Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Sometimes a gobbler can come too close

With first a deep sucking in of air and followed by a cheek-puffing exhale, I expressed my supreme disappointment.

This is why, I told myself as a reminder, I hunt turkeys from a blind instead of “gun and run.” My ears have gone kaput and I am unable to hear in stereo with no ability at all to detect sounds in the right ear.

Of course, when you’re after a gobbler having an ability to master the direction from which the tom is coming is close to mandatory. Consider myself thoroughly handicapped in that regard.

Which explains in part why for the past two spring turkey seasons I’ve spent a good portion of my hunting time sequestered in a pop-up blind.

Yet that tactic has not gone well this season any more than it did during the 2010 spring season. Try as hard as I could I just could not talk the turkey talk to even a few semi-interested gobblers.

That all changed this morning. Switching gears and changing locations, I figured that the two might make a difference. With only five days left in the four-week-long spring season I really didn’t have much to lose.

Not counting my ego and hunting pride, of course.

So I visited a small plot of land I have written permission to hunt on and hard pressed to the Grand River in Ashtabula County.

In fact, I have sole permission though you could not tell that from the boot tracks left in the muddy, winding trace through the woods.

My concern was that someone has gotten a jump on me. Those fears heightened the further along the narrow foot path I traveled. Repeated - but still delicate - yelps, clucks and purrs from my mouth call did nothing except break the silence.

Skirting a ravine that breaks toward the Grand River, I clamored over a tree that had fallen across the path. Here, stretching before me was one of the prettiest glades of tall trees imaginable. Included was a carpet of giant white trilliums with a peppering of their red brethren; wake robins.

I called again and immediately received a reply. That got my juices flowing.
Scrambling to dig out my other two calls, I also opened a hinged, low-boy hunting seat with the intent of a comfortable sit.

Placing a face mask above my nose and adjusting the cap’s bill to shield me even more, I took a deep breath and began to call.

Ever so slowly the gobbler would sound, each time his notes appearing closer.

With a large tree as my back rest I was able to comfortably point my shotgun toward the ravine and the rest of the trail as it snaked to wherever it went.

I thought for sure this would be the direction the turkey would come. But my ears were telling a different tale. More to the left, they said, the left ear enhanced by a digital sound enhancer/shotgun blast reducer.

So I slowly arched about 45 degrees to port, facing the forest’s wide girth.

Calling only sparingly I wanted to entice the tom and not appear overly eager. That worked like a charm. Problem was, it worked too well.

“Nuts,” my mind whispered to itself.

There - way to the right - appeared the neck and head of a gobbler, all of maybe 30 feet away. It had just inched over the ravine’s top knot.

Had I remained in my initial position my general firing direction would have presented a true course to the turkey. But would haves, could haves, and should haves don’t put a turkey in the freezer for Thanksgiving.

The turkey - along with a hen - took note of the danger and skedaddled down the ravine and up the other side, taking wing once they were a good 50-60 yards away.

All I could do, of course, was curse my luck, suck in air and exchange it for another fresh gulp.

Oh, I’ll be back tomorrow morning, you can be sure of that. At least as long as I don’t hear any thunder or see any streaks of lightening.

It was all so very close today and I reckon that at some point it will be closer still. Maybe around daylight tomorrow.

Visit The News-Herald’s main page and videos for a visual and audio wrap-up of this frustrating day of spring turkey hunting.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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