I’d Rather Be Lucky Than Good! by Jon Bryan
Deciding to retire in 2005, to my ranch in Goldthwaite, Texas, had not been the difficult decision that I had expected. The year before my retirement I had planted some peach trees and had just put in this year’s garden, one of my “gifts” being a very green thumb!
Show in this photo inset, I happily display the fine, opening day, turkey that I shot. Notice the insulated suit and gloves. It was still cold!
Spring turkey season opened on April 2nd. that year. Not having had the time in the past to indulge in this spring sport and since I was retired, and especially since my ranch lies in the middle of some fine Turkey country, I decided that I would try my luck.
The alarm went off at 6:00 AM and up I jumped, pulled up my Wranglers, slipped on some socks and my work boots, tucked in my camo tee shirt and headed out to my jeep. I wanted to get a good “start” on the Turkeys. I stepped out of our side door and, whoa, where am I, was all I could think. It was freezing, so I hurried back in to look at our inside/outside thermometer and saw it was thirty-two degrees. It was in the mid sixties when we went to bed last night and the evening weather report did not include freezing temperatures.
Quickly my plans changed. If it hadn’t already, I knew there would be a frost and my peach trees and tomatoes were blooming. Covering them up is out of the question, so the only thing left was to water them and hope that the water would freeze over the blooms and prevent them from freezing.
Out of my work boots and on with my insulated boots, and I quickly pulled on my insulated overalls and headed out to the garden to apply a liberal dose of water to the peach trees and tomato plants. I would know soon if this works. Now, on to the Turkeys, dawn was breaking crisp and clear, and I was behind schedule.
Since I was late, I parked the Jeep directly under the elevated blind. Randy, my Son, has also been known to do this when he’s late to a hunt. Getting out of the Jeep, I slung on my rifle, a .22 magnum, with a 3 X 9 scope, and climbed up into the blind.
Laying the rifle down, I surveyed the blind. The windows were frosted and I couldn’t see out, but I had disturbed two angry red wasps that had found shelter inside from the cold. I opened a window and out flew one of the wasps, while the other took exception at my having disturbed him and attacked me. I parried his first attack with a handy seat cushion, then whacked him a good one, down he went, and “smush”, under foot he succumb. Now hopefully, down to turkey hunting. I cleaned the frost off of the windows and open them to try and balance the temperature.
Sitting down and loading my rifle, I thought that no self-respecting Turkey would come within a mile of this blind with the racket that I had made. Fifty yards in front of the blind was a food plot that I had just planted and some excess seeds were scattered about it. To my surprise, out walks a turkey hen that begins to make “hen sounds”, soft clucks, and started picking up the seeds. I didn’t have a camera with me, but I have some great “mind pictures” of her.
She clucks and nibbles for almost fifteen minutes and I think to myself, “I guess no tom is going to come along,” when the silence is broken by the loudest gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, I have ever heard. There, right next to the blind and the Jeep is a beautiful, multi colored, tom turkey, in full strut, his wing tips touching the ground, slowly moseying toward the hen.
Gobble, gobble, gobble, gobble, as he walked and strut right up to her, making a fatal mistake, he turned away from me and my scope came to rest right in the middle of his back, bam! He jumped about five feet, straight up, feathers flew, and he walked off, the hen following. I quickly ejected the spent cartridge and quickly loaded and ejected another round before I caught myself. Nerves had hit me and luckily, I didn’t get, or need, a second shot.
Closing the windows, I unloaded my rifle and climbed down out of the blind and stepped off forty yards to where the turkey had been standing, then, heading off in the direction he took, I found him down, in a creek bottom fifty yards from where he was hit.
The first, spring Turkey shot on my ranch is displayed in a flying mount, on a wall in the great room of our ranch house.
I did save the tomatoes, having a “bumper” crop, which lasted until Thanksgiving! But the peaches were a different story. Off of four trees, I only harvested twelve of them.