So there we were. Off to my nephew’s property in The Dalles to bag some spring turkeys. He has 80 acres of rural property with wild game everywhere. He told us, “Yeah, come on over. Kill those sumbitches. They’re always waking me up and crapping all over my porch. Kill all of them if you want to.” Excellent. Wild turkey for the holiday in 6 months. We arrive late and set up camp. OK, not you’re everyday kind of camp. We are in his man cave, complete with woodstove, pool table, couch, cots, cable TV. My God, it was rough. No shower. I guess we’ll only stay one day . . .
At first light, we camo up and commence the stalk. I’m anticipating deep fried bird, with all the trimmings. After bagging some birds, we’re going to gather some wild morel mushrooms to add to the bounty.
As the morning progresses, it’s clear that they leave the roosting tree well before the greying of dawn. We spend the day exploring trails, checking game camera footage and running some fresh gas through the quad.
As the afternoon wanes, we head back to the “roosting tree.” It’s a very curious fir tree, about 70 feet tall and all the top branches have no needles or bark on them. Seems the turkeys have rubbed them bare. I’m excited as the sun starts to set and my nephew says to get ready.
I have my Benelli M1 Super 90 stoked with high base #4 shot, 3-inch magnums. Perfect turkey slaying ammo. It says so right on the box. Heck, there is even a person holding a dead turkey on the cover! And at five dollars a round, quite the bargain. Sean agreed and bought a box too. This is gonna be great!
We position ourselves near “the tree” and hunker down. The plan is to count to three when a bird lands and double drill him. The first bird comes out of nowhere and lands on a barren branch. I look at Sean and he shrugs his shoulders and shakes his head. He can’t see it due to the branches. I put the front sight just under the turkey’s ass and give the trigger a steady pull. Fifteen pounds of pull on a 4-pound trigger and I realize the safety is on. Haha. “Buck fever?” What’s that?
OK, re-center the sight and squelch the giggles. BOOM! Feathers blow off.
The turkey walks down the branch and looks down at me trying to figure out where the noise is coming from. As he unfurls his massive wings, Sean now has a shot. BOOM! More feathers blow away. The big tom looks at him and flies away.
I’m watching, waiting for it to drop out of the sky when another BOOM interrupts my stupefied trance. I look up and there is something that looks like a Valkyrie jet bomber puffing chaff at some mysterious radar lock. It’s a turkey 20 yards away from the roosting tree, in flight, leaving behind what has to be half of its feathers. It jukes around the tree and follows the first bird. I feel an odd sensation under my chin. It’s the tips of my boots, as I stare slack-jawed at what simply can’t be. WTF?
Sean is looking at me, I’m looking at him. We shrug our shoulders and look back up. Another bomber is inbound. I tell him to wait. The bird lands and is looking around for his buddies. He is clearly nervous as he paces the branch.
Sean gives me a shrug as I shake my head at him. So we walk around the base of the tree until we are shoulder to shoulder looking at the sphincter of something that should not be able to fly. Good grief those birds are huge!
We pull up the boomsticks and I give the count of three. At three, both Benellis go BABOOM!!
Feathers are everywhere, the bird looks down towards us, clearly annoyed. I turn to look at Sean and he’s gone. I look down to my left and he’s cussing a blue streak as he tries to extricate himself from a tangle of blackberry vines, raspberry vines and the fact that his feet are higher than his head. I must say he did maintain good muzzle discipline as his shotgun is lying behind him, pointing away from both of us. Seems he may have been a bit off balance when he pulled the trigger pointing almost straight up.
To hell with him. Where did that bird fall? Oh wait, he’s flying away too.
As no other birds grace us with their presence, we walk back to the man cave, both of us muttering about leaving the .50 BMG behind. When my nephew sees us, he asks us how many turkey we bagged. I tell him that we probably killed three, but I have no idea where they are. We figure that the coyotes will eat well during the night.
We leave early the next morning to hunt for mushrooms on the drive home. Somewhere on the east flank of Mt. Hood on a dirt road, I’ve got my eyes peeled out the driver window looking for likely mushroom spots. Sean yells “Birds!” As I skid to a stop, he’s out the door, Benelli in hand running off. I get mine and take off after him. We have two gigantic things waddling/running ahead of us. The hen breaks left as the tom stays straight. Sean stops and throws another ounce of screaming pellets of death at the bird.
I watch as a ring of dust puffs around the behemoth from the shot. As my brain goes into velocity, pattern, shot size, and a mini compliment on a well-placed shot, the illogical part of my brain watches as the bird, while still running, looks over his shoulder at us, unfurls his wings and disappears down the hill. We stop the run at the top of a slight rise and look down a valley at the bird soaring away to another small hill a few hundred yards away. We watch as he lands.
I think that bird, just gave us the bird.
As we make the drive home, Sean whips out the game regulations and looks up the rules. Seems we are S.O.L. with using rifles on the shot proof Meleagris gallopavo. So at the next gun show, I was on a mission. And I think I have found what will be the cure for layers of dragon skin and bulletproof feathers…
While there may not be a picture of a dead turkey on the box, I’m semi-almost confident of a firm maybe, that these might work. We will see.
Bagging That Holiday Bird Can Be Harder Than it Looks