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Last-minute gobbler

By By Otha Barham / outdoors editor
May 3, 2002
My brother, Ron, called me on his cell phone as he left yet another church service. He is a District Superintendent in the United Methodist Church's Mississippi Conference. There is no busier job. With responsibilities associated with over 70 ministers and a hundred congregations, he works more hours than anyone I know and he has precious few hours left for outdoor activities, his favorite recreation.
Because he had prepared for some knee surgery by working day and night to get ahead and then the operation had to be delayed, he said he possibly could squeeze in a hunt with me part of the last day of turkey season. He had managed only a couple of fruitless trips to the spring woods this season and he sorely needed a few hours to regroup. The two of us have made many such retreats afield over the years and this one turned out like so many before.
A half hour before dawn, I sent him to a favorite spot on the side of a ridge covered with towering pines and hardwoods. I set up on a nearby hilltop. We agreed that if we hadn't heard a gobbler by 7 a.m. we would meet and go to another place or two where I had seen turkeys feeding in fields later in the mornings. We were blanked and so we moved on to Plan B.
Second try
I dropped Ron off at the edge of a pine plantation with hasty directions on how to reach a hidden field beyond the pines. I encouraged him by summarizing an encounter I had with a gobbler there earlier in the season when a hen intervened as a gobbler approached my calling.
I drove away to duel a bird in a similar field a couple of miles away.
Ron walked a couple hundred yards to the field where he saw two gobblers. Ducking out of sight, he circled to a calling spot inside a woods line and set up. At ready, he gave one set of three yelps and one of the gobblers came to him on the run! Now I have heard of this all my turkey hunting life but have never had a "field turkey" come running to me.
As the longbeard approached, the other tom gave a loud putt and the eager bird slammed on the brakes. Then gobbler number two ran toward my crouching brother, passing the bird he had halted. On he came until Ron collected him with a load of magnum sixes. The twenty minute hunt was over and so was Ron's successful season.
Those who know Ron will not be surprised at the events that unfolded on this hunt. Besides being an outstanding woodsman and an excellent hunter, he lives under a shroud of fate that brings him good fortune far beyond what his superb skills alone could yield.
Futility in action
Typically, while he was watching two gobblers race to see which one would end up in his bag, I was lying prone in tick-infested pine straw calling with every known turkey sound to a fine gobbler that was busying himself plucking beetles, grasshoppers and seeds while totally ignoring my turkey talk.
I have written before about my brother's uncanny luck, ("Hunting by Divine Decree" in my book) because this game-attracting phenomenon has been going on all his life. I am certain that if Ron decides to hunt an azalea garden for a deer, not only will there be a fine buck among the flowers, but Ron will get a standing broadside shot at the unfortunate beast and drop him within a dozen steps of his pickup.
So one can readily see why I love to make these abbreviated hunts with my younger brother. (Our hunts are short because it rarely takes him long to score. When he had hunted elk with me for one hour he took a bull elk within site of camp!). Stuff like this is going to keep happening. It always has. And it gives me a chance to whine about my bum luck.

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