Monday, April 20, 2020
I spent yesterday turkey hunting again. Nothing says social distancing like sitting in the woods by yourself. After hearing one gobble right away in the morning and then hiking all around that same basin all day, I was pretty much done by about 3:00. While I was riding out, I thought I’d give one last half-hearted attempt on the day. I stopped, left my pack on the atv just hike out 100 yards or so and call. Sure enough, now one answered. I got set up and called him and a jake in, he was coming in great, answering to even my worst calls. I got too excited and shot at about 40 yards when I could have probably got him in to 30 or 20. Commence rodeo…
He went down all flapping and flailing. I ejected my shell from my single shot, but I didn’t, no click-pop of the empty shell onto my arm, WTF. It was stuck in there! Really stuck. There was no prying it out with my knife. Meanwhile my shot must have been low because the gobbler got up, hopped three times on one leg and flew off straight away. Aaaaah! I couldn’t find a stick long and straight enough to jam down the barrel. So I ran after him, still looking for a stick. He landed about 40 yards away.
My pistol was at my atv. Plus, in all the commotion, I completely forgot that I wear a Gerber tool on my belt that likely would have helped get that shell out.
I snuck in on him, he wasn’t walking anywhere fast. Still no good stick. He was just standing there fidgeting inside a small group of trees. I circled around slowly trying to keep a tree or bush in between us and he stayed put. I got, no kidding, about 10 feet away and he was still in there looking like he was about to spook. He was a beautiful Tom, nice long beard, really long tail feathers.
So I ran, knife clenched in teeth…in my mind’s eye that was safer than running with a knife and I thought I might have to tackle him. But he hopped once and took off when I got to about five feet and flew about 80 yards that time. I sprinted, well, ran as fast as I could after him to see where he’d land.
They can, Art, oh boy can they fly.
I got to where I thought he set down and nothing. So I made little circles and boom! He took off again from about 10 yards to my left. I was pretty winded by then so I just watched and hoped he’d stay put.
I got up at 0300 Monday and made it back up to the scene of the crime before daylight hoping I could catch him gobbling as he came out of the roost. No joy. I scoured that couple acres around where he lit but nothing, no bird, no feathers, but a ton of coyote and even a few bear tracks. Pretty sure they got a meal out of my wilderness debacle. I think I’m done chasing turkeys for a few days. I’m kind of sore. So how was everyone else’s weekend?
Turns out a Stevens single shot that says “2 ¾” and 3”” on the barrel will usually eject a 3” shell, but not always. I didn’t know how badly my gun was jacked up at the time. Turns out it was just stuck, nothing was damaged. Those hevi-shot turkey load shell ends really fan out wide when shot.
I feel bad for losing my first wounded big game animal in over 20 years. But I also remember all those unfilled Colorado turkey tags over those same 20 years. So I will be back out there soon!