Spring's a busy time!.......and with a family of 6, it can get a little crazy.
The 1st day is always reserved for my wife, since she doesn't get a lot of chances to go. My dad sacrifices his 1st day and comes up and watches the kids while I take the wife out. She's been pretty successful too, taking about a dozen birds the last 15 years, and most on the first day. This brings us to last Saturday.
My son and I have to be downtown to walk in the Opening Day Little League parade by 8:30. My wife and I are up in the woods and gobbling by what sounds like a group of jakes has already started. We get the blind set up along with the camera and tripod and settle in. I ask if she wants to shoot a jake or not and she says she's not sure. Once the birds are on the ground we exchange calls back and forth for a while but the drift off and go silent. About 7:45 they fire back up again and sound like they're moving in. Then we hear an odd gobble to our left. Sounds like a young jake trying to gobble for the 1st time and wonder why he wouldn't be with the group to our right. The group gets quiet and this lone bird gobbles some more and gets closer......and then goes quiet. Nothing for 20 min. and the wife says we need to go. I hate to leave without hearing that last lone bird gobble one more time. I tell her how many times when birds are closing in and then go silent, they're usually still on the move. Hearing nothing we exit the blind and gather our gear. A woodpecker hammers nearby and......GOOOOBBBLE!
We scramble back into the blind and I hastily set the camera back up. There he is.....and he's a longbeard! He's behind us but headed to the decoys. He's spitting and drumming and passes right by us at 8 feet. I can see him blinking he's so close and I hear my wife start to breath heavily! Instead of going to the decoys he continues to circle us and I tell her to shoot. At 10 feet.....BOOOOM!
My wife has never missed a bird in all those years........until now. Partly to blame was the closeness of the bird(and the pattern being so small), and also because her nerves with the bird so close. I move the camera and my wife to a now open window out the back and she shoots one more time.......and misses at 25 yards.
We leave in a hurry and just make the parade. We get back home at 10:30 and ask my wife if she wants to go back out. Still upset, she says no, so I ask if anyone else wants to go. My oldest daughter says she does.
Flashback to last Saturday:I took her out for the youth opener and we heard birds but nothing came in. We went out later in the morning, and while walking up in the woods(in the snow), we see a turkey just standing about 60 yards away. we freeze and I wonder why this hen didn't run off as we approached. She's acting weird and finally I see why. A brown blur runs up past her and angles towards us. Coyote! We kneel down and I hand her the gun and tell her to get ready. The coyote comes into the opening and I tell her to shoot. She forgets the safety but it stops in the opening and looks at us. BOOOOM! Down it goes but it's back up and running. We blood trail it for 150 yards but it stops. We grid pattern back and forth for the rest of the day but no good. We're both bummed and even though it's just a coyote, I don't like injuring game and having it get away. Back to this past Saturday.
My daughter and I get back to the blind........and we hear a gobble. From this point on it was like deja vu from the morning. The group of jakes gobbling to the right and then the strange gobble from the left........ and closing. Could it really be the same bird my wife missed twice earlier in the morning?! There he is, and when we look at the film from earlier, it's the same gobbler. This time at 25 yards, my daughter takes the shot and down he goes at 11:40! I text my wife(she's headed to the soccer fields with my second oldest daughter) and she can't believe it until I send her a picture.
Right after the shot:
And at the "Stump":
Heading out to show the family: