The two-shot tom.
Then it started to cool off; well, down to somewhere in the mid-80s, and my thought process renewed a bit. But then I tore up my back lifting a big, old, heavy battery from my boat and did something to my shoulder too. That really didn't help. Doctor told me to do nothing: swell!
Kansas has an early archery turkey season; it runs about 10 days before the gun season. I had been thinking about going before I destroyed myself, and I thought about it even more after the Doc's suggestion. At this point in my life, I've had about enough of doctors' suggestions and decided to try shooting my bow regardless of his opinion. That did not work out very well. I could not pull my old AlphaMax, even though I'd backed it way off so it's not that heavy and very smooth. My shoulder would not handle drawing it three inches.
My turkey plans seemed as gone as last year's deer season. But wait! In the garage hung a bow the folks at Hoyt made for me when we all went caribou hunting up in Nunavut four years ago. It's kind of a hybrid and was very nice to shoot back when I was pretty sick. I got a nice bull with it too. 171 try this one, I thought. Ah, much better!
After a few practice arrows proved I could shoot without screeching in pain, I locked down the weight, sighted it in--well, close anyhow--kissed my wife goodbye and headed for Kansas and the Fosters.
Dudley Foster is a retired Kansas game warden. He and his wife Judy have been good friends for years, and a lot of big gobblers have cashed in their spurs on their lovely farm, it's a wonderful place. When I arrived, the heat hit me like a wave of hot water. It must have been close to 100 degrees, with nary a breeze. Judy said she hadn't heard a gobble in three or four days. "Too hot," I replied.
About an hour later, I was sitting inside, out of the heat and sucking iced tea, when Judy suddenly commanded me to take a look out the window down by the creek. There stood a stud gobbler strutting for four or five hens. He was dancing for the ladies, and his plumage glistened like a new copper penny.
"They have been roosting down by the flat pond," Dudley replied.
Things were looking pretty good. Late that afternoon, Dudley and I placed my Primos Ground Max blind near where the bird had been strutting. Its 73-inch inside height allows me to stand, and I shoot better standing up!
"Good as any for openers," I said.
"He's been here before," replied Dudley. "It's good place to start."
The following morning, as predawn moonlight sifted through the morning mist, I wandered down to the blind, set up my old, battle-scared Jezabel decoy and stepped into the blind. I sat for an hour and a half, hearing every 'bird but a turkey, though I truly enjoyed the morning's calm.
As nine o'clock approached, I caught a turkey hen out of the corner of my eye. A few soft ducks caught her attention, and as she moved in my direction, I offered up a cluck followed by a series of sharp purrs. She went absolutely berserk. Charging the decoy with every feather standing straight up, she was agitated beyond words. Flaring her tail like a tom, she ran full into the face of my decoy and began insulting her in nasty, obscene language. Then she backed off and delivered poor Jezabel a fierce kick right in her chops. That's when I noticed the huge gobbler coming straight on to me.
All of the sudden, old Cool Hand Luke (me) was shaking like an aspen in a rolling north wind, tripping over my stool as I grabbed for my bow and nearly stumbling into the side of the blind. At 20 yards, strutting straight to me, I settled the pin somewhere near the base of his neck and touched one off, just as he stretched his neck out to gobble.
Holy smoke, I thought as I watched the arrow neatly pluck three feathers off his fan. Now panicked, I fumbled for another arrow. The gobbler never missed a beat, so intent was he on old Jezabel. I drew again, held until the trembling stopped and released.
Wow! That one got him, though I wasn't sure where. He flopped, stumbled several yards and lay down, though his head was up and he appeared alert.
Waiting for several long minutes, I was surprised when suddenly he got up and started lumbering through the woods. Now the race was on, with me trying to escape from the blind and close the distance. It was a wild sprint through briars and brambles. I'm getting too old for this, I thought. It finally ended with the torn struggling through a muddy low spot in the creek. All bedraggled and nasty, it seemed an ignoble end for such a gloriously noble bird. I wasn't too happy with the outcome, but when I grabbed his long, pinkish-red legs and his wicked spurs ripped my hand, I had that exultant feeling that now this bird was truly mine.