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Turkey Time Is Here

Daryl Gay | April 2, 2019

The old doe was tipping along like she’d just painted her toenails and didn’t want to muss them in that muddy ol’ creek bottom. I was purely proud that she was all daintied up, and I was hoping even more her beau was en route to what they both believed to be a clandestine rendezvous.

So what if I was creeping and peeping? I’d slipped through the woods for the past hour with bad intentions, where her boyfriend was concerned…

I squatted in waist-high broomstraw along the edge of the little head she was in, catching glimpses of her goose-necking along with awareness of her surroundings that only an old doe can muster.

But I had the wind…

She was in no danger; my freezer was full. But her promiscuous paramour’s prospects weren’t promising. Especially considering that movement 30 yards behind her caught my eye. Allrightythen, ol’ Model 70; time to go to work…

At that precise moment, broomstraw 20 feet off to my left rustled slightly. Since I’d been reminding myself for the past 20 minutes to move like highway asphalt, v-e-r-y slowly I swiveled my head—and, mostly, my eyes—to see who/what had snuck up from behind.

Stupid gobbler! I should have known.

I’ve had this love/hate affair with turkeys for decades. Love to watch ’em, but hate it when they stick their beaks into my business.

Like now.

So let’s figure this out. This feathered fool ain’t got a clue I’m in the world. Neither do the two deer I’m finally looking at. But if I heft the Winchester, the bearded bird in my lap is likely to go into coronary thrombosis, and I don’t especially need all that flapping in the vicinity. My mind being what it is—admittedly weird—I’m suddenly wondering just what he’s doing here anyway. Why does he seem so locked in on those whitetails? He ain’t totin a gun, so did he just show up to watch ’em put on a show? Maybe he needs some pointers for HIS breeding season, a couple months down the line…

All I know for sure is that somebody’s got to make a move because the lovebirds out front are beginning to do the back-and-forth dance wherein he chases her until she catches him.

You young bucks reading this write that down and study it before going on your next date. Believe it or not, that is exactly the way things tend to work out…

Hmmmm. I wonder now. What would happen if I clucked like a hen just to kinda make him feel at ease? He might slip on over to get a ringside seat at the whitetail performance.

Or, I might get attacked.

Resulting in trying to explain to the game warden how and why this gobbler was shot 10 times. With a .30-06. Out of season. 

Self-defense may be a hard case to prove…

Fortunately, either his eyesight wasn’t up to snuff or he wanted a closer look because he took another half-dozen steps toward the action. (Why do turkeys always walk like they’re smack dab in the middle of a two-week drunk?)

So now the doe has settled down, and the buck is by her side. The WRONG side, naturally. They’re at about 40 yards, the gobbler directly in line between my rifle, now shouldered, and its target.

Come on big boy, quit hiding behind your lady love and take a couple of steps. Thaaaaatt’s it, just one or two more…

You know, there’s just something special about the sudden roar of an ought-six on a dead-quiet, mid-week morning. I’m laser-focused on a hairy shoulder, the whole world reduced to nothing more than the tiny circle inside the Aetec’s crosshairs.  

With the squeeze of the trigger,  three things happen in a microsecond. Two of them I’m expecting.

Number one, the buck’s nose hits the ground so quickly that I doubt he even heard the gun go off. Secondly, the doe sets a new world record for the high jump/long jump combo. And if I’d had time to clock her, it’s quite possible she would have broken any existing 2-mile-dash marks.

However, I was sidetracked by number three.

The gobbler had been out of sight and out of mind. But when that gun went off, the feathered fool flapped up out of that straw like he’d been flung from a catapult.

He couldn’t decide whether he wanted to run, fly, or both. Seemingly the only thing on his excuse for a mind was to get as far away from his existing spot as fast as possible. And the route he took was directly at my GON cap!

Oh, he was trying to get higher, never doubt that. But in that moment—just as I stood up—he was exactly 6 feet, 2 inches off the ground. I know because we were eyeball to eyeball.

Discretion was definitely the better part of valor here, so I went back down—in a camo’ed heap, rolling on my right shoulder with the Winchester, its double-locked safety back on, well out in front.

Lying there on that Treutlen County dirt, I laughed ‘til my ribs ached, thinking that he probably would set back down somewhere in west Texas. And while rising and brushing the dirt off, I made up my mind: I’m going to kill a turkey gobbler this year! Maybe more.

Never have before, never had the urge. But 2019 is the year. I’ve probably said that each annum for the past 10 or so, but this one’s different. I’ve decided not to wait until late summer to begin getting the deer woods prepared.

It’s time to start clearing out some shooting lanes…

 

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