If you’re seeking tales of classic hunts, you might want to click out of this entry. Maybe you can read Jim Schlender’s tales of South Dakota.
However, if you’re in the mood for the type of bizarre, goofed-up yarns only Eastern wild turkeys can provide, read on.
The other morning here in Wisconsin, I struck a bird high atop a timbered ridge and then marched toward him. When I reached the property line, I called again, and the bird responded from what seemed like a mile away. But hey, with nothing else going on, I had nothing to lose, so I sat down and yelped again.
Fifteen seconds later, I looked up to see the gobbler sprinting. What the heck? But instead of running toward me in the finger ridge, he paralleled me and dropped off into a deep bottom, where he gobbled his head off for the next 20 minutes. Of course, I expected him to charge up the hill at any moment, so I had twisted around the tree and struggled to hold my gun up for what would surely be a quick shot.
And you’ve no doubt guessed that he never came. Instead, he slowly waltzed and gobbled down the bottom, eventually giving me a farewell response from about 150 yards distant.
“That does it,” I thought. “I’m going to dog him all morning.”
I arose, slipped 50 yards through the woods and called again.
Certain I had bumped him. I cursed my clumsiness and wondered what to do.
“Might as well sit here for a half-hour,” I thought. “Maybe I didn’t bump him, and if so, he could come back.”
Fair enough. I sat and left the calls alone.
After 30 minutes had passed, I’d had enough, so I scanned my eyes through the trees for one final look.
Turkey at 150 steps!
I couldn’t believe it. Was it him? I didn’t know. But I’d find out soon, because the bird began running at me.
Soon, I heard soft crunching in the leaves, and a small blue head popped up five feet away. It was a hen. She saw me immediately, putted once and then ran away.
I was flabbergasted. A pepper-hot gobbler runs through the woods toward me, then goes completely around me and gobbles his head off going away. And to top it off, a hen sprints to me, busts me and probably boogers the woods while making her escape.
Only then did I see the two strutters that had been trailing her. They were walking up a logging road behind some thick brush, and I wasn’t sure if I could get on them in time. Somehow, I managed to contort my body around the tree, lean forward, cant the gun and stop the trailing bird at the edge of range. And thankfully, he collapsed at the shot.
It was one of the oddest hunts I’d experienced in a while. While toting the 2-year-old out of the woods, I wondered how the first gobbler and the hen and her strutters hadn’t crossed paths while running in opposite directions.
Who knows why turkeys do what they do half the time? I guess if we ever figured out everything, it wouldn’t be much fun.