A few days later we were up at dawn and into the woods for turkey season. Josh had explained a lot about turkeys to me. I now knew that they had exceptional eyesight, roosted in trees and flew down in the morning, and that you may only hunt gobblers in spring turkey season. I felt ready; I had the knowledge, outfit, and accessories to be a successful turkey hunter. With Josh as my guide I knew that this would be a good day. I was certain that I would harvest a turkey, I had to, I mean don’t you get one every time you go out? Plus, the pressure was on because Jarrid and Ali were turkey hunting at their Altoona property also. Josh woke me up bright and early, somewhere in the woods of 4AM. He got up and went to get himself ready while I tried to remember the order of all of my clothing layers: Under Armor Cold Gear, thermal, button down shirt, jacket, thermal pants, camouflage pants, gloves, head cover, hat, two pairs of socks, and finally my boots. Yes it was spring, but I get cold. Josh knew that to keep me happy in the woods, he needed to keep me warm. It was right about the time I was finishing my eyeliner that he walked back into the bedroom.
“What exactly are you doing?”
“I’m finishing my makeup, I promise I’ll be ready in five minutes.”
“Why are you putting on makeup, we are going in the woods!”
“I need to look presentable, Josh.”
“For who? The turkeys? The idea is for them NOT to see you!”
I decided to forgo the jewelry that day. But I will tell you that a few months later when we were watching Lee and Tiffany Lakosky on “The Crush” she was putting on makeup before a hunt, so I am clearly not the only person concerned about how they look when they hunt. Granted millions of people are watching her hunt, and it’s only Josh and I….but still. So we hopped into the hunting mobile, Josh’s old Chevy Blazer from high school and set off. When we got to the property I jumped out of the car, slammed the door, and got ready for my instructions. I was so eager to do everything correctly and prove to him that I was a great hunter. It was then that I got the lesson about not slamming doors when you are trying to sneak up on animals.
We managed to make it into the woods and get settled under a nice tree. Josh had set up a decoy turkey, which I refused to touch because it looked too lifelike for my taste. Plus he had traumatized me by placing it outside the bathroom door early one morning for me to stumble upon. Those things are very lifelike. Josh started calling, and the turkeys were definitely answering. He was explaining the way of the turkey to me as our hunt progressed. I tried to stay quiet and absorb as much of his information as I could. He reviewed the different names: gobbler, jake, and hen, reminding me that I could only shoot gobblers. He kept reminding me over and over to the point where it was actually getting quite annoying. I mean honestly, a gobbler has a beard and the others don’t. So no beard means don’t shoot. I was a little insulted; I would like to think that I am a fairly intelligent person who can tell the difference between a turkey with a beard and a turkey without. Well all of my paying attention paid off because I was the one who first saw the turkey that was headed right for our decoy.
“Josh, there’s a turkey!”
“Right in front of you.” (I thought he was supposed to know what he was
doing out here?)
“Okay, don’t move and be very quiet. Is your gun ready?”
“Should I take off my safety yet?”
Those last two lines will forever be a point of contention between us. When I asked if I should take off my safety, which meant: Can I shoot this turkey? To Josh that meant: Yes because there may be a gobbler following her. Yep, she was a hen. Josh watched the turkey slowly make its way towards our target. I focused on keeping my gun up, my body still, and my mouth shut. As soon as she got within my range I slowly moved my finger towards my trigger. The blood surged through my body. I was about to get my first turkey! If only that thing would stop walking! The turkey continued walking though, right out of my line of fire.
As soon as she left, and we realized that there were no other birds behind her, I put my safety back on. Josh and I went back to sitting in near silence, quietly waiting for another bird to make an appearance.
“That was so close! If only it would have stopped walking. I mean I had my sight right
on it. It was the perfect shot!”
“Sue, that was a hen.”
“You can’t shoot hens in spring turkey season!”
“You said that you knew the difference between a gobbler and a hen! You told me to
stop reminding you, that you weren’t an idiot. Didn’t the lack of a beard give you a
clue that it wasn’t a gobbler?!”
“Well, I mean I was just really excited to finally have a real animal at the end of my sight. I just
really didn’t notice. I mean, is the beard really that easy to see anyway?”
I am fairly certain it was at this exact moment that Josh began to rethink my hunting career. I know it was at this point that I began to rethink my listening skills. We did not see any more birds in that location, so we (or rather Josh) decided it was time for us to relocate. We jumped back in the hunting mobile and headed to his uncle’s property about five minutes away.
On our way down the driveway, there were probably close to fifteen gobblers, hens, and jakes in the cornfield. We quickly got the Blazer parked, suited up again, and loaded the guns. Josh led me swiftly into the woods, not more than 500 yards from the house. Josh was sitting in a bush, no more than two feet from me, but there was a giant tree between us. So while he could hear me very easily, he couldn’t see me at all. He had me set myself up on the ground behind a fallen log. It was actually a really great location because I was able to rest my gun on the log instead of using a monopod. I had to strategically place myself so that I was able to see my sight to shoot my shotgun, which meant that I was half laying-half sitting on the ground behind this log. It was fairly comfortable until the entire left side of my body fell asleep. I kid you not, from my shoulder down to my toes was completely tingly. I ached to move, just one little adjustment to get the blood flowing again. I thought back to all of the hunting lessons that Josh had been giving me. I remembered what he said about how well turkeys can see; I tried to rationalize it for myself. I’m in camouflage, so can they really see me? I mean, isn’t the point of camouflage so that things don’t see you? And even if they do, I’m sure it will just look like a giant bush moving in the wind. That’s right, they may see shapes moving, but they won’t realize that it’s a person. Plus more than half of me is hidden behind this log, all they can really see is my head and half of my torso. It will be fine, and Josh will never see me moving anyway. I decided I had to make a move; otherwise I wouldn’t be able to shoot if a turkey sauntered in. I sssslllloooowwwwllllyyy scotched myself no more than half an inch when the bush behind me whispered,
“What are you doing?”
“My body is falling asleep, I just need to make a tiny adjustment.”
“Sue, the turkey’s are right there, you cannot move right now.”
“I don’t see any turkeys. Besides, I just need to scoot half an inch.”
“You don’t see them because they are behind those trees, if you move they
will see you and then you won’t have any chance of getting them.”
“Josh, if I stay like this I won’t be able to feel my fingers to pull the trigger. If
you would have just let me adjust myself, I would have been done by now and there would have been a heck of a lot less commotion.”
“Fine, move. Just do it slowly.”
I painstakingly moved my body as slowly as I could. It maybe was half an inch or so, but enough to get the blood moving again. As soon as I was settled again, I heard rustling coming from the woods behind me. That would be my luck, I move the tiniest bit, and scare all of the birds away. Slowly I turned my head slightly to the right to see if it was in fact a turkey or just the wind. The glistening of a shotgun barrel was all that caught my eye.
OH MY GOD. He thinks I am a turkey. Darn Josh and his impressive turkey calling. He had called one in all right, just the wrong one. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t move, breath, or even think. The rustling we had heard behind us was not a turkey, a deer, or any other animal. It was a hunter, more than that, a trespasser. Josh’s family’s properties are all private. I was going to tell Josh, but I was afraid that he would go after the guy and end up getting shot. Luckily, the other hunter realized his mistake and ran off, probably afraid of the repercussions of trespassing onto private land. I did end up telling Josh about the incident, I just waited until we made it safely out of the woods.