Tuesday, May 15, 2007


Between my turkey travel, and hunts in three other states, it was my first time out in Maine. B Season. Second day of the second week . . .

Up early, I stepped into the farmer's plowed field this morning, and heard a gobble in the far-off piney woods. By 5 a.m., that southern Maine bird was on the ground, and hammering for a hen or hens to come and join him. I softly yelped on a mouth call--set up just 50 yards away or so on a grassy field edge--and he cut me off. I shut up and he gobbled some more. I called, and he barked back.

This was getting nowhere.

So I walked in the other direction as if to make like a hen slipping away. Skirting the green opening, I slipped into the woods, along a muddy ATV trail, now about a football field away from the gobbler. I set up, called, and he came directly, but hung up again strutting behind two wide white pines, some deadfall and brush. I yelped, and he cut me off. I shut up for a long time, and he gobbled repeatedly. Now close enough that I could hear him spitting and drumming, my safety was off, ready for that bright head and black body to step into range. I scratched leaves. He gobbled. I stayed quiet. He barked out at crows, a far-off siren . . . I yelped and he tore back at me. He gobbled 50 times if he did once . . .

No go. The turkey drifted away a little, and I repositioned ten yards closer this time, but in silence, using the two broad pines. He gobbled. I heard footsteps (coming? going?). I softly yelped, and he barked back, drifting in closer, closer . . . then silence. More silence. Then some more of it.

There through the woods I saw a hen leading him away. He'd called her in, or maybe we both did . . . hey, it happens. The pair stopped, well out of range. There he strutted for her, and she nonchalantly pecked at the leaves.

Hey, I wasn't finished just yet . . . I softly called, and she turned directly, and began weaving through the woods to my position. To within 7-8 steps in fact, where she putted off my gun barrel (I cut my eyes left, right; where was he?), and drifted away after the wing flick. I softly called over her alarm call, and he gobbled behind her--obscured by thick cover. I then let her drift out of sight before calling again. She. Came. Back. Now peering at me from around the 11 o'clock position before putting again. Away she went. One more time I called her back as he gobbled (heard; unseen), and she turned and took him away, but not before he gobbled once more to me . . .

I hunted the next couple hours as showers began and the wind picked up. Nothing--gone like drifting woodsmoke.

Man, I can still hear him gobbling.

--Steve Hickoff

(Steve Hickoff photo)