Previously, I had been calling raucously with hopes of inciting the Tom into charging forward. That often works on a sunny, spring day, but I knew the birds would be quieter than usual in the life-threatening weather. To match the gloomy mood, I would use subtle flock talk to let the turkeys know other birds were sharing their pain. To ensure we would be within hearing range of the birds, I planned to set up on a steep, pine-choked slope the turkeys passed through several times a day.
Arriving late due to the storm’s ferocity, I spied the flock through the snowflakes. They were already feeding in the valley’s at the forest’s edge. We donned snow camouflage, ducked into a side canyon, and eased up the hill to intercept the birds. Once in place, we scrunched under the pines, sitting on pads to keep our rumps warm and dry. We awaited developments.
After two hours, I thought two things: I’m nearly frozen and I think I heard a hen yelp. Only then did I pull my hands from warm pockets to work the first calls of the day. My message was brief and to the point: “Where are you? Can we join you?” My short series of yelps, soft and questioning, lasted less than 30 seconds. A hen answered softly from below followed by a stifled gobble. I waited another five minutes or so and repeated the cadence, which received the same stifled gobble, but this time much closer to our position. Perhaps our two-hour vigil was about to pay off.
Here They Come