Birds And Bone
By the time that the first warm winds of springtime grace the landscape, most serious bowhunters are suffering from a serious case of cabin fever. With no antlered game to hunt for the past months, and the brutal conditions of winter to endure, dedicated bow-benders are looking for any type of an excuse to hit the woods – enter, shed antler hunting and bowhunting for turkeys. What more could/can a guy ask for?
With excitement in the air this past April, I loaded up my troops — my wife Peggie and our dog Lulu – and headed to Kansas for a week of fun outdoor adventure. Rolling down the road for a couple of hours, we soon found ourselves pulling alongside a lakefront parking spot. With a comfortable camp quickly established, Peg and I put away a couple of sandwiches and soda, while Lulu hit the ground running.
Grabbing my fanny pack, I quickly headed into the nearby woods, to do a little shed antler hunting, with a secondary goal of accomplishing a little turkey and deer scouting at the same time. Making my way deep into a roadless section of the WMA that surrounded our campsite, I soon had distanced myself from anything human.
The sights, sounds and smells of the springtime woods revived me. Finding myself engrossed in the still-fresh abundant deer sign from the previous autumn’s rut cycle, I almost stumbled over the dropped antlers at my feet. Grabbing the find like a little kid does his weekly allowance, I almost squealed at my good fortune. The buck that had dropped this treasure was a nice one, and would certainly be a “keeper” this autumn.
Trekking on, I soon found myself hearing the faint sounds of an occasional gobble in the distance. Immediately going into a full sneak mode, I slowly advanced, carefully scanning the country ahead. Nearing a small clearing in the dense surroundings, I spotted a mature gobbler strutting in his isolated midday hideout. Not wanting to risk spooking the bird, I quickly decided to abort my stalk, opting for a different – and delayed — plan. Having found the bird’s “happy place,” I knew that I could lay in wait for him on the morrow , and most likely, have things much more my way. Slipping quietly away, I headed back to camp to prepare for the next day’s hunt. Half-way back to camp, I took possession of another trophy find – an exceptionally large and unique shed antler from a non-typical buck. This was turning out be a really great day in the woods!
The following morning — with Peg rising shortly after sunup — I quickly relinquished “dog duty” to my mate, grabbed my gear, and headed afield. Making a stealthy approach to my intended destination, I soon found myself deploying my ground blind and decoys. Slipping into my hide, the strong fragrance of wet earth and fresh foliage filled the air. Arranging my gear inside the blind, I settled in for the wait – would it be long or short?
As the first hour slid by, I lounged in my camp-chair and simply enjoyed the sounds of spring that surrounded me – birds chirped, geese honked overhead and frogs croaked nearby. Wondering if my plan would produce desirable results, I began to second guess myself as the second hour passed. As noon approached, I was surely beginning to have doubts about my choice of actions, but I also knew that patience was vital – dozing off, I was determined to stay put.
Awakened by the sound of nearby rustling, I peered out of my hide to see a mature gobbler strutting around my decoys! Having arrived completely quietly, the bird had caught me unawares. Quickly and quietly, I prepared for a shot, slowly bringing my Mathews to full draw. Settling my pin on the plump strutter, I flipped the switch. A few seconds later, all was quiet, my bird expired before me. This had been a great day afield, and surely, there would be more to come – right at this moment, however, life was about as good as it could get!
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