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I guess one of my most memorable hunts that came the closest to ending in disaster was in the Spring of 1989. I had received permission to hunt the farm of one of my old teachers from Junior High. I had hunted this farm for the past two years and had managed to kill a turkeymy first year and another the following year, both Jakes, but my first Turkeys none the less. This had been a big confidence builder to me. No one in my family turkey hunted and I had taken up the sport on my own, teaching myself to call on a slate and a mouth diaphragm. The morning was as typical as any other. We were in the woods before daylight, hooting and listening for gobbles. We had roosted a good bird and set up on him as he was the closest bird to answer. There had been more than one to answer as when one bird would gobble several others would join in from different directions making it difficult to pinpoint a single bird.

We had set up on what sounded like a good bird, this bird initially sounded like he wanted to work but would have had to crossed a field to get to us. Somewhere between the field and us the bird picked up some hens which eventually led him away. While we were working this bird I heard what sounded like two more birds gobble. I called and immediately got a response. We picked up the decoy and headed into the woods to set up. I got in position on a large hickory tree with my younger brother set up fifteen yards in front and ten yards to the side. We had anticipated the birds to follow a small bench where a logging road had once been. Everytime I called they would answer, I went silent and the birds continued to gobble, getting closer with the gobbles getting more frequent out of frustration. Suddenly a bird gobbled behind me and close. I initially thought it was the first bird I had been working. I eased around onto the back side of the tree with my brother doing the same. There was a small rise with the bird sounding like it was on the far side. I had my gun resting on my knee with me being almost reclined at the base of the tree. I placed my gun on my shoulder with the barrel pointing in the direction I was expecting the turkey to come. I let some soft purrs and clucks loose on the mouth call. Immediately the birds now behind us gobbled. This I thought was a good thing. I was hoping the turkey out front was gonna come right in over the knoll to investigate. Slightly to the right of the knoll on the edge of the woods I saw him. What appeared to be a large turkey in full strut. I removed the safety and centered the bead on the middle of the fan and waited till I could see the head. When what I thought was the head began making hen sounds. Something clicked inside my head saying " this isn't right, strutting gobblers don't make hen sounds" I watched trying to work the puzzle out when the "gobbler" started yelping again. Then I realized what I was looking at. A human, another hunter had come between me and the gobbler. He was actually stalking the two birds behind me which I had set up on. What I thought was a strutting gobbler was actually the silhouette of the hunters shoulders. He had been facing me head on working a box call upright with his hands. This box call was chalked with plain white school chalk and was being held at mid level out in front of him. He was wearing a pair of dark colored greenish black work coveralls, a camo head net and gloves. I had a Mossberg 835 with a 3 1/2" #4 turkey load aimed at the center of his chest with the safety off. He was 26 yards away standing in the shadows on the edge of a field. This scared me as I knew how close I had come to pulling the trigger.
I immediately called out to get his attention. He looked, still not seeing us. I yelled " two hunters over here" and took off my head net so he could see me. My brother did like wise. When he identified our position we stood and walked over to him to find out who he was and what he was doing on this farm. He removed his head net and identified himself. I inquired as to who he was and as to what he was doing on this farm. He told me that him and his son were hunting on the farm across the road, which was owned by a family member of the farmer I was hunting on. He said that him and his son had set up across the road but hadn't heard any turkeys on the farm that they were suppose to be hunting. He said something about all the turkeys sounded like they were across the road so he and his son crossed the road to hunt on this farm. I asked him if David knew he was hunting on his farm and he said that he was hunting on David's fathers' farm across the road and that it would be "Ok" I told him that this farm wasn't really big enough for four hunters and that it wasn't safe. I was still shaking and had told him that I had almost shot him mistaking him for a turkey. He just looked at me with disbelieving eyes. My brother told him it was true, and asked what else were we suppose to think he was as he was stalking a gobbling turkey and was wearing dark coveralls that made him look like a turkey and was carrying a box call chalked up with white chalk. In the distant another turkey gobbled and the guy said something to his son about trying for that one. Once again we voiced our opinion about the farm not being big enough for four hunters reminding him that we had been there first. He again said that it would be "Ok," with him and his son taking off in the direction of the gobbling turkey. My brother and I briefly discussed our options and decided to head back to the car as I still couldn't believe how close I had come to shooting someone. We both agreed with that load and at that distance it probably would have killed him. We headed back to the car which was parked along side the road on the other side of the pasture. I said that I had to try it one more time and I let out with a set of excited cuts and cackles. Far away across the pasture and on top of the next hill I got an answer. It was at the corner of the property. I just said "come on" as we sprinted across the pasture to the creek. I asked Nathan how bad he wanted that turkey and he said "pretty bad" We waded across the creek to a steep near vertical lime stone hill side. We climbed to the top of it and it opened up into a small strip of woods with a field on two sides and the drop off behind it. I didn't even bother to set up a decoy. Once in position I did my best imitation of young and lonely hen. An immediate gobble followed by another. I picked up the tempo pleading with the gobblers for companionship and was met with double and triple gobbles. When I thought I had the gobblers worked to the point that they would burst I just shut up and started the waiting game. While silent, the birds continued to gobble, getting closer all the time. The only thing I could think of was please get here before those other guys make a move on us. Within a few moments, the gobblers appeared. Not just one or two but four, all mature long beards. I very softly purred and all four birds went into strut and cut loose with a series of gobbles. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the barrel on my brother's 870 start to quiver. A few more soft purrs and the gobblers were within the 30 yard mark. I thumbed the safety on the Mossberg and my brother clicked the safety on the 870. Immediately all four heads went straight up into the air. Nathan dropped the bird closest to him with a load of #5's, which also happened to be the one that I had my bead on. The remaining three birds went airborne leaving me attempting to get on one, Nathan was immediately on his feet and had covered the thirty yards in record time. All I remember was him looking at me with his foot on that birds head and the widest grin on his face that I had ever seen. The end result a 19lb bird with 7/8 spurs, a 9 3/4" beard, a 15 year old hooked for life on Turkey hunting and someone who had successfully "guided" his younger brother to his first turkey without creating another statistic.

Be safe, Look for the beard and keep your safety on....


Frog :D
 

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My scarest hunt occured on the last day of the season many years ago in Clarke, County Alabama. It was hot, and me and a friend were calling to a turkey that was gobbling often. We were on the edge of a food plot with grass about knee high that had a old logging road running through the middle of the plot continuing on into the woods. The gobbler sounded like he was not far in the woods close to the dim road that was used as a strutting site by the toms. Anyways, while my friend continued calling, I crawled halfway across the plot and laid down in the grass on the edge of the afore mentioned road in a prone position with my barrel pointing towards the woods; so, if the bird came walking to us on that road, he would walk right to where I was aiming. I laid there for a long time since the turkey kept globbling but was not really getting any closer. And it was hot. So hot in fact, I had to remove my mask (hood) because I just could not stand the heat any longer. As I did, I could feel the heat release from my head as the cloth mask was removed. About 10 minutes later, I noticed movement raising up from the ground in the grass about 2 feet from my head and I paniced, for it was a rattlesnake. By the time I rolled on my side so I had enough room to shoot the rattler, his head was higher than mine. It was the luckiest shot I ever made in my life as I shot the snake about 3 inches below his head blowing the snake in two. Believe me, Billy the Kid never made a faster shot. Needless to say, the gobbler shut-up after that. Knowing that rattlesnakes are pit vipers, I'm convinced that the snake was attracted to me by the heat released when I took that hood off. The rattler was about 4-5 foot long with a head bigger than my fist.
 
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