SD04136 Hello Honey

Enough is enough.  I’ve been up and down and round and around the terrain so many times I am recognizing individual drops of scat and grains of dirt on the ground.  Twice I went into town to purchase a coyote-management rifle, only to find the pawn shop closed.  I am hot and tired.  Very tired.  Everything hurts.  My blind has been a welcome retreat more than once.  It is harder by the minute to remain positive and hopeful.

SDTurkey2013 014Three turkeys in six days?  Ha. What was I thinking?  It’s been eight days and I still have not harvested even one bird!  But not for lack of trying.  God knows I’ve been trying.  But it’s always something.  Jim is taking pity on me.  Thinks perhaps I’m due for another morning of him running my butt up and down the hills to get my spirits back up.

Yeah, I could use the moral support.

So it’s agreed we leave first thing in the morning.  We make the drive from camp out to the top of the road along the fence line as the first hint of the morning sun pastes a light glow on the horizon.  We sit silently in the truck, glassing to the west, the north, and the south.

“GobbleGobbleGobbleGobbleGobbleGobble!”

One glance to each other, and we are out of the vehicle and heading across the top of the prairie to the east.

“GobbleGobbleGobbleGobbleGobbleGobble!”

Our pace is brisk.  The wind is just strong enough to keep from breaking a sweat.  

“GobbleGobbleGobbleGobbleGobbleGobble!” 

That one came from the west.  We stop dead in our tracks. 

“what do you think?”

“well, what do you think?”

“I think path of least resistance, and if it doesn’t pan out, then go after the other birds.”

“Ok.”  And we continue on to the east.

“GobbleGobbleGobbleGobbleGobbleGobble!”

Our pace quickens.  I swear he can cover a mile a minute.  Jim is on his 3rd cigarette, and I am falling behind, as usual.  I look like the Taliban, sweating profusely under my camo garb, I sound like a cardiac emergency, and am humping along 50 yards behind him.

At least it seems like that.

Jim takes a sharp left down a game trail, drops into a draw, and leans against the side of the hill.  Eventually I drop down next to him with a heavy sigh. I know where we are.  About two miles from the truck.

“I think we should set up the decoys here, and just wait it out.”

“Sounds marvelous!”

 

We fuss around setting up decoys until I think Pretty Boy and The Girls look ‘just right’. 

Then we wait.

Friends don’t let friends hunt alone.  Friends don’t let friends get into places that would be dangerous either.  Jim decides to leave my side, to go look over that next hill.  Well……okay.  I know he wants to go have another cigarette.

And he is gone.

Hard to believe how many body parts can begin to loose feeling when you are hunched down on the side of a hill for an hour.  That goofy warm fuzzy feeling of numbness in the feet, the legs, the butt, the hands, the arms…….after an hour or more, what isn’t numb? Still, I crouch ready to shoot the first bird I see.  Jim is long gone.  Probably fell asleep on the other side of that hill.  I could use a nap myself…I’ve completely lost interest in staring down my decoys, and start nodding off. 

Suddenly I catch a glimpse of movement to my right. SDTurkey2013 011

I shift my weight to better glance to the right. 

Well slap me silly it’s a hen!  She’s too far.  Can I get closer?  Oh!  I try to shift again to get feeling back in the legs.

“foooshhh, foooosh, whhhoooooop-whhhhhoooppp” the flutter of giant wings to my left sends me reeling the other way, to discover a jake making his escape flight low across the bottom of the hill behind me. 

So caught off guard, I don’t even have a chance to shoot!

I am surrounded by birds.

I quickly turn my attention back to the hen.  She is out of sight. Suddenly her head pops up from behind a ridge.  She is part of a string of birds—about 60 yards away.  One, two…three….five……….six birds in a row, making their way around this whole hill and decoy set up.

Where is Jim?

I am weighing out the idea of going after these birds that are sneaking up behind me, or focus on the possibility that another bird or two will appear over the top like the jake. If I jump up and go after them I will be exposed to everything else out there.  How bad do I want a hen?

And where is Jim?  Hopefully not between me and the birds.

The line of birds are now over yet another small hill behind me, and a good football field away.  I turn back to the decoys, and survey the area that jake came from.

Suddenly I spot frantic, flailing movement on the top of the hill.  It’s Jim.  It’s Jim, on his knees, making wild hand signals. 

What the…..?

He is pointing down, making the binocular signal, the shooting a bow signal, the “very big buck” signal,  pointing, waiving, and I have no clue what he is actually trying to say, until he begins to seemingly motion me to come up the hill.

 

Well, okay.  I begin to skirt up the hill.  As I get closer, he raises up his hands over his head, extending an antler.  Is that what this is all about?  He found an antler?  Good grief.  I stop and stand there looking up at him, shaking my head.  Suddenly another bird busts through the trees on the far side of the hill, completely out of range.

Jim is back to pointing down, jumping up and down and pointing down and motioning me to come forward.  I continue up the hill, staring deep into the brushy ground with each cautious step.  There must be something there.  Oh, sure, it would have to be between me and him.  I motion him to get out of my possible line of fire.  He drops out of sight. 

Well, that’s almost worse.  Now where the heck is he?  As I pause with concern, suddenly right before me a big black blob rises straight up from the brush, massive wings exploding out of the dirt, heavy thrusts heaving it 6,10, 15 feet up while gaining twice as far a distance away from me, veering to my left.

Well hello, honey!

Instantly my gun is up and I am firing.  Firing. Firing.  Feathers flying.  Smoldering hot powder smell.  Black blob tumbling in mid-air. Tumbling, tumbling…..cloud of feathers drifting…drifting….

Thud. 

Quiet.

 

“Woooooooo hoooooooo!  Woooh!  Wooooh!  Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

 

Laughing, crying, screaming,  I am so far beyond the Snoopy dance it’s ridiculous.  Jims head pops up over the hilltop, I am running to the fallen bird, screaming “I shot a turkey! I shot a turkey! I got one! I got one! I did, I got one!” He makes his way back down the hill just in time for me to body slam him a huge jumping up and down hug. I am overcome with out of this world excitement.  He is laughing. I am laughing.  I am trying to gather up the beautiful plumes scattered all over the ground.  We get to the bird. 

“Yup, you shot a bird all right. At least I think it was a bird.”  he smirks.

Okay so I got a little over zealous with the shooting.  What can I say?  It’s been a morning.  I just wanted to make sure this one didn’t get away. 

After a quick photo shoot session, we break down the decoys, I gather up my fine hen, and we begin our two mile journey back to the vehicle.  Jim is proudly carrying his half a six point rack.  I have my turkey proudly slung across my back.  What a great friend, putting up with all this crazy.  Bet he doesn’t get this much entertainment with “the guys”.

We walk shoulder to shoulder for almost 5 minutes with me talking a mile a minute about the shot before I start to SDTurkey2013 086fall behind.

Yes, I the stealth hunter, have harvested me a wild turkey this fine May 9th morning.

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