Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.
Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.
I fumbled my way out of bed the other day at 4 AM.
Turning-on the coffee I assembled exactly two peanut butter sandwiches (with lettuce and mayonnaise), one hard-cooked egg, an orange and a bottle of water. Filling a small thermos with steaming joe I stuffed the flask, my breakfast and lunch along with a book into my backpack. Grabbing my trusty Mossberg turkey gun and a couple of shells I headed out in the dark. The previous afternoon I had stashed a duffel with decoys in a blind.
I had spring turkey on my mind and as per-usual prepared for a full day of hunting.
I got to thinking - This is nice.
The temperature is a balmy 42 degrees with a little bit of crunch to the frosty turf. The spring peepers were peeping. The woodcock are in full voice with their night sky aerobatics. The mallards down at the pond were quacking-up a storm. As I crossed the ancient culverts at the creek the sound of bubbling and tumbling water met my ear.
It's a half-mile walk to the blind and I strained that ear for the sound of turkeys staging as they came-off of their roost.
Fishing-about in my pack I pull out a owl call. I give it a couple of hoots to see if I can coax a gobbler into calling back.
Tucking the call in the cargo pocket of my trousers I trudge-along thinking - This is very unusual. The only gobbling going-on is way-off in the distance - perhaps a mile or more away . Have the turkeys gone missing? Or maybe gone silent? The spring peepers are deafening but it would require a bucket of them to make a meal.
Reaching my hide I place three foam decoys in the field in front of me. There is a strategy to this. A couple of hens with a juvenile male betwixt. The perfectly provocative array for an adult gobbler.
Feeling a tad hot - I shed the Gore-Tex® cammo jacket and settle-in to give a handful of yelps with my call.
Nary a gobble in return. I'm thinking - This is beyond unusual. What the heck is going on?
By 5:30 there is light enough for shooting. I give a couple of additional yelps.
I settle back for a little snooze and before too long awake with the chills. Pulling-on the previously discarded jacket I pour a cup of joe. Followed by another. Warmed, I perform my repertoire of the turkey love call about every 15 to 20 minutes.
Dozing-off again I'm startled from my slumber by a thunderous gobble behind me and over my right shoulder.
Thoroughly awakened by the adrenaline rush I peer to my right and am greeted by another round of gobbling. There is definitely a gobbler out of sight and to my immediate right.
Gun up. Safe off.
In keeping with the unusual; not one - but two - big gobblers sashay into view.
I give them a couple of soft come-hither purrs and they respond by strutting and pirouetting.
I'm thinking - Both of these love-starved bad boys are in range but they're too close together to take a shot without killing or wounding both. C'omon fellas - separate. A little distance please.
As if they read my mind the lead bird struts away from his bro. Drawing a bead on him I inhale, exhale and squeeze the trigger.
Amazingly, the second bird continues to strut his stuff for the foam ladies. This is unusual to the extreme.
Swapping the gun for the camera I take his picture.
Back to the ranch just after 9 AM and Jill greets me - Back so soon? You have a big smile on your face. Must've got a bird.
This was unusually easy. Nice bird too - 21 pounds, 9 inch beard and 1 inch spurs. Last year's hunt took four consecutive days of non-stop hunting. This year was a cake walk. Freak'n unusual.
Translation: I am doomed to be burdened with the turkey curse. I am steeling myself for a 2012 spring hunt of five days in the rain or a blizzard and no bird. It has happened like this before.
For now, Mr. Tom Turkey and one of his brethren are soaking in the brine bucket with the signature cure. Gonna fire-up the smoker today.
As I tap-out this post Braumeister is out there hunting. He spied some jakes (juvenile males) yesterday but is holding-out for a big Thanksgiving gobbler. Lawyer and Sid are on deck.
Can't wait to see how it plays-out for them.