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Dick Ellis Blog:
10/9/2019
Fall brings with it something for everyone in the field from the angler to the hunter.  Just a few recent sessions of shooting the bull tell me that autumn is for the youngest of outdoorsman just learning the games to those of us more seasoned with our eyes focused dead ahead on for example, the whitetail rut. James Wallace captured this great buck on trail camera during summer scouting. James Wallace, my nephew-in-law (is there such a ...
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Predicaments: Bazooka Bird

Randy Williams

Jeff and I were going turkey hunting early one morning. It was the spring turkey season in Central Wisconsin.

As we parked at the edge of our hunting field, a heavy rain pelted the truck. We unloaded the gear and trudged across that slippery muddy field into the deluge.  Often a rain like this would dampen your spirits, however I was too excited to let this rainstorm bother me.

Steve, the best Turkey Guru east of the Mississippi River, had scouted this field often, including yesterday. He assured us we would be covered in turkeys this morning especially if we did something that was unusual - at least unusual for me.  He had hunted in that blind using decoys a few days before and discovered that the turkeys skirted around him and out of shotgun range. He correctly surmised that these birds were decoy shy. He told us to leave our turkey decoys at home.

 Bazooka Bird

After the long downhill walk across the slick field, we arrived at our hunting spot and found our turkey tent in the middle of a huge puddle of water. I was thinking the worst. We would not be able to hunt at our spot and would probably be stumbling around in the dark trying to find a dry place to hunt. But remember, even though Steve could not hunt that morning, he was watching out for us. He had checked the weather and anticipated the possibility of a puddle at our spot. We decided to check out the tent anyway. We sloshed across the water fumbling into the tent with all our gear. We were delighted to discover that Steve had the forethought to place a big heavy-duty mat under our tent the night before. It took a few minutes of scuffling around in the dark to set up the chairs, arrange the turkey calls, and adjust the camera. Steve’s mat kept the chair’s legs from oozing into the mud and that kept our butts out of the ever-growing puddle.

     It is also important to arrange the tent windows so some are open enough to shoot through but not so wide as to allow the turkeys to see you. We hoped the turkeys would stay in their usual pattern and enter the field from the thick wooded roosting area on our left. We adjusted the tent windows for that scenario.

     Jeff settled in his chair but because of his early wake up, along with the mesmerizing sound of rain caroming off our tent, Jeff fell asleep.

     I double-checked everything and felt things were just about ready. (As if being ready for everything could actually happen while turkey hunting.)  Because of the overcast sky it was baley light, but after another watch check, shooting time was now only15 seconds away.

With the pounding rain it was noisy in the tent, but I thought I heard the sound of a bird landing just outside. It was hard to hear and also hard to believe a turkey could have made that noise. The season would be open in just a few seconds. Could it really have been a turkey already? As stated before, we had anticipated that if a turkey showed he would come in from the left. I peered out of the open window to the left, no bird. I had the same result after a glance out of the front window. There was however, a tiny hole to the right where the window flap was almost completely closed. I peered out of that small hole and got an adrenalin rush. There was not one, but three big long beard turkeys on the edge of the puddle just outside of the tent. 

It was time to try and figure out a plan to pull off this shot. I managed to discreetly wake up Jeff because he should be in on the plan. With the birds that close, there was no way we could adjust the window flap to make it big enough to accommodate a gun and a camera. Surely, those keen turkey eyes would see the movement and spook. This meant we had to manage a camera and a gun without adjusting that small opening.  The usual technique of holding the gunstock to my shoulder did not work because my head, when aiming down the sightes, blocked the tent opening Jeff needed for his camera.

    Bazooka Bird  My next move was not the smartest move of the year. Fortunately or unfortunately, Jeff  (who was intently looking through the viewfinder of the video camera) could not see the foolish plan I was contemplating. I actually placed the stock of the shotgun (which was loaded with 3½ inch magnum turkey loads) on top of my shoulder, bazooka style. Then, with my head slightly off to the side, I estimated the sight bead of the gun barrel at the turkey’s neck. Strangely the thought of Tweety Bird from Warner Brothers cartoons now came into my consciousness. Tweety Bird would say “If I dood it I’ll get a wippin.” Well after a bit of angst Jeff finally got the camera focused on the birds and not the back of my head. When he said he had the bird in focus, “I dood it” and pulled the trigger. Wow did that hurt. The gun barrel reared back, hitting me in the face, and the butt of the stock, much to his surprise, slammed hard into Jeff’s shoulder. The shotgun recoil knocked us both off our chairs and into the puddle of water we were sitting over.

After recovering from the sting of my stupidity, we slowly got back up out of the puddle, and peered out of that tiny hole. Believe it or not, we saw a turkey flopping on the ground. Jeff had filmed the turkey shot along with the inside of the turkey tent he inadvertently filmed while lying on his back in the puddle. We gathered up our supplies, the soggy turkey, and then headed back to the truck.

After registering the bird, we were eating breakfast in a restaurant by 6:00 a.m.  While drip-drying at the table, I held ice on my swollen cheek and Jeff rubbed his sore shoulder. Jeff had that Laurel and Hardy look on his face as if to say, “ This is another fine mess you’ve gotten us into”. 

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Want to read more stories like this? Predicaments: Mostly True Hunting and Fishing Stories can be purchased at www.amazon.com , print and digital editions are available. Print copies can also be purchased at Johnny’s shop of Bait in New London WI.

Randy Williams lives in New London, WI. He has a degree in conservation, is a fishing guide, and a taxidermist. He has won over 40 fishing tournaments and spent 5 years as a co-host on an outdoor TV fishing and hunting show called No Excuses Outdoors. He has been an outdoor columnist for the Waupaca county Post and recently published a book called Predicaments:Mostly True Hunting and Fishing Stories. He now enjoys hunting and fishing full time after retiring from teaching. To watch videos of his adventures visit www.wilfish.com