Monday, April 28, 2014

Almost, but not quite...

My little buddy Daxton and I headed up to the hills of Adams County on Friday night, hopin' to finally break our streak of bad luck on the PA youth turkey hunt. This was our fourth youth hunt together, and we seem to get closer and closer every year.

I spent an evenin' last week preparin' the war bag. 'Bout drove my lady insane runnin' turkey calls, but I reckon that's marginal payback for her damned ol' "timebomb" noise her stupid iPhone makes when she types on it. Took awhile, but I finally narrowed it down to the ones that sounded best that particular evenin'.

Dad had gone up a little earlier in hopes of maybe puttin' somethin' to bed for us, but hadn't heard anythin' to speak of. He did see a few hens in a clearin' above the cabin though, so we were optimistic.

Saturday mornin' found us on a loggin' road a few hundred yards away from the cabin, listenin' for a nearby gobble. After bein' greeted with nothin' but surprisin' silence, Daxton decided we'd better head up to the clearin' on nearby public land where we'd come close to connectin' last year.

Along the way, we found a random turkey egg, just layin' in the middle of the loggin' road.

We finally got up to about where we wanted to be, and in an attempt to learn from our missteps last year, we set it up just a bit different. We'd heard a gobble from down the hill as we were closin' in on our spot, so I set Dax up on that side of the tree, and I set up watchin' the clearin' from the other side.

We'd been there maybe a half hour when I heard the sound of turkey scratchin' from behind me. I slowly rolled on my hip to peer around the tree and found myself starin' at a hen a mere 25 yards away. She was feedin' and didn't catch my movement, so I whispered for Dax if he had seen her.

No response... oh, crap! The kid was sound asleep.

I whispered a few more times to no avail, when suddenly, I saw the telltale red head of a gobbler peerin' at me from about ten yards to the right of the hen. Double crap!

I continued to whisper frantically for Dax to wake up, as the now suspicious birds started to move off. Other turkeys materialized out of nowhere... four more jakes appeared behind the hen and jake that I'd seen initially.

Finally, Dax whispered back that he saw the birds. By then, they were 40 yards away and still movin' off. He slowly got his gun up to his shoulder, scooched himself into a better position, and waited for a shot. As the birds moved through a small gap in the saplings, he got a decent look at a bird about 45 yards away, and he let a shot fly. Birds flew everywhere, but nothin' was anchored. We quickly walked over to where the birds were, and followed up for a hundred yards, but there were no signs of a hit.

He was a little dejected, but he bounced back quickly after a few pick-me-ups. Lord knows any turkey hunter worth his salt has spent many a happy hour zonked out at the base of a tree, and has likely screwed up a hunt or two because of it. That, and the shot that he was presented was definitely a tough shot through the saplings, as you can see from the pictures above.

After the miss, we decided we needed to go explorin' a bit. We heard a couple gobbles along the way, but bein' on public land, we encountered other hunters with the same plan as we tried to get a line on the bird. We finally found ourselves on a nearby gasline, which suited me fine as the wind was pickin' up. Turkeys seem to seek open areas on windy and rainy days, as the constant rustlin' of leaves and movement from the foliage tends to make the flighty birds a little nervous.

We spent the last two hours on the gasline, bein' patient anc callin', but to no avail. We finally threw in the towel and headed back to the cabin for some grub.

So, in four years, we've had a washout with no birds seen or heard, to hearin' birds close and gettin' to work 'em, to to havin' birds in sight, but just outta range, to finally gettin' 'em in range and gettin' a shot. Only one more step to go from here, so we're both already very optimistic about next year's youth hunt.

This Saturday marks the official openin' day. I'll be workin', but hopefully I'll be gettin' lots of updates from camp.

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