The First Bird Is the Sweetest

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I had killed a Texas longbeard on the north zone opener right after fly-down just like that, a kamikaze two-year-old that ran in to the setup with a half-dozen other male turkeys, but we were paying some dues now . . .

Legal in Texas but not Maine where I make my home base, that afternoon we hunted a gorgeous spot guide Jeremy Baxter knew well. We called in a hen, got close to other turkeys. At our guide’s solid suggestion, we set up in a gorgeous hillside bottom, that later saw a coyote drift into range of our yelping.

The afternoon wound down. We called some more. Then suddenly, as the brisk wind that had plagued us all day dropped, and the air cooled a little, a gobbler answered up the little rise. We called. He gobbled closer, hunting us down. Stepping out of cover, that bird looked eight feet tall. He strode down to the little flat, looked once at the hen decoy, and drifted toward the roost.

“Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot,” I hiss-whispered as the brief opportunity was about to pass. Holmes made good. The shot was all of 35 yards if not a solid 40 (Remington’s Wingmaster HD), and through a small opening in brushy cover about the size of the big steak I’d enjoyed the day we arrived. The bird dropped, flopped. I got up and sprinted toward it.

Holmes, who had some experience bird and big-game hunting, had sealed the deal on his first wild turkey. His smile lighted up the waning afternoon. Fist bumps all around as we relived what had just happened . . .

Texas turkey camp was going out with a bang. By the end of it, five guys had tagged a total of three birds. Tough sledding, but we’ll take it with many more states to go.

We also hunted wild hogs with dogs. Coyotes. Drove our Yamaha Grizzly wheels around the rugged country (www.yamahaoutdoors.com). Averaged four hours of sleep each night . . .

I can’t wait to get back next year.