Turkey Hunting Day Two: An Eerie Silence Befalls The Woods

When you’re successful and you bag a big tom turkey part of the satisfaction derived from that experience is realizing you “played the cards right that were dealt to you” in this strange hunting game.   On the other hand, when things don’t necessarily go your way in the turkey woods it sometimes leaves you wondering and playing the “what if” game instead.   Indeed, turkey hunting can offer either the sweet rewards of success or the bitterness of knowing you might have just missed a prime opportunity while you dwell on your regrets.

This morning when I entered the turkey woods by my side was my hunting pal, Mike.   It started out as another fine turkey hunting morning…with a few changes from yesterday.   Today the temps were about 10 degrees warmer…the winds were blowing about 10 to 15mph (yesterday was perfectly still) and the sun that shone all day yesterday never broke through the thick clouds today.   In fact, by mid-morning a gentle and persistent rain fell over the turkey woods that made the whole rest of the day quite gloomy by all accounts.

At first things sounded even more promising this morning than they did yesterday.   Yesterday I did not hear any gobbling until the big tom was already moving in on my location.   Today, in contrast, I was hearing gobbling likely from the roost long before sun-up.   My anticipation climaxed as I fully expected the events to unfold with this bird’s behavior acting the same today as in the past.   That’s where I am now perhaps regretting my mistake.   Should I have relied once again on luck directing this ol’ tom my way from his roost perched a good 1/4 mile down the ravine?   Or should I have aggressively started calling early on while this bird was still in the roost once legal shooting hours began?

My philosophy while turkey hunting has always been to let the birds fly down from the roost before doing any aggressive calling.   After today, however, that thinking might have to change as I think a hunter sitting another valley over might have out-smarted me.   What I suspect was happening was this early gobbling activity was as a result of another hunter’s calling…and when the bird flew-down it already had ideas on where it ultimately wanted to go.   Instead, I was waiting for it to fly-down and start struttin’ out in the field a good 350 yards away like it did yesterday.   Once a visual was had…I would then start directing its attention toward our decoy spread with my calling.

It must have been about 7:00am or so when the turkey woods fell silent from any detectable gobbling.   Then by 7:40am I heard a single gunshot blast from what sounded like the next valley over.   My heart sunk…and I soon realized that if that big turkey jumped down from the tree and decided to head east along a fence-line (rather than north toward me) this could spell big trouble.   It would also explain why his gobbling was no longer detectable by me.   The whole scenario started to make sense in my mind…perhaps his early gobbling was as a result of some other hunter who influenced his initial travel plans for the day.   Maybe had I started aggressively calling he might have chosen to come my way instead.   Could it be that my philosophy to error on the side of doing too little calling might have back-fired on me?

Of course, I may never know for certain…but these were some of the thoughts going through my mind as I sat there listening to a woods suddenly silent from most turkey sounds.   Oh, sure, we had the obligatory hens who clucked and purred their way through our decoys as they have done so the past two mornings…but no other signs (or sounds) of any male turkeys to be had today.   Silence in the turkey woods is a scary proposition for the hunter.

I firmly believe that on this small farm there has only been one resident tom prime for the taking.   That’s not to say other legal birds may not occasionally move through the area…but it was this very vocal bird on which I was hanging most of my hopes for achieving turkey hunting success.

Keep in mind my goal for this turkey season was not to just kill a nice bird, but also to do so on my own farm.   Had I wanted to seriously kill a turkey I have other prospective locations that might have increased my odds for success…but that was not my ultimate goal.

Tomorrow morning I will be back in the turkey woods trying to keep the faith and hopeful to hear lots more turkey noise than I heard today.   Perhaps the big boy eluded the spray of lead and is living to gobble yet another day.   Perhaps the sound of the gunfire I heard was at a turkey I didn’t even know existed and my longbeard fell silent only because he heard the report of a nearby gun.   I guess one can always hope for something positive.

When I walked to the woods today I figured the only competition I would have for the tom’s attention would be versus a slutty ol’ hen who might give my ol’ boy a little shot of tail and distract him from my calling.   Honestly, I never seriously expected to hear a gunshot or to have hunters in the adjacent woodland valley.   I was foolish not to make those assumptions and will not make the same mistake twice.   I’m just hoping that it’s not already too late.

Yes, today I left the woods with my dauber down wondering if perhaps some other lucky turkey hunter might not be walking home with my bird.   If this game of turkey hunting was so predictable then it wouldn’t be so challenging and so much fun.   While I share the excitement in what could be another hunter’s achievement…I silently mourn the possibility that this same person might have unwittingly dashed my dreams during this turkey hunting season.

2006 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Sorry For The Absence

Dear Sportsman’s Bloggers!

    Things have been a bit hectic lately as several things in my life have recently changed.   First and foremost, I got married on March 5th to a wonderful lady named Roberta.   The weeks leading up to this blessed event…and the week or so afterwards have been very busy for this old, tired sportsman.   Too busy, I dare say, to be writing daily journal entries into this blog during this time period.

    Once I get settled into my new home…and get used to commuting about 90 miles per day to work…then hopefully very soon I will find time to once again make my daily entries into the blogosphere.   In the meantime, please pardon the sporadic absence…and grant me a little understanding as I try to adjust my new life into a schedule that is conducive to accomplish all that I want to achieve.   Thanks for your patience.   I have every intention to be blogging on a regular basis again very soon.

© 2005 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Spending Time With Family & Friends

When I was younger Christmas was about all the excitement evolving around the gifts under the tree.   Back then, my main concern was how I would deal with the disappointment of not getting all the gifts that were on my gift list.   As I recall, I would console myself by the realization that I have a birthday only two weeks after Christmas…so certainly if I didn’t get the gift for Christmas the missing item must have surely gotten bumped to birthday gift status.

Oh how priorities change over the years.   As I recall life has always been more than generous to me.   Even back in the days when my parents were, shall we say, a bit challenged for money they made certain that Christmas was special with the blessings of many gifts under the tree and a special time shared with family.

But over the years I guess it’s a sure sign of aging, but the true meaning of the Christmas season has come into clearer focus for me.   Sure, yesterday in my blog I wrote of the special moment of giving my nephew his first gun…but at Christmastime there is another gift that many people take for granted, yet I think we all need to better appreciate and understand.   It is the gift of sharing one’s time and doing so with close family and friends.

Indeed, my life has gotten more complex over the past few years now that I have a special person in my life.   Actually, to be correct I should say special “people.”   It was about one year ago when I got engaged just before Christmas to a wonderful lady named Roberta.   Roberta also has a very special son named Luke.   Together, in about 10 weeks from now, we will all become a family as we get married and embark on a new life together.

I can honestly say that getting to know Roberta’s family has been nothing short of a wonderful experience.   For me, it is so interesting to be part of creating new memories and traditions as I expand on what Christmas has always meant to me in the past.   Sometimes blending old traditions with new ones is not always easy, but so far things have worked out quite nice for all of us.

Over the years my personal family has down-sized both through death and divorce.   It can be sad, but it also reinforces in your mind how important it is to appreciate what you have before it is gone.   And there is no better time of the year to celebrate that appreciation than at Christmas.   I guess you could say it is one of the last holidays that forces each of us in our busy lives to make time to spend with family and close friends.

Still, I don’t always wear my beliefs on my sleeve for others to see…but I never lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas, either.   We learn the story even before we enter school of how Jesus was born…and what a wonderful story it is.   Certainly the true reason why most of us Christians celebrate Christmas is not eclipsed by glitzy store sales promotions or fancy outdoor lights with one household trying to outdo the next.   It is to celebrate the birth of our dear savior, Jesus the Christ our Lord.

For me, if you have good health, close friends who care about you and a bright outlook for the future what more could you possible want for Christmas.

In my life, the next few months and years hold so much promise to be an exciting and wonderful period of time in my life.   Even though Christmas is soon over for yet another year…part of me thinks that for me Christmas marks only the beginning for some exciting and challenging times soon ahead in my life.   Truthfully, I feel blessed to share this Christmas season with the wealth and good blessings of what God has placed in my life.

Here’s hoping that during this Christmas season it has brought you closer to the ones you love and that your life has been filled with many good blessings.   MERRY CHRISTMAS!

© 2004 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved.   No Reproduction without Prior Permission.