Monday, May 28, 2007

Catch and Release, the Sequel

It's Memorial Day. You have two fired up late-season Maine wild turkeys gobbling hard, and they're coming to your calls--one bird is on a strip of green grass along a field edge, and one is in thick edge cover--the kind you flush grouse from in October. You can't see either turkey. The green leaf-out is thick, but they are definitely coming. Which bird you you train your shotgun's muzzle on to be ready when that red, white and blue head periscopes up?

I picked the former, then flowed toward the latter . . . in the end, it didn't matter.

Let's back up a bit. Last night it rained hard. By morning it was showery, but threatening to clear--it was the same sort of morning as a dozen Memorial Days ago when I went out a little later, and called a three-bearded New Hampshire gobbler out of a plowed field and into the woods at 20 yards, then closed the deal. Today marked the first day of Maine's last week, when everyone still carrying a tag can go afield . . . I got out around 8 a.m. or so this morning (just as I did in May '95), but found no turkeys in this farmer's field, so I eased ahead to where I'd last worked turkeys back during the second week of B Season.

A little over an hour later I had two gobblers fire up to my cold calling (mouth, box and slate!), then begin to work in to my setup: one coming on the grassy field edge; one coming in through edge cover. My setup would have been a tight shot on the field turkey (10 yards?), and through brushy stuff as the edge cover bird went (30 yards or so, but through branches and sticks) . . . my guess is that these were the same duo I'd dueled with back on May 17: the jake and his longbeard buddy.

Sure enough, movement caught my eye, and the longbeard appeared, taking the path of more resistance . . . he was in range, for sure, but skirting the edge cover opening . . . at not seeing a hen (I'd stopped calling well before that as they approached), he picked up his step to make tracks, and was soon gobbling about 70-80 yards away . . . the jake must have moved through unseen behind him, as the two gobblers fired back at me from that position, then moved off gobbling never to return. Mostly silence then accompanied by the buzzing of mosquitos . . .

Catch. Release. Wonder how this Maine tag would taste lightly grilled with some barbeque sauce?

--Steve Hickoff

(Steve Hickoff photo)