Tuesday afternoon when I squeezed that trigger and that gobbler dropped like a ton of bricks I knew I had just completed a journey to get to this exact moment. Being sick and out of work for 3 months gives a guy a lot of time to think and put things in perspective and I’ll be honest part of me figured this turkey season would be a no go for me. I decided I’d try to make it out some and with a lot of people’s help and God’s healing I’m in the woods again.
I still have an open wound that has to be packed and dressed a few times a day which is a task my wife does for me. So with me wanting to go turkey hunting that means on days I go she has to get up with me around 3 am to do this for me before I hit the road to head for the woods. That’s love right there and I’m grateful for her and the blessing she is in my life.
I’ve switched to an over and under 20 gauge for this year to reduce the recoil. Which for the most part is still more than enough weapon to hunt turkeys with I’m just more mindful of the distances. Monday I had a gobbler at 50 yards which my 12 gauge would have no problem with the 20 gauge I’m looking for 35 yards or so.
When I was rehabbing from my surgeries there wasn’t a whole lot of things I could do so I picked up some materials to make some turkey calls. So on Tuesday afternoon when I called this gobbler in it was with a turkey call I made. I remember those days sitting on the back porch working on those calls and day dreaming of being in the turkey woods.
Tuesday morning was beautiful while I worked some birds the hens had messed me up and took the gobblers away. My hunting partner Rick killed a gobbler in the lower field near the creek that morning and he saw a lot of activity. So mid-morning with farm to myself I moved down to the lower field to see if I could get one off the creek. I had some decoys out and did some calling off and on but didn’t get any response. Knowing that my odds of getting a bird went up with each passing minute because for sure the hens should be slipping away to go to nest thus leaving Tom lonely. Shortly after 1 pm I got a response to my calling with a gobbler sounding off on the creek bottom in front of me. Well that got the blood a pumping and then he gobbled again getting a response from another gobbler further down the creek and another gobbler behind me.
The gobbler behind me sounded like he was in the upper field near my truck. I certainly didn’t think he’d have time to get to my set up because this other gobbler was right out in front of me on the creek. What I thought was going to be rather quick took a lot longer because neither the gobblers on the creek would come out and the gobbler above me was in the woods now but seemed to have no desire to leave the woods for the field. While my call sounds pretty sweet I also knew that if I kept playing it this standoff of sorts would just continue.
So after getting them all fired up I shut up for a long time. They gobbled at each other…. Gobbled at the crows…. Gobbled at the hawks…. But me the pesky hen in this situation wasn’t talking I wanted to see them. So after an hour of me not calling and them not gobbling for a little bit I started purring on the call and the gobbler up behind me cut me off. He was obviously a lot closer and then he walked into the field a good 125 yards from my set up and as soon as he saw the Jake decoy he blew up and began strutting. He did this for a good 15 minutes, which by the way is a new record for me holding my breath, before he had enough with this Jake and he was going to teach him a lesson. So he strutted over to the decoy and began circling it. My gun was up and as soon as he came out of strut and lifted his head I slid the safety off squeezed the trigger and sent a load of # 5 heavy shot his way killing him instantly. The decoy was 25 yards away from me and I was happy the 20 gauge did its job.
After tagging my bird I sat on the edge of the field and thanked the good Lord for giving me this day and allowing me to have such a wonderful experience out in nature. I sat there and listened to the two gobblers on the creek still gobbling the hawks above me soaring and screaming, and just looked around at the beautiful world God created.
I was happy and I don’t think I’ve ever felt a greater level of accomplishment in that I knew how far I’ve come since Thanksgiving night when I got so sick to this very moment that I’d envisioned a number of times during my recovery. I know I couldn’t of made this journey on my own and I’m truly grateful to the family and friends who helped me, prayed for me and encouraged me. For the medical team that has helped me and continues to work with me to get well I say thank you. Above all I thank God for his mercies that are new every morning.
The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.