Parked the truck at 7:15 a.m. yesterday morning. Made the slow walk across the greened-up pasture. Eased into the woods and heard nearby gobbling at 7:28. Took way too long choosing a setup spot. Found one. Sat down. Yelped on a slate. The birds hammered back, closer now. I put the call down, got my shotgun up, waited. Waited a little more. Saw two gobblers appear, looking, coming in, then another, lagging behind. The first two drifted right. Both gobbled hard. One popped into strut, the turkey I wanted. 7:58.
That afternoon I shipped my forthcoming turkey book to Stackpole . . .
Last night I taught a college writing class with the image of those gobblers crossing my mind . . .
My New England Roundup on turkey hunting and angling destinations in the June 2008 issue of Cabela's Outfitter Journal.
My regular posts on Outdoor Life's Strut Zone blog.
My Yamaha Outdoors tips on their website.
A new bowhunting turkeys piece on Hoyt.com.
A "Destinations Merriam's" article just posted on Realtree.com.
My outdoor newspaper column "New England Afield" on the back side of the sports pages every Sunday in Foster's Sunday Citizen (and at www.fosters.com).
As book projects go, my "50 Greatest Plays in Pittsburgh Steelers Football History" is forthcoming from Triumph Books in September 2008, and my "Turkey Calls and Calling" title (Stackpole Books) is appearing in 2009.
Just in from Texas at 2 a.m. this morning. Delayed flights in San Antonio and Detroit . . .
Heat, then warmth, then beautiful at the wire. Wind. Showers. Rain. Tornado warnings Wednesday night. Hens calling the shots, stealing a strutting and gobbling longbeard off my muzzle at 60 yards or so, a different hen, midweek, coming into the oak mott with us, and the strutter reading her soon-to-be tentative cue and moving away--twice, then once again--spookier each time. Fine country lunches and suppers. Three longbeards tagged. Six hunters--three industry guys, three writers. Great camp. Waves of jakes coming to the calls, heads afire with taxidermy red, white and blue . . .
Yesterday morning (49 degrees and sunny after the front moved through) before our drive to the San Antonio airport, I called in four strutting and gobbling shortbeards in the false dawn (a wad of silhouetted birds), and later eight hens, several at a time coming from various directions, clucking, yelping, cutting. Forty-five minutes later a longbeard eased out of the woods at the other end of the pasture, popped into stut, and the jakes stacked up, all still puffed out, fans nearly full but still jakey. They faced him lined up in a row.
The hens stayed with the juvenile wannabes. The adult tom hung at a distance, a football field away, full fan strutting, a gorgeous thing in the morning sun, but not budging. By mid-morning I was back at camp packing . . .