Sunday, May 12, 2013

One up, one down

Not a monster by any means, but another successful spring hunt nonetheless for Mac Arnold, who was able take this turkey on May 6 in Sanilac County, Mich.

ROA photo by Robert V. Arnold

By Mac Arnold
ROA Editor

I am Mac, therefore I hunt.

After great anticipation for spring turkey's 2013 opening day in Michigan, it was over before noon May 6, but not without the follies that come with a typical Arnold rockin' adventure.

To spice things up this year, I decided to take to the woods with a crossbow. I sighted it in a week before the wee hours of that Monday, which was met with the usual glorious chirpings from many songbirds along with the thunder chicken's echoing bellows throughout the spring woods.

Given the right opportunity, I was quite confident that a struttin' tom would drop after a bolt went zinging through his vitals from the Parker crossbow ... at least that was the plan.

I also packed the H&R .20 gauge in the truck in case I wanted to try out Dairy Farmer Dave's later if the action slowed at the Sanilac County, Mich., camp I was setting up at first.

The hunt hit the low gear right at the gate in the foggy gray of dawn when the usual lock combo failed again and again. Calls to the camp commandant's cell phone went unanswered. Twinges of anxiousness knotted in my stomach as Mr. Gobbler began to sound off on his roost above a small creek across the dirt road in the neighboring property as darkness began to lift.

At this point  I could stand no more. I gathered the necessary gear to include the longtime standby of  many a turkey hunt -- the Pyramid Blind -- and headed across the first field where I missed a shot on a tom during the 2012 spring season.

Finally Captain George called back with the "new" lock combination that I was supposedly told of earlier in the winter but did not recall. With the gobbler safely headed away to the southeast likely in pursuit of a "real" girlfriend instead of my blind date invites, I packed up, then pulled the truck on through and resumed my initial intentions of being set up in a tree blind toward the back of the camp.

I took George's recommendation to take watch over a clover field by the pond. Being content to just work the time-tested Lynch's Fool Proof Hen Call, it wasn't but about a half hour ... oh, maybe around 9:30 a.m. when out popped a hen and just like he said, went straight for the lush green clover plot. She picked at the field for a spell before making her way to the northern field 100 yards away.

Every 15 minutes I would hit a few yelps and end with soft clucks on the box call, which ironically I thought sounded awful earlier at the first field setup.

I noted what seemed like two toms were answering and getting closer. 

Next thing I knew, they were right behind me at 50 yards on the other side of the pond.

Gobbbbbblllllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeee. Gobbbbbblllllllleeeeeeeeeeeee.

But I had no shot. Would they circle around to the north where I would have a nice shooting lane I wondered?

Yes. This is almost too easy I thought to myself.

I had to ease around in the blind, which alerted their "spidey senses," and they weren't planning on hanging around. I lined up the crosshairs on the first one, whose golden feathery sheen glowed in the sun with a ground-dragging beard, and I let the bolt fly. However, not before I played the "safety game," which likely gave him just enough time to not be there.

Off they strolled into the southwest woods, gobbling to my pleas, but in no way even thinking of coming back for a return visit.

My jaw was hanging open.

"I thought these things were 'can't miss,' " I texted George.

"Operator error," was his response back.


Well, that did it. Down I climbed and headed straight for the truck.

Yep, in went the crossbow and out came the shotgun.

I followed their tracks in the soggy mud and I slipped into the woods about 70 yards. Propped up the blind and began calling with the box again. A distant gobble was heard going back toward the direction from which they originally came and then silence. I contemplated moving but in my slow procrastinating ways, I did nothing.

Cluck. Huh? Then I was sure I heard a turkey purring and I returned with the same.

In came two birds. I lined one up at 10 yards. Boom!

I missed. But I didn't let it faze me this time and I reloaded the single shot just in time to hit the shaken bird on the run from the opposite shoulder.

And just like that. I went from the doghouse to the winner's circle.

No, he wasn't the first one I missed with the crossbow, with the nice beard. He did have a 6-inch double beard.

The best part other than the good eating to follow later on was he would end my two-year spring turkey drought.

Anyway, what a crazy hunt that was.