In Hunting

Judy was taking a break from Spring flower work, seated on a swing on the north side of our lawn and on the west side of our garage. I was working on a new treestand practice shooting platform in the pines on the south side of our lawn.

We were both out of sight of the birds. I had the camera, stashed in the UTV.

We were both doing our domestic jobs (Judy) and outdoor prep work (me) when the noisiest, largest bird either of us had seen for a while flapped down between us and made a running, wing-flapping landing on the lawn. It landed squarely between us, startling both of us. With a few running steps and with wings tucked, whatever had landed suddenly looked like a turkey. It no longer was some feathered, unearthly being suddenly falling out of the sky.

That turkey was quickly followed, in two and threes, and on the ground, by 18 more turkeys pouring out of our shrubbery on the berm on the east side of the lawn. The leaders ran a few quick steps down off the berm but remained strung out as they slowed to a walk. More birds followed, in twos and threes.

The quick-stepping parade continued across the lawn. I hustled to my camera, uncased it and took four quick snaps. I tried to look through the viewfinder and count turkeys at the same time. Couldn’t do it. My guess was ‘more than 15’.

Then I saw the two long-beards at the end of the string of birds. The were worth a couple of quick clicks. I took them but wasn’t sure what I had on the camera. The birds were moving steadily past trees.

It was great seeing the bunch of birds again. They were later than on previous years’ appearances. They usually came from the west and filtered onto our lawn.

On the plus side, there were more birds this time — 15 hens, two jakes and two long-beards. Judy counted them when they streamed past her in loose procession.

They had crossed the double-lane road east of our lawn. They must have been on the run, and there must have been a break in traffic. I heard no brakes squealing or tires sliding.

Judy could see the procession move west of our small pines and onto a plowed field, then swing toward a grassy lane on the north side of our property. A couple of birds swung south along the creek but most lined out on the lane and followed it west to more brush and trees. Soon they were out of sight.

One other thing: I have a turkey permit for this area. It is for the first week of season. The hunting blind goes up soon.

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