When Steve Stoltz owl-hooted atop the Missouri bluff, a powerful gobble hammered back.
Wow. The bird was right where we'd expected him to be.
Stoltz, a champion caller and Knight & Hale pro-staffer, ducked under the ridge and slipped closer toward the turkey. Several more owl hoots provoked numerous gobbles, and we nailed down the turkey's roost tree.
The next morning, Stoltz and I slipped through the pasture in darkness and then set up about 70 yards from the bird. As day began to break, we heard drumming. Then the bird gobbled, and we saw him strutting on the limb. All he had to do was pitch toward us, and the hunt would be finished.
But then a funny thing happened. After entertaining us for a half-hour on the roost, the gobbler sailed down to our left and landed on a thick finger ridge. We heard him drumming for a minute, and then all went silent.
Stoltz called. Nothing. He called again. Zip.
A few minutes later, the turkey sent us a token gobble — from 200 yards, headed the other way. That marked the final gobble we heard that day.
We'd been so close. But as we left the woods at 1 p.m. without a turkey, we reaffirmed that close sometimes doesn't mean much.