Pages of Life: Another Turkey Memory

Spring has arrived! So many years of Mushroom stories, Wild Green Picking, Etc... So, I was wondering what to write about this week. Just in the last week we have seen Baby Eagles hatch, Little Lambs born, Baby Calves born, Blue Herons nesting, so many special things.

However, with the Wild Turkey Hunting, Spring Season, just ending, I thought I would tell of one of our adventures of Turkey Hunting.

David and I don't hunt anymore, only with our camera. He always jokingly claims someone has used up all the oxygen out there. Actually, he suffers from COPD... But we have new adventures every day. Just in a different way now. I should mention David was one of the first Turkey hunters to bag a turkey, in the first Turkey Season, in Callaway County. He kept his record getting his Turkeys each season until he quit hunting. Now our Middle son Randy, who bagged his first at age 9, is the hunter in the family, and continues the record.

This story is about one of our adventures in the Turkey Season in the past.

It was sure a different kind of turkey season. It rained almost every day and even snowed a couple days! We spent a lot of time driving here and there and getting out listening. Getting wet isn't a big thing, but lightning is.

Shhh.. I'm writing this in a whisper. This is the opening day of the spring turkey hunting season in Missouri. It wasn't quite as hard to pull out of bed this morning at 3:30. This isn't a practice run, it's the real thing! The morning has finally arrived, and David is up bouncing around as excited as any kid going to the fair. I sure hope he doesn't fix me a thermos of hot water and cream like he did last week. We each have our own thermos because I like cream in mine. David is in charge of the coffee since retirement and does a good job. However, in the wee hours of morning, one can make a mistake.

We reached our destination while it was still dark, rolled down the truck windows and poured us a cup of coffee. A little light was beginning to appear, and the whippoorwills were beginning to taper off. Next, we would be hearing the hoot owls, then turkeys.

"I think we can make it down the trail now, don't you think?" David asks. "Yes, we better pack up." I agreed. We wouldn't be able to short cut down through the big field. The National Forrest Land leases out pastureland for cattle to graze, and for some reason they always turn the cattle in a day or two before turkey season opens. We had blazed out another trail in case this happened.

I put on my handy dandy hunting vest our middle son Randy had given me. It has big broad cushioned straps so you can load up all the pouches and it still won't hurt your shoulders to pack.

Although David has always gotten his turkey ever since the first turkey season in Callaway County, without any special equipment, this time we were going to do something different just for fun. We have a plan.

We had, just yesterday for the first time ever, built a turkey blind. We found a great location where the turkeys have been visiting and got set up by an old fence. The fence around the pasture had been replaced at some time and they had left pieces of old barbed wire fencing there. We tied it off around some brush there then propped cedar limbs around it. We had a neat little hide-out to set and watch for Old Biggie. I felt like a kid again in the little hide-outs that my cousins & I made many years ago.

A few days earlier we had seen this big monster tom turkey strutting around in this area. For the first time ever, we bought a hen decoy. Just wanted to see if these things really work and could we fool this wise old tom turkey.

We even bought this year real genuine seats to sit, wait, and drink coffee in. No stumps or logs with ticks and ants this time. I shudder remembering seeing hundreds of tiny ticks going up my legs last year.

I began to fill up my vest with essentials for a morning of setting. Looks like we may have overdone it, I think as I pack up. Salmon patties, bananas, grapes, binoculars, camera, water bottles...

I put on my loaded down vest, picked up thermoses, my chair and my 'toy gun.' David says your 410 shotgun is not a toy gun! Well, I know they have to be REAL close to bag using it. Anyway, it is very light and easy to carry, and I won't bruise my shoulder from its kick.

David was packing his VERY heavy shotgun, chair, turkey calls, etc... and we set out, just beginning to have enough light to follow trail. As I walked behind David, I noticed he would almost stumble as he stepped into unseen ditches, and I was alerted they were there.

We stopped and had a little laugh. David said, "Now how are we going to pack out a turkey if we get one? My reply was, "two trips... Guess we should have brought a wheelbarrow". Although our destination blind was less than a half a mile from the truck, it didn't take long until we were both getting very warm from walking. My nostrils were burning from walking too fast, carrying a load in the cold air. I guess we took too much stuff this time, but we are out to enjoy, not just take home a turkey.

We made it to our super-duper blind, got in and all set up, time 6:15. David stuck hen decoy in the ground about twenty steps from our blind. I poured him a cup of coffee. David looked all comfy in his new camo chair, but his eyes looked big and alert.

I looked and here came the cows. They stood and one curious cow actually breathed over my shoulder. Talk about something breathing down your neck! You could hear every breath and see the steam in the cool air.

"I see turkeys," David whispers. "Down at the end of the field." Excitement was mounting as they headed in our direction. But then they took a little turn and headed in a different direction. David got out his trusty old wood box call, the one with notches on it for turkeys taken over 45 years. He gave a few lovesick hen calls and they turned back toward us. He called, they answered, back and forth. We sat still. All was quiet except for a thumping noise. I wondered, was it David's heart or the turkey drumming as he moved toward our hen decoy?

"I have to keep my hands on the shotgun, can you work this call for me?" David asks. Boy, I hope I don't mess up and say the wrong thing and spook him. I carefully picked up the call and made a few yelps on it. He answered. "Do it again," David says. He moved slowly toward us looking at the decoy and listening. He got about 40 steps from us and quit gobbling and just stared at the decoy.

BOOM! Dave shot. Down went the turkey and David jumped over the barbed wire fence like a deer. He was still as excited as he was those many years ago and his first turkey.

David put his turkey over his shoulder and his gun over the other. I loaded my vest up, hung a chair over each shoulder, thermos in each hand, etc., and we headed out.

Another adventure ended so soon, and I hadn't even poured myself a cup of coffee yet! I'll never forget the sight of that old gobbler standing tall and looking at that decoy. David got his turkey, and I got another story, and another great memory to hold.

  photo  Photo courtesy Dorothy Kleindienst: David Kleindienst and Mr. Biggie.