Friday, May 17, 2013

Dancing At Dawn: Part 2

As I eased to the edge of this clearing a gobbler sounded off just up the hill to my right. Screened by the spring canopy I softly cleared the ground litter from around the base of a tree and sat down. Another gobbler opened up ahead of me on the other side of the clearing. Hens began to call all around me, I had hit the mother load. In the next ten minutes five different gobblers hurled challenges to one another and birds began pitching out of trees like rain. When the majority of the birds were on the ground three gobblers began working down the slope towards me just out of sight. I could hear hens with these toms and certainly the hens held the attention of all three suiters. Another gobbler opened up behind me with another unseen hen that carried on like a used car salesman. Up to now I had not uttered a single call, it wasn't necessary. I shifted my position in the direction of the gobblers working down slope towards me and slowly raised the muzzle towards the racket. Then I made out the shapes of  birds quartering off my front heading for the edge of the clearing. Two hens scratched their way into the open 60 yards in front of me bringing up the rear were all three toms.

For the next 20 minutes the birds carried on in front of me just out of my self imposed maximum range. The hens began to feed back into the trees and began working away from me. I softly yelped twice for the first time and all three toms instantly hammered back replies. Both hens in front of me joined in and the hens behind me broke into the chorus. The whole damn hollow went platinum with a bullet. I think that's when I noticed I was trembling. I yelped and pleaded and they reversed direction again. The heads and fans of the gobblers could be seen behind the incoming hens but taking a shot just wasn't possible as the hens were in the way. A hen began calling behind me again and sounded as if she was about to tap me on the shoulder. Did I mention I was trembling? Then the hens to my front changed direction once again and angled away from me taking the gobblers with them. They dropped into a shallow depression screened by understory and slowly increased the distance between us. I yelped again, the team responded instantly and I sent back a reply in earnest. The older hen paused, I sent another string of yelps and purrs her way and she spun on hers heels and stepped back toward me. The gobblers followed her every move and came as if they were on a string. I slowly pushed the safety off and found the trigger. The largest tom took a step away from the bunch but in doing so stepped behind the only damn bush between us. Out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of another gobbler coming from my left into view across the hollow about eighty yards away. The arrival of this new gobbler sent the three toms in front me into a frenzy of calls and a never ending strut but they were still bunched together with both hens in the way.

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