Turkey

Columnist Rod Carpenter poses with a turkey.

Since I moved home to John Day 10 years ago, I have been chasing turkeys off and on pretty hard without success. With all the turkeys around, that is kind of embarrassing to say, but I freely admit that I’m not a very good bird hunter. I don’t know what I am saying when I am scratching on my call, but it must not be good.

With the help of friends, we managed to get my boy a nice tom opening day of the youth hunt. My buddy called him right in to his decoys. I was amazed that it actually worked!

I went out the first couple of days of my hunt and couldn’t even get a response to my calls. That was a little disheartening. Usually I can at least get a gobble or two. Luckily, I got permission to hunt some private land where I knew they roosted. The problem was that it was at the far end of a wide open field.

The plan was to get up way before daylight and be in position as the sun came up. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans. We got up pretty early, but it seems like some gear had pulled a runner in the night, and we had to spend some time finding it. By the time we parked, it was just starting to get light in the east.

As we made our way across the field, we could hear the turkeys gobbling up in the trees. But after we set up our decoy and got into position, they stopped calling. I was sure they had seen us crossing the field and equally sure that we were wasting our time. I decided that since we were there, we might as well give it a go.

Every couple of minutes I would do some hen clucks, alternating between my reed and box calls, hoping to sound like a whole flock of anxious hens looking for a man. I kept at it for about 45 minutes without even getting a response.

Discouraged, Tuck and I were standing in the brush trying to decide what to do next. I glanced off to the east just in time to see a bunch of turkeys come around the corner of the field about 200 yards away. We quickly dropped back into place and set up.

There were two toms and four hens. Those toms homed in on my decoy and came running in. It was pretty darn cool to watch them strut for my decoy.

When they got to 15 yards I raised my Remington 870 and collected my first tom in 10 years. The other tom was so focused on our decoy that he was still strutting around trying to get a date after the shot. Tuck was sad he hadn’t picked up a second tag.

After seeing it all come together, I guess I will have to have another go at it next year. Hopefully I won’t have to wait 10 years for the next one.

Tell us your hunting stories at shootingthebreezebme@gmail.com.

Rod Carpenter is a husband, father and hunting fool.

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