The turkeys are winning! I mean “winning” like the way President Trump says “winning.” They are the smartest bird that I’ve ever called “stupid bird.” Here’s why:
We arrived at our mountain property Friday and set up camp on the very top right at the corner boundary line. We had an amazing tent, campfire and sunset view – best turkey camp I’ve ever had. Completely unplugged and off the grid, which was much needed. I am sure you can relate.
We were setting up the campfire for grilling about half hour before sunset and we heard him! A tom was gobbling his way to the roost. I don’t mean a couple gobbles; I’m talking “let the world know I’m here,” gobbles. The worst part was that he was across the boundary. The best part was we knew where he was come sunup! Hearing that tom go to roost got my hopes up and I could barely sleep, waiting on sunrise.
Prior to this trip, we had been investigating the area of the property where turkeys tend to hang out. When I say investigated, I mean full-blown, FBI, all-over-it investigated. We had turkey tracks, turkey poop, turkey scratching and feather dusting all identified and placed in the hunting file. We knew where we wanted to set up a blind and a couple decoys and we had that done ahead of time.
With all that excitement for opening morning, you would think I could have managed to get up in time. Nope, I was sleeping hard when the alarm went off and (of course) hit snooze. What was 10 more minutes? Heck, it wasn’t sunrise for 1 more hour. I slowly got dressed. Hubby helped get the stove ready for some amazing percolated coffee. I got the coffee on the stove and we waited patiently for the perk to start. While waiting, I laced up my snake boots and realized the sun was about to offer up some light 30 minutes earlier than we planned. I panicked. Do I stay and get coffee or turn it off and get to the blind? Yep, we shut off the stove, left the amazing brew on the tailgate of the truck and hurried off to beat sunrise. We really didn’t beat it; we messed up big time. I’m not sure I will trust the timing on my weather app for local sunrise again!
All settled in the blind, we began to call … nothing. About an hour into our sit, we heard 1, but he was off in the holler. If you don’t know the hills of Tennessee, a holler is a valley between all the Rocky Tops of Tennessee. This bird gobbled once, and we got our hopes up. A few minutes later we heard it, boom! No more gobbles, but we were not deterred. We stayed a while longer and called some more to no avail.
At this point, I’m in full blown caffeine withdrawal and I knew there was coffee waiting for me. By mid-morning I had enough and needed to convince my husband we should hunt our way back to camp. Once I offered up hot coffee and some eggs, he was game. We walked back slowly calling and checking for the sounds of a bird. Still nothing.
We made it back to camp and I started up the stove. Never watch a coffee pot in hopes it will perk! It never happens a quick enough so just don’t look at it. Finally, we had scrambled eggs and hot coffee. Coffee cooked on a camp stove is my favorite; I call it cowboy coffee. I knew I could survive a few more hours hunting. We went back out with a different strategy. I took the blind and he walked the woods.
A few hours later, it was hot, there weren’t any birds and I was over it. We met back at camp to regroup. What’s plan B? We decided to ride to town for lunch because it was too hot to nap in our tent. We wanted to scout the area roads out anyways, so why not. Country rides in a pickup are always a good idea. We found our way to a drive-thru restaurant where I ordered the turkey sandwich. It made me feel like I was “winning.” I still ate turkey, just not one from the mountain.
Turkey hunting is hard work. Stay after them. That’s all we can do. And if you hunt and love it then you know the reward is in the experience. I call that “winning,” too.