The "Piece of Cake" Tom

spectr17

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The "Piece of Cake" Tom

“Well, ya coming or not?” my old childhood hunting buddy Jimmy bluntly asked on the phone from the run down hotel. “I've got two groups of longbeards roosted and it’s an easy walk in”, he continued confidently. So I thought to myself, “No problem, piece of cake”, turkey hunting with a longtime hunting buddy would be a snap. Boy was I in for a big surprise. I quickly agreed to get packed and head north and try to arrive at the hotel along the Mississippi River before dark. I hadn’t seen Jimmy since I had left for the service and it would be good to chase some turkeys again like we did as kids.

I met my old friend up near Hannibal Mizzurah that warm spring night, land of Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer and good catfishing. Jimmy had been chasing several local toms the day before with no luck. He told me of 3 toms that were roosting over a flooded timber area near Old Man River. One of the birds was all of 30 pounds with spurs to match he claimed. I just looked Jimmy in the eye to see if he was pulling my leg. Poor Jimmy was already sick with "Big Tom Fever". His eyes grew large when he talked of the monster turkey bird and how, when he spooked him, the bird rose straight up like a helicopter because it couldn't fly through the tree limbs being so large. Jimmy and I had done our share of bank walking along the big river as teenagers and had seen some huge racked deer and tons of turkeys. It took a lot to impress him and now he had me wondering if the bird was really the size he claimed.

"Only problem" Jimmy whispered quietly, "The snakes are out with all the warm weather and flooding from the 1993 flood". Did I mention I hate snakes? That night before bed, I clicked on the beat up RCA T.V. to kill some time, and there right before my eyes is a National Geographic Special on snakes and snakebites. A guy missing fingers and black skin from bites. “Just great”, I thought. I'm going to end up in the dang emergency room tomorrow. “Please, just no snakes tomorrow” I asked as I paid homage to the turkey gods before hitting the bed.



The next morning found us sneaking down a small gully along a stand of timber that opened up into a huge grain field. Jimmy showed me where to go into the trees and set up, while he went another 500 yards down to watch the front door on the other side of the creek that ran through the timber. I crept in about 100 yards and set out 2 hen dekes. Only problem was the 1-foot of water and high switch grass covered my dekes. I started getting a bad feeling, like “this isn't how we did it before in a nice dry field”. For all I knew, Jimmy had set me up to see how bad I really wanted a turkey. I looked around with my small penlight to make sure there wasn't any moving sticks when I knelt down in the dark brown water.

Blue light started breaking in the east and I heard Jimmy's soft tree yelps over across the creek we had set up on. I started scraping on a tree and calling with a soft hen yelp on my box call.  The whole forest erupted with gobblers. It sounded like they were right in the tree above me. My knees started knocking and I tried to get everything right in my mind for when the toms would fly down. I did my best hen fly down cackle with my box call and flopped my boonie hat against my pant leg a couple of times. I then took a knee and got set, gun up in the most comfortable position I could find in the shallow backwater. Far off I could hear a couple of hoot owls start up.

After a few minutes I heard birds coming down off the roost trees, cackling, wings flapping and water splashing, but I couldn't see a darn thing because of the high grass in front of me. Suddenly ((((BOOM))))(((GOBBLE)))))) one shot. (((BOOM))) (((GOBBLE)))), 2 shots from over Jimmy's way. I figured he was on the tote board, maybe there's one left. I let the woods settle down for a bit and then I tried hen calling again and some toms in front of me about 200 yards out gobbled right back.

The toms worked in to me but I never saw them. After a silent 10 minutes I shifted my weight and I heard PUTT!! PUTT!! with wings beating the air. Quickly turning to my right, I saw one tom lifting off and out of range. “Dang, I screwed this setup”, is all I could think. After the woods calmed down again I pulled my dekes and repositioned on the other side of trees where I thought the longbeard had gone. By now it's 9am and Jimmy's back at the truck asleep. Being hard headed like a Mizzurah mule, I’m not giving up quite yet.

I found a nice tree to lean up against and did the lonesome hen call and BINGO! A tom gobbled right out in front of me again. I mouthed a silent thank you to the Turkey Gods for a second chance. This time I shut up, and used the silent treatment, hoping to see the sneaky bird when he crept in. After 1 hour, I gave up and started to pull out to go meet Jimmy. Suddenly, I heard "cluck" "cluck" 10 yards in front of me, but I couldn't see 5 feet again. I figured it's “peek-a-boo time” and I'll choose the right side of the clump of grass. Again I heard that annoying sound, PUTT!!! PUTT!!! This time on my left as I peered around the grass. A second tom had come in behind me and spooked. That's it. I quit, had enough, my knees are killing me from kneeling, and it's almost quitting time now.

I got up and started slogging through the blowdowns and muddy water. I was almost a mile in the timber now so I rechecked the compass to make sure I wasn’t going to end up in Iowa in the all the corn. Still no snake sightings, which was the only good news of the morning. Again came the enticing (((((GOBBLE)))) about 500 yards off to my left. I had 1 hour left until quitting time and some toms that seemed to be hot! I cranked off another juicy lonesome hen run on my box call and moved up to a clump of trees with a deerstand in the middle of the tree trunks. It was now or never suckers. Come and get it or leave me in peace with my tail between my legs.



After 1/2 hour, nothing showed, and I got ready to push off when I caught movement out of the corner of my right eye. TURKEYS ...... 3 of em .... They were headed for a clearing beside me at about 60 yards. My only hope for a shot was they would pass 1 opening at 35 yards between some trees. Only problem was I had moved out into the open away from the treestand, and now had to do the "slow motion raise the shotgun trick" with 3 longbeards looking my way. I eased the shotgun up, inch by inch, taking ever so shallow breaths and none of the toms noticed. They got to the small opening in the white oak trees and a decent longbeard walked out, then the second longbeard stepped out and HOLY COW, there's the whopper Jimmy was talking about. He was all puffed up like a beach ball, biggest darn turkey I had ever laid eyes on. Rotund was the only word I could think of. 30-pound club here I come.

The big boy stopped just short of the opening, and started to do the "head bob and weave", he smelled a rat. I panicked, “What to do now?” I quickly took a peek at the first two toms out of my left eye, and the front bird was almost out of range. I'd been in this hotseat before, and ended up empty-handed, but I was not leaving without a bird this time if I could help it. I looked back at Baby Huey and now he was dancing a jig. I knew he was getting nervous, so I pulled up on the 2nd tom and let him have it at 33 paces. He went over backwards hard, kicking and flapping landing on his back like a dying cockroach.

The first bird hit the gas and was gone in a flash in the grass. I looked over to see the Boss tom and just like Jimmy said, he rose straight up like a dang helicopter, cleared the trees and flew off. Most awesome turkey sight I've ever seen, his feathers turned a chestnut then golden brown when the sunlight hit him through the oaks. I stood there for several minutes in awe and wishing he hadn’t spooked. Boy, he was a fine turkey with long spurs and a broom to match. I grabbed my now dead bird and hauled my butt back to meet Jimmy at the truck, thinking he was getting impatient to go eat lunch. All the way I'm prodding the deadfalls for snakes, just praying I can get out without getting bit by some snake. Jimmy was snoring like a bear when I got back to the truck.

Turned out Jimmy didn't even get his dekes out, the tom flew right in on him and he had to shoot in self-defense. I asked him about the second shot and he grinned sheepishly. Jimmy had missed his first shot as the bird ran in on him and he shot the tom running on the way out the other side. “Good thing you didn’t have a single shot or the bird juked you” I playfully pointed out. Jimmy fired back, "Oh yeah, what took you so long, thought you were one of those famous turkey slayers?" I threw the bird on the tailgate and glared back at Jimmy with my best warface, laid back in the bed of the truck, said a quick "Thank You" to the Turkey Gods, and then passed out for a quick siesta. My piece of cake hunt had plain wore me out.

~spectr17
 

TScottW99

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:smile-big-blue: Good story Jesse!!!! Felt like I was there, snakes and all... Scott
 

EVAN III

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   Thats why I love this site,  Just like a great book. Great story Jesse!!!!!  

                                  EVAN III
 

Tominator

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God I love hunting in the swamps! Thanks for taking me back there with you.
Tominator
 

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