When i first moved to the mountain it was an empty place. Bob Meadows was here, as was GeneB, a rental couple on the Parker property, Ray Gilkey and myself. On each side of a big stretch of road it was nothing but overgrown fields and hardwoods. Turkeys and deer were everywhere. Nowadays it's not quite suburbia, but it is inhabited. 10 or more houses now sit where there once were none. Both the game and I have adapted. As the hood sleeps soundly, I creep around listening for a gobble in the pre-dawn, wondering how I'll get a shot off without striking a BMW or waking a snoozing baby.
About a week ago I was driving past the new houses when I spied a hen down behind "The Russians". I slowed the truck down and to my delight there stood a beautiful big tom in full strut. I turned around, grabbed my gun, and snuck into the woods behind my house. If I played my cards right I could call that bird into the woods (off the Russian's property) and get a shot. I got him going, but his gobbles faded in the distance as he walked away. This was a smart bird.
For the past week this tom has been my obsession. I named him Putin. I love turkey and deer hunting in general. But hunting one big buck or one big tom is pure bliss. Between the weather and work I haven't had the time that I really need to get a shot at Putin. But alas, yesterday the job ended and today the weather cleared to a hot, clear 80 degrees. I was up at 4:00 am and in the woods by 4:45 am. Putin was roosting over on RNButch's property. By 5:30am he was on the ground, following 3 hens. I'd call and he'd answer, but with his harem in sight, he wouldn't commit. Then, as he was still gobbling, 5 jakes appeared on the horizon. I'd let plenty of jakes walk early in the season, hoping for a long beard. Now church was coming up, and the congregation needed meat. A bird in the sights...... as they say. When the lead jake presented himself, I squeezed the trigger. He went down in a heap.
As the morning progressed I had Putin gobbling in front of my gun barrel 5 times. Each time he'd either hang up and walk away or remain tauntingly just out of range. By 10 am I had him pegged, just over a rise, gobbling his head off. Then he shut up, spun and moved to a big field. I could see him standing there. I scratched the leaves, called sweetly, prayed.... Nothing worked. He was moving back to the Russian's. I quickly backtracked, walked the road and ducked in the woods alongside Tommy and Joe's. I was exhausted. At about 11:30am, eaten up by mosquitos, ticks, flies and ants, I leaned against a tree and closed my eyes. An ant woke me up marching up my arm. I slapped it and as I did I heard the "putt- putt-putt" locator call of a tom looking for a hen. I was flat on my back, my gun at my side and there stood Putin within range. I couldn't move until he ducked behind a tree. When he did, I raised the gun. When he stepped out I had him. You guessed it. He turned and walked over on Tommy and Joe's lawn, disappearing across the road, heading for the Russian's. Then the noon whistle blew, signaling the end of legal hunting time. I wanted to name this post SHOOTIN' PUTIN. But it was not to be. Putin will live to fuck another day.