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It's not Over Yet!

Michael S. ClarkBy Michael S. Clark

-- Just when everyone is putting away their rifles and shotguns with anticipation of a great fishing season this spring, some of us would rather hold off just a bit longer on those fried fillets. Why wait on such a delicacy you ask? Some of us consider those bearded beasts of the woods just as much a delicacy. Besides, you don't have to put away that shotgun just yet. That's right; I am talking about the spring wild turkey season. I, like many other hunters, truly look forward to the spring turkey hunt.

I recall a hunt that my cousin, Cody, and I made just last spring. High hopes and nothing but good times were planned for this 3-day hunt in the hill country of West Texas. We are fairly new to the game of turkey hunting, with only about three years under our belts, but we have learned quite a bit during this time and continue to learn on every outing. We could hardly wait to put our skills to the test.

We arrived early on the Friday before the opener, which was the following Saturday. 
There was plenty of time for a ride around the lease and then a nap before we went out that evening in hopes of finding some turkeys going to their roost. The ride proved there was a lot of deer in that part of Texas but not as many turkeys as we had hoped. After our nap, we headed out to different parts of the lease to scope out what we anticipated would be a turkey roost.

My cousin dropped me off in a large pasture that has a few stands of small oaks. The perfect place for a turkey to roost - at least that's what I was looking forward to. I headed for a small group of trees that overlooked most of the large field-like flat to watch from. When I got there, I found a turkey feather on the ground. Then I found another and then another. The next thing you know, I had a big bouquet of turkey feathers in my hand, just like when I used to play centerfield and would get bored and pick flowers for my mom.

I suddenly realized I was standing in the middle of a turkey roost. Some skills, huh? I looked around real quick to make sure there were no turkeys around before I high-tailed it out of there to a nearby oak tree. It was a single big oak in the middle of the field where I could overlook the recently discovered roosting trees.

I got settled in and started searching with my binoculars, just waiting for the flocks of gobblers that I would certainly see on this evening. Off to my right, I saw some movement under a different group of trees. Sure enough, a jake was feeding under the trees. 

I got so excited I could hardly contain myself. Then another jake showed up. I watched the two for about 30 minutes when one of the birds took off and flew up into a big oak tree. 

A couple of minutes later, the other bird flew up into the top of a small oak right across from the first bird. I had done it. I had experienced the thrill of putting my first turkeys to bed. Knowing they would be right there the next morning and that we had some birds to hunt, I was overly excited, even though they were far from trophy gobblers. My cousin came to pick me up, and I told him the good news. He got just as fired up as I did. It was time to celebrate.
    
We headed for town and got the thickest steaks we could find. We got back to camp and ran all the scorpions out of the BBQ, and we planned our morning hunt. We were quite excited so it took a lot of eating and planning before we were tired enough for bed. We finally turned in and set the alarm.
    
The next morning, we headed for the same tree that I sat under the day before. It would be from this tree that we would hunt the unsuspecting turkeys from. We set out a couple of hen decoys, and we got set to wait for them to fly down. Daylight came and finally one jake flew down and began stretching. We started calling to them, and the other bird flew down as well. We called and called, but they were in no hurry. 

They would even strut a little when we called. They must have noticed the hen decoys we had out because they began to head our way. The turkeys started coming faster; one of them even had to run to catch up with the other one. When the jakes were about 25 yards distant, the moment of truth came. It was perfect. We put them to bed and now we had called them in. 

Time to count to three and shoot ... 1, 2, 3, BANG! Cody's turkey dropped dead, but my turkey was running like I fired the starting pistol. What happened? I shot again and my turkey ran even faster, and then became airborne. This is when Cody had to step in; he had to shoot my turkey out of the sky before it got away. He was pumped, he had gotten them both. I wanted to cry. How in the heck can you miss a turkey at 25 yards? I still don't have an answer for that. 
   
After I got over the shock and grief of my horrible shooting display, I was still able to enjoy that hunt. We had completed our first sure enough turkey hunt from start to finish. So while most of the area outdoor enthusiasts are trading in their shotguns, some of us choose to hang on to ours for just a little longer. Come on spring!

Michael S. Clark
Lake Charles, Louisiana

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