Illinois hunting and fishing

Tales from the Timber: Wetherington

January 27, 2009 at 01:05 AM

EDITOR’S NOTE: The picture of the author above is from a hunt two seasons ago and is not the turkey in this story. We just wanted to make sure you could put a hunter’s face with his story.

It was the perfect early fall day. The hillsides were dotted with brilliant yellows and reds. The oaks and maples were just starting to turn. The smell of fresh picked corn and beans filled the air. A southerly breeze was light and steady, with the temperature in the mid fifties. The 50-mile drive up the river was never more enjoyable.

I climbed the tree and looked at my watch: 4:28 p.m. I hung up my bow and nocked an arrow. My outer layers were in the pack, as it was a long uphill walk. I pulled everything out of my backpack and put in its places. As I was hanging the binocs, I caught movement to my right.Turkeys!

There were three in the food plot and a bunch behind them. I was standing on the platform with a dark green liner shirt. No camo, head net, gloves, hat, or most importantly no release. I start to move as slow and steady as a big old guy can. The birds were moving toward me, feeding on the oats we planted just a few weeks prior. I got the release out of my pocket and wrapped it around my hand. I went to attach to the loop, and missed. Three times! Yes, the heart rate was increasing rapidly.

Finally I got the release set and picked the bow off of the nail. As I drew, the biggest jake busted me. He headed back to the woods, taking the rest of the boys with him. I anchored the 20-yard pin on the closet bird. As he turned away, I had a great shot at his spine. I pulled the trigger and the resounding whack told me I had hit the mark. The bird started flapping, and I reached for another arrow. No need. He didn’t go but a few feet, and died in seconds.

One of his siblings thought this would be a good time to pay him back for the bullying he had experienced. He postured in a large circle all around the downed bird. Finally got brave enough, gave him a peck to the head and the a good swat with his wings. Satisfied he was now the king of the hill, he followed the flock that had made their way back into the brush.

I sat down, and looked at the watch. 4:32. Wow, did that happen fast

I couldn’t decide whether or not to move the bird out of the food plot. Not wanting to spook any deer that may have been close, I chose to leave him there. From this stand, most of the deer enter the field from my left. The turkey lay down in a small ditch to my right and I didn’t think they would see him.

As usually happens, I figured wrong. An hour later, eight does began filtering into the field from the wrong direction. The first one that got 30 yards from the jake started stomping and snorting. Really wish I had moved that guy. The does stayed in the field and raised hell for 20 minutes. At dusk they finally decided to end my wildlife exhibition and go to the neighbors.

As I threw the bird over my shoulder for the long walk back to the truck, the owls lit up the night with haunting hoots, screams, and eerie laughter.

Jupiter and Mars shone bright in the sky, as the last hint of daylight left the western sky.

After calling to register the kill and changing my cloths, I looked up to see the stars coming alive. Orion the hunter was the first constellation to catch my eye.

What a way to end the day.

Illinois hunting and fishing