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Tom Foolery

A front row seat to turkey stalking

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Recently, Boise friends Greg Gaddis and Jim Harper invited me for a three-day turkey hunt in Central Idaho. The three of us have hunted and fished together across Idaho for many years--each of us possessing the requisite sense of humor and thick skin necessary to survive multiple trips. Fortunately, we're pretty good-natured, and I've yet to have them try to extinguish the campfire with my backside.

The first evening we put Jim into a randy gobbler in search of a lonely hen. Jim and I worked the bird together, calling sparingly. He made a nice shot when the mature tom, looking for turkey love, came to within 20 yards.

With tents pitched, we settled into camp life for dinner, a roaring fire and a shot of Wild Turkey bourbon provided by Greg. Somewhere in the conversation, Jim confided that he had purchased only one turkey tag for the season and would have to travel back to town (a 70-mile round-trip) the next day to buy a second tag. A simple mistake, but we spared no feelings in reminding him of it. Such are the abuses within a guys-only turkey camp. We thought it humorous, but then a little bourbon makes everything seem funny.

Luck tended to compound itself, with Greg filling his tag Saturday morning, and I tagging another tom on Sunday. For our efforts, we managed three turkeys in three days. A rare occurrence to be sure, but luck had smiled upon us.

When I returned to camp with my bird Sunday morning, Greg had a pot of coffee percolating and two camp chairs set up overlooking an expansive, timbered canyon where Jim now pursued his second bird. We could hear Jim call and the turkey respond. From 600 yards away, we could clearly hear, although not see, the two participants. It was similar to having 50-yard-line seats to an invisible sporting event. Like two armchair quarterbacks, we took great pleasure in developing a running commentary as to the nature of the contest before us. At one point, the turkey shut up for 10 minutes, so Greg used his coyote call to elicit an immediate reply from the bird across the canyon. The turkey's response garnered caffeine-induced laughter from us and more disparaging commentary.

As luck would have it, Greg was able to get cell phone service from his camp chair perched above the canyon. With the battle of wits across the canyon now entering its second hour, we decided to call Jim and offer up our unsolicited advice as to his inability to close the deal on that turkey. Jim's phone was turned off (mercifully), but on his person. The pejorative message we left ended with, "Jim, you're hunting like Betty White."

Jim eventually returned to camp empty-handed. To his credit, however, he had taken our immature cell phone chiding in stride, managing to get in a few jabs of his own. But that's the nature of hunting with friends who have good character and a sense of humor: Success is always predetermined.

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