Friday, June 1, 2007

Just Walk Away, Walk Away . . .

Maine's spring turkey season ends at noon tomorrow, though this stormy then clearing morning would be my last chance afield . . .

After dropping my daughter off at school, I headed out when the weather started to clear (it had rained hard overnight, with thunder and the usual springtime drama), found a gobbler feeding in a far grassy field, and s-l-o-w-l-y pussyfooted into the woods nearby--my calling raised nothing. The bird was gone by the time I peeked in that field again (I suspected it was now in the nearby woods), so I set up and cold called some more, but got no response. Around 11:20 (should have made the move earlier, turns out), I pussyfooted away some 100 yards or so, and cold called again, thinking maybe that gob had been listening to my racket . . . it roared back from that woods. It and another: the longbeard (has an intense gobble, that one), and the fat jake (gobble is a work in progress) I'd been tangling with since the second week of B, and again this final week.

Well, we'd have to make this snappy, eh, with high noon on the rise . . . I called, they ripped back . . . I moved forward some (the longbeard had come through the woods that way mid-morning on Monday, gobbling hard). They hammered. I stayed quiet, then softly yelped. They were coming, for sure.

I made ready, as one gobbled no more than 40 steps away, but through plenty of green . . . the lead bird, the longbeard, roared to my hard left, there in the field through a lush stand of green and branchy tangle--no shot. He strutted, started to hook around behind me, looking, looking . . . the other bird, the jake, went silent. In the next 20 minutes or so the strutter and his buddy hung up, alternating between 45-50 yards in the field then the woods behind me (I eventually slithered around to face their way)--I heard gobbling, spitting and drumming, but they stayed out of sight the way late-season turkeys sometimes do.

The. Minutes. Passed. Too. Fast. I wear my watch face on the inside of my left wrist for such occasions, and part of me died when I saw the hands hit 12.

It's. All. Good. Arggggggggh.

--Steve Hickoff