There Are No "Sure Things"

Some years ago I went on a turkey hunt with one of my editors who had never killed a gobbler. A very tall, very tight gameproof fence ran through the property. The first morning, a guide and I set up on a roosted turkey near the high fence. The turkey flew down, and, as turkeys will, went the other way. We walked up to see where the bird had gone and found it had pitched down and traveled right along the fence on its way to an open field. At one point along the fenceline a funnel made by some brush that made it extremely likely any bird walking from the roost to the field would pass through it, so it was pretty obvious where it would enter the field. I said to the guide, “Bring my boss here tomorrow and sit right over there.”

He did, and they killed a two year old gobbler in short order the next morning. Back at camp there was grumbling among the other guides, who felt it was unseemly to have taken advantage of such a sure thing.

I have to disagree. In my experience, “sure things” in hunting rarely work out. Therefore, I believe you unapologetically take them when you can. I don’t know how many times I have set up for turkeys, waterfowl or deer that I or others have carefully scouted. Sometimes you have that easy hunt that leaves you feeling slightly guilty about taking advantage of poor, dumb creatures. Much, much more often, something goes wrong. Usually whatever you’re waiting for just doesn’t show up.

Just last week I had a gobbler completely figured out. I knew right where he stepped into a bean field first thing in the morning. Friday was the last day I could hunt, so I broke my usual rule of never getting up before 5:00 to hunt turkeys and hauled myself out of bed at 3:15, which is still night, by the way. I set up in the dark in easy gunshot of the corner of the field where the turkey had appeared and strutted every day that week. I staked my decoy among fresh sign (“turds & tracks” as the goose guides say), then settled in to wait for the turkey to show up.

He gobbled on the roost, a few hundred yards away, right where he was supposed to be. The gobbling stopped so I knew he had flown down, and I knew it was only a matter of time.

I sat, and sat, then sat some more. He never appeared, and finally I decided he must have found something else to do that morning and went to look for another bird. This is my usual experience with “sure things.” So, on those rare occasions where everything goes as it’s supposed to, I shoot, and don’t feel guilty about it at all.