Turkey Chronicles
by Jerry Springer
You Can Be Too Close!

It's the end of the second week of turkey season as we pull up in front of the ranch house in the foothills of California. There is still 15 minutes before shooting time. I shut off the engine and as my wife, Diane, and I open the car doors, we both hear a gobble. Normally I would be very excited to hear this sound but this gobble is just too close — it comes from one of the trees just 20 yards away. We freeze for a few seconds while wondering what to do, then I slowly get my turkey gear out of the car as another gobble rings out from the treetop. Diane gets back into the car and as she closes the door, a half-dozen turkeys explode out of the top of an oak tree. Even though it is not yet shooting time, it's light enough to make the flying birds visible as they combined flapping and gliding to sail above the trees of the woods on the hill across the big field.

I finished putting on my gear and set out for the morning's hunt. After four hours of sitting, calling, and moving to different locations and calling some more, I had not heard another gobble or sighted a turkey.

Even though the day was not over, I was already second-guessing what I should have done earlier that morning. Would it have been better to just slowly slip back into the car and wait until we saw the birds fly down from the tree? Who knows....?

Let's Try This Again!

What's the chance the birds will be in the same roost trees two days in a row if we jumped them out the first day? Well, I wanted to see, so the next morning found us pulling the car to a stop in the dark again — but this time 300 yards down the gravel road with trees blocking the view of any turkeys that might have roosted in the same trees.

Pulling the crow call out of my turkey vest, I blew on it — instantly, gobble gobble gobble. They're by the house again! I quickly slipped on my turkey hunting gear, but this time I worked my way up the nearby hill which is covered with trees. It didn't take me long to get to the opposite side of the big field from the roost trees. It's almost shooting time. I raise my binoculars and glass the roost trees — there they are, a big one in a tree by itself and some others in a tree close by. They are about 50 yards away from the tree they were in the morning before. Even though they are 150 yards away, I am now hoping their sharp eyes did not pick out my movement as I had worked my way through the trees to the edge of the big field. I use a large bush in front of me to give me cover as I move 25 yards into the field and set up the decoy. I move back into the trees and give a little call — gobbles come back instantly. I wait as the surrounding area begins to lighten. Soon I hear the turkeys begin to leave the roost. After a minute of calling, I receive a gobble back from the turkey which is now on the ground but in another field more than 200 yards away. That is the last gobble for the day. The birds had landed and fed away from me. It is second-guess time again, and it's obviously time for a different plan.

The Turkey Chronicles continue next issue with "Dead Turkey Walking."

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