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Suffering indignities of turkey hunting

hile chatting with my son Damon on Friday night, I mentioned I was going turkey hunting Saturday morning, to let him know where I would be in case he was also going out. My six-year-old grandson, Zane, never lets a word go by unnoticed. With big blue eyes looking up at me he asked, "Can I go hunting with you, Grandpa?"

What is a grandpa to do? It was the first hunt of the spring gobbler season and chances were good we would get a bird. The weather forecast was for a warm and clear morning. I was hunting from a blind, so what could it hurt?

Damon thought it would be much better if Zane spent the night with us rather than rousting his household at 5 a.m. He had a good point. Zane had no problem with the arrangement since there are few things better in life than spending the night with Grandpa and Nanna.

Four-thiry came awfully early and it was raining. I got up, made coffee, hot chocolate, and packed enough food to last two hunters until early July. I loaded the truck with all the assorted and required hunting equipment before I went in to wake up Zane. He did not want to wake up. My efforts were persistent and loud enough, I eventually woke up my wife in the next room. In spite of both our trying, it finally became evident Zane was not going to make this hunting trip.

The blind was set up and I was nestled in and ready by 5:30. Just before six, I heard a couple gobbles off in the distance perhaps a half mile away. These were the only gobbles of the morning. For some reason, turkeys do not like to gobble when it is raining. This makes hunting much more difficult. A person knows they are out there, perhaps even coming to the call, but there is not a clue where they might be.

Using my hen call, I let out with an occasional yelp, cluck and purr. Two hens came out into the clearing to see what was going on. They checked out my decoy and went about their business of eating and calling. I am good at calling, but not nearly as good as these two. While they were standing in front of my blind, I shut up and let them do the talking. They wandered off and I heard another hen calling as she walked toward the blind.

She clucked as she walked pausing to look into the timber every few minutes. She got fairly close before I noticed she had a beard. Tom turkeys have a big heavy beard hanging from the middle of their chest which is the primary way to identify a male from a female. Rarely, a hen will have a beard and this is the first time I had seen one in the wild. Her beard was about six inches long and about half the thickness of a gobbler's. I was watching her when out of the corner of my I noticed movement. Turning away from the bearded lady, I saw three gobblers followed by four hens all marching directly toward me. They were less than 50 yards away.

At the last minute while loading the truck, I had decided to borrow my older son's 10-gauge goose gun. It would give me greater range and more knock-down power. The only problem is it is designed to shoot long ranges. These turkeys were rapidly becoming close range. Re-arranging in the blind, I spilled coffee on my foot as the turkeys marched closer. I aimed high on the large gobbler in the lead to avoid blowing him clear away. Smoke, thunder, and flame came out of my blind when I touched the trigger. I had apparently aimed a bit too high as all the turkeys disappeared faster than they had sneaked in on me.

It was a great hunt that Zane would have enjoyed if he only had been able to get up. The good part is I do not have to suffer the indignities of having a witness to Grandpa missing a shot at a nice gobbler.

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