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Turkey season in gear thrill of the hunt

Mississippi got the jump on Louisiana this year with its turkey season opening a week earlier than Louisiana's. Needless to say, Friday, March 21st was a wonderful day for Louisiana turkey hunters.

I have been about half sick since my return from a dove hunt in Argentina, and to date, am just about well. I couldn't help it though; I just had to be in the woods the 21st. So in the wee hours of the morning, around 5:30 a.m., with my hunting buddies Mike and Terry May, I set out down an old haul road in Madison Parish.

Remember Good Friday? Boy, it was a near perfect morning to be in the woods for those of us pursuing wild turkey. Cool, calm, and a near perfect sunrise. There would be no reason for every gobbler in the woods not to gobble at least once.

At 6:30 a.m. Terry had not heard a single gobble from Mike's “shock” owling. I made my own attempt to owl, but my sickly throat would not allow me to make anything that even remotely resembled an owl trying to owl. By 6:35 a.m. Mike and Terry hiked off down the opening into the woods.

They had helped me position my decoys in the fading moonlight, allowing me to “set up” nearby. As daylight approached, my little spread didn't look right. I quickly repositioned one hen and my jake decoy to specs. But, after getting back to my hideout I discovered I still needed a little extra cover to my hard right. Three palmettos got everything looking good and I felt comfortable.

I used an old slate call that I have a lot of faith in to advertise my location. After the second set of calls from the slate — two turkeys gobbled. One seemed behind me, while one was off to my right. Just to spice things up I got a double reed diaphragm and my homemade box call out.

The added sounds quickly got things going. The bird off to my right was a jake trying his best to gobble, while the bird behind me was mature. I was hoping the mature bird would come on and try to jump on the jake decoy. I had positioned myself in such a fashion that I could not move around the tree to get on this bird, or I would lose my concealment.

I've shot turkeys in the back and all up around the head and ears before, so I was OK with my set up. As the two birds got closer the slate and box calls were discharged from their duties. Using only the diaphragm call, the two birds converged on my “spread.”

Boy, I was wanting to look to my left to see the bird behind me, but elected not to move. The jake was now visible off to my right, strolling along and unaware of my position. This bird had lust on his mind, spying the hen decoys.

At about 15 steps and directly in front of me, this young bird saw my jake decoy. I was figuring on seeing a fight as the jake approached the decoy but at about 6 or 7 feet from the decoy, the bird behind me “putted.” For those of you that don't know turkey talk, a putt is a “get out of Dodge quick” alarm sound for turkeys all over the world.

Well, this young jake wasn't plumb stupid. He putted one time and decided that flying outa there would be conducive to another day afield. Due to my cat-like reflexes and the recent dove hunt in Argentina (more on this phenomenon later), the Winchester fluidly and smoothly came to my shoulder like a well-oiled watch. The turkey was now about 10 steps from me, about head high, and airborne with full power and starting to climb when 1 5/8 ounces of copper-plated 6's from the bottom (modified choke) barrel terminated his flight plans.

Just like deer hunting, the work now started. I had a game vest that was bigger than normal in the back. But wouldn't you know, the turkey wouldn't fit in it! He did fit in my decoy bag, and the decoys fit in the vest, so it all worked out. By the way, don't even think about getting out of your truck without a ThermaCELL, Deet, or a sack of sulphur as the mosquitoes are as bad as I've ever seen.

If you get a chance, take a kid fishing or hunting. For that matter, take anyone. One doesn't have to kill to enjoy our outdoors. Some of the best meals and friends are made “at the camp.”

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