Kansas Turkeys 2002 "The Mountaintop" - Page 2
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|Kansas Turkeys 2002 "The Mountaintop"|
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It was the loudest click I ever heard. My gun had misfired ! Blaine thought I had not chambered a shell and frantically waited for me to reload, but the gun was jammed. I whispered "shoot, SHOOT, my gun misfired !". He yanked his shotgun off his lap and as the birds simultaneously busted us, he downed the largest one. It flapped wildly so he bolted to catch it before it escaped. He held it upside down till it was quiet, cutting his hand on a spur, and then laid the gobbler down. Walking up to him, I reached out to shake his hand in congratulations, but my feigned happy face wilted when I saw his look of utter disappointment. We were both so stunned that the gun misfired. "This does not feel good. This is your bird", he said, getting misty eyed and choking back tears. "Its OUR bird", I replied. "TEAMWORK is why you shot it... better this bird, than NO bird. You did great ! " We hunted for another hour in the rain but our demeanors were as gray as the sky. The silent dusk walk out through monstrously huge fields was like walking a moonscape, and the accompanying relentless rain mirrored our sentiments.
Day four, and the sun was out. After an uneventful morning, we were headed for a new spot near open fields bordering roosting trees along a meandering stream. Our stand tree was ensconced by gnarls of branches and brush, perfect for ground concealment. We both agreed, it just felt right. The sun was at our backs and the tree was surrounded by a secluded meadow full of grasshoppers. This was a good sign. We started calling. Before two hours had passed, Blaine indicated that there was a gobbler at my 10 oclock position. Since he had been like a pesky little brother playing on my gullibility, with kidding and bugging me during this trip, I thought he was joking and whispered "Youre joshing me, right?". I turned slowly and let out a gasp... "Oh .... OH ! ". WRONG! There was a turkey... a big turkey, at 35 yards straight off my left shoulder. This meant I would need to turn and do an off hand shot, and since I was shooting a borrowed gun, I just prayed I could pull it off.
The bird then turned and started straight for us... bad since this gun had an extra full choke and a close shot might miss or not be pretty. Now in position, my turkey hunting mentor whispered "shoot shoot!". His line of site was clear since he was sitting 90 degrees away from and about 2 feet higher than me. My line of site was obstructed with the twisted branches, but the tom was making his way to my left. Feeling like a pretzel at this point, an off hand shot was going to be a challenge, and might even send me to the chiropractor. The bird was moving away now and I was quickly losing my opportunity. FINALLY he stepped into an open shooting lane. Totally focused, I squeezed the trigger of the Remington 11-87 and boofed the gobbler in his tracks. One wing flapped for a moment as Blaine did a sprint to the kill site.
I sat there for a second feeling both elated and stunned. I stood up, and crumpled to my knees. I stood again, and started to crash through the branches and brush in front of me... and crumpled again. My legs were like Jello. I crawled out of the branches and through the field grass for several feet on my hands and knees like a baby, so totally jazzed I could not stand up. Nearing the lifeless bird and an excited smiling hunting buddy, I stood up... shaking from head to toe. Blaine delivered high fives and a congratulatory back slap. "Wow, was that ever cool", I said. "Just wait till you call one in for an hour and see a gobbler in full strut. This is nuthin" he replied. If this was nuthin, what he described might very well give me heart failure. After some photographs, I was coached as I field dressed the bird. The tom weighed 25 pounds, had a 12 inch beard with only one spur at 1.25 inches, having lost the other in a fight. Last night the skies wept, but tonight as I walked to my truck with my turkey on my back, the Kansas hillsides celebrated with a thousand little fires as farmers did controlled burns in preparation for planting season. I could not stop smiling.
The final day, as the coyties barked and howled just yards from me at daybreak, I hunted out of a T-3 Double Bull Blind with my Jennings Rackmaster Light bow and carbon arrows, but didn't see anything. As far as the overall TF, or what I call "Thrill Factor", I still rate Bears #1, and now Turkey as #2 and White Tail Deer as #3. The sustained TF of turkey hunting was unlike any other hunting I had ever done.
This was a trip of contrasts, with many elements indelibly etched in my mind. There was thrill and disappointment. There were hot sunny days and cold rainy evenings. One realized their relative insignificance in the universe while standing alone before God under a big sky in the center of a thousand acres of croplands, or in climbing to the top of the huge hills in the area for an eagle eye view. There was laughter and tears. We were adults, but with the wide eyed excitement and appreciation of children. Binding it all together was the comradery and mutual acceptance of each member of the group. It was a privilege to be in their ranks.
How does one come from a mountaintop experience and plug back into reality? The anticipation of next time, thats how. It is 360 long days till next years hunt, but excellence is worth the wait.
I guess you could say..... I like turkey hunting.
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