I am in the process of studying for a test on the history of the Italian Renaissance that I have to take tomorrow, so I really don't have time to come up with a new post. I do however have a story I wrote a few years back about one of the coolest, and most frustrating, hunts I have ever been on. It was originally posted on BrightIdeaBlog.com, but that was a few years back. Hopefully somebody will read it who has never read it before...
I Think I'll Name My Decoy Murphy
April 14, 2007
After worrying about the weather for the past week and praying that the monsoon on track to hit Northern Virginia would stall long enough to allow a turkey hunt, my prayer came true. I was at my favorite place in the world, the 200 acre farm where I hunt in Clarke County. Better yet, I was all alone on this farm, where supposedly seventeen gobblers reside. As dawn was breaking, I was standing on a hill imitating an owl, and listening for answering gobbles. On the second hoot, five gobblers within a half mile answered at the same time.
Choosing which bird sounded closest, I headed into an old apple orchard that borders a thirty acre patch of mature hardwoods. I found my spot, an old apple tree that faces down a hill towards the woods, with only thirty yards of grass between me and the home of the aforementioned gobbler. I set out my decoy twenty yards away and nestled into the weeds underneath the apple tree. As I began to call, starting with some purrs and a few soft yelps, my quarry answered from his roost, a hundred yards deeper in the woods.
I played it safe and left off with the calling until he gobbled again, and then I let loose with a few yelps followed by a cutting sequence. I was greeted with a double gobble, and the sound of wings beating the air as the gobbler flew to the ground. I became more aggressive with my calling and the gobbler and I began to converse every five minutes or so. The gobbles came closer and closer, so I lowered my face mask and got in position to shoot.
But here’s where the fun starts. Being so intent on talking with Mr. Turkey, I had failed to notice the half dozen deer grazing up the grassy strip towards me. These deer were coming from exactly the spot I anticipated the gobbler to be coming from. The deer weren’t spooked by my calling which was great, however they did make it harder to notice any turkey heading my way. However, wild animals often play off each others senses, so I hoped the calm deer would help the approaching gobbler feel safe as well.
I had not heard the gobbler for a few minutes so I figured he had pinpointed where I was calling from. I began to call softly, purring and clucking to give him a sense of security. Then, right through the middle of the deer, the gobbler’s bobbing red head appeared. As the gobbler stopped in the middle of the deer to look for the love of his dreams, I shifted my gun into firing position. The gobbler and the deer were fifty yards away, just outside my comfort range, so I held off shooting and began to yelp softly at the bird. The gobbler suddenly spotted my decoy and started to strut and waltz his way into firing range. Little did I know that at this moment when I was preparing to harvest my first gobbler of the season, Murphy’s Law was about to take effect. For those of you who may not know, Murphy’s Law as I know it is “what can go wrong will go wrong at the most inopportune time.”
As I was drawing a bead on the gobbler’s head, a sudden movement ten feet to the front and right of me drew my attention. Out of the orchard stepped Murphy’s messenger of the day, a Red Fox. I can only assume the fox thought he would sneak over and see what a stupid hen, who sits in one spot and calls for a half an hour, tastes like. The fox looked to his right and saw the gobbler and the deer, and then to his left at me and my hen decoy. I became frantic and whispered at the fox to leave, and then kicked a foot at him, and all he did was move five feet closer and look me dead in the eyes from spitting distance away. As I prepared myself to fend off a pouncing fox, the fox turned, took two steps and pounced, not on me, but on my helpless decoy! The fox dragged the decoy to the ground, and realizing his meal was a phony, turned to look back at me, obviously with some sort of malicious intent in his dark eyes. Out of the corner of my eye I saw the deer and my gobbler scatter! The fox took a step towards me and having enough of my ruined hunt, (and fearing for my life) I shot into the ground near the fox, sending him sprinting into the woods. I then stood up and watched as my dreams of the past year went running into the forest, putting in alarm. Oh well, so much for marinated turkey breast tonight.
Anyway…I think I’ll name my decoy Murphy, because no matter how much I practice calling, nor how much money I spend on gear, Murphy’s Law will get me. I’ve called many a bird into range, but have never sealed the deal; Murphy has always gotten the best of me. Maybe if I start taking my nemesis Murphy into the woods with me, I won’t be stalked by Murphy and his evil tricks. So for now, I’ll take Murphy (the newly named decoy) and patch the teeth marks in her neck, and prepare for next weekend. There are plenty of birds, and I have plenty of time to plan my next hunt while my professors lecture me on the importance of math, proper grammar, and other such nonsense. Next weekend I plan to turn the tables on this whole turkey business because I am taking Murphy hunting for a change and we’re going to play some mean tricks on those old gobblers.