As the Arkansas turkey hunt got underway last weekend (April 7), youth hunters of the state were greeted with an abundance of rain and quite possibly a snowflake or two. Definitely not the best of turkey hunting conditions, but from the pictures I received a few youngsters were able to get lucky.
The last few years, the season has seeming been almost over before it started. But this spring, the later hunt could prove to be a good time.
All indications are that last year’s turkey crop is lacking in numbers, which presents a few other problems.
Personally, my all-time favorite hunt was many years ago as a youngster. It was a bit different from normal turkey protocol, as most turkey hunters are in the woods at the crack of dawn in anticipation of a gobbler’s thunderous awakening. Mine was destined to start after church.
As soon as church was out, I stopped by my grandparent’s house to get my shotgun and my grandfather’s turkey caller. I am almost positive my mom thought I was sick, because I didn’t even check up for lunch. I was headed straight to the woods.
As I pulled up to my destination, I realized my excitement might have gotten the best of me. First I realized I was still in the clothes I wore to church — a new pair of jeans, a nice shirt, and tennis shoes, not your normal hunting attire. As I threw on my hunting vest, I noticed there were no shells in it. But I was fortunate to have five in my gun. Surely, that would be plenty.
By now it is after 1 in the afternoon and just my luck, the wind was blowing 20 to 30 miles per hour. But I was determined to make the best of it. I eased down the top of the ridge looking for a good place to set up.
I soon settled in with my back to a large tree and a small brush pile and a few weeds in front of me. This looked like a good spot and I was within shooting range of the ridge’s peak.
The wind was now blowing harder than ever, which must have been a good thing, keeping most wildlife from hearing all the noise I was making as I entered the woods. After settling in and getting situated, I broke out the magic box and made a few “raspy” hen calls.
At first I thought I was hearing things, but in the distance above the whistling wind I actually heard a gobble. I hit the caller again, and much to my amazement the result was the same — a gobble, and this time it seemed closer. I called twice more and both times I was answered, there was no doubt this turkey was headed straight for me. As instructed I put the caller away and got ready. I was almost certain I was about to see this bird.
Seconds later I saw a head bob over the brow of the hill. I eased off my safety and got ready to take a shot. I was fairly nervous, but really did not have a lot of time to think about it. The turkey stepped into an opening between two trees, and I lowered the boom.
As soon as I shot I stood straight up and proceeded toward where I had shot. Just as I was about to celebrate my accomplishment, he bolted down the hill and begin to fly just a few feet off the ground. I fired three more rounds as he hit the ground further down the hill. This time I’ve got him, I thought as I started down the hill, but once there I found absolutely no sign of my prize turkey.
I searched all around where I had last seen the bird and became discouraged. After looking for quite a while I had given up all hope that I would find him. I grudgingly started back up the hill to where this extravaganza started. I had my head down pouting until about half the way up I heard a ruffling as I almost stepped on the bird. Once again he bolted and I fired my final shot as he caught flight.
To be honest, I am not quite sure whether it was my precision shooting or the pine tree he flew into head on. But I finally had my bird and one of the best birthday presents I ever received!
On my birthday this year — when I woke up and stepped outside with temperatures in the 30s and the weatherman talked about of a chance of weekend snow — I thought to myself “Is it really turkey season?” Well, I am afraid it is and have many friends traveling to hunt in numerous states this week. I would like to wish them and you the best of luck this turkey season.
Email Joey Fisher at firstname.lastname@example.org