Bringing The Bird Home

It was a busy and hectic week. Days came and went that I had wanted to hunt but the needs of being a pastor of a new church were full bore. Still, my day off was on the calendar and there was no way anything was getting in the way of it. My good friend, Jim, who is my mentor in hunting, kept trying to get hooked up on a hunt. So come Thursday evening, we had our plan.

We met up at my favorite WMA about 6:30am. No sign or sound of gobblers as the sun came up. Everything was quiet in the woods as we began our trek past the gate and into the heart of wilderness.

We called and looked as we walked to no avail. We made the decision to head to one of the food plots about ¾ of a mile in. As we walked over a dirt pile, we caught sight of a turkey take flight heading to the west of us. Since the bird made no sound, we both knew that this hunt was on and we had a good chance of calling that bird back to the field.

By now it was getting on towards 7:45am as we sat with our backs to the tree looking out north over the food plot. Two other trees stood in front of us as we watched the sun begin to break through to our east. Jim and I tag teamed our calling to give the impression a couple of hens had made their way up for breakfast. About ten minutes past before the red head popped through the brush to our west at about 90 yards.

One. Two. Three...all jakes (juvenile male turkeys), strutted into view. Jim gave a little 'cut' on his mouth call and they let out a gobble in response. Slowly, they began to make their way, warily up the slope toward the middle of the food plot.

Jim asked me if I wanted to take a shot. Since I had promised a family member the fan off the next bird I shot, the decision had already been made. When all three got behind the biggest pine, right at 40 yards, I slid my gun into position. Then the next turkey came out of the woods, and another, and another. At first we thought they were hens which might make the situation a bit more difficult but they turned out to be jakes as well. Six jakes.

So, now it was sorting time, which one was the best? With birds that close, with their eyes scanning all around and so close, you can see the sun glint off their pupils, you get a little nervous. Another 'cut' from Jim and another couple of gobbles shot out. The birds were now at about 70 yards.

Two of the birds stood out as the bigger ones and were obviously leading the gang. The lead one kept pulling the group east. 'PUTT!' sounded out in the woods beyond us all and the jakes went to attention. Jim and I both knew that wasn't a good sign. Jim responded with a 'purr' on his slate call and the second big jake began making his way south toward us.

I have to admit that for a second or two I considered trying to line up two birds but the desire for seeing bigger birds next year kept me in check. At 50 yards, just after 8:00am, I pulled the trigger and watched the bird go up and down and five jakes go screaming for cover.

It has been a season of patience and growth as a hunter and a guide. This year's hunting journey parallels so much of my own journey of life and faith as well as my struggles with success and temptation.

As I began the process of cleaning this bird, I said a prayer of thanks to God for the harvest. Knowing that this bird could have grown into “a big ole' tom, I took the extra time to collect feathers for a Native American project that collects feathers for ceremonies. Since the spurs were not trophy caliber, I chose to save and preserve both feet to be able to use in teaching tracking with Scouts and other groups. And yes, the fan is being prepared for a special Christmas present this year!


Anonymous said...

I hunt bear with only a knife. Makes it a fair fight. Ever tried that?

Ken L. Hagler said...

Nope. Just curious how many you have to your credit at this point?

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