Time again to start thinking about chasing “Ole Tom” with a stick and a string.
For a bow hunter there is no better challenge than to “try” and shoot a Wild Turkey with a stick and a string. A couple of years ago I really got the bug bad, and was obsessed with bagging a Tom with my bow. I mean to the point where I would fashion fake birds out of old worn out soccer balls and fill them full of holes in my back yard. No joke! I’d set up a ground blind and practice sitting, kneeling, twisting, reaching and any other uncomfortable position I could get in. Eventually I got pretty proficient…at shooting soccer balls. Needless to say that is wildly different than trying to come to full draw on a paranoid animal with 8X power eye sight! I enlisted the help of my good friend and now business partner, Capt. Bryan Dehart, to guide me on the first Turkey hunt. It was blowing a gale that morning, 35 mph out of the Northeast with dust bunny’s spinning everywhere. Bryan hit the Quaker Boy and here they came, four of them playing bumper cars down the hill towards the decoys. I didn’t have a shot, but Bryan did, and cranked one up only to watch one of the Tom’s running buddies spur the dickens out of him for the next 15 minutes. What a sight!
Later that afternoon we eased down to the corner of a freshly plowed field on the edge of a swamp. Once again Bryan hit his box call and off in the distance we heard a lone Tom fire back. Bryan said “OK, let’s get set up he’ll be coming”. I crouched down behind a bush with a narrow opening in it positioning me about 22 yds from the decoy, a lone Jake sure to jack him up. Bryan moved about 20 yds to my right leaning up against a pine tree. As Bryan was messing with the camera, I looked up and here he comes over the corn rows like a super-cross rider kicking it through the whoop-de-doos. I turn to Bryan and whispered loudly, “There he is” and with a curious look Bryan says “What?” I said again a little louder “He’s right there” and by now he was about 40 yds from the decoy and clearly on a mission. Bryan did not even have his camo head net on, no gloves, nothing, totally taken off guard he almost dropped the camera. The Tom was so mad at that Jake decoy he didn’t have a clue about us, he turned to face the Jake with an angry glare, I drew back, centered in and let fly. Whoosh! Right under the breast of the bird! I’m surprised I didn’t give him a shave.
The Tom now convinced the Jake was trying some sort of Kung-Fu leg sweep on him jumps up and starts in on him. I’m looking at all this with my jaw bone on the ground and Bryan shouts “Shoot him again” I turned to look at him and he says “SHOOT-HIM-AGAIN”. Duh! I nock another arrow, draw back, take careful aim and WHACK! popped him just behind the wing pocket, the bird takes off running and make’s flight into the swamp bottom to my left. Feathers are still floating down and I’m my spirits are soaring, what a wild turn of events. What seemed like an hour was less than a minute, the whole thing happened in slow motion, what a trip.
Bryan said “Let’s give him a minute and we’ll go get him”. We looked for hours, and nothing, I was so disappointed, but with a natural camo pattern like that it’s hard to find a Turkey in a swampy bottom. However, it did not detract from the experience of the hunt, I’m still hooked on Turkey hunting and continue with my ritual of killing soccer balls in preparation each Spring. Now seven years later, I’m still in pursuit of a bird with bow, no luck so far but with a little more practice, and some grace from our good Lord, maybe I’ll have another story to tell here in a few weeks.
Good Luck this Spring and don’t forget to take a kid hunting, they’ll love you for it!