April 26, 2007

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

After five days of planning to get up early and turkey hunt were spoiled by five evenings of refusing to set my alarm clock for 4:45 a.m., my hand was forced this weekend by a couple of pretty girls.

My pillow was still feeling pretty good when that annoying shriek erupted close by to rouse me from my sleep. My hand shot out on its own accord, mostly out of habit I guess, searching like an F-15 jet fighter for that darn snooze button. My quest for just a few more Zs was shot down by the heat-seeking missile of my wife’s hand as she darted out of the closet already in complete camouflage.

As I rolled over to the other side of the bed to try to avoid her efforts to awaken me, I heard the call come up from my daughter downstairs asking if Mom needed reinforcements. When the talk between the two generals turned to a bucket of ice water, I decided I better get with it.

I was saved from any debate of my sleeping habits by the fact that I can dress and hit the truck running in less time than it takes for the girls to do their hair for the turkeys.

If I were smarter I would know that this simply was a trick to get me to make the 17 trips to the truck to load all of their gear. Apparently there is the threat of being stranded in the woods for a week, because we had to take camping gear, full rations and enough accessories that I contemplated trying to hire a couple extra porters to march us to our destination.

We finally all squished into the pickup and departed for the woods. Seconds out of the driveway I heard snoring from both of my passengers as they took advantage of the short trip to “rest up”.

I discovered that my car alarm works just as well as those little clocks by your bed, as both girls jumped into action after just a few honks. I was a nice guy, I did let them get a few extra winks while I made the first three trips to the blind to unload. I debated calling them on the cell phone from the hideout to ask them if they were going to join me, but I knew that those two probably could not carry all three picnic baskets, the air mattress, cooler and the barbecue grill all by themselves.

Remarkably we found ourselves settled into the hunting retreat with time to spare. I was in the middle of my coaching speech about where the birds likely would come from and how the girls should prepare their shots, when the first gobbler sounded off on the roost. It only took a couple more of those wonderful sounds to get me pumped up. I was going to finish my speech but the double gobble was so close it woke up both the girls and they told me to be quiet.

The serenade was a thing of beauty as we had plenty of tom turkeys singing to us as they roused themselves from what had to have been a much better night of sleep than I had received.

The first bird to hit the ground came just as I had predicted. He moved quickly toward us, leaving me little time to again wake up the girls. I swept up Abigayle into my lap and she made her best effort to line up a shot with her little 20-gauge. Bless her heart, the little seven year old just doesn’t yet have the muscle to truly control even this downsized firearm.

So as the bird got to less than 20 yards from us, she decided maybe momma should take it. Apparently this came as a shock to her mother, because our fellow hunter had yet to put any shells into her gun.

By the time we found the ammunition buried under the sleeping bags, the camp stove and the big screen television, our first gobbler had decided to move on to a group of hens that was flying down in the distance.

A bit exasperated, I muttered that I would have been at home, with a turkey in the freezer and my tired rump back asleep by 7:30 a.m. but nobody heard me as the outing turned into turkey sleeping.

Next we had a pair of gobblers decide to take a look at our decoy spread. They stayed out of shooting range but did give us some decent photo and video opportunities. (I guess I shouldn’t complain about having to pack in the three bags of camera gear, as we actually used it.)

The final tom passed by just before 10:00 a.m. He gobbled at my calls on several occasions as he approached. But we were foiled once again, as he would not come within the 40-yard marker I had set up for my wife.

I would have taken a shot at the dang thing, but I didn’t want to wake anyone up. Besides I didn’t have any room on the luggage rack strapped to my back for the return trip to the truck.

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