I had just settled in for the evening’s hunt, overlooking a winter wheat food plot that my father-in-law and I had planted back in late August. The evening was unusual compared to what we had been dealing with in weeks prior. The skies were overcast and it was in the upper 40s, a heat wave after the single digit temperatures Missouri faced just a few days ago.
I spent the first half hour glassing my surroundings and familiarizing myself with all that was around me. After I felt confident that I was alone, at least for now, my mind began to wander as it always does. It was January 15th, the last day of the season and I was soon in deep thought, daydreaming and recalling a particular experience that happened earlier this season. I closed my eyes and began to think back…
It had been on this very property, exactly 122 days ago, that I began my 2010 season. I had just rounded the corner to the very food plot that I was sitting on right now, when I noticed multiple black, shiny objects standing in the middle of it. It took me a second to realize what I was looking at before it hit me; it was a flock of six gobblers.
Most folks that know me don’t know that I have a special attraction to turkeys for some reason. They feel safe around me, and for good reason, the record is Turkeys 36, Josh 0 (those are actual, accurate numbers)! No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try I CANNOT connect with a turkey.
Remembering my track record I quickly shrugged off any chance at connecting with one of these big boys. I made up my mind that I was just going to walk past them and not pay them any attention. Well, apparently my reputation is well known. I watched in amazement as they let me approach, closing the distance from 60 yards to 25 within seconds. They just stood there! So I thought “What the heck,” I nocked an arrow, picked a spot on the closest bird, drew, anchored and released with one smooth motion and watched as my arrow fell short. I silently laughed at myself and shook my head. The flock exploded and disappeared as they quickly fled the jurisdiction. I located my arrow and continued on my way. This was nothing new to me, I had actually come to expect it.
Thirty minutes later found me sitting in a new stand that my father-in-law and I had set up about two weeks prior to the opener. It was between two draws and was surrounded by huge white oaks that were dropping their delicious morsels all over the hillside. As I passed the time watching the sweat run down my arms and questioning my sanity, I began to think to myself how lousy the action had been when I heard it, footsteps, lots of them and they were coming my way.
With it being mid September the leaves were still pretty thick and visibility was limited. I silently stood and readied my longbow for the opportunity. At 16 yards the first gobbler stepped out of the brush, followed by his entourage of five others. These were the same birds from earlier, I thought to myself, their escape route would have put them in this general area. I was ecstatic it was finally going to happen. This was my chance to break my streak. No way could I miss a turkey at 15 yards! I waited patiently as they gorged themselves on acorns, waiting for the perfect opportunity to make my move. After milling around for what seemed like an eternity, they decided it was time to go. As if on cue, all six gobblers turned and started walking single file in the opposite direction. It was now or never, for the 36th time in my life I picked a spot, drew, anchored and released. In my early celebration of knowing that I was about to harvest my first Eastern with a bow, I failed to remember that the stand that I was sitting in had arm rests. The bottom limb of my Black Widow hitting that stand sounded like a shotgun going off. I never saw my arrow in flight, or found it for that matter, and the turkeys exited in true champion fashion, their putts sounding like nails on a chalk board.
I stood there for a second, listening intently as the turkeys let everyone in the timber know of the intruder that had messed up their dinner plans. I laughed out loud at my stupidity and made a mental note of the arm rests on the stand.
About fifteen minutes had passed when I heard something. I had heard this sound before, I knew it well, but for some reason, I heard it more clearly today than ever before. It was a grey squirrel about 20 yards away announcing to the woods that the day was coming to an end. His song was slow and without rhythm but it had meaning. His slow, drawn out squeals filtered through the timber. I had heard this song a thousand times before and never paid it any attention but for some reason today, I couldn’t shake it, it was like he was singing it for me and I listened to every word. I sat back down in my seat, closed my eyes and listened to what he had to say…
When I opened my eyes again, I was back on the food plot and it was getting dark. I had about a half hour of light left and I was beginning to gather my gear and call it a night when I heard it, that old familiar song. Mr. Squirrel was back at it, this time on a different part of the farm but carrying on with the same tune that he serenaded me with earlier in the year.
I finished gathering my gear and climbed down out of my tree, the same tree those six gobblers were standing under on opening day a few short months ago when I missed them the first time. As I left the food plot, Mr. Squirrel was still at it as the sun set lower. I smiled as I headed back to the truck, I can’t wait to hear next year’s single, I thought to myself.
Josh Carter lives in Cape Girardeau, MO with his wife Jessica and their lab Gus. He works in the Banking industry as a Banking Center Manager.
Equipment Note: Josh tries to hunt turkeys with a 59# Black Widow PLX Longbow, CX shafts and Magnus Broadheads.