It began as any other day of turkey hunting would. We grabbed our gear, jumped in the truck and headed for the property. The sweltering sun baked us as we bounced down the dirt road to the beat of an old Alabama song. Life was good. But it was about to get better.
Upon arriving at the farm, gear was pulled out of the truck, camera equipment was strewn across the bed and the ordeal of organizing it all began. But soon we were off and heading to the back corner corn field.
After a quick trek we set up our ground blind, brushed it in and arranged our decoys in front of us at about 20 yards. On this particular trip I was running the camera, while my buddy Corey had a bow at his command. It was a hot windy day that didn't seem too conducive to turkey hunting, but we were going to give it a go anyways!
Once we were finally situated Corey started things off with a few clucks and yelps. Unfortunately, with the wind as it was, we weren't too hopeful that we would be heard. But Corey kept at it. And after the prerequisite squawking, we settled in for the evening and began to enjoy the scenery.
A steady breeze rustling the cut corn, song birds chirping over my right shoulder, a fox skirting the distant edge of the field and a gobbler stepping into the corn to our left. A gobbler?!
Corey and I were definitely caught off guard. I had been fiddling with camera settings and Corey was jawing about some kind of hunting story, but here all of a sudden was a big old gobbler! Immediately we scrambled to prepare ourselves for the moment of truth and in a matter of seconds it was upon us. Bow drawn, camera zoomed in on the tom, we waited....until thwap! The arrow sprung forward, lofted and then arced perfectly down to the unsuspecting gobbler. The bird flopped and flapped around and then just as Corey proclaimed "we smoked him!", it righted itself and flew off to the nearest fence row!
We immediately jumped out of the pop-up blind, and sprinted down to the far corner of the field. Corey spotted the bird in a blowdown and launched a second shot. Smack, he hit a nearly invisible twig and the arrow shot down into the ground. After a quick crawl to the arrow, he drew again and repositioned. Now with only a five inch circle in the brush to aim through, he launched another shot. Crash! Another branch killed and the gobbler flapped away again.
Frustrated, a little over excited and ready to get our hands on this bird, we huffed our way over the next hill towards where we last saw our tom fly. We searched high, low and in between, but no gobbler was to be found. Finally Corey spotted a long neck bobbing along the forest floor and into the woods. So off we went.
Almost an hour later we hadn't seen hide or hair of this ole bird and we began feeling pretty bad about our chances. After reviewing the footage, the shot looked to be pretty low and we began questioning the likelihood of a lethal shot. And after another round of searching, we finally began the walk back to the field. One final pass was in order and this time we headed back to the original area we thought the gobbler flew to. And as I scanned from left to right, my eye caught a dark shape in the swaying grass and when a second glance confirmed it, I shouted in surprise and excitement. Here was our bird!
A second shot sealed the deal on this mature Michigan gobbler and a lifelong memory was imprinted in my mind. Unbelievably, after almost all hope was lost, we had done it. And therein lies the moral of this story. When the going gets tough and you want to give up, keep on trucking. It's a line of thinking that is applicable to most situations in life, but it's particularly relevant to the challenges we encounter as hunters. Over 9 inches of beard, more than an inch of spur, 30 minutes of video and a memory for life. Now that's a pretty good day of turkey hunting!