I opened one eye to look at the clock as H nudged me awake saying, “Come on, get up if you’re going. We have to get out there before daybreak. You have about ten minutes. You’ll have to put this on over your clothes.” He tossed a well-worn, camouflaged, hunting jumpsuit of Andrews on the bed.
“What? It’s four forty-five and it’s the weekend!! Are you sure the turkeys are up at this hour? Maybe we can catch them at brunch?” By then he had left the room and didn’t hear me.
As I wondered what I had been thinking to agree to this turkey hunting adventure so early this morning, I rose from the bed and begin to pull on my so-called hunting clothes – jeans, sweatshirt – it was cold – and boots. The jumpsuit was not nearly my size but at least it was warm. With the sleeves and legs rolled up I could manage. Then I went to brush my teeth and hair, and apply a little make-up. Those turkeys weren’t going to have anything on me, and who knows who you might meet in the woods at five am! I had to do something to off-set that get-up I was having to wear.
We climbed into the old hunting truck and took off down the road. It wasn’t very far he said. We lived near the Eglin Wildlife Management Area so that is where we will be going today.
“I’m going to take you to a place I went to yesterday. I think we’ll hear something there.”
First we stopped to get coffee and donuts to have as breakfast on the way. Hmmm. So this is where my donuts come from every morning. I’m not a coffee drinker so I told H to get me a small carton of OJ and two raspberry-filled donuts. My stomach was beginning to rumble and I sure wasn’t going in that store looking like this!
We parked the truck on a red clay road and got out. Donning more turkey garb – a mask, cap, and gloves – we set off down the path into the woods a bit to find those turkeys. H carried his gun and told me to walk behind him quietly. Turkeys have great hearing I guess and the least little sound would scare them off.
I wasn’t planning to shoot so I didn’t need a gun. It wasn’t that I didn’t like to shoot guns – I just didn’t think I could kill a living creature. Maybe a bear attacking me or something like that, but not a turkey or even a deer. The thought of bears got me a bit skittish. There were bears in these woods. H had even seen one at one time. Hopefully, it was too cold and they were still hibernating. I seem to remember bears do that in the winter.
We found a pine tree placed in the perfect position to lean against while waiting for the turkeys to appear. I was hoping they would do just that. It wasn’t that easy though. We had to sit and wait. H used his turkey call to try to call them up. At least it wasn’t one of those you put in the roof of your mouth. I always had a fear of Andrew swallowing one of those when he was younger.
While he called turkeys I sat and watched a spider crawl around on a fallen pine limb, hoping it wouldn’t get any nearer to me. Being still and quiet were the most important parts of turkey hunting, but I could not be held responsible if that spider got too near! After about forty-five minutes of this, H bumped my elbow gently with his. “Listen,” he said in a whisper. “Do you hear them?”
It took a while, but finally I did. It was an awesome sound – that turkey gobbling! It seemed as though it went on forever, but it was only a few minutes. H would call and then the turkey would answer. Trying as hard as he could, he never could get that gobbler to come close enough. Finally those turkeys lost interest and we heard it no more.
We moved down in the woods a bit and sat at different trees to wait a while longer for another gobble. There it was – the sound! The turkey would gobble, then stop- gobble, then stop, and on and on. I had to keep my head at an awkward angle to see through that mask and around the next pine tree. My eyes would shut for a few minutes, then to get comfortable, I would open them. That ground was hard!
It went like this off and on for a couple hours. Finally the sun was up and the turkeys stopped gobbling. Needless to say, I had missed the hens crossing the path as my eyes were shut at that time! I even had my camera ready. Only the gobblers could be shot, no hens – they were safe!
I really didn’t care if we shot one. The one experience I had with cooking wild turkey flopped badly. Apparently you don’t cook them the same way as you do that butterball you buy at the grocery store for Thanksgiving! I guess if I had not been so intent on surprising Harry and Andrew with a turkey dinner they could have given me better cooking methods for wild turkey!
On the way back to the truck, we saw bear tracks! I knew they had to be out there somewhere.
Andrew was right. The sounds of those gobbling turkeys get in your head and it is an amazing sound! Wish you had been with us this morning Andrew!