Surprise Ending

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Published on: Apr. 2, 2006

Last revision: Nov. 23, 2010

Huge smiles fill our faces every time my good friend Brian and I talk about our turkey hunting outing. We had a storybook hunt. And, like a good story, we enjoyed it more because we could never have guessed that it would turn out the way it did.

Our hunt actually began Friday evening when we arrived at Brian’s parents’ farm in northern Missouri. We quickly threw on our camouflage and headed out into the woods, hoping to hear some gobbles as dusk faded into night. Unfortunately, all we heard were zillions of mosquitoes buzzing around our heads—until a sharp “putt” sounded directly behind us. I slowly turned to see the dark outline of a turkey melting away into the brush.

We waited a few more minutes but heard no gobbling. When Brian and I drove back to the house, our minds were full of uncertainty and questions. Where would the gobblers be in the morning? Was it a tom or a hen that we saw that evening? Was it going to rain tomorrow, as the weatherman had predicted?

As we ate our cereal the next morning, Brian and I both looked out the kitchen window with the same anxiety that we’d felt the night before. Thankfully, it wasn’t raining yet.

We planned to return to the same area we had visited the evening before, primarily because Brian’s family had seen lots of turkeys there in the past.

It was a short drive to our destination. Remembering the night before, we applied insect repellent before beginning our trek across two open fields. Brian carried his shotgun, and I carried a hen decoy. We were crossing a ditch between the fields, when we heard the first birds begin to sing. I suggested that we hurry so we could be in the woods before the turkeys woke.

Our plan was to walk about 150 yards along the forest edge and position ourselves near the corner of a cleared wheat field. The field edge faced a stand of timber on a hillside that we hoped would hold roosted turkeys.

We couldn’t find a tree large enough for us both to lean against comfortably, so we shared a 6-inch redbud, which was better than nothing. Thankfully, we had some ground cover in front of us to break up our outlines.

Before we sat, I set the hen decoy out in the field about 7 yards from the tree line. I had just returned

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