“Chris! Did you hear that gobble? I think he's coming in!” Little did I know that what I was hearing wasn’t even a gobble let alone a wary Rio Grand tom looking for the hen.
Ever have a hunting story that when you look back on it from a perspective of wisdom gained from years of experience just makes you chuckle? This is one of many that I own and I am sure that I will add to as I gather more gray hairs in my beard that prove life has taught me many lessons.
My most memorable lesson, learned at the hands of the wiley long beard, was at the ripe age of twenty as I headed out for what would be my first turkey hunt. Notice I added the word hunt there with no mention of success. My friend Chris and I literally had no idea what we were doing on his property in Texas. We knew so little in fact that we simply headed to the store, bought a Primos pot call and thought we had it figured out.
The whole fifteen minute trip back to his property from town saw me feverishly reading the instructions on the pot call and doing my best hen impressions. We thought we were ready, never mind that we didn’t bother to spend the money on any form or fashion of decoy. Did I mention that we hadn’t patterned the gun either? We were armed with our egos and the drive that only comes from youthful inexperience for this hunt. If Chris had any idea that we weren’t going to be successful he didn’t let me know.
After throwing on what little camo we had and heading to the nearest patch of trees that we thought looked good, the game was on. I did my best on the call to draw in a tom. We sat for a solid 10 minutes with absolutely no response, and I sat there wondering why. My spirit was broken in a matter of minutes, you would think that they would just come running in like they do on all the TV shows?
Then it happened, the gobble we had been waiting for! I feverishly worked that pot call hoping that Chris would have an opportunity from his vantage in front of me. Then there was nothing, for exactly ten minutes. Then a gobble came once again from exactly the same place, no movement at all and once again we worried Why isn’t this working for us? He should be coming to us quickly. Just like that, we were in the middle of silence again! What happened???? Where is he and why isn’t he moving????
After another round of feverish hen calling, at exactly ten minutes from the last call, located in exactly the same spot another gobble sounded off. For as long as I had known Chris he had always been a pretty common sense guy and this moment was no exception. Standing up from his spot he walked over to me and said, “You know Reekers, my Dad has an air compressor that, when it fires up, sounds like a turkey gobbling, never realized it until now.”
Sure enough, the next time the “turkey” fired off, it was clear that we were hearing the distinct sound of greasy belt fed wheels on the top of an air tank strutting its stuff. We had been duped by an air compressor and we knew it! Our egos had been punched in the gut and this was the moment that I realized there might be a little more to turkey hunting than I realized.
Fast forward almost 15 years and many turkey hunts later I have grown as an outdoorsman and old Tommy is still teaching me lessons every season. Now I know the sound of gobbles well and an air compressor bent on confounding me won’t be what produces those gray hairs in my beard!