John's Journal... Entry 246, Day 3
THE GREAT MISSOURI GOBBLERS
Things Get Worse
Editor's Note: I've hunted wild turkeys in more than 30 states, and one of my favorite places in the world to hunt longbeards is in Missouri. This week I'll tell you why I love Missouri, and how Missouri humbled me. I assure you, if you'll come back each day this week, you'll want to be buying your own ticket to go hunt with Brad Harris, the Product-Development Manager for Field Line Calls in Missouri.
After missing the turkey in the first few hours of Missouri's turkey season, I was humbled, discouraged and disappointed. But, because Harris was a veteran turkey hunter and had missed before also, he encouraged me, tried to help me get over the miss and attempted to restore my confidence. "Don't worry about the miss, John," Harris Said "We've got plenty of turkeys. We'll just go find another one."
At 9:30 a.m. we got on another turkey. The bird was in a hollow, and we were on the side of a hill (in Missouri they call hills what Alabamians call mountains) above the turkey. "That turkey is probably going to come up that logging road, John," Harris told me. "I'll get about 20 yards up the hill from you and start calling. You sit here right off the edge of the road, and when the turkey comes up the road, you shoot him." My confidence renewed, I answered, "I can handle it." As Harris began to call, the bird gobbled and came to us. The road made a slight turn before continuing on up the side of the hill, and as the bird drew closer, I could hear him strutting and drumming just behind the curve of the hill. I was ready. My shotgun was on my knee, my cheek on the stock, and I was looking straight down the barrel at the bead when the turkey's head came into view. However, I didn't want to pull the trigger until I could see the chest of the bird and see his beard. So, I let the turkey continue to come up the hill until he was in full view. Just as the bird fully exposed himself, he spotted Harris sitting beside the tree and started getting nervous. "I've got him." I told myself, as I squeezed the trigger. But before I could even halfway stand up, the turkey flew away, unhit and unharmed. I was in total shock. I believe I was as surprised, disappointed and hurt as an 8-year-old child who had seen an 18-wheeler make a Frisbee out of his puppy.
I wanted to cry, crawl in a hole, be somewhere else, become invisible, get raptured or just vanish. I couldn't even talk I was so embarrassed. And what made it worse was when Harris said, "Well, you missed another one." Now, I really felt lower than a snake's belly. And what was to follow was even worse.
"What are we going to do now?" I asked Harris who answered, "I don't know about you, but I'm going to lay down here, take a nap and try to forget everything that has happened so far this morning. When I wake up, we'll go see if we can find one more turkey before the season is over at 1:00 p.m." Harris walked off to the shade of the tree he had been sitting next to and laid down. I pretended to lay down and go to sleep, but all I could think about was the two gobblers I had missed that same day, and what I could do to try to redeem myself in front of Harris, one of the legends of turkey hunting. I'd never felt worse in my entire turkey hunting history than I did that day in that place.
TOMORROW: THE REDEMPTION GOBBLER