Adventures in
Turkey Hunting
by Jerry Springer
Photograph Donald Jones/

Yep, adventures in turkey hunting, that's what seems to happen every time I take a trip into the turkey woods. This year's opening day of the California turkey season continued the adventures with a number of first-time experiences.

I looked at my watch — it was close to 7 a.m. Preparing to call again I visually checked the chalk on my box call and then noticed that the sun's rays were spreading light across some of my Realtree camo. I leaned back into the moss-covered rock so less sunlight could find my clothes.

Just 25 yards below me, on the spring-green, grass-covered slope, my hen decoy was broadside and pointing to the right. I raised the paddle of the call and stroked four times to the left, producing low yelps and then followed it up with a purr.

It seemed like only a few seconds had passed when I caught movement out of the corner of my left eye. It was running fast and low, tail straight out behind it. For a second I wasn't sure what was happening. In another two seconds I realized the coyote — still in its medium brown, heavy winter fur coat — was just about on top of my decoy.

I don't know how it prevented itself from crashing into the decoy but the coyote at the last second realized something was wrong. While almost falling over trying to stop his attack decision, he noticed my movement as I went into autopilot, dropping the call and reaching for my 12-gauge. As quickly as he slowed, he kicked in the after burners. Because I am right-handed, swinging to the right made it difficult to position the barrel on the nose of what was now a fur-rocket. The result, a perfectly mowed 6-inch section of tall green grass which just a fraction of a second before had coyote feet flying through it.

I had hoped to make this the coyote's last attempt at a turkey dinner but no such luck — what an exciting show!

Less than an hour later and farther down the slope, a few more yelps from my call produced a gobble from a location higher up on the opposite side of the canyon. My hunting partner and I quickly located positions in the outcroppings of some large boulders. With each series of yelps, a gobble was returned. Fifteen minutes later I happened to glance up in the direction of the opposite slope just as a stealth gobbler came gliding silently across the canyon and landed uphill of our location.

I wanted my hunting partner to get the shot so I motioned for him to move up next to me — bad idea on my part. I had thought the gobbler was still in the cover above us but he had apparently quickly started his move down toward us. My partner had only moved a couple of steps when the gobbler caught the movement, gave out a couple of putts and ran into cover.

This was the first time I had a gobbler fly to my location instead of walking or running.

A high-speed wily coyote and a stealth gobbler were added to my list of adventures in turkey hunting. Can't wait for the next trip.

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