The day after she left, I decided to check out a ridge where in the past she and I had spotted a huge gobbler and his merry companions. It was mid-morning, I was really on a tree planting mission, but since I had the Lil' Pardner 12 ga., some shells, and my Gobbler bag in the jeep, I decided what the hell. I peeked around the corner of the wood lot and there they were. Low-crawling to a tree-turned-fencepost, I hastily set up a decoy and began calling. I heard gobbling immediately. I was sitting in a small valley, in what was a natural funnel from my larger field into a smaller hay field. The gobbling was coming from over the little ridge, getting closer. In moments, as my heart rate increased, I saw one, then two, then three, then finally four huge turkey fans just over the ridge. They slowly advanced, like sails on the horizon. I already had my gun up, and began to be concerned that I might not be able to hold the position eternally. Finally, the fellow furthest left spotted my decoy and trotted a bit, then displayed mightily.
Two things then startled me. First, just to my left in the hedgerow I heard some hens. They were trying to move on an intercept path between the toms and the hen decoy. Its funny how one can recognize the siren call, even of species not your own. Second, out of nowhere, a fifth gobbler appeared. My spontaneous hunt suddenly became a surreal event. This gobbler was magnificent, huge, a red, white and blue miracle. He puffed up and took the wind out of the other four turkey's sails. His head was white, spooky, more goblin then gobbler. He was 30 yards, right at the crest of the ridge. He liked his options, he liked his role. The intercepting hens were alarming me, and this guy was taking my breath away.
I spent five minutes waiting for him to be clear of his companions, not wanting an overspray problem. But the hens were out-competing my deaf, dumb, mostly mute facsimile, my rubber decoy damsel. Then, as I feared, the turkey God began to slip behind the ridge! Still no shot and agonizing waiting...but finally he gobbled, his head briefly a solo and safe target. The ���Pardner��� rang out, that simple, elegant single shot 12 gauge...and missed. In a flurry the whole party flew to the end of the field. I hoped against hope that I had connected, but I sensed that I was low, my shot making a puff of dust at the ridge crest. I searched for feathers, searched for blood, then searched the woods where the fleeing flock flew, for three hours. Not a sign, but oh how I wanted to find a mound of feathers. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing but a sick sinking feeling and a new addiction. I hunt wild turkeys now. I don���t know what she does.