“ I don't suppose you want any of this?” I asked my friend. We were sitting in the middle of the pasture, enjoying the day. I was munching on some chopped chicken livers. “It's really good stuff,” I added. “I always enjoy chopped chicken livers on Matzo crackers. They just kind of go together. I fell in love with the stuff when I was a kid, and I ate so much of it that my mom found a recipe. Pretty soon she had me making the stuff. It's just chicken liver and egg and onion, but all mashed up together, it's wonderful. I never got it figured out-- the recipe-- until I got into college. I had to date a Jewish girl for a while to figure out the secret. You know what the secret is? Chicken fat. In Yiddish, they call is Schmaltz You have to put just the right amount of Schmaltz in it to make it creamy, otherwise it just crumbles. This batch here is well-nigh perfect. Sure you won't have some? Think of it as potted meat the way it should be. Jewish haggis? No? Yeah, well I know organ meat isn't everyone's fancy.”
“You don't mind if I make a call?” I asked. “I gotta take care of some paperwork real quick. Just hang out for minute.” I picked out my cell phone and called the Kentucky Telecheck. While the automated attendant was going through her spiel, I filled out my harvest log. Turkey. Bracken. Male. Beard longer than 8 inches. Private land. I got a confirmation number, and wrote it down in the log as well. When I was done, I went back to the conversation.
“Days like this,” I said, “You just have to marvel at how good the world can really be. You, me, here, a beautiful sky-- couldn't ask for a better temperature. A cup of coffee and some chopped liver. It does not get better than this, my friend. I just talked to my girlfriend. I told her I had a quick errand to run, and then I'd be home. However, if you don't mind, I think I'm going to stay here and finish this stuff off.“
Quarter-Way is in a fence line with a pasture on one side and a food plot on the other. Both are fairly narrow. Both drop off quite a bit into woods on the other side. The nice thing is that you can sit there and be out of the turkey's sight until they are just in range. You just have to be ready for heads popping out of the grass both on your front and back. I got up to leave and just as I went to step out, there was a hen and jake on the far side of the food plot. I froze. The funny thing about my turkeys this year is that there are a lot of young ones. They are not fully aware of the dangers yet. These two were curious, but not frightened. In plain view of the two, I took a step back and stood behind a 6 inch ash tree, raised my gun and called. The Jake broke off the hen and came right over. Over the next 15 minutes or so that I had the crosshairs on him, I don't know how many times I thumbed the safety off only to admit that I really wanted to finish out the season with something other than a Jake. At times, he was less than 10 yards out.
When that interlude finished, I sat back down. It finally dawned on me that the food plots were filled with lone hens and lone jakes. The hens were out grabbing a quick bite. The jakes were running about trying to get some action, but not really understanding why or how. I had a couple more encounters like this and then the plots cleared, and I got up to leave.
I was running late. I stopped back by the house, called KYHillChick, and grabbed a little this and that so that I could stay out past lunch time. KYHillChick was missing me greatly, and I assured her that, given another half-hour of hunting, I could bag a quick gobbler and I would be home. She laughed. She knew I was just starting my last week of season.
At first, I had planned on going to sit in the barn at the foot of Gobbler's Knob. I've taken a few from there, and I had seen a few this year as well. However, watching the gay gobblers the day before had left me with a gnawing thought: the big gobbler had never really traveled near the barn. Something about the barn was spooking him. I knew Moose had been busted by three early in season out there. Perhaps this was one of them. At the last minute, I moved my set-up to the tree line across from the barn.
The day before I had seen a group of turkeys out in the field. At first glance it looked like hens, and one big gob dragging his beard through the tall grass. I brought out the good binos and realized these were all males, jakes and a gob, all taking turns displaying for each other. I'd run into a flock of gay turkeys. Since I consider myself an open-minded sort of fellow, I am willing to blow any gobbler's head off, independent of his choice of lifestyle.
It did not take long for the action to start. I was up against a tree line looking down at the barn, about 100 yards distant. On the southern edge of the pasture, to my left, was an impenetrable stand of cedars. Behind me was the oak/hickory savanna that tops the knob. Within 10 minutes of sitting down, I had a croaky hen come up and start calling. The rest of the small flock were just making the usual feeding noises. This hen sounded like one of my kids, when they were little, playing with a box call. She ran through a whole slew of improbable noises, some about 10 feet from the back of my head before she and the other hens faded out.
Then it happened. I had just poured myself a cup of coffee from my thermos, when I spied a fan at the far end of the pasture, emerging from the cedar thicket. It was the beard-dragging big boy I had been glassing since March. He had a hen giving him the cold shoulder, and he was determined to convince her to change her mind. Somewhere in there I remembered to slip a mouth call in. Somehow I got the coffee down and the shotgun up while their heads were below the grass. I knew there was a rock pile-- I had stepped it off years ago-- that was 40 yards out. If they got in front of that, I had a shot. Minutes went by with the fan out of view. Then I saw it again, just ahead and to the side of the rocks. I made as lousy a call as I could-- worthy of the old hen that had just left. The gobbler came out of strut and poked his head up.
“I realize this was probably the last thing that went through your head-- us meeting like this.” I said. “Well, actually I know what was the last thing that went through your head.” The Flite-Control wad from from my Federal #4's was laying in the grass beside us. I laughed, my friend was silent. “Sorry, bad joke. Can I give you a lift somewhere? ”
The end of Turkey Season 2009:
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