My Very First Turkey
By HSP Member, Warren
I harvested my very first Turk this spring, a nice tender Jake. He would go about 13-15 pounds. Biggest, most majestic bird this Bird Hunter's ever had the honor (and pleasure) of eating! Turkeys are obviously "The King" of North American game birds, in my book.
Never shot a shotgun while lying on my stomach before. Thought I was going to crack my collar bone because I had a deuce of a time squaring up the butt to my shoulder.
Me, and another member who was mentoring me in this, and his Son, all belly-crawled the final 50 yards of an honest-to-goodness 1/4 mile stalk (I.e. no calling and no decoys). We got directly in their path with a 10-foot wide swath of scrub trees and brush separating us, and laid there waiting at the ready. I knew the Spring rule in MO is "anything with a beard" so that's what I was looking for as I peered through the six inch gap between two scrub trees I had chosen as a shooting lane.
The first bird to walk into my bead was the smaller one and John, laying RIGHT next to me says "take him...take him". I said, "I can't see a beard-I can't see a beard" and I let him pass through without taking the shot. The second bird was right behind the first and I could see a good patch of red on his neck, and "some-what of a clump in the chest area, so I figured I was safe, even though again, I couldn't "clearly see" his short 4-inch beard. But, unbeknownst to me, John never saw the second bird. He didn't know he was bringin' up the rear.
When the second bird stepped into my bead I sent his noble spirit straight home to heaven. The rest of him, by God, was coming with me to my smoker. These birds were only 10 feet from us through the scrub, so I figured it was him or me...if I didn't shoot him he was going to step right into my face and mess me up good.
Anyway, he dropped like a rock so John still hadn't seen him. He thought I'd snagged one of the trees and missed because his gaze, and muzzle, was locked on the first bird, which at my shot, jumped straight up 5 feet like a shocked cat, spread his wings and parachuted gently back to the ground, looked left, looked right and started walking right at us again!!! I couldn't believe my own eyes. I've NEVER seen a bird flush and not keep flying! He only took two more steps toward us though, before John took him! I haven't had a truly down and dirty "stalk" like that since I was a kid. ...and I'll never forget it.