Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Windy-Day Turkey Hunting
There are days when it doesn’t pay to get dressed in full camo clothing. Today was one, if a guy really decided he didn’t want to hunt turkeys.
I got up in the darkness, leaving a warm and comfortable bed, and could hear the wind whistling outside. My eyes were wide open, my ears cocked toward the bedroom window which I reached up and opened, and I’m having a private battle with myself.
One part of me was clamoring: “You fool, it’s impossible to shoot a gobbler while laying in bed. Get up, and get out there into the woods. Your last days of the pring turkey hunting ends Sunday evening. Forget the weather and get on with it.”
The other part of me, the logical side of my brain, was arguing the other side of this problem. “That may well be true, but tell me when have you had a good turkey hunting day in really windy weather? Huh? Answer that one.”
It was a standoff. Both sides of the problem had some valid points, and both sides had a strike or two against them. Both made sense, in a rather twisted kind of way, and the final decision simply had to be made by the guy laying in in a comfy bed.
Recognizing the problem, I made my decision. I rolled over, closed my eyes, dozed and dreamed of a fanned-tail gobbler marching to the call like a good little soldier. He came, head-up, wary and looking around, and I woke up again just as the Day-Glow bead was settling on his noggin. Why do dreams always end at the most critical point?
It was still dark, but graying up toward dawn. My watch said 5:45 a.m., and I decided to let my ears do some work for a change. If I heard a bird gobble, I’ll hit the deck moving, climb into my camo, grab my shotgun and hunting vest, and head out to greet the dawn.
I laid there for almost an hour, and heard some robins and other song birds outside, but not one gobble was heard. Up I come, jumped rather slowly into my pants and shirt, and went out for the morning paper. I’m listening with both ears cocked, hopefully in two different directions, desperate to hear a gobbler sound off from yonder woods.
No such luck today. The paper was eased out of the tube, and I stood there for 20 minutes in 40-degree windy weather and listened. I can hear a gobbler a mile away, so I’m covering nearly four square miles with my ears.
There was nothing but the sound of wind whistling through the trees. I spotted a doe, her belly heavy with fawns, cross the road a quarter-mile upwind as I stood motionless and silent. The old girl moved rather sluggishly, and it was apparent this year’s littler of fawns would soon be born.
In the house I go, my mind now on the next Detroit Red Wings game. That line of thinking made me happy, and I began having turkey hunting thoughts again.
My mind conjured up many past turkey hunts, in my younger days when time was limited and I hunted regardless of the weather. Thinking back, I’ve shot a couple of gobblers in a heavy rain when they looked like giant two-legged, water-logged rats coming through the timber to the call.
I recall once when I called a great gobbler up to me in a snowstorm, and many are the days when the sky dawned clear with a chilly bite to the air, and the birds gobbled their brains out before flying down and working their way rapidly to the call.
There were days when the Toms roared, and days when they snuck in as silent as drifting fog. Some of those days I shot a gobbler, other times my wife did, and on many occasions, whoever was hunting with me popped a cap and took a grand longbeard as he raised his head to look things over. Today, however, the birds were playing a shut-mouth game. They weren’t talking to anyone, including themselves.
I’ve also hunted enough to know that some of this turkey hunting business, and the weather conditions we encounter during the season, can be rather meaningless. For every rule, there seems to be an exception.
The rule holds true with many things. Normally, I would have been out there looking for gobblers that don’t gobble. It’s mighty difficult to really get cranked up, but I donned my clothing, grabbed my venerable Model 870 Remington, stuffed three magnum loads of No. 5 shot into the old cornshucker, and headed back out into the cold morning air.
I moved often, called sparingly, covered a mile of terrain, and never saw or heard a gobbler or hen. Once, I thought I heard a hen mouthing off at my calls from a long way away, and moved in that direction.
I gave it a few minutes of rest, and tried again, now about 200 yards closer to where I thought I heard the hen. I tried calling again, hoping for some word from a tired old gobbler who still had enough starch left in him to want to breed another hen.
No such luck. What I took to be a hen call may have been the wind or just wishful thinking, but nothing came to the call during this morning’s wind. However, there is tomorrow and with luck the wind will die and the gobblers will gobble.
One can always hope.