The Herald Bulletin

May 1, 2013

Rick Bramwell: Regretting an opportunity lost


— Opportunity finally knocked on last week’s turkey hunt, but I was not ready. A lesson learned hard is long remembered.

Rain greeted Ray Novak and I in the Owen County hills. We discussed where to set our blind and decoys. Ray wanted to sit the edge of a power line and I a trail on top of a ridge in the woods a little ways.

My idea won out, and it quickly became all wet. A flock of four hens, a jake and big tom came out exactly where Ray wanted to set up. We watched helplessly, out the back of the blind, as they meandered off.

When the birds got over the hill, we moved to the edge of the power line and reset the decoys. A short time later, turkeys went running and flying by followed by two hunters. Things went downhill from there.

I scouted some new territory and hunted morels the rest of the day. Jourdan’s boyfriend, Evan Shuey, joined Ray for an afternoon hunt but had no luck.

We did a lot of moving Thursday without much success.

Friday morning we split up. I took a long shot that a short ridge across a horse pasture might have some activity. I put three shells in my 870 tube and was going to inject one into the chamber after climbing a frosty gate.

In the light of a full moon, I had no trouble seeing where I was going. In the predawn hour, I stood and listened to a chorus of gobblers across the road. Tempting, but I did not have permission to hunt there.

I pulled myself up a high ridge by using a fence on the property line. The cool fresh air was making it all the way to the bottom of my lungs. I wanted to rest, but the distant call of two gobblers kept me going.

The toms were on the other side of the power lines where Ray and I hunted the first morning. It was getting too light for me to chance getting busted by crossing the opening so I had a seat under a cedar.

About sunrise that same flock of turkeys came out the same place, but I was 100 yards away. The birds eventually fed uphill. I cut back into the woods and ran downhill to cross below them. Using terrain, I got above the flock and set up.

Silence was soon broken by the tom expressing his dominance, and they were moving my way. Here came six heads bobbing over the rise. At 40 yards, they smelled a rat. I beaded down on the tom and pulled the trigger-click. I had failed to jack a shell into the chamber after crossing the gate. The big bird turned and ran.

I only found a couple of gray morels while hunting but had 38 grays delivered to my door Monday morning. Bob Porter emailed a picture of some big yellows he found Tuesday near Patoka Reservoir. Those big yellows need three days of 80-degree weather. They are coming, keep looking.