With the 2020 Kansas Turkey season in the “wings” and possibly in effect by the time you read this, my mind goes to “tales” of turkey hunts past.
I’m not a die-hard turkey hunter by any means, but I’ve had some interesting encounters while sitting in a turkey blind.
The favorite memory has to be the hunt that earned my wife Joyce her fist Kansas wild turkey.
It was 15 plus years ago and we were both still working full time, so hunts were evening and weekend affairs.
We’d gotten permission to hunt a small property northwest of Inman, owned by a well-known local guy, Lavern “Curley” Neufeldt. Directly behind Curley’s house was a thicket of a few acres that hadn’t been maintained much for years and was fairly thick and overgrown.
A small band of turkeys roosted in that thicket every year, and roamed the surrounding farmland by day.
This particular year, the thicket was surrounded by new wheat on two sides and on the third side by a fence that was the property line. We discovered that the turkeys would cross the open crop land and follow the boundary fence back to the thicket each evening, so in late afternoon we would set up in the corner behind the thicket and along the fence.
On one of our first attempts, we sat on camp stools in a patch of weeds just across the fence on the neighbor’s property. I think the turkeys stood us up that evening, but as we sat there, Joyce suddenly began to nudge me, and as I followed her eyes forward, a bobcat sat just feet away from her on the other side of the weed patch, evidently trying to figure us out before it turned and nonchalantly sauntered off.
As I recall, that unexpected and wondrous encounter ended the evening’s hunt.
A few evenings later, we were back and put up our hunting blind in that same corner, but in the wheat field. I don’t think we owned any decoys yet, so we were counting on my feeble calling abilities to supplement the fact that the turkeys usually took this route home each evening anyway.
Every 15 minutes or so as we sat in the hot blind, I’d try to get the box call in my hands to mimic the sounds of some poor, lonely hen in the brush behind us.
After a while, the band of turkeys appeared across the field heading our direction. Binoculars showed several young jakes (one-year old toms) at the front of the pack, and the closer they got, the faster the jakes seemed to go, evidently hoping to score a date with the hen they heard before the elder toms caught-up.
Closer and closer they came until they were well within range of her 20 gauge, but Joyce just sat there as if waiting for some sort of signal. I began to motion violently to her and asked her with muted words what the thunder she was waiting for. Turns out, her seat was low enough and the turkey were so close that she couldn’t even see them.
Once my contortions conveyed the fact that they were right outside, she quietly stood, eased the shotgun barrel out the window and the 20-gauge dropped one of the fella’s before he knew what hit him. After some high-fives and the usual exuberance and celebration that goes along with a hunter’s first harvest, we collected her prize, folded up our blind and headed home.
As the evening wore on, Joyce began to complain about her right shoulder, where the butt of her shotgun rested, was exceptionally sore. I thought nothing of it at first, figuring that was normal because we are not seasoned shotgunners.
But after a while as her shoulder seemed to get progressively sorer, we rolled up her right sleeve and found a huge bruise lower on her arm just below the shoulder.
Evidently when she took the standing shot, leaning slightly toward the window of the blind, the butt of her shotgun slid down below her shoulder and gave her a wallop she’ll never forget, along with her first Kansas turkey.
Take someone turkey hunting this year and make memories of your own…Continue to Explore Kansas Outdoor.
Steve can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org