Scott and I stood behind our trucks in the darkness, straining our ears to hear a turkey gobble. On a nearby farm a rooster crowed repeatedly. You could feel the damp dawn of a warm day coming, like a summer morning.
The day before, I’d set up a blind in woods where I’d seen fresh turkey tracks in the mud and plenty of places where they’d scratched for bugs. We got to the blind with plenty of time before daylight, and set up two hen decoys. We stood again just listening.
No matter what would happen that morning, I was thinking about how lucky I was. I’d known Scott since second grade, when he transferred from another school and joined our class. We both graduated from Pennsylvania’s Pottsville Area High School in 1976, and went our separate ways.
School and athletics were what we’d had in common in those days. Scott comes from an outdoor family of hunters and anglers; in my family no one hunted or fished. Now, I’d moved back to my hometown and reconnected with a lifelong friend.
Sharing A Turkey Blind
In the meantime, I discovered hunting and fishing. Now, instead of studying for biology or running laps on the track like long ago, we were going to share a turkey blind.
None of that was lost on me as we stood there, and then a turkey gobbled from the hillside. By then it was light enough to see through the woods, so we quickly got into the blind.
But, there had been no need to rush. The turkey gobbled promisingly many more times, but when he hit the ground he was silent. We continued to call off and on, and remained hopeful. When I’d set up the blind the day before it had been around 9 a.m., and the turkey tracks in the mud had been screaming fresh, with water still oozing into them. I felt turkeys would definitely pass through that patch of woods sometime that morning.
Around 8:30, I caught a glimpse of black and Scott got his binoculars on it, a hen turkey. Maybe 10 minutes later, from behind a pine tree, I spotted the perfect arc of turkey tail from a strutting gobbler.
Scott and I were treated to a great show. The turkey never gobbled, but he strutted and spun in his little arena by the pine tree. I called and called, but he stayed in place. Finally, we saw the hen with him.
Who Takes The Shot?
Meanwhile, we were having an argument in the blind. Scott wanted me to either try for a shot with my bow, or use his shotgun. I wanted him to shoot the turkey. He kept trying to put the gun into my hands and finally I had to hit him.
Also, the inside of the blind had gotten smaller. The turkeys had approached from behind us, and we’d been set up for the front, where the decoys were. Staying below the windows, we crawled over seats, vests, calls, and my bow, ending up at two corner windows out the back.
I was kneeling by my turkey seat, with a diaphragm call in my mouth and a slate call with strikers on the seat. Scott had the muzzle of his shotgun pointed out the window, and the action of the gun was pretty much right next to me.
Still the turkey strutted in place, and I switched to the slate and a purr. He was beautiful in that ugly glory way of their bright red heads. He liked the purr, folded up and headed our way with definite strides. I had just my eyes peeking over the bottom of the window, and when the turkey did that I scrunched lower. I didn’t want any movement to interfere with the turkey. I kept up the begging purrs and put my fingers in my ears, anticipating the big bark of the shotgun next to my ear.
Then Scott whispered, “He turned around! He’s going back.” I still had the diaphragm call in my mouth, which was very dry. I hit the call three times anyway, thinking at the time that it was about the most pitiful turkey call anyone ever made. But it turned the turkey back to us.
Seconds later there was a big “boom,” and then Scott said calmly, “Got him.” I looked out the window to a most welcome sight, a big turkey on the ground 35 yards away.
Scott’s first spring turkey weighed 20 pounds. Its beard was 9 inches and thick, starting in a light gray and darkening to black.
You wait a long time for a morning in a turkey blind like that, sometimes 35 years or so.
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