Tod's Blog

Adventures with family & friends and other things I'm passionate about…

Sex Education in the Woods

Posted by todblog on April 14, 2006

April 14, 2006

This past Saturday and Sunday (April 8 & 9, 2006) was Oregon’s first year where youths (<17 yrs old) could hunt turkeys one weekend in advance of the regular season opener. To the Department of Fish & Wildlife it was an opportunity to provide youngsters a positive experience while turkey hunting. For me, it was another opportunity to forge some memories with a son growing up way too fast. With each passing year it seems there are more activities competing for his limited time and our window of opportunity to spend time with each other continues to shrink. I can’t imagine what our time together will be like in a few years when he “discovers” girls. So, we planned a quick Friday afternoon departure from town to get a jump start on the weekend youth hunt the next morning. I knew as long as we were together in the woods we’d have a great time together but, I really hoped the hunt would be a memorable lesson in the birds and the bees…

Friday night found us pulling into an unimproved campsite in a nearby forest east of Roseburg. After catching a glimpse of an elk slipping out of view from our campsite, we unpacked and did our best to play “survivor man”. With a minimum of help from modern technology, we soon had a crackling fire going and we sat down to a meal of ramen noodles with eggs and char siu. We crawled into our toasty sleeping bags in the camper shell of the pickup truck and thanked God for the beauty that blanketed us that evening. As our eyes stole a final peek of the twinkling stars, we were serenaded by the monotonous chorus of croaking frogs, all night long.

The next morning arrived at 5am and Jacob said he didn’ t sleep very well because of the “big loud frog” in the sleeping bag next to him. I didn’t recall any of it. Although tired, there was a renewed sense of excitement and anticipation, and that was even before the first cup of instant latte.
We downed a couple of pop tarts, coffee and juice, and frosted mini wheats. In a few more minutes we broke camp and headed to our hunting spot. We didn’t know what to expect and hoped to at least find some turkey sign in the woods. I secretly hoped to at least have a tom turkey gobble back at us.

We walked in from our parking spot at about 6:30am. The forest road was covered with tracks and scat from deer, bobcat, elk, and an assortment of small mammals. Every couple of hundred yards we found ourselves stopped and straining to hear any turkey talk in the woods. After a few minutes of listening, I’d let out a few yelps to let ol tom know we were in the area and very lovesick for his company. After about a mile into our walk, we began to see turkey droppings on the road and they were fairly fresh too. We stopped and tried to call again. This time we got a gobble! We finally made contact with Mr. Turkey! He sounded about 1/4 mile away and he was excited as he kept gobbling at us.

We slipped in another 100 yards closer and tried some soft hen calls. He came right back at us with multiple gobbles. They were loud and then muffled and loud again. He sounded like he was close then far then close again. I told Jacob he was likely fanned out and puffed up strutting in an open area turning around and around waiting for us to come to him. We thought we could move up closer to him and try again.

We quickly shaved off another 200 yards and sat down against some trees. Jacob was off to my left and slightly in front of me where I could watch him. Jacob let out some soft purrs from his box call and Mr. Turkey interrupted him with double and triple gobbles. He was close but, still out of sight. We called to him with a variety of calls and he wouldn’t budge. He was just strutting somewhere over a hill and didn’t want to come visit us. I switched over to a glass slate call and gave it a few pops with the striker, again he responded. We decided to shut up and wait a while. After an eternity of 5 minutes of silence, I scratched out a series of clucks and yelps. Again, Mr. Turkey gobbled his head off and this time it sounded a little bit closer. I told Jacob to get ready…he’s coming. We gave him more silence.

After a few minutes we saw something white moving through the bushes. It was Mr. Turkey’s head bobbing around looking for a lonesome hen he’d been hearing (us). He was probably about 60 yards away and slowly working his way to us. I gave him another soft yelp and he instantly gobbled and went into strut again. It was cool to see him show up and display even though it was only a partial glimpse through scattered brush. We gave him more silence and he came out of strut and started walking toward us again. At 30 yards he stepped into an opening and stopped to look us over. The two dark clumps against the trees didn’t look quite right to him and his head and neck popped straight up for an alert “deer in the headlights” look. It was the perfect target and Jacob knew it was time to close the deal. Jacob touched off his 20 gauge shotgun and immediately, there was the sound of flapping wings as turkeys launched up into the treetops around us. As the smoke cleared, we could see Mr. Tom on the ground and a bunch of hens and jakes sending out alarm putts from the treetops. It became very apparent why Mr. Turkey was reluctant to come see us right away as he already had some girl friends with him. It was an opportune time for the lesson I wanted Jacob to learn…

“Don’t be a turkey and lose your head over girls”


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