I am upstairs, it is 7:10 P.M. and Lenny says, “Why aren’t you hunting tonight?” I tell him that legal hunting hours end at 7:55 P.M. He says, “You cannot kill a turkey if you don’t go.” He speaks these words to me as if I am the one saying them to him. I inwardly smile and agree. However, I openly tell him that by the time I get there it will be time to turn around and that I don’t want to spook any birds while going to my hide. I say this as if I always need a good answer for someone that analyzes every spoken and written word. It was indeed the truth but none of my clothing was ready either. It was a perfect night too; dry, windless and pleasant. The rat race always seems to get a hold of our passions as well as our family life. I resume my pacing from window to window, scanning the horizon for any abnormalities in my range fan. I pause to think of what I shall do when our perimeter of trees are too big to see over. Lenny is our German exchange student.
It was the evening of opening day of my turkey season, 2011. I am at home and in the basement tinkering with my recurve, again. Changing point weight tip, changing brace height, changing nock set, making the shelf a different thickness, etc. My wife, Tanya, is patiently waiting for me to return to the upstairs, from whatever it is that I do down there. We had recently returned home from going out to dinner to celebrate her 30th birthday. I did not take the day off as I normally would because I am trying to save my leave (vacation) time to have sufficient enough time to chase elk in the fall out west in Colorado. That subject alone consumes me.
It was the blind back behind our house. Jason Keck and I drove part way back to the woods in his truck and we put all of our gear on and started the hike to the pre-set pop-up blind. Jason accidentally hit the Panic button on his keychain and the alarm was going off. When he got the keychain accessible and turned it off we could hear about 3 different gobblers in 3 different directions gobbling at the sound of the alarm. We were at first upset but then we laughed. Who said you need an owl call for a locator anyway?
Jason wondered if I would call for him and I was enthusiastic about it. He had his bow and I had my faithful, trusty and deadly 870. After a short, less than a half hour long calling session a few jakes were checking out our too distant decoys. The birds hung up at around fourty yards. Jason judged them to be thirty-five and the first shot was just under the one being aimed at. He saw the impact and grabbed another paradoxical protein penetrator out of his quiver and made ready another release. As he eased the shot off I shot at another adjacent jake and missed. This time his arrow connected. His first turkey and with a bow!
That was four years ago. I was gazing down at my first bow kill bird on day two of my hunt reflecting on my past thinking that I finally did it with a bow. I was still adrenaline-charged and shaking with an oversized diaphragm call in my mouth reminding me of my bad breath and trying not to gag, swallow or choke on it. The weather has been weird this spring and was supposed to be bad storms and rain last night and tonight. It was windy but not raining and the sun was shining. I was still in shock that I actually did it.
The last few years I have taken a shotgun and did the run and gun method without a blind. It has worked but I know how well turkeys spot movement and I have always been intimidated by using a bow. This year was no exception either. Confidence was low again but if I didn’t take my bow I would never have known that I could indeed do it. So, that is what I did. It proved to be more fun, more challenging, and way more rewarding. Archery never fails to excite! The anticipation from setting up the blind two days prior with my father-in-law Pete, Tanya and Lenny added to the thrill as well. As with any pre-season planning the scenarios run rampant and the what-ifs pile up.
I set up the decoys not more than ten yards away from the blind in a path that would lend itself to being easily spotted by the live versions. I would have preferred the foam models to be closer at five yards in lieu of the former but the terrain dictated otherwise. I learned this trick from a master outdoorsman, Uncle Harold.
I was fully up to speed on my Facebook gossip and then I wished that my wife were with me as her season was the same as mine. She was at home being her awesome self and cooking a yardbird in the oven for dinner. I was just texting with her and telling her about the hen that clucked all of the way around me and kept barking until it was out of sight. I was in the middle of deleting anything I could on my phone to speed it up when I looked up and saw two jakes thirty yards away. They were stretched out and attempting an elevated perspective when I froze. Sh*t! To add insult to injury there was a bird ten yards away and dominating the scene. How would I pull this off? I slowly sat my phone down. I slowly looked down and I slowly attached my erratically moving release on the string loop. I slowly raised my bow off of my lap and outstretched my bow arm, pointing it at the bird. In disbelief, I drew the bow and quickly went through my mental shot checklist.
Phoomp-thwack! At ten yards the ever-famous two-blade Rage did its duty even though the shot was a bit forward. The bird did a half back flip after the arrow passed through him and got back to his feet. He walked hurriedly away with a red spot on his side as red as his now fading head and neck. I could see blood liberally dripping on the ground so I merely watched him walk off. I was without worry and shaking. I was pulling the backside of the tent down like mini-blinds to watch this mortally wounded bird walk nervously to his final resting place. Then I almost fell out of the blind when the rest of the magnets gave way and the blood supply to my brain was cutoff from cranking my head half way around.
The blood trail was as good as any deer I have ever arrowed. I smiled wishing anyone were with me to share with me my happiness. I made it home in time for dinner. Most hunts are not this easy or quick. A great day I shall never forget. Thank you, Lord.