By Marcia Pradines


There was nothing about Friday’s weather that should have made it a good turkey hunt, and yet I went because I was obsessed, persistent, or both. I spent the previous two mornings at this property.  I had called in a group of five birds to within range; however, my strategy failed because of positioning.   This was the end of the second week of the season, and I was getting frustrated.

With high wind and gusts over 30, I headed to where I thought they may be given what I learned. I hunkered down, hoping the wind narrowed down their options. 

About 8:15am, nothing but a few crows and a boisterous woodpecker.  Discouraged, I decided to pack up.  But first I thought to walk over to the field to glass to make sure something wasn’t strutting.  I didn’t get far before I heard a distant gobble.  I froze and called.  He answered – closer!  I was using my box call to get any sound through that wind. I quickly decided to run back to where I had been. I took the chance that the wind and wet leaves would cover me. 

Since I moved, I called again to let him know where to find this wandering hen.  I recalled how I heard my fiancé use the “move and call” routine to add realism.  He gobbled hard and I was shocked how fast he closed the distance.  I was thankful because now I knew precisely where he was coming in.  I waited, searching for movement.  His head appeared, popping in and out of sight.  He was searching.  As he went behind a large clump of trees, I carefully repositioned.  There he was!  On the other side, stepping closer, head alert and seeking.  Then he saw the decoys and did a half strut.  This is it.  I fired. 

He went down, then tumbled and stumbled off.  I shot again because I did not want to take the chance. 

I could see his one broken spur, his beaten down primaries, and that huge head.  He was at least a three-year-old, weighing over 21 pounds.  I imagined he was the lead bird in that string the other day, when I erroneously did not sit deep enough to pull him in. All he had to do was glance into the woods to see if a hen was there.  Despite my lack of success that day, the moment planted a seed of hope and another drop of data that I ultimately used to my advantage.

Looking back, I cannot believe how fast one hunt, one season turned. So much had to come together.  What if I had left and never knew he was coming?  What if I had shrugged that first muffled gobble off?  What if I didn’t make that aggressive call, which I learned can be very deadly at times.  What if I didn’t call when I moved and settled back in? He might have hung up where I was, or I may have missed him searching for me.  So many things had to come together to take this magnificent bird.  In that moment, I realized it came together because of new skills, knowledge, and the attitude that got me out of bed that morning in the first place.  And of course, a good dash of luck.