Anticipation. A word that certainly sums up my mindset ever since deer season ended in February. For months, hunters have anxiously awaited the 4:30 a.m. wake up call, walking in the woods before daybreak, and the subtle hoot of an owl through the trees. So, when Alabama's youth season rolled around, I had waited long enough. I had to get out in the woods and do a little recon. The weekend prior to Alabama's Turkey Season opener, I spent my Saturday and Sunday in the woods scouting.
The Shock Gobble
On Saturday morning around 5:30 a.m., we headed out towards the property. It had rained the night before, so it was a little warm and muggy, but I still had hopes we would stumble on a turkey sign and maybe locate a few in the process. As I was walking down the dirt road, I discovered a fresh turkey track, where the ground had just been kicked up slightly. The track led down into a ravine, so I pulled out my crow call in hopes of a shock gobble. As soon as I blew the crow call, he answered loud and proud. I couldn't contain my excitement.
Spring Break: Beards over beaches
Luckily, since I work at a University, I get a week long vacation like the students. Needless to say, I had big plans for Spring Break, plans that didn't include a pretty tropical drink or swimwear. My plans, for the most part, played out pretty much how I wanted them to. I hunted eight mornings out of the nine and even four afternoons. However, there was one minor mishap. I didn't harvest a turkey. For the entire week, I struggled. At first, they would be hot in the tree and once they flew down, they would shut up. Then, I'd finally sit down on one and he'd get henned up. One morning, I had two gobblers coming my way, and I knew without a shadow of a doubt I would get one, and then, without a reason in the world, they disappeared.
But.... there was a morning where I had an opportunity. As I write this section, a part of me feels the tinge of defeat all over again, but I think it's so important for hunters to share both their victories and adversities. No one is perfect, and I'm most certainly not...
The Pain of a Missed Opportunity
I guess you never expect it to happen. Maybe that's why it hurts so much when it does. The morning was perfect. The sky was clear. The temperature was cool enough that you could see your breath but not too frigid. It was the kind of morning you get in the truck with your hot coffee in hand and say, "This is going to be a good one."
We started out in a few different places, but strangely enough, we didn't hear a peep. As we were about to call it quits, we stopped by a fairly large green field on the way back to the truck. I got out my crow call and loudly and proudly, gave it a blow. Bam! Two gobbled at the exact same time. You can imagine my excitement! They were maybe 150 yards away, if not a little closer, in the woods just beyond the patch.
We quickly assembled the decoy and found a seat across the patch facing the direction they would be coming. We started out with soft yelps on a Woodhaven mouth call, and let me tell you, they were hot on the trail. They were coming. There was no doubt about it. My emotions were everywhere. Then, within about ten minutes, I saw that blue head pop up deep within the woods. I'm really not sure how I even saw him that far away. I was staring very hard! Anyways, the moment I saw one head, I saw the other head pop up behind him. They were certainly on a mission because they made a lot of ground up quickly and were strutting the entire time. As I watched them strutting, I promised myself I'd be patient.
As soon as they got about fifteen yards or so from entering the field, they put on the brakes. They sat there for a good twenty minutes gobbling their heads off, but they wouldn't take a single step closer. My mind was racing. My heart was pounding. I knew they didn't want to come in the field. They wanted the hen to come to them. To the right of me was a clear cut and both gobblers began to make their way in that direction. They continued to gobble and strut, but I knew what was about to happen.
They got to the far end of the field, about 60 yards away from me, and once again, they put on the brakes. They were giving my decoy one last opportunity to follow along with them, it seemed. There was structure all in the way. I could barely see the top of their heads at this point. One gobbler turned to head towards the clear cut. This was it. The moment I had to decide, to shoot or not to shoot. It seemed like an eternity. I took my safety off and slowly pulled the trigger. He stumbled on the ground for only a moment, and as I was getting up to chase after him, he flew.
Failure washed over me like a flood. I immediately bursted into tears, not because I'm weak but because I'm strong-willed. I don't accept failure well, and I know that is most certainly a flaw. I sulked for a while, but then I was back in the woods that afternoon. A missed opportunity, most certainly, but a lesson learned, most importantly.
A New Journey on the Horizon
The elusive Alabama turkey hasn't been too kind to me, and now, I have a new adventure in sight. Let me say this in the most cliche' way possible: Georgia is on my mind. I'm excited to announce that I will be hunting with Outdoor Militia® over the weekend in Vidalia, Georgia. Two weekends ago, the guys of Outdoor Militia® were hammering on the Georgia birds, and now, they are so kindly giving me an opportunity after my lack of success over Spring Break. So, that being said, I hope you look forward to The Quest for a Limb Hanger Part II.
Hey y'all! I'm Sydney Broadaway, and I hope you choose to follow along in my outdoors journey. The most important thing you could know about me is my love for God. He has given me the skills to pursue my passion of being a conservationist and hunter. If anything, I hope I can inspire others to grow closer to God and to the outdoors.