The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


April 26, 2014

Standoff with a gobbler

— I have no way of telling for sure, but I am certain the turkey was gobbling when the plane I was on landed. A good friend of mine invited me to turkey hunt with him in Texas, and I graciously accepted his offer and left my mountain home for a few days.

When we arrived at the hunting grounds, we immediately traded our traveling clothes for camouflage and headed directly to the gate leading into the ranch. The ranch was huge in size, by my standards anyhow, and I was excited to have so much land in front of me to explore and hunt. With less than a half mile of gravel crunched under my boots, on the first sandy road I walked down, I saw him. In a slight bend of the road, I raised my binoculars and determined the turkey ahead of me was indeed a gobbler. He walked off into the scrub brush spotted with various types of cactus plants. I scurried to a mesquite tree grove and pulled up my facemask and steadied my hands enough to hold the pot call firmly. With the drag of a wooden striker across the slate surface of the call, he gobbled. Then he gobbled without me making a sound.

“Could this be this easy,” I thought.

“Gobble,” he answered.

For the next four hours, I called and he answered. He would walk off and I would call him back. I would get frustrated and backtrack towards the truck and he would gobble and sound a little closer and draw me back into the game. I saw him several times through the brush but never close enough to draw a fine bead on him. I eventually walked back to the truck with my tail tucked and decided to leave him until the following morning in hopes I could trick him into range at first light.

I slipped in on him at dark the next morning. As the sun’s rays were just starting to throw light on the new day, he gobbled from his roost. I yelped softly back at him and he again gobbled. I heard him fly down from the tree and as soon as his feet hit the ground, he gobbled three times in a row. I again softly made a hen’s yelp on my call to which he answered vibrantly. With the sun fully risen, the game we were playing resembled the exact experience from the evening before.  He answered nearly all of my calls and was in shotgun range multiple times but never in an open spot for me make the shot.  This Rio Grande turkey was simply in a league of his own and I gladly handed off to the local outfitter his exact location and what calls the turkey seemed to thoroughly enjoy.

Again, I have no way of knowing for certain but I am confident that the old bird was still gobbling when they closed the airplane door and asked us to turn off all electronic devices in preparation for takeoff. This week, the spring gobbler season is open in West Virginia. Although I appreciated my friend’s offer to hunt in Texas and had a great time, I am sure I can find a male turkey right here at home who is willing to totally humiliate me in front of my peers. Besides, the airline’s complimentary peanuts were not as good as I remembered. 

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