If you guessed this story involve balance, you nailed it.
Balance is like hand-eye coordination, some people have more of it than others. I certainly was not the first in line in the hand eye coordination department, but I’ve always had pretty good balance. Be it surfing, snowboarding, or wading a deep, swift, moss covered river I have always had good balance.
I remember a couple years ago at a field shoot in Santa Cruz, California, in what could be described as a monsoon. The mud trails were slicker than hog snot on a new gym floor.
Everyone in my group had fallen at least a couple of times. I remember losing my footing twice and surfing down steep muddy trails like I was dropping in to a black diamond chute at Squaw Valley. I never fell that day.
One negative aspect with having good balance is that you know when you’ve lost it entirely, a little earlier than others, which is the gist of this posting, “Falling for Turkeys”.
I am up the night before my hunt to setup my blind.
I decided to set my blind up in a different spot than normal. It’s nearly midnight and pitch black outside. I choose a spot on a hillside near the strutting area.
The average person would feel out of balance in this location, but I, confident in my equilibrium, convinced myself I could make it work.
It rained off and on throughout the night so the ground was saturated. Like any good hunter, I was up an hour before daylight and ready in my blind.
The turkeys were extremely vocal and seemed to be hot to get on with their day, which looked to be a beautiful one.
I am chilled from the cool morning. I’m fatigued from having to balance on my chair for a little over an hour. I decided to look over my left shoulder to see what the turkeys were doing and then it happened.
Remember when I said people with good balance tend to know when they’ve lost it a little earlier than others? That’s exactly what happened.
I knew I was falling, so I dug my heels into the soft mud with no results. I instantly threw my hands and head forward, bringing my body to a nearly upright position.
The key word here is “nearly”. With no other mechanism to right myself, I ever so slowly fell backwards. This seemed to take an eternity. I gently laid my beautiful bow on the grass at my side and relaxed as much as possible to go with the fall.
I rolled backwards down the hill into some bushes, taking my blind and my chair with me. My blind is upside down with my legs and arms are sticking out. I must’ve looked like an upside-down tortoise.
I thought this could NOT be happening to me. I repositioned my blind, discarded my chair, and chose to kneel on the wet grass. I’m pretty sure I made up some new swear words and kept them under my breath.
After kneeling for approximately 15 minutes, I believed that the hunt was now a bust and my confidence was shattered. I gave a couple week and tentative calls.
To my surprise the turkeys responded immediately and with a sense of urgency. With renewed confidence I called again and they responded.
Within minutes the turkeys flew in my direction and started to display.
I picked up my 54 pound Black Widow recurve. I knocked my nearly full length 400 Axis arrow with a 50 grain brass insert and a 125 grain fixed blade broadhead. I picked out a bird displaying at a little over 20 yards and let my arrow fly. I could easily view my florescent pink feathers that looked as if they were being followed by a laser.
The laser was in fact the new pink Lumenok. The arrow hit the mark and the Tom fell to the ground.
To my surprise, the bird got back up and flew 50 yards to a field of waist-high grass.
I am now faced with the dilemma that every successful turkey hunter encounters. Normally, I charge my birds while staying clear of the broadhead and spurs and finish the hunt. Or, I can wait and watch the birds until it’s safe to approach.
If I try to capture the turkey, it could easily fly off the property and be lost. But I had something going in my favor. Remember that red laser? Yes, that glowing nock was like a beacon moving through the grass. Even though the bird was out of sight, I could see the glowing nock, clear as day. The bright pink nock traveled for about 10 yards and stopped. After a minute I threw both hands in the air, doing my best Fred Eichler imitation. I then ran down the hill like a little kid and recovered my prize.
This was my first tom of the season and I couldn’t be happier.
So it just goes to show you that it’s better to be lucky, than good.