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Blind Squirrel

“Oh good, the shivering stopped” I thought to myself. My eyelids were heavy and since I wasn’t seeing or hearing any turkeys , I thought I would relax for a few minutes in the morning shade as I leaned up against a tree. I pulled my glove off to check my cell phone and noticed my fingernails were blue. “BLUE?” – my eyes shot open wide and I tried to stand up but fell back down. My legs were like jello. “Oh this is just great” I thought. Hypothermia was NOT in my game plan. I staggered to my feet, and stumbled like drunk the half mile back to camp. That was Day 2 of turkey hunting.

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Day 1 had been a perfect 47 degrees at dawn.   There were gobbles from all directions but the gobblers were not coming in to my calls. I didn’t have time to scout much this year, so I picked a proven spot where I had heard turkeys in prior years. After calling for 3 hours, I decided to head back to camp to do chores.   Day 2, I would go to another large plot where I was sure I had heard the birds but I had failed to check what the morning temps would be and that morning was 32 degrees and I was dressed for 50 degrees.   I heard no gobbles at all on Day 2 but if I were a turkey, I would not be out in that cold either.

Days 3 was a comedy of errors. I got myself garbed up like clockwork, but getting out the front door of my cabin, I had made enough racket to wake up every critter in the woods. My cabin had a remodel going on and I had to use a step ladder to get out the door and to the ground. Gear, shotgun, turkey vest, and stool were all clanging against the door and ladder. I was heading to another large plot about ¾ mile into the woods, and the moon was bright so I did not need a flashlight. About halfway in, there was a large toppled tree that effectively blocked every path to my destination. The only way around it, was to belly crawl under it for about ten feet, in fairly dry noisy leaves.

What’s that saying? “Even a blind squirrel can find a nut now and then”.

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I eventually got to my setup, put a jake and hen decoy in place about 45 yards away, and settled in.   I had positioned a lot of downed branches into a makeshift blind. I started calling at legal light.

After an hour of hearing no gobbles, I felt ready to give up. This just wasn’t my year. I offered up a prayer to God to have success after all the mishaps I had. Suddenly a flock of nuthatches came flying all around me and through my nest of branches, landing a foot away and checking me out. Just as quickly, they were gone. I finished my prayer, and as the amen left my lips, I caught movement out of my right peripheral vision. Turning slowly, I saw a gobbler in full strut approaching my decoys, puffed up big as a beach ball, his head bright red and fan displayed. He had come in silent. He approached my jake decoy and began to posture for attack. I had seen this in the past, and in fact had watched a gobbler viciously attack a jake decoy, knocking it clean off its spike.

My problem now was, it was a left-handed shot and though I am left eye dominant, I had always shot right handed with my shotgun. I waited for the tom to turn tail toward me, and when he did, I shouldered my gun, clicked off the safety and waited. The bird postured facing the decoy again, ready to attack. As he elongated his neck and crab walked toward it, I pulled the trigger and he dropped in his tracks, which was a first. Every turkey I’ve taken in the past had ended up flopping around as I ran like a crazy woman to get to it in case it tried to get away.

Carrying the bird slung over my shoulder for the walk back, I was thankful. This blind squirrel had scored.

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