By Chris Hinds
-- Just a few years ago "Poppy," my hunting partner and father-in-law, and I decided that we should try turkey hunting. I had heard all of the stories about how a turkey can see movement like my wife can see a clearance sale sign from 20 miles away. Turkey are, from what I had learned from fellow hunters, very elusive and quite a challenge to hunt. Perfect! That's exactly what I was looking for because every other animal I have hunted just came so easily to me. Yeah, right!
One beautiful spring morning, you know the ones that make you think that God surely must be in a good mood today, well, I wasn't in the woods. Completely the opposite. I had to go to work. You see my good old hunting partner owned a local business and on this fine Saturday morning we were open for a couple hours so customers could return equipment.
Now being the responsible son-in-law that I am I ... nevermind I was volunteered to open the store. The plan was for me to open the store and as soon as I closed I was to head straight for the cabin where I would meet Poppy to begin our first attempt at bagging a big gobbler.
However, when I reached the cabin I found that my trusty hunting buddy was already in the woods and had taken the decoys. What a pal. That wasn't going stop me. I grabbed my shotgun and found the bag he had brought the shells in. I reached in and pulled out a few and flew out of the cabin like it was on fire, or like I had eaten some of Poppy's "deer camp fried eggs."
Jumping on the four-wheeler, I took off down the road. When I reached the field I wanted to hunt, I found my wife's cousin coming out. "Don't go this way," he said. "I haven't heard a thing all morning. You're probably better off on the other side of the place." I thanked him for the advice, but I knew where I wanted to hunt and I was bound and determined to sit there.
I pulled up to the gate and turned off the four-wheeler. After gathering my gun and mask, I started walking toward my spot. After about 20 feet, I figured I didn't want to jump anything, so I decided to hit the call just to check.
"GOBBBBLE! GOBBBBLE! GOBBBBLE!" the turkeys called. Good grits and gravy! They were everywhere. I was surrounded. Like Custer, I knew it was time to make my stand. I dove into a brush pile with form that would make Greg Louganis green with envy, almost knocking myself cold on a limb that hung a little lower than I thought.
I readied my gun and chirped the box call again. "GOBBBBLE ... GOBBBBLE!" The tom was closing in like a heat-sinking missile with tail feathers. Fifty yards ... 40 yards ... 35 yards ... 40 yards ... Hey, what? Then it hit me. There are no decoys. He heard a hen, but did not see a hen! I leveled down on him and took the last chance I had at shooting this bird. BOOM! "He's down! He's down!" I exclaimed.
Like a plate of fried chicken after church, I was on him in the blink of an eye. I snatched him up and headed out. When I got back to the four-wheeler, I saw my hunting buddy coming down the road. He pulled up just as I crossed the gate with my prize.
"When did you get here?" he asked.
"About 15 minutes ago," I replied in a rather disgusted voice.
"What are you shooting?"
"The 20-gauge," sounding a little like a newly elected senator.
"Where did you get the shells?"
What is this, I wondered, 20 questions?
"Out of your bag," I said.
Poppy just hung his head shaking it side to side. You see in all of the rush to get into the woods I had grabbed the wrong shells - dove load to be exact. The time span from arriving at the cabin to my shot was less than 10 minutes, which I found was plenty of time for me to make this very stupid mistake.
It has been 3 years since then and I have revised my thinking on the subject. I have yet to kill another gobbler and neither has my good old hunting partner. But I am completely hooked on turkey season. Again I know he's not the biggest bird in the woods, but he is an awesome memory I will have for a long time ... as long as I quit hitting my head on low-hanging limbs.
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