Who Needs A Turkey?

Daryl Gay | June 4, 2019

It ain’t even gray day yet, and I’m a’thinkin’ we’re about to scrap!

Boy’s taking me to kill a turkey he called up to nine steps the day before: all I gotta do is shoot.

Yeah, right. He knows me better than that. 

The problem, in the dawn’s early light, is whatever he’s apparently putting a pinch of between his cheek and gum. I may be looking him eyeball to eyeball these days, but if that’s terbacker he’s got, we about to be wrasslin’ on the pine straw!

Fortunately, for one of the few times I can recall, my brain jumped in ahead of my big mouth and reminded me that I should know better. But if it ain’t snuff…

Admittedly, I’m as dumb as a stump when it comes to ruining a gobbler’s day. Oh, I’ve been within slapping distance of a few, but they just don’t seem to get my rpm’s to revving like a lot of other stuff I chase.

But this was to be the season; one—or both—my sons were going to see to it that we hunted right on into May…

So, back inside the treeline as day attempted to break, he has this black box-looking contraption up to his lips. From what I can see, it has a little handle-looking contrivance bolted onto the side, and he just blows right into it!

Eight staccato times!

“Naawww, boy,” I urgently whisper. “I don’t want to kill no owl! They stuck me here on the back page 30 years ago, and I kinda like it. I shore ain’t looking to move back a few pages to the Hall of Shame!”

I got a look that would have beheaded a gobbler at 40 yards.

“Just listen!”

He did it again. I listened. Once more. I’m still listening. A third time. I’m headed to the truck…


Okay. I’ll wait. If I have to.

Son is wearing sort of a sporty camo vest that I took a liking to right off. Got a cushion hanging down in the back, and I’m a’thinkin’ it’d be just the thing for still hunting come October. Plus, there’s about fortyleven pockets and pouches; man, you could eat potted meat out of there for a year.

But as he sticks the box in one and pulls something out of anothern, it ain’t potted meat. No matter. I ain’t hungry. At least not enough to eat potted meat…

Slate call. OK, now we’re talking! I’ve seen one of these; in fact, I’ve been looking for this particular one for a couple of years. Wondered where it got off to.

I ain’t much on owl calling, but I have happened to get a gobbler screaming at me a time or two over the years. At least my wandering brain is back on track. Let’s give it a whirl!

He scratches the striker across the pot—y’all didn’t think I knew them technical terms—three or four times and the trees are suddenly alive with a booming double-gobble that I can feel through my boots!

OK. Now you have my attention.

I didn’t tote this Beretta in here as part of my morning workout.

Here comes the good part: we gotta hook up with him. Which ain’t going to be so easy because all we have is a direction without a distance.

But easy ain’t hunting. Killing one a 100 yards from the truck wouldn’t be no fun a’tall!

Time to slide off downhill through the pines, toward a hardwood bottom where we think he’s roosting.

And as we start…

Recall something said about gray day? I just thought I had seen it. Three steps en route, fog so thick we couldn’t see a freight car—much less a turkey—sets in like a curtain dropping. We’ve driven 25 miles to this spot—in darkness clear as a bell all the way.

One look at his face and I know we’re thinking the same thing: ain’t no self-respecting turkey gobbler in his right mind gonna flap out into that stuff. If he can’t see where he’s putting his six toes, he’s keeping them on a branch!

And while he sounded crazy in love at first call, he’s probably now figured out that if that hen was crazy enough to be down in this swirling junk, he’s better off without her.

And he ain’t sayin’ nothing!

Mulling our options, we sit for a while to see if the fog will lift. An hour later, it’s evident that it brought along a suitcase and has declared squatter’s rights on this entire property.

As well as the fortyleven adjoining…

I’ll give the boy one thing: he’s aiming for me to kill a turkey, even if we have to drive across the county.

So we do. Eventually escaping fog.

“If we can get one to answer us this late in the morning, he’s a dead bird,” he said, excited once more.

Which is why I’m trying to kill a turkey in the first place.

“They’ll either be henned-up and quiet or alone and desperate.”

My plan—simply out of concern for the poor old bird’s feelings—was to end his desperation.

Once and for all.

We didn’t try to call in no owls, but we must’a walked 40 miles talking turkey. And got nary a whimper in return.

What I did get was a furtherance of my outdoor education, which I hope to be working on for the next 100 years. So if you want the opinion of a guy who’s been there and done that—well, at least once—be advised that a tom turkey is about the most hardheaded, uncooperative, standoffish individual I’ve ever tried and failed to run across!

 But next year?, Yeah, me and the boys got plans…      

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