Now that it is over, I can crawl back out from under my rock, make my confession to the world and crawl back in. KY Spring Gobbler Season is over. I’m wet and spent. The shamanic dream team has decamped.
Yes, I’ve gone a whole season without filling tags before. Yes, I have had rough seasons before. By summer, I’m sure I’ll have a better perspective on it. Right now, I feel unusually dark.
You have already read about our Opening Day fiasco– 7 shootable birds in 2 hours and nothing to show for it. Well, after that, the birds just clammed up. Wednesday, I was out about 2 in the afternoon and heard one gobble. I threw out a yelp or two, and settled back to wait. 30 minutes later a bird appeared at my right shoulder, less than 10 yards out. I still cannot quite figure how he got so close without me knowing. I would have had to swivel about 45 degrees to my right and stick the gun through a woven-wire fence to get a shot. I barely moved before the bird made me and took off. That was it. One day we had wind so bad we just stayed inside and felt the house rock. Another day we had wall-to-wall thunderstorms.
Weekend two was cold– down in the low thirties. Weekend 3 looked like I was going to call in a bird for Angus. The bird was just hammering at us, and we waited for him to come in. Twice he circled back and forth about 50 yards out, and then made a wide arc through the tall grass in front of the Honey Hole, only to disappear off into the distance. Angus and I got up and tried to do an end-around, moving about 200 yards north. When we came back in, he was right where I’d planned, but only then could we hear the hens he was following. They led the gobbler down into Hootin’ Holler and back up the other side. 500 yards from us, you could here SuperCore calling to this gob and having about the same luck.
I staid out. Angus went in. On the way, he encountered a coyote and laid a load of #4 into it. The coyote was soundly hit, but took off. Angus trailed it, but could not come up with a carcass. The good news is the coyotes seemed to have taken the hint and moved on. We had been plagued with coyote all Spring. A ‘yote trailed Angus on an evening hike. One even got a bite into Lily, our beagle. I hope they leave us alone for a while.
There is one other piece of good news. SuperCore has finally succeeded in calling in gobblers on his own. The first year, I called in two for him. The next year, Angus sat with him. This year he got several gobbler and jakes to come in, but he is still working on the subtleties of closing the deal. He had one shot all season and misjudged the distance. SuperCore is hearing impaired, so calling bird in on his own is a real challenge.
Yesterday was a complete no-show– never heard a gobble. This morning, it was pouring rain at 0430 and I could not get SuperCore or Angus interested in going out. I woke up at 0620 and heard one lone gobble as I was sipping my coffee in the downpour. I suited up and went out. I did engage a gobbler, but after a honoring my calls a couple of times, he turned the other way and wandered off up Pity Creek. I laid out one last run of yelps and . . .
If I ever get a podcast together from all the fragments I recorded you may get to hear the sound of wingbeats from a gobbler not 10 yards from my back. I had my back to a large tree. The gobbler was able to get up close with the toad-strangling rain masking his approach. I had no idea until I reached to set down my call.
FFFFFffffFFFFFffffFFFFFffff! He was gone.
On the way out, I had the last ignominy of having a jake emerge onto the trail 40 yards from me. I shouldered my shotgun as the bird withdrew a step behind a bush, leaving his head sticking out. This was a desperation shot. You know you have to take it, otherwise you will second-guess it the rest of your life. However, it is nearly always for naught. This one knocked off a couple of feathers and the bird nearly killed itself trying to get through and then over a woven-wire fence. I scoured the upper reaches of Hootin’ Holler for quite a while, doing nothing but getting wet and seeing nothing but a rain-soaked squirrel.
I need to get going now and get the gear dried out, the stuff in the cooler put away and grab a shower and start picking ticks off myself. However, I thought you all would like to know that I survived Turkey Season.