Tuesday, March 15, 2011

"Second Chances"

**A quick word regarding Magellan and his travels - they will start back up next week.  It's turkey season after all!**

Many reading this will remember the bird I was hunting last year.  Many times over the first half of the season, I had the bird with in questionable shooting range or circumstances, never getting the bird to give me a decent shot.  At some point around the middle of the year, he just disappeared.  It seemed strange to me a bird that would gobble hundreds of times just stop all of a sudden.  It seemed strange until I found the boot prints.  I was literally heart-broken, because the bird was huge.  While stopping short of the hypocrisy of saying "I've never trespassed for a bird", I will say that helping my dad keep up our land as he gets older, has given me new appreciation for "one man's property" versus someone who writes a check in order to hunt.  I digress.

In any case, if you remember that bird and those circumstances, you probably remember the 2 year old turkey I shot as well thinking I had just shot a possible record book bird.  Never in my life have I been so disappointed in a bird that offered up so much fun.  I really had to take stock of what was important, and to be honest, I realized I had fallen into the trap that is the "numbers game."  I failed to appreciate that bird for what he was - a beautiful turkey that gobbled his head off and came in strutting to my calling.  I allowed my misunderstanding of what's important to the hunt to ruin my entire season. 

This year, I had the awful displeasure of having to work opening weekend.  I got to hear and read the accounts of my friends as they got to chase birds unfettered by work.  It almost drove me crazy.  But, all that was forgotten yesterday morning as I drove out to hunt.

The morning dawned as a picturesque springtime morning in the turkey woods.  Soft south wind, touch of fog, and a smell of mud after a rain.  There was no way a turkey could resist firing off at daylight...but, they did.  In fact, the first bird didn't gobble until 7:30 a.m.  When that first gobbler sounded, I was so far away from him, I couldn't tell exactly where he was on the property, so I just sat there hoping for another gobble. The second one didn't come until 30 minutes later, and when he gobbled, I knew he had come closer.  There were also 2 gobblers running together.

In no time, turkeys were all around me.  Jakes and hens were milling about, but the 2 big boys had hung up some 100 yards away.  After several minutes, the turkeys had fed off through the pine timber.   Given the numbness I was experiencing in my rear end, I shifted my weight slightly to allow a bit of blood flow.  The hen that spotted me was literally breathing down my neck, and her "putt" almost knocked my hat off - she was that close.  How I didn't hear her is beyond me.  But at her "putting" the rest of the flock started the same.  Off the hill to the east, a peacock that's gone wild with the turkeys started it's unnerving calling as well (long story for another day).  All this "putting" and "yeehawing" from the peacock would normally spook most birds, but the 2 toms just started gobbling.  I did the only thing I could think of, and that was fall in with the hens, and start calling myself. 

Gobble after gobble seemed to calm the other turkeys down, and make me a little nervous.  After a few minutes, the turkeys broke camp and started moving through the timber.

I am a firm believer in the fact that there's fewer things a hunter can experience more awesome than a strutting turkey.  The fact I had 2 strutter's coming my way did nothing but "up the ante".  They fell in step with each other in single file formation, stopping to strut and drum at about 30 yards dead in front of me, but behind a large pine tree.  For about 5 minutes, I did nothing but watch 2 fans blowing in the breeze and listened to drumming.

 Turkey call by John Eddleman, the single notch from 
a bird he killed.  It's now in my possession
and, I'll be adding a notch soon.
Stay tuned for an upcoming story on the Eddleman Calls.

At 8:25 the birds broke camp for the last time, one coming around the tree to my right, the other to my left.  Both were great birds, one being equal to the next.  Only one lived to see another day, hopefully to be hunted later this week as me and my friends have our annual "SuperHunt" weekend coming.

He was a beautiful bird, sporting a 10 inch beard, and 1 1/4 and 1 1/8 inch spurs.

My first hunt this year, and the pressures off.  I admit, it's a nice feeling.

If you've read this far, you may be asking yourself "why is this titled second chances"?  Well, I'll tell you.  Right before I shot, it dawned on me that I was a mere 10 yds from the tree I was sitting in front of when I shot the 2 year old that disappointed me so.  The turkeys themselves strutted and drummed behind the very tree the aforementioned 2 year old did, right before he died.  

In case you're wondering, when I walked up to the bird, I sat on a knee and THANKED GOD for the morning He gave...and, for second chances.  If you think about it, He gave us a second chance many years ago by way of His Son on the Cross.

Seemed appropriate this time of year.
Have a great week, check by often.



Just call me D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keith said...

Love the photos and the fresh perspective - keep it up bro!