The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


May 5, 2012

Ken Maurer's Outdoors column: Turkey tales

SUNBURY — You never know what is going to happen when you go hunting or fishing. I’ve had my share or more of weird experiences and this spring gobbler season was no exception.

My first day was very slow. Several hours into it, I heard only a couple distant shots and no gobbles. After hitting several spots with no responses, I decided to sit tight at a spot where turkeys like to travel through.

If they don’t want to talk, I intended on staying relatively quiet, too. Every 10 or 15 minutes, a couple quiet clucks sometimes works when they aren’t talkative. About 45 minutes into this, I heard something coming ... deer coming fast.

Through the brush, I saw a light-colored animal was chasing them. I got my gun ready, hoping to end the career of a deer-eating coyote. They were going to pass by at 15 yards.

Just as they cleared the brush, the two deer stopped and looked back. I shouldered the shotgun and thought, why would they stop if a coyote was chasing them? Then, the culprit rounded the corner.

It was a sheep!

The sheep wandered up to the deer, trying to befriend them. The one deer wanted nothing to do with it and took off, practically running me over. The other deer leaned out and tried to sniff the sheep without getting too close. It decided it didn’t like what it smelled and took off right at me, the sheep right on its heels.

I made a half-hearted attempt at grabbing the sheep as it went by, which did nothing more than intensify the sheep’s determination to follow the deer. When it got quiet, I sat there thinking, did this really happen?

They ended up running around me several more times to the point where I left. All the ruckus they were making wasn’t helping my turkey hunting. Before I left, I heard the sheep baaahing, so I baaahed back. I actually called it to within about 10 feet, but not close enough to catch. Weird morning.

Later in the week, I hit a morning where the woods were live with gobbling. I had several jakes going nuts and eventually they came in, along with a decent-sized gobbler. But they saw something they didn’t like and drifted off.

I had heard the gobble of a bigger bird, and I wasn’t sure if it was the larger bird with the jakes or another bigger gobbler. I decided to wait. I figured a couple soft clucks on the slate now and then would be about enough.

Twenty minutes later, a black-and-red shape slithered through the distant trees. At forty-five yards, he stopped, stretched his head up and looked right at me. Something was definitely wrong with my setup. Close enough though, and I pulled the trigger.

It was indeed a different bird. He was just under 19 1/2 pounds with a 10-inch beard and 7/8-inch spurs. There are bigger birds out there, but this one made my day.

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