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The experience of a great turkey hunt

ince it had rained most of the week, driving around the farm to set up my turkey blind on Saturday morning would have been almost impossible.

Packing all the required equipment to hunt turkeys would be labor intensive and time consuming. At five in the morning, I do not have a lot of extra time and am certainly not interested in any more labor than absolutely necessary.

I decided to set up on a fence-line just off the road where the turkeys usually cross. By 5:30, I was snugly nestled in my tent with a cup of coffee, waiting for a gobble and daylight.

The first gobble came about fifteen minutes later. Several birds were in the area, but none were really close. That would not be a problem. I could just call them across the open field. Shortly after six, it was light enough I could see a couple hens moving out of the timber a few hundred yards away. A gobbler followed them out, strutting and gobbling on top of the hill. For over an hour, while hens came to him and went off to their nests, he never left his position. At about 8 a.m., he fell silent and disappeared into the woods. There would be no turkey on the grill tonight, but I had his number. Before going home, I moved the blind to where he had been strutting.

Sunday morning, I was ready. My chair, blind and calls were in place. All I had to do was grab my shotgun and coffee. The day of reckoning was here. He was going to fly down, strut around, and soon be ready for dinner.

Toms started gobbling from their roosts about the same time as they had the day before. They were much closer. It does little good to try to call them in before they fly down, but it is entertaining. I enjoy having them answer my call and they seem to enjoy getting all excited in the tree. As daylight crept across the woods, I could make out a gobbler high in a tree well within range. I called and he shook the whole branch he was on. To me, shooting a bird in a tree is just not right. I have to call him in or it is not fair. It is a personal thing with me, much like I feel it is not right to shoot a pheasant on the ground. I waited patiently.

He flew down from his nighttime roost to an area about 30 yards away shortly after 6 a.m. He landed in a small clearing in the timber just over the crest of a hill. I only had to call him a few feet until his head poked over the edge and he would be mine.

Several hens flew down to meet him. I knew if I could not call him, I could probably call the hens. They would then attract the old bird. This hunt was a sure bet.

I called carefully. He answered and stayed where he was. I called lovingly. He still would not move. I tried everything I knew but the old gobbler strutted back and forth just out of sight. One hen flew in from somewhere behind my blind, landed in the tree the gobbler had just vacated, and hopped down to be with him. I am not sure where she came from, but he had called her from quite a distance.

A large shadow moved across the side of my blind. Something was inches away from me and I had no idea what it was. Suddenly, a head poked up in front of my window. A hen was strolling by less than a foot away, going to meet my gobbler.

As the sun rose higher, the old bird gobbled less frequently. Several minutes lapsed and I heard him, now much farther down the hill. He apparently had all the fun he could stand and was heading to the creek for a drink. I packed up, disappointed about having hamburgers for dinner but happy with the hunt. It is about the experience more than the results that make a great hunt.

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