Meridian Star

Outdoors

February 15, 2013

Uncle Jim gets his gobbler

MERIDIAN —     Uncle Jim and his hunting partner, Wade Anderson, had been turkey hunting only a short time when I got the call to join them on a hunt near Georgetown. Our plan was to find a gobbler, and I’d call him up for Jim or Wade.

    As soon as we stepped out of the truck we knew we were in trouble as the trees were swaying back and forth from winds so strong you could barely hear yourself talk. We had driven a long way, so there was nothing to do but hunt. With near tornado force winds, however, we had little hope of hearing a gobbler.

    After getting our gear together I sent out a series of owl hoots and was met instantly by a faint gobble. “There he is!” said Uncle Jim. Though the gobbler sounded far away I knew he couldn’t be too far if we heard him at all in the wind.

    As we made our way towards his position we were stopped short by a deep creek bed perhaps 20 yards wide. I hooted again and the hot gobbler responded! HE WAS CLOSE, but what to do?

    We had to get across that creek bed or we might never get a shot. I could see perhaps 200 yards through the open swamp with nary a bird in sight so we quickly made our way to the other side. As soon as we popped up on the far bank I caught sight of the back side of a gobbler fan tail just as he pirouetted out of site.

    I quickly sat down at the nearest tree with Wade to my left while Uncle Jim got in position some 20 yards to our right at the next available tree.

    Once settled in I sent out a cackle followed by a series of yelps and clucks and was met with a thunderous gobble. In seconds a bird appeared some 200 yards distant on a snow white covered rise. And then another, and another and another popped up over the sand dune. My heart sank as I realized our bird had his own harem.

    But as the sky lightened even more, the whole Pearl River Swamp bottom looked to have been filled with snow banks. Recent floods had left pristine white sand dunes and beaches all over the woods.

    As the old gobbler finally popped over the white rise surrounded by more hens, it was a magical sight indeed. I just marveled at the beauty of the morning, filled with the sights, sounds, and smells of the springtime woods. Amazingly the old gobbler and his flock of suitors turned in our direction and started coming. The old tom seemingly floated on air just inches above terra firma as he strutted back and forth and weaved in figured 8s and circles.

    One minute the flock and gobbler would disappear behind a sand dune and then pop up a few yards closer. Up and down, here and there, they’d disappear and then reappear a few yards closer. Where we sat on a small hill overlooking the bottom, another dry ditch ran right out in front of us and concealed quite a bit of the area directly towards the birds. Closer and closer they came until they all disappeared, nowhere to be seen.

    Minutes went by with nary a sound or sight of the birds. Suddenly a hen popped over the rise only 5 yards away. She was joined by two more hens that popped over also. And then the majestic coal black monarch rose above the peak of the sand dune in full strut in all his glory at a mere ten yards. Wade couldn’t get his gun up and sat there stunned. I didn’t have a gun and Uncle Jim was nowhere to be seen. We couldn’t move a muscle.

    Suddenly the enraged gobbler belted out a thunderous gobble that almost blew us off our seats and scared us out of our wits! Just as it seemed the old bird knew something wasn’t right and stretched his head way out to look for the hen over the rise, a deafening shotgun blast roared and the gobbler went into a death flop.

    Our morning had begun with low expectations due to the weather and had ended in one of the most memorable hunts I’d ever been on. Uncle Jim’s gobbler was a trophy indeed with long spurs and an 11 and 9/16 inch beard! With a little good fortune and help from my Preston Pittman mouth call the morning had been a resounding success and another lifetime memory had been made.

    Contact  Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or e-mail him at mikegiles18@comcast.net.

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