Hunting turkey worth a little bit of misery
Editor’s note: This is the second in The Daily Sentinel’s occasional series of reader-submitted hunting stories.
I grew up in a hunting family, and I had friends who enjoyed the sport, but it was always a gender-specific activity.
The boys went out hunting, and the girls stayed home and enjoyed other more feminine passions. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy those, too, but I have come to discover that I was missing out on something that was much more challenging, fulfilling and fun.
I started hunting just out of high school, but not until a few years ago did I tackle the elusive sport of turkey hunting.
I am not a morning person, so 4 a.m. in freezing temperatures is not my idea of fun.
But I love the sport, and it’s worth a couple of hours of misery to spend the rest of the day doing what I’ve come to adore.
During a recent hunt, I walked past the spot where I sat the previous weekend and started looking for a more promising one.
The creek, normally bubbling with runoff water, was dry. Thinking this may detour the turkeys a bit, I sat closer to the creek, picturing a line of them coming down the swirls of sand, looking for water.
Two hours went by, and the only action I saw was a small cottontail hopping around behind me. My eyes burned from the combination of the cold air and the morning sun and straining to see that unmistakable red turkey head stretched up through the sagebrush.
I turned my attention to the field of private property that we had been watching for the previous three weeks.
There seem to be turkeys in this field every day, but the only way they will cross the fence is to go to another section of private property.
My husband, Chad, was absolutely convinced they would change their pattern. We just had to wait until they did.
I noticed a stick that I had seen before, looking much like a turkey head, and I stared at it until it came into focus. It was still a stick!
Chad yelped and purred until his mouth was dry and decided it was time for a break.
We moved to the truck, enjoyed sweet, steamy chocolate and a granola bar and discussed our next move.
After coming up with “the perfect plan,” we headed back to our seats. Not long after we sat down, another gobble, this time from behind us and down the hill.
Chad managed to talk a small jake to within 40 yards, then motioned that the bird had turned, and he was going to go up and take a look.
Everything was dead quiet as I watched Chad pick his way up the hill. I watched until I couldn’t see anymore, and then I turned back to the field.
Chad was gone for what seemed like hours. It was getting cooler, and the sun already was casting shadows over the field.
My cottontail friend scurried about, getting ready for the night ahead.
My eyes shifted down the hill, toward the road where the turkeys crossed.
I blinked a couple of times to make sure what I was seeing was right. A hen was making her way to the concealed hole in the fence.
Except the wind had moved a tumbleweed into her path, and the hole in the fence was completely obstructed. She quickly changed her path.
The hen walked in our footprints, pecking at bugs and seeds as she made her way past my perch. I was dead still, my heart and lungs the only movement in my body. She purred and clucked and moved on past me and into the dry creek bed. Her feet sank in the damp sand, and she moved downstream to the fence line. She ducked her head under the bottom wire and, just like that, disappeared in the grass.
My eyes were constantly watching the road for more turkeys. In the oak brush to the left of the fence line, I saw a small glimmer of red. It was him! The gobbler gave me the one-eyed stare turkeys are famous for. He crooked his neck up a little higher, just to see if there was trouble ahead, then ducked into the brush. He turned and headed back in the original bush and took another look. He decided it was OK and followed the hen’s tracks up the hill. Every time he went behind a tree and out of my sight, I shifted into a better position.
I looked down the barrel of my shotgun and lined up the sight with his head. I squeezed the trigger and watched as the bird folded over into the ground.
He had a six-inch beard. Not bad for my first Colorado turkey.
Along with many of our friends, we have discovered hunting is a great family activity, and it’s not just for the guys. In fact, in our family, the women are ahead in trophies so far.
We now have a little boy, appropriately named Jake, whom we tote with us on all of our excursions, including several successful turkey hunts.