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We watched the ground fog roll out its shallow veil as moonlight slowly surrendered to hues of orange and gold, a bold welcome back to our turkey woods. I knew the span between my setup and the roost was a bit more than I would have hoped but I was optimistic; they generally filed through the area around mid-morning so we settled in for a long wait, calling every so often while also stuffing our faces with the type of snacks only meant for down and dirty, daddy and son hunting camps.
“Daddy, I thought we weren’t supposed to eat when we hunt.”
“You’re right, but if we’re really careful we can eat snacks when we hunt turkeys, they can’t smell well at all.” His inquisitive look melted into a smile I won’t soon forget; chocolate covered three of his front teeth. Looking at him that morning I remembered something he tells me quite often, “Two’s company, daddy!”
Turkey hunting offers all of us more than just another season afield; it offers a rebirth, if you will, of relationships meant to flourish as you sit side by side watching golden rays sweep across endless fields or slumbering woodlands. It’s a chance to reconnect with old friends, make new ones and tell tall tales of 13-inch beards and limb-hanging spurs! It’s a chance to introduce the next generation to our great outdoors without the individuality associated with big game hunting where more often than not you hunt alone, at least at a different location than your buddy hundreds, perhaps thousands of yards away; even if you do hunt together, eating and lack of scent control often gets you kicked out of that buddy-club.
Turkeys possess a couple of keen senses while others are inherently flawed. A turkey's sense of smell is negligible; a perfect complement to my hunting style; I'm a snacker. They also don't hear as well as a lot of other prey we chase through the woods. The absence of earlobes or “cups” around their ear holes also presents a major challenge; turkeys have some difficulty determining the direction of sounds. This results in a perfect combination for social hunting, at a whisper, were some of the greatest memories are made while building the closest of relationships, especially with your kids.
Flawed hearing also affords a strategic opportunity to improve your odds against even the most challenging toms; setup up with the caller as much as 20 yards behind the shooter. More than once, hens filed past me giving me the shot I needed to anchor an old tom waiting at the rear of the pack. Depending on your setup and the direction of travel noted while scouting, another great strategy in this same line of teamwork and thinking is to have your caller setup to your side so turkeys responding to calls travel past your setup; this makes for a perfect ambush. I’ve had success with both scenarios. In both situations, as the shooter I maintained my position not more than five yards inside the tree line and in a dark, shaded area with decoys in front of or just past my position, about 10 yards outside of the tree line.
More than friendships and strategies, hunting in pairs also promotes safety. Whether it’s a snakebite, losing your way or blindly walking into trip hazards; your buddy, your spouse or your child… may quickly become your lifeline. Like turkey hunting in teams, outdoor survival, navigation and first aid is always best when you’re not alone. Teams make good safety sense no matter how you “chalk your call.”
At the end of the day, I’m reminded of the adage, “Fine wine gets better with age.”
As a young hunter I learned success was measured in going it alone and coming out on top. Now, my success is measured in the number of chocolate covered teeth I count in a little boy’s smile while we wait in the solace of our turkey woods. Reflecting on the lesson’s I’ve taught him, I am amused by the fact he taught me one single lesson more purposeful than countless others combined — Two’s company.
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