Opening Day Alabama

We got there before daylight. The temperature was a surprising 33 degrees. The little power line runs north from the big one and parallel to the creek. The spot is a central location to hear a gobble from any direction on the hunting land. We waited for the crack of dawn.

My son, Aaron, who is still recovering from a very serious head injury, stood patiently beside me. I was glad he was able to be with me. At 33 years old, he’s never killed a turkey that I’ve called for him. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve tried but something always went wrong on these rare trips together in the past. He learned, on the last trip, that you can’t turn your head to look when two gobblers are 40 yards away. You have to wait and stay motionless. He was determined that this time would be different.

After daylight came, I owled and a turkey gobbled in the creek bottom. A jake tried to answer him. They gobbled off and on until two hens pitched out of trees to our right and flew toward them. Both hens cackled as they flew down.

We listened as the gobbler moved further away to our left, toward the big power line. I knew we had to move.

The big power line goes down a steep hill across a creek and then up to a property line. A barbed wire fence separates the two properties on the top of the opposite hill. Beyond that, is a huge pasture. From years of hunting this place, I knew that the turkeys would most likely be heading for that pasture where they like to strut.

We got settled in near the edge of the drop off so we could see all the way across the creek and watch the pasture, which is at least 500 yards away. If you look closely at the photo, you can see a little part of the green pasture in the upper left part of the power line. Sure enough, in about 20 minutes, he stepped out and began to strut. A breeze had began to blow and I wondered if he could hear my call. I yelped and we watched as his head stretched forward. A few seconds later the sound of his gobble reached us.

Each call I made was answered but he wasn’t moving. Then, 4 hens came trotting to him from beyond the tom, in the opposite direction. I said, “Oh well, that’s it.”

To my surprise the lead hen just passed right by that gobbler and went through the barbed wire fence, heading in our direction down toward the creek. The other hens followed. Then the gobbler, looking a little dismayed, broke out of strut and followed the hens.

When the gobbler disappeared from our view under the hill, I told Aaron to get ready because he’s going to pop up right in front of us where the land drops off into the creek bottom. Aaron nestled his gun to his cheek and waited.

When the gobbler appeared, slightly to the left of the gun, his head was the color of a red Solo cup. It was solid red from his neck up. “There he is.” I whispered.

Aaron was focused straight down the gun barrel. By the time Aaron realized the turkey was to his left, the tom had closed the distance to 10 yards. By slowly moving the gun left, he was able to aim at the head and kill the turkey.

I just fell back into the briars, clapped my hands and said “I can’t believe that turkey came all the way over here. I’ve never seen anything like that before.”

A gobbler with hens, coming through a barbed wire fence, crossing a creek to  stand still at 10 yards is simply unbelievable. If I had been by myself, I would hesitate to even tell the story. But I have a witness!

All I can figure is that this was fate. The turkey committed suicide for us.

Afterward, I realized that the hunt was similar to one I wrote about in my novel, One Season. Strange. Aaron was just as happy as any turkey hunter should be after seeing it all happen.

Being willing to move, knowing the land, having some experience about where your turkeys like to be and patience all pays off in the long run.

Turkey hunting is not for everyone. It’s hard most of the time. As it should be. But on very rare occasions, even the blind hog finds an acorn.