8 turkeys down and, for the first time ever, completely tagged out in 4 different states. That's a wrap on the 2019 season - my best ever - and I'm mildly relieved that it's over because that was a lot of work!
Today was a jaunt on the same little stretch of Nebraska public land as my last bird to fill my 3rd and final tag here. Again, it was a barebones afternoon hunt, with just a gun and a vest, starting just before 2PM. However, a looming storm meant that this was going to have to be a pretty quick adventure, as there was forecasted lightning just a couple of hours away. When I pulled up, there was a gobbler on the adjacent private land pretty far back, which was a good sign. So, I made the same circuit around this small public lake, calling and sitting for 15 minute stints. Not a single gobble came back, but I knew the birds were there somewhere and that the inbound weather might have them clammed up.
Finally, I reached the same general area where the last bird hit the dirt...still no gobbles. The sky was getting dark and thunder was now rumbling. I gave myself a hard 3:30PM cutoff, but the changing conditions made me start hunting toward the truck a bit early. That early retreat was just what the doctor ordered. Just as I was running out of real estate, there was an unexpected gobble. I don't know if the bird had heard my earlier calling and I just never picked up his reply or he was just hammering for fun, but he was well within 100 yards.
This was going to take a fast setup because the bird gobbled again within about a minute but A LOT closer. The facemask was barely back up, and before I could even sit, he moved just past a tree and some brush in front of me at about 35 yards in the open meadow. Caught off-guard, it was going to take a hasty move to find a shootable hole through the brush with him this close. No doubt he was going to see my movement, so it was a matter of making a quick, accurate shot. The gun went up and he ran for about 10 yards, but mysteriously stopped to figure me out. That was his last mistake.
As it turned out, he was the first Jake I have seen in the field all year (DOH!). Here I am posting in another thread about how I haven't seen a Jake all season, and I blast the only one that finally shows up
Oh, well. I wasn't at all disappointed, and frankly, I didn't have time to worry about it. Minutes after I got back to the truck and took pics, the skies opened up into a downpour. I know we don't measure success in the field by how big or how many game animals we take, but I'd be lying if I said that this season felt like anything other than a tremendous success.
Best of all, our 12-week old Small Münsterländer puppy, Nessa, is showing some tremendous retrieving instinct. A soon as I set the bird down on the garage floor, she did her best to bring him into the house. Lots of potential there if her pointing is as good as her retrieving!