No Laughing

This Is No Laughing Matter

 

By Ron Gayer

 

During a turkey season not too long ago, I had a funny thing happen. Now, when I think of this hunt and hunter, I just have to smile.

 

It was about mid season when I met this hunter. For the sake of my story, we will call him Bob that is easier than calling him Farnsworth or Lancelot. I must change the names to protect the innocent.

 

Bob’s wife of many years decided to buy Bob a guided turkey hunt. Bob told me had hunted deer. My guess is that he had done most of his hunting from his recliner on Saturday morning watching the Outdoor Channel. He had never hunted turkey and was very excided to experience a guided hunt.

 

A tall man, Bob stood about 6’4,’’ not in bad shape for a man in his mid 70s. He looked as thought he may have, on some autumn Saturdays long ago, defended a quarterback or stopped a fullback at the line of scrimmage. He had the damaged knees and stiff hips that I am sure earned him a spot in a team photo somewhere.

 

Bob and I took the time to pattern his shotgun and after a relaxing meal and some talk of how to turkey hunt we turned in for the evening.

The next morning we were up well before dawn but let Bob’s wife sleep in. She wanted to put her feet up in front of the fireplace and read a good book while Bob and I were off to find a long beard.

 

I had a good spot down near a creek where I knew some turkeys had been roosting. It was the kind of spot I could slide Bob into with not much walking. I parked the truck in a low draw and in the dark we eased into my spot. I sat Bob at the base of a large oak and I placed my decoys in the flat about 30 yards from our tree.

We got comfortable and began to wait for daylight.

 

When you are turkey hunting, each morning there is a kind of magic time when all is quiet and dark and you have time to think. As the sky to the East starts to lighten you hear the woods come alive. The crows and jays and all of the songbirds welcome the new day with a growing crescendo of sounds. So much life calls from the treetops it is inspiring.

Then the first hint of the presence of wild turkey, a hen’s yelp, grabbed our attention. I nod to bob and he smiles back.

 

Then it began. A tom roosted in a large oak near the creek gobbled from the roost. Bob, started to laugh out loud. I don’t mean a little chuckle; I mean a very enthusiastic belly laugh.

I do believe bob’s wife may have heard the laughter from the cabin miles away. I put my finger up to my lips and motioned him to be quiet. Just a few moments later another tom gobbled and again Bob erupted with laughter. Now I am thinking to my self no way is this turkey hunt going to end well. Before I can chastise bob for his outburst another tom gobbles and there goes bob again. I mean he is just shaking all over you would think he was front roll center at a comedy club.

 

Now I grabbed Bob by the arm and in no uncertain terms told him he needed to control the noise he was making. He nodded and we slipped back into waiting and listening. For the first 6 gobbles from the roost, old Bob was out of control giddy with laughter. The next 6 or 7 gobbles he just shook all over but stopped producing any audible sounds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometime during the period when Bob had regained control of his funny bone, he leaned over to me and said with all the control he could muster, his voice cracking, sounding like a 5th grader at the gate to “Disneyland” for the first time,

THIS IS JUST LIKE ON T.V.”

On a hunt where stealth is premium I was betting we were doomed!

 

 

I thought about moving to another location but Bob’s knees and the fact we still had toms gobbling near by made me stay. About 15 minutes later we could hear the turkeys fly down and start working up the ridge to our right. There was a low ridgeline that extended to the creek and the turkeys, although not visible, could be heard calling and scratching. I called and listened and again called. I’ll be darned if in about 10 minutes the hens came over the ridgeline and made their way to my decoys. Soon, following the hens, 2 toms, looking like bookends with 9-inch beards, strutted into view.

 

We were hunting in California, and in this state, a hunter can take 3 birds per season but only 1 bird per day. Our toms would not separate and were bumping into each other like junior high boys on a playground trying to impress the girls. A shot on one bird would surely take the other as well so we had to wait!

 

The hens circled around the decoys. At one point one of the hens was only 5 feet to my right and turning its head to the side as it studied my camouflaged form against the oak tree.

The toms circled around the hens and the decoys twice and were only 10 yards from our tree but still neck and neck.

 

The hens finely lost interest in my decoys and drifted back over the ridge retracing their path. The toms, now henless, started working toward the ridge, still neck and neck. We watched helplessly as our opportunity seemed to be slipping away.

Then for some reason know, only to the turkey gods, just before they cleared the ridge the two toms broke apart, one went to the left and one to the right. Bob followed the bird on the left and fired. The tom rolled over and Bob had his Turkey. UNBELIEVABLE!

 

 

 

I have taken many junior turkey hunters on their first turkey hunt. Their excitement and enthusiasm make those hunts some of my favorites. However, those juniors have a tuff time matching the raw, from the heart excitement displayed by Bob on that spring day. Bob, may never hunt turkey again but I am betting he won’t forget that hunt.

 

I know I never will.

 

 

Say, did you hear the one about the turkey that walked into the bar?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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