I watched him half an hour until he dropped out of the trees thirty-five yards from where I sat, waiting on his hens. I clucked twice, if only to get his head up. To make it feel like I’d done something.
Eight-tenths of a mile back to the truck along the edge of a sprouting wheat field provided plenty of time to ruminate on the nature of luck. I knew why I was going where I was, even if I made plans four hundred miles away- two or three blocks of woodland linked by riparian forest in a landscape largely given over to agriculture meant it’d likely hold birds. Probabilistic planning.
The trouble with turkeys is every hunt comes with its own Sword of Damocles- anything, big or small, which may foil your plans. Not just the easily identified things like coughing or sneezing or moving too quickly. You can call too much, or too little. A hen can intercept the bird you’re working and the two will strike out on their own merry way. A deer can wind you and spook, sending the bird into the next county. An owl, an eagle, a curious fox or coyote or bobcat can drop in anytime. I don’t know if gobblers set up defined territories, but I’ve seen them stop at hedgerows and fencerows and creek banks and just stand there, gobbling, refusing to come any closer.
And then, every once in a while, there’s the hunt that’s over in half an hour. Where the bird drops out of the trees thirty-five yards from where you sit, the hunts where you send out a couple soft clucks, just to say you’ve done something.