The blonde bugler

By By Mike Giles
March 29, 2002
Spring, what a wonderful time of year. So much to do, so little time. With the opening day of turkey season approaching last week, choices had to be made. Should I head to the water in search of the spawning crappie that were beginning to make waves at Okatibbee, or should I head to the woods in search of the king? My answer came in the form of a weather front that brought cold thundershowers and sub-freezing nights. Turkey hunting it was to be the perch could wait!
A quick trip to the woods on the Friday preceding opening day had me questioning my sanity. With a wind chill in the teens and hearing virtually no gobbling, I thought about that warm bed back at the house. Thirty minutes after dawn I had still heard nary a sound from an old long beard. A brisk quarter mile jaunt helped to warm me up as I went to check out another listening spot high atop a knoll. As I contemplated my situation, a sudden gobble a mere 100 yards away startled me. Marking the spot mentally, I knew where I would be at sunup on opening day.
Opening day
Opening morning found me deep in the woods on top of a pine ridge, waiting for my chance to match wits with a crafty gobbler. I would try to go against nature on this day. Normally the gobbler sends out his gobble to all available hens and they come to him. Once he has his harem assembled, he will simply spend the morning gobbling and strutting while proclaiming his kingship. My task was simple yet difficult. I would have to entice him come to me before his harem was assembled.
At exactly ten minutes after five, the redbirds started chirping and the woods began to wake up. Minutes later owls sounded off in the valleys and woods surrounding my ridge. At 5:30 a lone crow flew nearby and joined the ever increasing crescendo of sounds that finally climaxed when a thunderous gobble erupted from a wise old bird. The old gobbler was so close I thought that my heart was going to jump out of my chest!
After gobbling for 20 minutes in the tree and challenging everything that dared make a sound, it was evident the old turkey was getting ready to make his departure. A couple of purrs and a few clucks alerted him to my presence as I simulated a hen fly down. Instantly he cut me off with another booming gobble. Seconds later he pitched out of tree and lit a scant 80 yards from me just over the peak of the ridge.
Moment of truth
Ppppffffft! Doooommm! The subtle sounds of the gobbler's drumming emanated from across the ridge as he strutted, drummed and gobbled back and forth in his strutting zone. "Come to me," he pleaded with his incessant drumming and gobbling. After about ten minutes of this he headed for some hens down the hollow. I had played hard to get long enough. Turning my head in the opposite direction of the bird, I sent out a loud cackle to let him know that I was ready. Instantly he double-gobbled and turned my way.
Seconds later his blue head appeared over the ridge, searching for a sultry hen. As he got closer I couldn't see the familiar black beard. As my eyes strained to see that long beard I finally got a shock, his beard was sticking almost straight out and it was blond! Just before he entered one last opening, he stopped and let out a thunderous gobble that would rival the bugle of any bull elk. Seconds later he had bugled for the last time, and another gobbler had become a fond memory n the blonde bugler!
Contact Mike Giles at mgiles17@msn.com or 626-8843.

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