Meridian Star

Outdoors

May 2, 2014

Ruminations in the undergrowth

MERIDIAN — As I write these lines, I have two days left in the 2014 Mississippi spring turkey season. I have one fine three-year-old in my freezer. But if you sit in hiding in the turkey woods most mornings for over a month with limited success, you need to have something positive to think about. On a recent morning I decided to think about the successes I have had pursuing gobblers and how bright the future looks for spring turkey hunting.

    As the crows cawed and the gobblers practiced keeping their beaks closed, I remembered Ping Pong Pete. He was the bird with which I kept swapping ridges one year. I called him across a creek, and didn't know it. While he was silently coming I crossed the creek and had to call him across it again. He was determined to get himself shot and I obliged him.

    Then there was old Cold Foot, the Wyoming gobbler that came in all puffed up while walking in four inches of snow. I checked my gun’s pattern by noting where each pellet hit the snow around the flopping tom.

    And of course Yo Yo in New Mexico. He came in to 25 yards and my mesmerized partner didn’t shoot because the gobbler was “too far.” (Read “I froze up and forgot to pull the trigger.”) I had to call the bird in again after he walked off and my pal, a novice hunter, still couldn’t shoot. Yo Yo left the second time and went on to live a long and, I trust, happy life. Later my friend conquered buck fever and I called in his first bird.

    Then there is Gabriel, the one who sounds his clarion bugle on a higher plane. The one who cannot be called with a yelp or a cut. Notice I speak of him in the present tense. Although I finally killed Gabriel using a single purr and scratching in the leaves, he is a gobbler who lives on. He will always be there in the Maryland mountains. I even hunted him after we ate him. Turkey hunters will understand.

    And so my thoughts drifted on as I waited and called in vain. I grasped for reassurance that the next morning, next year, will be better. But then I acknowledge that it is the hunt after all and not the killing of a gobbler that I crave. Were it not so, why would I go two dozen times with nothing to show before finally bagging a bird or maybe striking out the whole season?

    Hope abides. With daring optimism, I am asserting that my last two days will see success. Regardless, next turkey season is going to be a dandy. How do I know? Because I am saving 99 percent of the crop to add to next year’s.

    There should be scads of gobbling going on next spring with these hoards marching through the woods in waves! Other birds may stop singing and just listen to the roar of the gobblers. Cars will have to stop on the roads to let turkeys scatter out of the way. Pets and small children will be in danger of being trampled!

    Oh hush! Leave me alone! I need to give my imagination a little elbow room now and then.

    NOTE: My current book, “Spring Beckonings”, is written for gobbler hunters, and those who know gobbler hunters and for those who would understand us. Contact me using information at the top of this page.

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