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Blinded in Kansas

It didn't take too much imagination to get fired up for my hunt in northeastern Kansas. In fact, as Tad Brown, Todd Wilson and I got out of the truck, a bird gobbled less than 200 steps away.

OK then.

We set up a blind at a fence row on Wilson's grandfather's farm, and then posted three decoys — a flocked Flambeau jake, hen and King Strut — in front of our setup. Brown, of Flambeau Outdoors, began to call, and several birds responded. However, they seemed to fade after hitting the ground. Then Wilson looked up.

"Two birds," he whispered. "Both gobblers. And they're coming."

I glimpsed two black specks racing down the creek bank 150 yards away. Then, I watched two white heads pop up on the other side. Before I knew it, a strutter was purring aggressively while challenging our jake decoy. Two shots later — yes, not sure how that happened — and the gobbler was down.

"Those birds had to come from across the road," Wilson said. "They were at least a quarter-mile away."

I couldn't have asked for a better start to our Kansas adventure. Of course, I couldn't envision what was going to happen next, either.

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