If it were daylight, he would have been near the horizon.
That is how far away the coyote wailed. I shivered slightly in the pre-dawn cold and hunkered against the water oak in the fence row at my back.
He was less than 75-yards in front of me-the gobbler.
His reply to the coyote shook the leaves in the early spring. It is quite possible, I shook a little, too.
Things were different then.
For one, I could hear well enough to hear the coyote at that distance.
Today, I doubt I could hear the gobbler. And, 20-years ago, I had at least some desire to hunt turkeys. I got a little excited when they answered my feeble attempts to call. I enjoyed the hunt, not so much the kill.
I was in Macon County, AL, the guest of Bo Pitman, quite possibly the best turkey hunter I have ever known. Right up there with Eddie Salter.
I have hunted with both of them many times. I rank them right at the top. Bo, the afternoon before, had taken me to this ridiculous piece of ground right behind a country church. He showed me two fence lines. One split the mowed expanse behind the church from a more grownup field. The other split the church land from the edge of the swamp. Pointing with the brim of his black, rodeo-wrecked hat, Bo said, "Fine you a place in wuna dese fences and hunker. Em ole birds will fly down into one of the grassy spots and go to struttin. Oughta could kill one can you sit dead still." He also explained we would give anything we killed to the pastor in return for permission to hunt. That was fine with me, I don't eat turkey, much.
So, here I hunkered, waiting for daylight and the "flydown".
I have never proclaimed myself to be a turkey hunter though I have killed several.
I do not honestly know a yelp from cut and just as honestly, don't care. I have a couple calls.
When I use them, they sound okay to me. I use them sparingly as I have been taught.
Slowly the sun began to make the dew drip. As always, some of it dripped down my collar. I made some sort of sound on my box call and yelped a couple times. Gobblers answered from both sides of me. I yelped again and from my left and right, came two longbeards. They hit the dew soaked, mowed grass about 75-yards in front of me and commenced to strut. The thought ran through my mind, "What do I do now?" I took a picture.
I sat and watched, afraid to move or even call. I did not see them come, two more turkeys.
The gobblers were doing their thing. Then, up the hill from me, three more turkeys appeared, one a gobbler. I took one more picture.
As the Alabama sun began to dry the dew, it became a pure pantomime.
Slowly, one by one, gobblers came filtering in to the grassy lawn. They came until there were nine of them. I reckon they were Baptists. All various ages and sizes, all doing their own thing and all just out of shotgun range. Strutting, gobbling and picking worms out of the ground, they paraded in front of me. I risked taking another picture or two.
I guess he popped up out of the ground.
Suddenly, there was a gobbler, standing less than 40-yards in front of the barrel of my shotgun. I shot once. Then, slowly lowered the camera and snuggled into the stock of the 12-guage. One time, I mouth yelped. Just once. He stretched his neck and looked my way.
Our season opens this Saturday. You are allowed one bearded bird.
Hunt safely, hunt ethically and good luck. I have not yet decided if I am going but "My Man", says he has the birds.
However, with the forecast I just saw, it is a good possibility I am not going much of anywhere outdoors. The turkeys will all be frozen to the limbs.
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