Anything Can Happen in the Turkey Woods
Russ Chastain 04.07.20
Stubbornness is most certainly one of my key traits (just ask the women in my life), and sometimes that pays off. Say when you’ve been hunting turkeys for 5 days, have only seen one hen, and haven’t been hearing gobbles — but you still go out and hunt ‘til noon and go out again in the afternoon.
On this particular day I had failed to hear gobbling at daybreak and had made a couple different cold-call setups, calling and sitting a good long time before shouldering my gear and moving on. It was 10:06 AM when I settled down in a likely spot and fired off some sweet alluring yelps with Dad’s old Lynch box call. Then I set it down and commenced to wait.
I’d been spending way too much time not even hearing birds, so when I yelped again at 10:21, I was surprised and thrilled to immediately hear some answering yelps! I yelped and it yelped back… and either it was walking in circles while calling, or there were multiple birds, because the yelps seemed sometimes louder, sometimes softer.
The louder ones seemed to be getting louder, so it was coming! Until it wasn’t. As turkeys so often do, it stalled out.
Well, it yelped and didn’t come. I answered and added a small Lynch-box gobble, and that was the end of it. That bird just shut the heck up.
I tried some nice soft yelps with my old Quaker Boy push-pull call and waited a bit… nada. Yelped with the Lynch box again… nada. So I said, “What the hell?” and decided to stage a fight.
At 10:33 I made some fighting purrs with the push-pull box, figuring it might interest something. And then I went back to playing on my phone to while away the time.
I had been whiling for quite a while when I heard some movement in the dry leaves to my left. I was leaning to the right on my low Wing Man turkey hunting chair, hiding from the hot sun. When I slowly turned my head to look left, I heard the tell-tale sound of a turkey putt. It’s the single sound that says, “You’re busted.”
But nothing ran off immediately, so I began easing my shotgun to my shoulder. Whatever flavor of turkey it was, it was still nearby. The putting continued.
Then a turkey stepped into view between the close-crowded tree trunks, showing a long red head and neck — and a mighty skinny one at that. Another few seconds showed me his beard; that little pokey-out “starter beard” worn by all young adult male toms.
As he beat a not-too-terribly-hasty retreat, I placed the shotgun bead on his head.
Up until that moment, I wasn’t sure whether I would shoot a jake on this trip. After all, it can be tough to resist a legal bird when it’s only the second turkey you’ve seen on the entire hunt!
I didn’t fire the old Browning, and the jake lived on, most likely to frustrate me in years to come. But on this day, he lifted my spirits and left me with a delicious case of the shakes.
I don’t know whether he was the yelping bird from earlier, but what’s most notable is that he was coming right to me a full hour after I’d made the series of “fighting purr” calls — and I’m pretty sure I didn’t make any other calls after those.
If there is one thing that’s always true about turkey hunting, it is this:
Anything is possible.
Remember that when your head is hanging from a lack of action or your ego sags after a missed opportunity. Your quarry may well be on its way to you, even if you don’t hear it talking — maybe even an hour after your last call.
Yep, it’s true: Anything can happen in the turkey woods.
So get on out there, and happy hunting.