John’s Note: The Wesner Ranch/Double E Outdoors in Reydon, Oklahoma, with holdings in both Texas and Oklahoma, homes plenty of turkeys, as well as a wealth of history.
The turkey hunt wasn’t going well on my last morning at the Wesner Ranch/Double E Outdoors’ Texas lands.
We had seen plenty of turkeys, but most of them were henned-up or in places where we couldn’t get to without them seeing us. We went to another section of the Wesner Ranch and spotted a big longbeard gobbler with two hens headed toward an old homeplace. “Some folks lived there for a while, but then moved away,” Chauncey Wesner explained. “I don’t believe they took anything with them; they just abandoned the house and the outbuildings. I’ve set up here before to take turkeys by hiding in the old chicken coop behind the house. But we need to see which way those gobblers are going before we decide where to set up.”
We drove past the turkeys and hid the truck about two blocks’ distance from where we’d seen the gobblers. Then we maneuvered behind cedar trees and brush to relocate the turkeys. But the birds apparently had been raptured, because we never saw them again. Next, we went close to a feeding site where Chauncey before had seen a longbeard gobbler. We set-up in a clump of trees in the pasture and called to the gobbler that was inside the woodline 100-yards away. “I’m afraid that gobbler may have left here,” Chauncey said. “When I saw him, he had a group of hens and was moving away.” Because it was so late in the morning, we decided to return to camp, eat brunch and then head to another place for the final afternoon.
When I asked Chauncey where we’d hunt that afternoon, he smiled and announced, “We’re going to that place where you missed the gobbler the first morning we hunted together.” You notice I waited until the last day before I mentioned missing a turkey on the first day. In an attempt to be an honest journalist, I guess I need to confess and tell you exactly what happened. Chauncey and I had set up in a place where he had seen turkeys travelling before, and we saw three hens and a longbeard gobbler. Chauncey called to them, and they came to us like he had them on a kite string. One hen was less than 15 steps from us, and I assumed the gobbler would walk the same route. But when he stepped out of the brush, he did it further away from us than the hen had. We could tell he was a little uncomfortable, because he picked up the pace just before getting in front of my gun barrel.
I made a rookie mistake, although I’ve been hunting turkeys 40+ years.
The sights on my Mossy Oak camouflaged Mossberg 930 (http://www.mossberg.com) turkey shotgun were set-up like a traffic light with two green fiber-optics on the back sight and a red fiber-optic on the front sight. When I sighted the gun in, I did it so the front red sight needed to be right in the middle of the two green lights on the rear.
However, when I saw the turkey coming in to my sight picture and moving more quickly, I saw the two green lights and the red light between them and fired, completely missing the tom, while he was in a wide open spot. No turkey hunter ever likes to admit that it was his fault he missed a turkey. But, an honest turkey hunter who’s had several years of experience has missed at least one turkey at some time in his hunting career.
As soon as the turkey left, Chauncey was the perfect gentleman. He didn’t say, “I can’t believe you missed that turkey.” That’s what I said to myself. He didn’t say, “I can’t believe you missed that gobbler in the wide open without even a leaf to deflect your shot,” which I also said to myself. Neither did he say, “We’ve been working hard all morning to get you a shot, and you finally get the shot and blow it.” Once again, my subconscious was reminding me of that. All Chauncey did was smile and say, “I saw where the pattern hit, and I think you shot a little high.” As I replayed the shot in my mind, I knew exactly what I’d done wrong. When I’d lined up the rear sight with the front bead, instead of making sure I had the red dot squarely between the two green dots, I had the red bead just above the green dots and missed. The honest answer was hunter malfunction.
The second time I had the opportunity to take a gobbler, I was well aware of the sighting mistake I had made.
I made sure to sight correctly before I squeezed the trigger this time. On this last day of my stay at the Wesner Ranch, we were returning to the scene of my miss. However, Chauncey said we’d take another stand in a different place and see if a gobbler would come in again. We walked quickly and quietly to a cluster of cedar trees near a clearing. Hens and super jakes began to appear just before nightfall. A super jake is a 1-1/2 year old gobbler that probably has hatched early in the breeding season. They have about 4-inch beards and round fans of tail feathers when they strut, drum and gobble.
From all indications, they appear to be mature 2 year old gobblers, except for those short beards and short spurs. Finally, we heard a turkey gobble. When the bird came in, I looked him squarely in the eye and felt deep down in my soul that this was the gobbler I’d missed on the first morning of the hunt. I let the bird come in close and start to feed. I got a perfect sight alignment, let out a little air and slowly squeezed the trigger. I watched my nemesis collapse, ending one of the greatest turkey hunts of my life. It wasn’t just because I took two birds in 4 days, but because of all I had seen, experienced and learned while hunting in Texas and Oklahoma on the Wesner Ranch with Double E Outdoors.
For more information on hunting with the Wesners, go to www.doubleeoutdoors.com, or call 806-565-4679.
To learn more about turkey hunting, get John E. Phillips’ new eBook “How to Hunt Turkeys with World Champion Preston Pittman.” Click here to get this book.
About the Author
John Phillips, winner of the 2012 Homer Circle Fishing Award for outstanding fishing writer by the American Sportfishing Association (AMA) and the Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA), the 2008 Crossbow Communicator of the year and the 2007 Legendary Communicator chosen for induction into the National Fresh Water Hall of Fame, is a freelance writer (over 6,000 magazine articles for about 100 magazines and several thousand newspaper columns published), magazine editor, photographer for print media as well as industry catalogues (over 25,000 photos published), lecturer, outdoor consultant, marketing consultant, book author and daily internet content provider with an overview of the outdoors.