Today is Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Old dogs, turkeys & women make us whine

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Rick uses a locator call.

Years ago, Tom T. Hall owned it, before the Scott's bought it and turned it into the Watertown Animal Sanctuary. The cabin where he wrote a lot of his songs still stands.

Now, deer, turkeys and horses roam the fields. It is a sanctuary for old and abused horses, sort of a retirement community just outside Watertown. I was there to try and shoot a turkey.

I could see three hens and two toms mingled in amongst the horses, 300-yards out in a field. The sun was bright and warm and sparkled off their feathers. It was almost 7:30. To me, that is just about the right time to start turkey hunting. So, my man, Rick Scott, owner of the sanctuary and I formed a master plan. A couple old dogs sniffed around our feet as we formulated the pincer movement that would surely net one of us a turkey. Snatches of Tom T's songs ran through my mind.

"I'll go this way and you go that way," said the silvered haired sage, who is just about as excited about turkey hunting as I. What a magnificent plan. He will go left, I will go right. The dogs seemed to agree. No further planning needed. We grabbed shotguns and began to put the plan into action.

I, in my low cut shoes, slid silently through the dew-soaked grass and into the briars. Since most of my hearing is gone, it seems I can walk a lot quieter than in years past. I found a spot I could cross the creek without getting any more wet than the dew had already made me. I slowly snuck through the dense cedar thicket. An Indian never walked more silent than I. I would cut the devious birds off, set up and execute a perfect ambush.

As I neared the spot I thought the birds should be. I knelt and put my Alpen binoculars to work, glassing the field edges ahead. Nothing. I stood and stepped around an old and gnarly oak. One of the toms was standing about 75-yards away watching me with what seemed to be a somewhat bemused expression. I do not think turkeys should be allowed to have human-type expressions.

Perhaps it was just my imagination. It just looked to me like he had a look of disdain as he turned and walked away. But he had no idea that I was now going to put my master plan into play.

You see, I have a theory about turkey hunting. I believe most hunters go about it all wrong. When I left the house that morning, it was 39-degrees. That is the temperature you want when you go deer hunting. For turkey hunting, you want balmy. So I see no sense in even getting to the woods until the turkeys are out getting warm and you can see where they are. I am not a sit-in-the-dark-shiver and call type hunter. That is why, at 7:15, we were standing in Rick's driveway drinking coffee and glassing turkeys in the pasture. I firmly believe, if you leave them alone, at some point, they will walk up to you. But we were going hunting.

I have a plan for killing turkeys!

I swung wide and again in full stealth mode, made a loop in the woods. Slithering from tree to tree I began to close the net, my eyes searching the woods ahead, lest he try and get by me. I knew Rick was closing the loop from the other side.

Finally, I eased closer to the field edge, looking for a place to set up and employ my one and only turkey call, though all my turkey hunting friends have told me, the turkeys are not responding to call at all. Most of my friends that have been successful this year, have been shooting the toms off driveways as they get out to open a gate. That is why I had a plan.

The jig was up!

Three hens (part of a larger group, I later learned), stood giving me the evil eye. I hate when women do that. So, as so often happens when I turkey hunt, there was nothing left do but whine. We had closed the net on a group of women turkeys. The toms escaped because they were ignoring the women. We stood and whined about that for a bit but the truth was, neither of us really cared. We just felt like doing the turkey whine. I feel as though, should Tom T have been there, we could have come up with a catchy song.

Well, anyway, that is my turkey hunt for this year. I talked to some of the horses and they all said it was a strange year. Of course, all this took place just a week into the season so probably things will change. The toms were not paying much attention to the hens. I got that straight from the horses' mouth. A lesson to be learned there.

On the leisurely drive home, I saw three more groups of turkeys in open fields and as I was told, the toms were off separate from the hens and did not seem to be paying much attention to them.

You can learn some valuable lessons from turkeys. One of which is, "Ignore the women and you'll stay out of trouble." To that, I might add, why go to Watertown when your backyard is full of turkeys. See, what happened was, when I got home and pulled in the driveway, there were two toms in the neighbor's yard, giving me disdainful looks. And of course, Rick was not immune to the disdain, either. That afternoon, a nice gobbler came up to his back porch and gave him a salute, so to speak.

I hate when that happens. See why I don't care much for turkey hunting?

Contact the author at jsloan1944@gmail.com

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