Jim Bennett

It was like they had just popped out of the ground, like they had been pulled from a hat. The entire flock of hens and who knew what else were all putting and purring and giving me the evil eye. But the fence line was so thick they couldn’t be sure what I was. Maybe they thought I was a stump or a gobbler. They were close, 10 to 15 yards away, and coming closer. Necks stretched out, heads turning and eyes straining, they weren’t sure if I was friend or foe. All they had to do was walk a few more steps into the opening so I could maybe pick a jake out of the group. That’s when I heard a Big Gobbler spit and drum. When I heard that sound I knew they were close enough to hear me breathing.

The fence line was so thick I could hardly be sure if that black blob out 200 yards in the cow pasture was a gobbler or not. It sure looked like one so I walked another hundred yards and got set up. I knew I was almost invisible to anything on the other side of this thick fence line. There was just one 6 foot opening in the fence line where I was headed and it was about time for the hens and gobblers to show up and put on their show. I was going to set up a single hen decoy in the Savanna grassland WPA (Waterfowl Production Area) and snuggle into the bushes and do some reserved calling on that old Lynch Box Call, made in 1954, I had just found and bought on Facebook in the original box!

I had just taken the decoy out of my hunting vest when I became aware a turkey was close and getting closer. A moment later I realized that an entire flock was coming and gobblers were bringing up the rear. On my knees, turkey decoy in my hands and my shotgun in reach, I froze and watched the show through peepholes in this dense fence line. Several hens were eyeballing me while others and two or three Big Toms in full strut, frolicked in the pasture that resembled a groomed golf course. Occasionally a hen walked by the opening 10 yards away and I was able to see the gobblers dance, but no way could I get off a shot through that impenetrable jungle. After 20 minutes of being a statue my left calf started to ache and cramp so I slowly stretched it out in the cover and safety of this Great Wall of China. How much patience did these turkeys think I had?

Earlier in the morning I set up under a roost tree and a dozen or more turkeys took off in every direction. Ruining that location, I moved to the savanna/pasture; when I got out of the car two big gobblers took off from the big pines right above my vehicle before I had loaded my gun. Now I’m surrounded by hens and jakes and can’t move. A typical morning turkey hunting in my books.

I guess I can get a little aggressive hunting. Patience might not be my strongest trait in the turkey woods so when I thought the flock might wander away I decided to make a move. Besides, all the turkeys were on the dark side of the fence line and I was invisible, kind of like a super power. Lowering myself to look like an angleworm crawling through foot tall sparse grass and thorny gooseberry bushes ready to slice bare skin, I made my move. None of the turkeys behind the Berlin Wall saw me coming. It looked like a perfect move.  Why is it that just when you think it’s safe it’s not. One hen, “Mable,” watched me inch my way to take a shot, probably made her move when I made mine.  I’m thinking her alarm puts were saying, “Danger Will Robinson! Danger! Danger!”  That was all it took. With the entire flock doing a power sweep right, there was no way I could shoot a gobbler and not take a half dozen hens with him. Beam me up Scotty, I just want to go home to catch up on the lost sleep turkey season steals from you.

Jim Bennett is an outdoorsman who lives and worked in the St. Croix River Valley and can be reached at jamesbennett24@gmail.com

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