John's Journal... Entry 246, Day 4
THE GREAT MISSOURI GOBBLERS
The Redemption Gobbler
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.
At 10:30 a.m., Harris and I both got up and once again started tromping the mountains looking for turkeys. Knowing I had to be feeling terrible, Harris said, "Don't worry about it, John. Everyone who hunts turkeys misses turkeys." My retort was, "Yeah, but no one misses two in one day." Harris laughed and said, "Yeah, that's a little different, but don't worry. We'll find you another one." At 12:00 noon, we heard a turkey gobble close by. "Let's go get him," Harris announced. "We only have an hour before we have to stop hunting." I was secretly hoping we wouldn't find another turkey. I didn't want to miss again, and I had absolutely no reason to believe that I could shoot accurately enough to bag a gobbler. But as fate would have it, we got in close to a turkey. Harris explained, "I'll get over here behind you and call, and when the turkey comes in, take your time, aim carefully, and shoot him." I knew what Harris was thinking. "I hope that fool doesn't miss another one."
As Harris began to call, I looked back to where he was sitting. There was absolutely no way that he could see me or the turkey as the turkey came in to where I was set up. So, when the turkey got to within 20 yards of me, and I had the bead of my shotgun on the turkey's neck, I let the gobbler pass by me without taking the shot. I was going to lie to Harris and tell him the turkey had gotten close, but I couldn't get into a position to take the shot. I justified the lie by believing that telling a lie would not be nearly as bad as missing the third turkey. After the bird passed by me, he hung-up and started gobbling between Harris and me. I didn't have a shot.
After about 10 minutes of not seeing a hen, the gobbler came back the same way he had gone away from me. With my gun on my knee, I prepared for the shot and prayed, "Please, God. Let me kill this turkey. I'll be good. I'll put money in the collection plate. I'll do everything I'm supposed to do. Just let me take this turkey and remove the guilt I feel from having missed the two turkeys this morning." When the gobbler's head went up to an erect position, I prayed one more time, "Please God." Boom! When the turkey went down, I ran to him like a duck after a June bug. Although the gobbler never knew what hit him, I wanted my hands on his head to make sure he wouldn't get away.
Harris was so excited, he was jumping up and down, giving me high fives and saying, "I told you we would get you one. And, you got him." With the gobbler on my shoulders as we left the Missouri mountains, I felt as if the sins of the world had been forgiven, and mine were the biggest. I've never had a turkey hunt have such a dramatic impact on my life before or since, and I've never felt as relieved as I did when I threw that gobbler in the back of Harris' truck and headed back to camp.
TOMORROW: THE SAGA CONTINUES