I didn’t sleep well at all … coming down with a sore throat, I went to bed early, making me wake early … 4 AM. It was actually the correct time, to go turkey hunting, but I felt terrible. Besides, it had been raining, and I had no desire to lay on the wet ground waiting for daylight. I spent the time till sunrise praying – not because I’m particularly spiritual – but because sleep was a bust, and because I didn’t want to start the workday. Once light, I checked the bike trail in back, and it was too muddy for any mountain biking. So I decided to go up `The Hill’ (anyway) … one last hunt in Idaho. I grabbed some wildflowers from the back yard, gave them to a drowsy Linda, unpacked my shotgun, and headed out.
There were deer in the field below [Deleted]’s house. The field heretofore had been `dirt’, but the recent rains had sprouted the Spring Wheat, now an inch or so tall. That meant that the turkeys could be `anywhere’, no longer concentrated around the Winter Wheat where I had been hunting them. No wonder Christi hadn’t seen any around the house lately.
I made my way up to the `Top’ and then poked my way down the timber on the back side, and on down to the `Other Corner’. Indeed, the Wheat had sprouted there also, giving the turkey acre after acre of food and play, far from the bother of civilization.
I peeked around the cover to look west. A dozen toms were displaying their feathers a third of a mile away out in the Wheat. I decided to try.
I crept back into the shadows and timber, making my move out of direct sight, trying to get to them as soon as possible and without making too much noise. The sun was at my back, to my advantage, and breaking through the morning clouds, produced enough glare that I should be undetected.
I paused to put black camo paint on my face and fingers.
In the ravine below them I shed my coat, gloves, binos … actually everything except shotgun, and made my quiet assault up the hill.
Hmmmmm … they weren’t there.
I quietly assaulted the next fold in terrain … nothing.
I crossed the open field toward the next little ravine.
Dang. In the time it had taken me to close the distance, the birds had finished their ritual out in the field and were back in the timber, a hundred yards to my right. Hens were working up the hill, and upon seeing me, worked their way up all the faster. I moved their direction, just in case.
A tom appeared at the edge of the field. It would be a long shot – but I’d try. He shrugged off the #6 shot. At the shot a big tom … really big tom … maybe the Tom popped out to the edge of the field. I could have shot … I wanted to shoot … but I had already hit the other bird … (never mind without effect). A hen burst out of the timber and ran straight toward me, unaware of the source of the commotion. Then she took to flight.
I watched the first bird make his way up through the somewhat open trees, hoping he would show some sign of mortal wounding, pretending in my mind that he was a deer with a double-lung shot, unwilling to embrace the fact that if a pellet punctured him at all, it’d only be to a depth of easy healing.
Ughhhh. I did not want it to end this way.
I paced off the shot. Sixty yards. A good case for #4 and a turkey choke.
I made my way back to my coat and other stuff, and then decided to go back up and `follow’ the tom. Maybe by chance perhaps I’d find him. Besides, he was headed west when I last saw him … there was only one little draw left, and if he stayed there, perhaps I could get a shot.
I rehearsed what I had done wrong, and what I would do differently the next time. Prudence said to me that I should have followed up my first shot with two more, as many as it would take, to get a pellet onto his head, and at least stun him. I just don’t shoot that way. But I should learn.
I followed a game trail over to the far draw. I was noisy, but I was also close enough to get a shot. The last ravine was tight … probably not more than seventy yards across, so if anything appeared in between, I might well get a shot.
A big tom burst into flight from the middle of the ravine below me. He no doubt heard my approach, and probably launched to see what he was fleeing. I swung the gun through and pulled the trigger just a bit in front of his head. He tumbled from the air into the bottom of the ravine.
7:45 (To Linda): Dumped his ass!
7:46 (Linda to Jeff): You are awesome!!!
7:46 (Linda to Jeff): Let’s cook him up
7:49 … Thanks Jesus … you are good to me.
8:04 … These are heavy … still a mile to the car.