird won’t take quite as many years.