A Wild Turkey Can Hurt You

Eddie Wallace | February 3, 2019

There are many ways in which a wild turkey can hurt you.

The first way is when you have done everything right to harvest a particular bird and he gives you the slip every time you think that you are about to close the deal. This is the kind of thing that will cause you great stress and anxiety.

Then there is the bird that won’t answer your calls. He gobbles but won’t come. He either goes the other way when you call or comes running in before you’re ready. Sometimes he will take too long to come, so you go ahead and move, but he sees you get up. Sometimes these birds like to gobble and strut just barely out of shotgun range. As you do battle with these gobblers, your wife thinks you’re losing your mind, and you probably are from the lack of sleep and rest.

Once I had a hard-body PVC decoy hid in a muscadine vine. It was the last day of the season, and it was still dark, and the turkey was gobbling his head off. It was very warm that morning, and I remember thinking that there could be snakes out. As I was reaching down to retrieve the decoy, I heard the rattle of the first rattlesnake that I had ever seen in the wild. Not wanting to ruin the hunt by shooting the snake, I let the snake have the decoy. 

Then there was the time I lost my way in the dark. It was starting to sprinkle, and I lost my footing on the wet leaves and fell off a steep ridge, breaking my cell phone. Fortunately, I was not hurt bad enough to stop hunting.

The biggest turkey I ever killed was so far away that I tried to take a straight path back to the truck and wind up walking myself death trying to find my way carrying a 24-lb. gobbler.

There are many other birds and stories that I could tell you about, but the one that got me the most, or should I say hurt me the most, was a bird that I didn’t even hunt to begin with.

My brother-in law called this bird in early one morning and unfortunately didn’t make the best shot on the turkey and was not able to find it. He called me and told me what had happened, so I told him to wait until I could get there, and we would look for it together. Usually you don’t retrieve a wounded turkey that’s not going to die very quickly. But the Lord had smiled on us that day, and we found the turkey hiding in some tall weeds.

The bird got up and ran off on one leg. I took the gun from my brother-in law and started running after it since I could run faster than him and started gaining on the turkey. But the bird got air born, so I shot it again, and when it hit the ground it recovered very quickly and started running again, putting quite a bit of distance between us.

I started running as fast as I could run to get back in shotgun range, but the ground was wet and soggy, and my feet sank so deep I fell on a stump and broke my bottom rib on my right side while knocking the breath out of me. But like any determined turkey hunter, I still managed to stand up and finish the bird off before collapsing to the ground trying to get breath back in my lungs. My heart was racing a mile a minute, and the pain of breaking a rib was letting me know that a 60-year-old man is not supposed to be in the kind of predicament that I had put myself in.

Like I said in the beginning, there are many ways in which a wild turkey can hurt you. 

Eddie Wallace (left) and Babe Moore with the Douglas County gobbler from the story. It was killed April 21, 2018.

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