"I see movement," said Jim. "Yep, here comes a Tom". He wasn't alone either, there appeared to be several, although our view was imperfect do to our setup in the bunch of choke cherries and our blind. I put down the box call and reached for the camera, Jim started to get ready for the shot. I was determined to get this on film. Twice before I had my camera ready when my son and wife had taken turkey's only to realize in the thrill of the moment that I forgot all about the camera in my hands.
The turkeys cleared the choke cherries and to my surprise and nervousness this flock was led by a hen! What would they do? They appeared to be headed into our decoys, set up at twenty yards from our blind, but are the six toms following the hen, or coming into our jake and hen? I whispered a warning to Jim about the lead turkey, "Hen in front". He grunted a reply.
The hen seemed to hesitate and began to move away from our blind and the decoys, but the toms were focused on our setup now - they kept coming. The lead tom, and the biggest, headed directly toward our jake. But when the jake didn't respond to his challenge, he circled and just as quickly as he came in, he started out…
The morning had started with great promise. I was really looking forward to this hunt. Even if I wasn't doing the hunting. My older brother, Jim, was joining me for his first turkey hunt. Jim was the older brother we all have who has hunted everything, everywhere from scores of Michigan whitetail to Moose and Caribou in Alaska. It is not often that little brother can show the older how it's done. So this was my time to shine. He wasn't hunting with a bow, but hey, brothers have to learn with something, don't they?
I harped at him all winter to be sure to apply for his turkey permit. Of course, I forgot, at the last minute and didn't get my application in - duh! He didn't get the early permit I had hoped for, but drew instead a permit for the last week of the season. Well here we were.
No question! We were going to connect this morning. The morning sky was just beginning to lighten - the brilliant sky full of stars was beginning to fade into morning, and the air was fresh and crisp. It was the second week in May and turkey season was winding down. But I was sure!
We set up and waited for light to return to the world. As light began to broaden, after about 20 minutes, I gave a soft couple of calls and got an immediate gobble in response.
The gobbler was about where I expected him, across the field in the trees where I had seen them roosting. We pillow talked for a few minutes and then as I heard them coming down out of the trees, I cackled with my diaphragm.
We talked back and forth for nearly 40 minutes but couldn't get them to move out of the trees toward our setup. I was beginning to get nervous about why they wouldn't come to us. By now, we could tell there were more than one tom in the bunch, but we still hadn't seen a single feather. Then we heard another hen clucking close to the toms, and we thought we were done. The birds seemed to be moving away from us.
I stepped up our calling, using both the box call and the diaphragm, purring like crazy. The gobblers seemed to go nuts. We heard at least three or four gobbles, and they sounded closer. We shut up. About two minutes went by when Jim said, " I see movement."
The big tom started away from the decoys, headed after the hen that was walking away. The other toms were milling around, but were all too close together to take one without the danger of hitting another. I thought we where going to lose them, when the big tom stepped away and Jim dropped the hammer. The tom dropped like brick and Jim was laughing like a kid on Christmas morning!
The tom had a six inch beard and weighed in at just over twenty pounds. Oh, ya, remember the camera? I did get two shots off into the bright morning sun, and I got great pictures of how bright it can be shooting into the sun. Well, it wasn't my bird, the pictures didn't turn out and it wasn't taken with a bow. But I was doing what I love to do, and what the heck, maybe I can teach him to hunt with a bow next time. And after my daughter remarked to him, "Anyone can take a turkey with a gun.", I think I can count on teaching him that too.