I want to share with you a story about one of the best turkey blinds I have ever witnessed. It is big, it’s camouflage, and it’s mobile. Oh yeah, and you can use it as a solid gun rest. I learned about this turkey blind on my first turkey hunt almost twelve years ago.
At the time, my brother Scotty and I traveled north with our parents to see our older brother, Shawn, graduate from vet school at Washington State University. Since we were going to be on the game-rich Palouse Prairie, we hoped for an opportunity to get in some spring turkey hunting. To our good fortune, our friend Matt, who lived east of Moscow, Idaho, invited us along for a morning hunt. “Make sure you bring your camouflage clothes,” Matt reminded us beforehand by telephone, “Turkeys have eyes like hawks.” Scotty and I definitely were excited for our first turkey hunt ever.
That morning while it was still dark, we loaded up Matt’s vehicle and one of us carelessly slammed the car door. This noise unexpectedly triggered the unmistakable gobble of a turkey roosting not far from Matt’s front porch. Gobblegobblegobble! With a hot bird so close by, we decided to scrap the plans to hunt a different property. Instead, we grabbed our guns and struck out across the road from Matt’s house to the pine forest that lay to the east.
Once we had walked a good distance into the trees, Matt stopped, hushed us, and cut loose on his diaphram mouth call. To our surprise, the gobbler fired off high in a tree not seventy-five yards from where we stood. With wide eyes, we all smiled at each other in the half-light.
We recognized that if we spooked the bird off the roost, the hunt would be over, so we quietly crept north through the trees to where the forest ended at a farmer’s plowed field. As if by order, about fifteen yards from the timber was was an old slash pile which the farmer had burned in the past. The hot coals had hollowed out the center of the pile, but there was still enough wood and clutter on the outer edges to make about a knee-high natural turkey blind. Seeing a perfect set up, we all crawled into the center of the old slash pile and Matt set his Jake decoy off to our right with its little feather blowing where a turkey’s beard would be.
Matt then began to work his magic on the diaphram turkey call: Rrt, Rrt, Rrt, Rrt! The young Jake immediately replied: Gobblblblblbl! Matt whispered, “It must be a Jake because he almosts chokes on his gobble.” At the time, I just wondered if he was lovestruck by Matt’s seductive hen calls. Matt was sparing in his calls, but with each putt, the turkey belted out his own sweet serenade.
We could tell that the turkey was now on the ground and that he was steadily moving closer to our concealed position. With the sun now gleaming brightly in the vibrant, green foliage, we eagerly awaited the tell-tale red head of the approaching Jake. Matt generously placed Scott and I facing the decoy to the right. Although it was only a few minutes before the turkey made his appearance, it seemed like forever to us novice turkey hunters. All the while the gobbler responded to Matt’s now quiet and intermittent calls and our excitement escalated accordingly.
Then, all of the sudden an Atomic Fireball-colored head peeped out of the timber to our left-not anywhere we had expected him to show. Neither Scott or I were in any position to shoot. The cautious Jake then ducked back into the timber. My heart pounded as the bird sought a better line to approach the object of his angst-the Jake decoy- as he thought another young whipper-snapper was crowding in on his hen. Soon enough, the bird came out of the timber much further to our right than we calculated and beelined to the decoy. Unfortunately, my gun was positioned behind a downed log in the slash pile and to try to reposition would surely have spooked the wary gobbler. All I could do was just duck my head and stay still on my hands and knees. My camouflage garb was apparently doing its job.
Matt then keenly recognized his opportunity and whispered: “Andy, hold still! I’m going to shoot over you.” With the bird’s attention focused intently on the decoy, Matt slowly repositioned beside me and laid his shotgun over my back-with Scotty and I eagerly watching the events unfold. With a good solid rest, Matt squeezed the trigger and the turkey dropped in his tracks. In jubilation, Matt, Scott and I all ran to the downed bird-a young Jake with a three-inch beard. You can never understand the brillance of a turkey’s plumage until you see one up close in the sunlight . . . simply beautiful! That morning it did not matter who pulled the trigger, for this was our bird.
And there you have it folks, the world’s best turkey blind . . . ME! Sure, I’m available to come and hunt with you, but I must warn you: The cost is prohibitive. . . Naaa, actually, if you promise me some Mexican food and let me shoot a turkey every once in while, I’ll be there!
A Tom’s gobble in the Spring heralds in good times to come.