Jim Bennett

We spotted seven gobblers in the alfalfa field dancing up a storm for the two hens that seemed quite disinterested in their dance moves. John Travolta had something on these Toms with that cool white leisure suit in Saturday Night Fever. The scene did have an impact on my 11 year old wannabe turkey slayer Brady who had a farmer on his tractor drive right between us and hens and Toms that wanted to help the kid succeed. And so ended his youth turkey weekend hunt.

Now it’s the real deal as his next season hopefully begins with a bang. I was concerned about not seeing many birds in previous years. Now I am thinking about last year’s birds, namely jakes!  Adult son, Josh, saw 5 a couple days ago, but I’m not spotting them. Brady’s excitement level has increased since hunting a mere 4 hours total on youth weekend to a few hours a day as we move into the third day of his 7-day hunt.

We returned to the farm tractor field (revenge is a meal best served cold) spotting about ten birds in the same pasture. We tried calling but the gobblers and hens could not be persuaded to leave the field where they frolicked and fed on flipped over cow pies, a real turkey delicacy. We decide to get out in front of them and do an ambush, a favorite move of the MeatEater Netflix show Brady and I like to watch. So we flank the flock and use the low land and trees to hide our move and maneuver into a new location.

After setting up we spot a couple other hunters trying to relocate way out in front of the same flock a couple hundred yards away. They never saw us. Now it’s sit and wait in the Savanna oak grove where turkey like to feed on bugs after cow pies. These birds have a dining style a bit more European, like salad after the main course.  Now we wait, hoping we made the right move, making a few calls to keep birds interested in visit us for a lead dessert.

That’s when Brady had curse number two happen right in our faces. A big Gordon setter romped across the public land that is off limits to dog training this time of year. A hundred yards or so back are a big yellow lab and some dude who has no idea we are there and doesn’t care about wildlife rules and regulations. As the Gordon approaches within chewing distance of our turkey decoys and us, I stand and raise my arms above my head. Joe Blow does the same, obviously unaware of the rules and not caring he messed up this 11 year old’s hunt.

Brady finally has a chance after seeing seven gobblers out in a field We know the hens will go after bugs in the alfalfa. Two big gobblers answer us and come to look one at a time. The first bird gobbles to us before he is on his way south and gone.  Another big gobbler comes in but hangs up gobbling just out of gun range. These wise old gobblers refuse to get shot. But this calling has brought more birds in from behind us. They make such a raucous that I make Brady relocate in the fence line and face the other direction, keeping an eye peeled for the talkative turkeys.

I imitate their calls to get them to come in. It usually works. Two jakes come walking along the fence line 10 steps away. The problem is that Brady is peering into the woods intensely and refuses to believe me when I whisper that two jakes are trying to get into our fence line blind with us. Before he believes me, Jake 1 and 2 realize their peril, do a quick about face and wander off. That would be strike 3 on the kid. His run of bad luck has to change now!

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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