May 15, 2003

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

I had to do it. I just had to do it. In the sporting world there are just certain things one doesn't do. You don't mention the fact to your hurler that he is pitching a no-hitter. You don't bag up the equipment until the last click of the clock has expired and you don't slip over into your buddy's spot while he unhooks another fish, even if he's caught 99 fish to your none. Well I should have known better than to whine about turkey hunting. To compound the problem I told the readers to stay tuned this week. So not only did my luck get even worse, I was forced to write about it.

It all started innocently enough. I put off my outing as long as I could and when Saturday rolled around I knew it was now or never. I didn't go into the outing blind. I knew the weather forecast was not pretty but it sure looked like there was a window there where I could get in and out before the storms arrived. Sure it was wishful thinking, but I was still caught up in the whole fairytale ending for my perseverance through the trials and tribulations of spring turkey season.

I made it to my parking spot a little earlier than normal so I was sure to get set up without pushing any birds off the roost. Of course, along the way to my hunting site I was fiddling to get my mouth-call case out of my pocket and I dropped it in knee high grass. The search was brief and unfruitful. I was able to leave an extra decoy stake to mark the spot for when I walked out so I could use the daylight to locate the AWOL calls.

When I arrived I staked out a nice seat against a big tree. I decided to put out just one decoy to keep things simple. Everything was good to go so I sat down. Crack. There went my owl hooter, which did not hold up under my bodyweight after the pocket of my hunting vest caught a tree limb on the way down and was pushed underneath me at the last second. Strike two.

Lucky for me I buy about 10 calls, sound-makers and other "necessities" every year so I was not hurting for equipment.

It turned out I didn't need the owl hooter after all. The gobblers chimed in right off the bat as the thunder began to roll. They were all around me. Unfortunately none were real close until the big gobbler let loose his good mornings about 100 yards from me. A couple calls from my slate and he was on the ground coming my way. There was nothing between him and me, and the tom obviously liked what I had to offer. Every time I sounded off he answered even more excited about meeting a new girlfriend.

Then the clouds opened up and someone turned Niagra Falls on right above me. My tree was of little use as the cover lasted about two seconds before I was soaked. It was a much warmer morning than my last drenching so I wasn't too worried about getting wet. That was until I tried to grate out some more love music on my slate call to no avail. With no response from his prospective mate the gobbler stopped in his tracks and started listening to other prospective suitors still in the trees.

I made a quick move to get my box call. As my hand groped around in the empty pocket I suddenly remembered how much my little girls enjoy playing with their newest toy. I could still hear the funny sounds they were making with it from their blanket tent they had built in the backroom, where I was sure that my box call still resided.

I wasn't going to quit. Surely I could mimic a few of the hen-like tones using my own voice. To my amazement the gobbler answered me and once again began his march toward me.

At about 60 yards my fairytale ended. About 12,000 hens flew down from the roost between me and Mr. Tom. Maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration but there were enough of the females between us that I had no chance. Not only did they stop my target from coming any closer they basically served as body armor for him as there was no way I could take a shot at the gobbler without taking out a few of his harem too.

To make things worse, as my prospective target was rushed off to safety the lightning really started. At least I wasn't obsessing about not getting a turkey. The thought of becoming my own electrical co-op was more consuming. When I got home I put my hunting gear away for the year. That was even before I heard the tornado forecasts for Sunday. (Due to space limitations I left out the poison ivy, ticks and sleep deprivation issues.)

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