I was beginning to understand exactly how Wiley Coyote must have felt each time the Roadrunner “beep beeped” and gave him the slip.


I was beginning to understand exactly how Wiley Coyote must have felt each time the Roadrunner “beep beeped” and gave him the slip.

I’m no master turkey hunter, but my skills are usually good enough to eventually position myself where I see gobblers and can attract their attention with my calls. I stress the word “usually,” because so far this year I seem to be a walking turkey deterrent.

We have been given the “slip” in more ways than I care to remember. We’ve heard turkeys nearby and positioned ourselves there the following day, never to hear them again. We’ve seen turkeys nearby and positioned ourselves there the following evening only to watch helplessly as they skirt around us completely out of range.

They seem to appear and disappear like Houdini himself. They’ve had absolutely no interest in our calls or decoys. Perhaps it’s my calls; maybe I’m cursing at them in turkey talk, or possibly I’m actually telling them to “Run like the wind, it’s a trick!” I’ve even searched our gear for a hidden warning beacon of some sort that silently gives us away wherever we hunt.

Anyway, never let it be said that we aren’t persistent, because here I sat yet another evening doing my best to keep it all in perspective. Joyce was hunting with a friend from church at their property a couple counties removed. Ironically the spot where I sat was where Joyce had harvested her very first turkey three or four years ago.

The property had held a roost forever, but the last couple years the birds had inexplicably disappeared. An inquiring phone call to the landowner confirmed that turkeys were indeed back this year.

This place is a several-acre thicket behind the owner’s home, surrounded by wheat on two sides and freshly tilled ground behind. I chose a corner bordered by the thicket on one side and a tree row on the other, jabbed the decoys stake into the surprisingly hard ground in the tilled field and tucked myself in behind tree limbs and dead branches in the corner.

The decoy stood out nicely against the bare ground. A couple hundred yards beyond was a field of tall wheat that I surmised the birds would travel along until they hit the tree row which would guide them in my direction. Tonight, I had my crossbow and the setup looked promising for the closer-than-usual shot I needed.

I chalked up the box call and called sporadically for an hour and a half, using both sides of the double sided call to produce a variety of pitches and sounds. More disappointment was beginning to drown out what little optimism I had to start with, when, like a thunder clap on a calm night, a gobble broke the silence.

I returned the compliment and he gobbled again, but then came familiar silence! For several minutes I brooded, struggling to understand what I might have done wrong this time. The evening was very calm, and I began to hear a strange muffled rattling sound from somewhere along the tree row. It was ole’ Tom turkey spitting and rattling his feathers for all it was worth.

Slowly he came into view, fully fanned out, and totally enamored with the bent up, beat up old decoy floozy before him. Every gobbler I have ever watched before would fan out, dance a little then relax for a spell before starting over. Not this one!

It took him all of 10 minutes to strut, prance, twirl and rattle his way to the plastic object of his affection, all the while completely fanned out and puffed up. Everything was perfect! I waited for him to face me, centered the crossbow sight on his chest and shot. In an instant the show was over…I had successfully MISSED the first turkey with my crossbow! The pile of feathers on the ground suggested I shot over him, but I’ll never know for sure. I still had the sights set for deer hunting and I believe the shot was just too close for that.

Tom turkey waddled away, now totally deflated, ego and all, and disappeared into the thicket. (I can only hope the startling experience he had will not make him swear off hens for life) I sat in silence for awhile, not knowing quite how to feel.

Yes, I was angry at myself and disappointed at blowing such an easy shot. But I’m smart enough to know that shows like I just saw might come once in a lifetime. One thing for sure is that shows like that will only be seen by those of us who spend time in God’s outdoors. ... Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors.

Steve Gilliland is a syndicated outdoors columnist, and can be contacted by e-mail at stevegilliland@embarqmail.com.