I have pursued these wonderful birds for exactly five decades. I'm able to recall almost every successful hunt.
I also can remember many moments when my aim with shotgun or bow was, well, in error. A fast-beating heart and nervous excitement will do that. And that's good. Any hunter who is calm and calculated while in the presence of a tom turkey oughta quit and take up dominoes.
When I figured I was a real turkey hunting pro with a shotgun, I decided my next gobbler would fall to a well-placed broadhead. That meant enticing a sharp-eyed gobbler to within bow range, which for me was less than 30 yards.
Season after season I was determined to succeed only to fail. I was hunting without a blind, which meant as the bird approached I had to draw the bow. Wild turkeys rarely miss seeing anything unusual that moves. When my arm pulled the string, the turkey moved, too. Or more accurately, ran.
I was zero-for-dozens of hunts when one afternoon I used a portable blind and positioned it on a ridge top. I staked a hen turkey decoy about 15 yards away and "yelped" seductively. A gobbler answered.
Now able to move undetected in the blind, I carefully drew the bow and let an arrow fly. This time my aim was true (I remember being surprised about that, too).
The big gobbler flopped momentarily — and then out of nowhere another gobbler rushed to the fallen bird, leaped on its back and pecked on its head until my bird was lifeless.
A pecking order does indeed exist in the lives of wild turkeys, and this new boss gobbler would dominate the mating game in these parts from now on.
The old boss … well, he was coming home with me.