Steve Madewell

Pedestrian Ramblings

This past Sunday I woke up at 4:00 and couldn't go back to sleep. I was thinking about work and that sort of thing. After tossing and turning for about forty-five minutes I remembered that it was the last day of turkey season. I got up and threw my stuff together and ran up the road a bit to friends’ place. Generally when you go turkey hunting the idea is to get in the woods about a hour before sunrise and to get set up and ready to go well be for light. There is an old trail system that goes through this wood and I sort of know my way around so I shuffled off to fine myself a suitable tree to lean against. Now if you don’t know anything about turkey hunting, the deal is sort of like this: Spring is turkey breeding season. They have amazing eyesight and they have a pretty big vocabulary if you will. In other words they make a number of different sounds and they clearly communicate with each other. In the evenings they roost in big trees and fly down to begin their daily activities right be for or right after sunrise. The general objective is to: Know there are turkeys in the woods your are hunting. Get your self in a comfortable position where you have a commanding view of the surrounding landscape. Have some capability with a turkey call. Get camouflaged from head to toe, and be completely aware of what is going on around you. And of course you have to get all this together and ideally be sitting down and ready before it gets daylight. If you are thinking this sounds like a stupid past time, I won’t argue that you do have a point. However this is a spectacular time of year to be in the woods at sunrise and really it is worth doing regardless of if you are hunting anything. I also think anyone who is remotely interested in observing nature should get camouflaged up some time and go sit in a natural area and be as still as possible. The things you may see can simply be remarkable. But that is a another collection of stories. Ok Back to turkey hunting. I started doing this on occasion a few years ago and of all the hunting activities that I have been involved with I have laughed at myself more times chasing turkeys than any thing else. It really can be incredibly addicting and in a very bad way. You see because it is so early in the morning, you can delude yourself into thinking that you can go for a couple hours then dash home and go on to work. What happens to me anyway is I start nodding off around two o’clock in the afternoon and as I struggle to stay awake I start imaging turkeys walking in a line behind people I am talking with in meetings. This is not a good thing, so I have tried to minimize my turkey hunting. But here I was watching the growing morning light and listening to the woods come alive. All the song birds were singing up a storm, I saw a couple racoons amble down the trail toward me then climb a hickory tree just a few feet away and squeeze into a hole about 20 feet off the ground that looked about the diameter of a tennis ball. Of course there are all sorts of wild flowers coming out this time of year and there is a myriad of different shades of green and all the plants are kicking into high gear. I had parked myself at the base of a large oak tree with a natural clearing in front of me. In about fifteen minutes I heard my first gobble and it sounded like the bird was over the hill behind me. The idea of course is to make a call that sounds like a female turkey and try to entice the fellows to come looking. When I was a youngster my dad had taught me how to call quail by imitating a covey or gathering call, and many of the same basic priciples apply to nearly any type of bird calling, that is don’t over do it and let them call back. So after hearing the first male turkey gobble, I started imitating a hen turkey. In no time I had at least one and maybe two birds going. It dawned on me that I should move so they wouldn’t be coming in behind me. That isn't good because you have to let them walk by you and you never know how many there are. If there are several one of the stragglers might see you move and alert the others, so I decided to move to the other side of the little clearing. Also I felt like I would have a little better cover to my back. So I got up walked across the clearing plopped down against another large oak and waited a few minutes. Nothing but song birds. I was afraid my buddies were already on the top of the ridge when I made my move and they might have seen me. So I called a cadence and waited thinking it was still going to be a great day even if I might have blown it by getting up and moving around. Nothing Five minutes or so and I gave another cadence of hen calls, and waited several minutes and then gave it up again. This time I heard a gobble back, but it sounded further away than the ones I had heard earlier, but then again I reasoned I was forty yards further away from where I was. Waited a few minutes and scratched three more chirps and this time had a gobble right away and was much much closer. I knew the bird was out of the valley and coming my way. In just a few minutes I saw him coming down off of the trail and heading on a course that would put him stepping behind a big oak tree about thirty yards in front of me which was going to be perfect. He of course stopped for the longest time! I gently scratched a couple times on my call and he started coming a gain but he changed directions. He was now going east parallel the trail I walked in on. He stopped in a little clearing and gave a nice gobble, then flared up his tail and wings for a moment. This is always a cool thing to see and it makes them look huge. He was getting closer but taking his own good time about it. When he stepped behind a nice size tree, I eased the call down to the ground. He came out and continued walking until he was behind another tree and I twisted my gun around and turned the safety off. He moved behind the large oak I was originally sitting at and I lifted my gun to my shoulder For the longest time he barely showed himself and then finally he was a good foot or so beyond the tree. When I pulled the trigger he went right down, but I have had several friend loose birds after shooting them. Sometimes after a few moments they can regain their composure and run or fly away, so I thought I better get up and run over to make sure that this didn't happen. Now this is where it gets sort of funny. I jump up and took one step and stove my left knee. I nearly went down and I realize that not only is my left leg is asleep, both legs were asleep. I had to ease myself back to the ground for a few minutes using my shotgun as a support. All was good and he was down. This was like the perfect hunt. I mean really, I have never had one so smooth before. If I had had anyone with me who didn’t know a thing about turkey hunting they would have thought, “What is so hard about this/” Of course I haven't even shot at a turkey in 7 years or so, so I guess I had one coming! If you are interested in knowing how it tasted just shoot me an email.file:///Users/stephenmadewell/Desktop/IMG_1547.JPG