Every year I try to make a point to go turkey hunting. Since taking my first bird 6 years ago or so, I have been addicted! Four years ago I called my own birds in, two toms, and took the largest of them. Ever since, I’ve been calling on my own which, in my opinion has given me the most rewarding harvests of my hunting experience.
With that in mind, I wanted to share an experience with all of you that really left its mark on me. . .
My alarm shattered the silence at 5 a.m. I headed out to my spot and parked my four-wheeler about 300 yards away. I carefully made my way to the ground blind, bobbing weaving like Muhammad Ali through the mesquites and cactus patches until I reached the blind. By 6 a.m. the toms were gobbling on their roosts. They were close, a good sign.
I called slowly and quietly at first, gradually increasing my volume and urgency over the next 45 minutes. Nothing is vocalizing. The toms remained quiet throughout my calling but I reminded myself that just because they aren’t gobbling, doesn’t mean they aren’t coming. Eventually, I caught a flash of movement to my right red heads assured me it was game time!
I quieted my calling as they neared. I let out an occasional yelp and cluck to comfort them. I had an arrow nocked and ready. With every step, my heart beat louder. Butterflies flooded my guts as I felt blood surge through the veins in my neck, my pulse quickened. I talked myself off “the ledge” as turkeys filed into a draw at 60 yards, as I lost sight of them I knew they were still on their way.
I heard the hens softly cluck and yelp, then came a few close raspy yelps from the toms. The group came within view again, this time to my far right at about 20 yards and closing – seven hens up front, two jakes, in the middle, and a great tom pulling up the rear. The tom hung back behind an old cedar tree. I gave a couple of soft yelps with my mouth call but he tom held his position he knew something wasn’t right.
I turned my attention to the two jakes. They walked circles around my hen decoys before squaring off with each other. Finally, one hurdled over my decoys to spur the other, the fight was on! The other retaliated by leaping up to spur the other back. The fight lasted a mere 10 seconds and left me more anxious than ever. They stop to circle the decoy again, facing off every few seconds.
I resolved to harvest the larger of the two jakes sporting a 4-inch beard and 3/4-inch spurs. I came to full draw. At this point he was less than eight yards from me on my side of the hen decoy. I held at full-draw for a long time I wasn’t sure I wanted to take the shot. I put my finger on the trigger, and then backed off, performing that exercise numerous times before ultimately letting my string down slowly. “It’s not the one, ” I thought as I let the young jake prod my decoy.
You know, bowhunters are funny people. It’s true! We say there’s honor in anything you take with a bow, but “if it ain’t right, it ain’t right. ” I went for a tom, could have had a jake and ultimately left with nothing – I wouldn’t trade that hunt for anything. It’s never just about the harvest. It’s about the experiences, about the memories, about building a legacy and about taking others, especially our kids out to experience those same anxious moments of truth!
Hunt hard, hunt often!
Kevin may be reached for questions, comments, product and outfitter reviews via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.