Archery fall turkey season here in Kansas has been open since October1 and fall turkey gun season will open December 10. I see fall turkey season as the most under-utilized hunting season in Kansas; I shouldn’t preach, I haven’t hunted fall turkeys myself for years. But every time I think about fall turkey season, I think of this story from years ago.
Ordinarily being inducted into any sort of members-only club or organization is an honor; something to be proud of, something to be pleased about, a reason to hold ones head high. One weekend several years ago, however, I was unintentionally and involuntarily given membership in an organization I’m ashamed to be a part of… Let me explain.
It was dusk and a chilly wind blew from the west. I had finally aligned my priorities, and number one was labeled “bag a fall turkey.” Our hunting blind was tucked under some craggy low hanging trees in front of an old silo. An alfalfa field lay in front of me, and the river with its fringe of trees and scrub brush, lay behind. I couldn’t see much to my left, but the west wind had been bringing with it the clucks and cackles of wild turkeys for nearly an hour. Fall turkey hunting is as different from spring turkey hunting as east is from west. The turkeys are grouped in large flocks for the winter, often a hundred or more around here, and hunting them becomes a game of cat and mouse, (ideally the turkeys play the part of the mouse.) Maybe I hunt overly paranoid and ultra-suspicious turkeys, but when the dust settles, I often end up looking more like the mouse myself.
Anyway, there I sat, straining to see the birds I could hear. Slowly black specks appeared in the alfalfa until the field was black, like a pepper shaker had spilled onto a green tablecloth. In two distinct groups they ever-so-slowly filed across the field, strutting, flapping and twittering like school kids after recess. As the first group crossed in front of me they were too far away for a shot, and when they finally disappeared into the trees to my right, I thought my evening’s hunt was over. However, the sounds of turkeys still wafted on the wind and a second large group materialized through the branches to my left, this bunch much closer than the last. I slowly and quietly eased the 12 gauge barrel through the open slit in front of the blind, released the safety and waited, already tasting fresh wild turkey breast.
My best shot was through an opening in the trees about as wide as the blind, and one large hen in front of the flock soon stood there. As she cocked her head and looked my way, I put the front sight of the barrel on the base of her neck, and squeezed off the shot. Even as the sound of the blast still hung in the air, wild turkeys flew everywhere; I mean all the turkeys, every last one of them including the hen I’d shot at!.. I sat in the silence of the dark blind, somehow trying to deny the fact that I had just blown an easy shot. I walked around in the alfalfa as if I expected the earth to suddenly spew forth a dead turkey it had hidden from me as a cruel joke. I gazed in the direction of the fleeing birds as if I planned to see a dead turkey appear without warning somewhere in the distance. I had been told by other hunters that sooner or later every turkey hunter misses an easy shot, and I had just joined that club. I was now a card carrying member of TWITS (That Was Incredibly Terrible Shooting.)
Walking to my pickup, I had to chuckle and wonder what was going through that turkeys mind (since it was not pellets from my shotgun shell.) I knew I could count on a compassionate and understanding response from my wife at home, and, sure enough, she replied “How in the world did that happen?” Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoors.
Steve Gilliland, Inman, can be contacted by email at email@example.com.