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Preparation pays off

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For a successful hunt, it is good to plan well ahead.

I did plan ahead, I just did not have time to implement my plan.

I wanted to have my blind set up Friday night, complete with chair, snacks and calls, ready for Saturday morning. Friday, by the time I had a few free minutes to go to the farm, it was dark. At that point, setting up the blind in the dark would be no different in the evening or the next morning. Waiting would save me a trip.

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I rose a half hour earlier than for a normal turkey hunt to allow for the extra set up time. This in itself is a painful experience. Crawling out of a warm bed at 4:30 in the morning when a person could be sleeping makes one wonder about themselves. Even a few more minutes of sleep would be wonderful, but I would look silly if a turkey came strolling by while I was still trying to figure out how to unfold my blind.

I put on the coffee and started loading equipment. On one trip to the truck, I offered the dog the opportunity to go outside. She looked at me as if to say, "There is nothing I need to do out there at this time of the morning." She watched sleepily from her bed as I finished loading decoys, gun, calls, shells, food, and finally the coffee.

It was still well before daylight when I got to the farm. I took the advice of my younger son, Damon, on where to hunt. It was on top of a ridge with timber on both sides. I had planned to hunt in a low field below one of the ponds, but the recent frequent rains would have meant a long walk through a muddy field. The ridge top location meant I would not return to find my truck was stuck in the mud, nor would I get wet before sitting quietly in my blind to freeze to death in the early morning chill.

I parked around the corner well away from where I would be hunting. I like to leave the vehicle far enough from my hunting spot so the turkeys can not see it, but more importantly, during the excitement of the moment, I do not shoot my own truck as it sets innocently behind my intended game.

I loaded equipment on my back and trudged off into the darkness. I put down the first load and headed back to the truck, thinking turkey hunting certainly requires a lot of equipment. Returning with the second load, I was hoping I could again find the perfect spot I found to deposit the first load. I had the forethought to place the blind across the path so I tripped on it on the return.

By 5:30 I was all set up. I happily discovered I had shells, shotgun, and even had remembered my coffee. It does not get any better than this. Toms were gobbling from the roost on both sides of me before six o'clock. I called a couple of times, poured a cup of coffee, and waited for them to fly down.

About ten after, I could hear them fly off the roost. They were strutting and gobbling just inside the timber on both sides of me. Deer were moving into the open, coming close to the blind, and running a short distance away. They would come back, stomp their feet and snort.

I reached a hand out of the window of the blind and waved, hoping to scare them away before they spooked the gobblers. They ran off a bit, went back to grazing, and forget I was there. I knew if a gobbler came out about the time the deer exploded in every direction, my hunt would be over. I put down my coffee cup, made a few soft sensuous clucks, and one of the big old Toms came strutting into the opening. I raised my shotgun and dropped him quickly before the deer could scare him off.

The total time spent hunting was much less than the amount of time preparing and setting up everything. Perhaps planning ahead and a fair amount of preparation does pay off. It is hard to argue with a successful hunt.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.

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