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Here for the Gobble

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Published on: Feb. 2, 2008

Last revision: Dec. 7, 2010

heard the gobble come closer, and I was sure that my heart had simply stopped. I had no idea that a turkey’s none-too-melodic voice could affect me this way.

“Find a spot!” Eddie whispered, sounding as excited as I felt.

We scurried to a tree behind a crumbling pile of logs and brush and waited a few moments. Then the gobble sounded, maddeningly, from further away.

And so began our dance of call, move, call, move, back and forth with an indecisive bird. Our spirits soared each time Eddie lured the gobble closer, and crashed each time it moved away. Then I heard the unmistakable spit-drum sound of our tom puffing out his feathers and breast.

“Gun up, get your gun up,” said Eddie, barely mouthing the words and gesturing with his eyes at the 20-gauge across my knees. I got in position. “He’s right there, can’t you see him?”

I could not. I had a log too close to my eye level.

I’d just have to follow Eddie’s direction.

For more than an hour, Eddie coached me which way to swing my shotgun, when not to move, and when to get ready. When he was sure the bird couldn’t see us, he advised me to rest my arms.

“Oh, he’s a tough old bird, and he’s been educated,” said Eddie, in a tone both frustrated and appreciative.

I was getting tired, but Eddie whispered constant encouragement. “I know you’re tired, I know this is tough, but if you can hold it just a moment longer, just a moment … if you’re really uncomfortable, it’s okay to put the gun down, but if you can just hold out … one … more … minute.”

I was about done for, and then I saw him. He was huge and pompous and vibrantly redheaded. He was in full strut, and I never thought a turkey could look so impressive.

“Take the shot if you want to,” whispered Eddie. “Go ahead.”

But it wasn’t a good shot, and I knew it. My angle wasn’t as clear as Eddie’s. I couldn’t justify wounding this bird. So I waited.

The tom turned toward me then and my tired arms finally betrayed me. I know the end of my barrel wiggled. The tom sounded his alarm and melted back into the trees.

I didn’t even care.

We had seen a big, beautiful turkey, and had spoken his language. We played the game and lost, but it was such an engrossing exchange.

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