Just the Way I Planned It by George R. Naugle

Sometimes everything just goes just right. Every once in a great while, what you plan actually takes place just as you planned it. The evening before, while hunting a trophy buck I had been pursuing for weeks, I was waiting beside a huge blowdown when a flock of turkeys passed me on their way to roost. As they flew into the trees they were oblivious to my presence. I waited until after dark, then sneaked away, being very careful not to alert them.

The next morning, my friend Steve and I were waiting in ambush. I had placed him in the direction I thought the turkeys were most likely to go when they left the roost to resume their feeding. I was several hundred yards to his right. Sure enough, just after daybreak, we were treated to the sounds that quicken every fall turkey hunter\’s heart. Our quarries were flying down from the roost. Down the hillside they came, but, instead of going toward Steve, they were heading in a direction that would take them out of range to my right. I gave a few feeding clucks with my Primos mouth call, and the flock turned directly toward me. When the flock was close enough, I aimed at the largest one and my turkey season was over.

At the shot, the remainder of the flock scattered perfectly. We waited about 30 minutes, then I called with my best, \”I\’m lost. Please come and help me,\” turkey talk. In no time at all we heard turkey yelps, then a blue head came into Steve\’s view. When he squeezed the trigger, we were both happy hunters.

Experienced turkey hunters know that it doesn\’t always happen that way. Usually, the hunter does something wrong and the turkey ends up the winner! Every once in a while though, everything goes right. Let me tell you about what happened last spring while turkey hunting.

I knew that there were a number of gobblers in the area as I had scouted extensively before the season began. I never use my call before the season begins because I don\’t want to educate the birds I\’m after, but I heard other hunters calling. Of course, some of them are poachers, not hunters. I have no respect for them. They are trying to steal from every ethical hunter, including me. When we observe them, we should turn them in.

This particular gobbler was a wise old Tom, and I knew he wouldn\’t be easy. He was, though. I had set up in a patch of larches, had positioned my back against a blowdown, and was waiting for the first light of the morning. A mist was falling. This was the kind of morning I love, as most of the fair weather hunters wouldn\’t be hunting, and I would have the woods to myself. Not a gobble was heard as the day dawned, and I thought I had made a mistake coming to this spot.

Shortly after daybreak, a flock of crows flew into the area and set up a racket designed to wake the dead. My gobbler just couldn\’t resist telling them who was boss, and he let out a lusty gobble. \”I got him,\” I thought to myself. I waited until the crows vacated the premises, then gave several feeding clucks. My philosophy is to call as little as it takes to get the job done. The more you call, the more likely you will make a mistake. Sure enough, in a few minutes, when I looked to my left, a huge black shape with a white head had appeared as if by magic. I waited, motionless, until the head disappeared behind a tree, then raised my shotgun. When the head emerged from behind the tree, the beautiful spring gobbler with one-inch spurs and an eleven-inch beard was history.

I believe that if you spend enough time in the woods, good things eventually happen to you. One example of this occurred several seasons ago. I had hunted nearly every day during archery season, and when I hunted one particular area in the evening, I almost always saw a small flock of turkeys going to roost in the same place. It got so that I referred to them as my ‘regulars.\’ Our group hunted most of the first day of fall turkey season with no luck. I had busted a large flock of turkeys early in the morning, but our attempts to call in lost birds met with failure.

In camp, over a hot lunch, I told the others of my plan. I would go to the area where I had seen the ‘regulars\’ and they were welcome to come along. They all declined, having better ideas. I went to the spot I had picked out at about 4:00 that afternoon. At exactly 4:25 p.m., I saw the first blue head. My ‘regulars\’ were heading for the same spot, and when they were in range, I picked out the largest bird I could see and squeezed the trigger. I guess luck has something to do with it, but I preferred to let the other guys think that it was skill.

Most of the time when we turkey hunters set foot into the woods the turkeys win. What keeps us doing it are the occasional times that everything goes right. May you have many times when everything does.

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