Lord Byron Had Something Going

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Published on: Apr. 2, 2000

Last revision: Nov. 4, 2010

hunt. It happens every year.

Long underwear, then camo pants and shirt, camo jacket, camo vest stuffed with collapsible decoys, an orange vest for travel safety, a half- dozen mouth calls, camo gloves, a camo headnet and a handful of granola bars.

They soothe hunger and also give me something to do when the morning drags. One granola gar is guaranteed to occupy a half-hour: two minutes to eat it and 28 to pick the oat fragments out of my teeth.

My hunting ground is several miles away by car and one mile by foot, back on a ridge so far that other turkey hunters will not venture there. Or so I hope. But I have been wrong before. I'm not the only dedicated turkey hunter in Missouri.

In fact, another hunter is in the parking lot just ahead of me and I see his dim flashlight bouncing through the night. I follow it for the first half-mile, hoping he'll turn right where I want to turn left. Obligingly, he fades right, into the woods and I hug the fence down a hill, up another hill, though a dense sprout thicket and into large grove of trees.

Probably walk into a roost. Perfect spot for it. I have a wonderful talent for finding where turkeys spend their nights, but I always manage to get 50 yards too close. Several times I've watched what I thought were squirrel nests become waking turkeys that then looked down on me the way Thor looked down on mortals that ticked him off.

It is cold and turkeys seem always ahead of me. I set up 200 yards from a roosted gobbler and call until past fly-down time. He becomes silent, then I hear him far over the ridge, heading away from me. Once I hear the rusty squawk of a jake in the brush behind me but even as naive as he is, he refuses to come in.

Finally, I move, lured by another distant gobbler. This happens several times. Each time I set up and call, but get no answers and the gobbling dwindles and dies with the morning.

Finally it is noon and hot. I'm layered just right for the chill of dawn, but about three layers beyond noon heat. I peel down to a T-shirt and stuff the rest in my vest.

Halfway to the car, a woodcock hen flutters into the air, a picture of disabled agitation. She is,

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