Walter Scott: Turkeys on the hill
Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Drakesville, Iowa.
Having set up the turkey blind the afternoon before, by 5 in the morning, I was ready to head out. I grabbed my shotgun and man-bag with all the necessary accoutrements required for turkey hunting.
Such things carried in the man-bag are five different turkey calls, an orange, granola bars, a can of sardines, extra shells and two face shields. I am not sure why I carry so much stuff, other than the food, but I like to be prepared.
A half hour or so before daylight, I could hear toms gobbling from their roosts, mostly toward the long hayfield. Nothing was making a sound where I was sitting comfortably in my blind in the paintball woods. Three deer walked by within a few feet of me and did not spook until they got downwind.
As daylight spread through the woods, I saw two wood ducks walking along the branches of a nearby oak tree, but nothing from the turkeys. I drank coffee and ate all the food I had brought with me, calling occasionally, hoping a turkey would happen by.
I could still hear several birds gobbling in the direction of the long hayfield. Though it is about a quarter of a mile away, I decided to put the sneak on them.
Attempting to keep behind cover of groups of cedar trees, I moved slowly toward the center gate where I thought they might be strutting. Hiding behind a cluster of rose bushes, about 150 yards from the gate, I stopped and called.
The call was answered immediately by two gobblers near the gate. I waited a few minutes, hoping they would be looking the other way, and moved half the distance toward them.
I again hid and called. I was now close enough I could see them as they strutted through the open gate. I was not close enough for a shot but was sure I could call them 30 or 40 yards down hill to my hiding place.
My heart was racing with anticipation watching the birds at the top of the hill when my phone rang. It does not actually ring, it quacks. Years ago, I discovered the duck’s quack for a ring tone. I, and others who hear it, get a smile from my quacking phone.
The gobblers up the hill, being accustomed to ducks quacking in the area, did not miss a stride. After a quick, quiet conversation, I went back to working my birds.
For 20 or 30 minutes, the pair of gobblers strutted and displayed while walking back and forth, through the gate and out into the hayfield. They would return to their original spot, but not get any closer.
On one trip out into the field, they just kept on going. I called and they would answer and seemed to be circling me.
The next time I saw them, they were about 70 yards below me, where I had stopped to call on my way over. They moved back and forth, strutting and gobbling, but had come as close as they were going to get.
After a while when they could not get a hen to come to them, they got bored and moved on down the field and out of sight. They would still gobble when I would call, but I could hear that they were getting farther and farther away.
Deciding to call it a day, I stood up to leave. Having been watching off to my right all this time, I had neglected to even glance to my left. I was startled by motion as a gobbler, less than 20 yards away spooked, ducked and ran through the thick underbrush.
He had sneaked up on me, without making a sound. There was no point in trying to call him back. I had scared him more than he scared me.