By Gary Gilchrist
Pop and I sat against an intertwined oak and hackberry. The turkey kept gobbling and moving back and forth about one hundred yards out. Then he would move almost out of hearing. I would call and he would come back in and do the same thing. I tried my gobble call to make him jealous. This fired him up, but he would not come in. We were sitting on Hollow Log Ridge. A bottom of cut over ran along the edge of the ridge. I told Pop to move over to the cut over and up about eighty yards. He agreed, so the next time the bird moved off, he moved up. We had him now.
My father a WWII veteran and lifelong hunter, is now eighty-eighty years old. He landed on Normandy Beach a few days after d-day. The beach was still strewed with bodies. From there he moved on up through France into Germany. He saw the horror of the concentration camps. Till this day, he still doesn’t like to talk about it. When Pop retired, he was Lockmaster of the Port Allen, Plaquemine, and Bayou Sorrel locks. These locks controlled all towboat traffic from the Mississippi river into the intracoastal canal. He wrote a book titled THE WAY IT WAS. It is about rural life in southern Louisiana during the Great Depression. He gave up hunting at age eighty-six. He still has an acre garden and enjoys growing and giving away fresh fruits and vegetables to family, friends and neighbors.
Pop and I hunted together since I could walk, mostly deer hunting with dogs in the swamp. We had no radios or cell phones so when I became old enough to venture on my own; we devised a signal system to communicate. One whoop= OK; two=Answer me or where are you? ; Three= Come to me; and four means a kill. Now, while pop was in his seventies he lost his ability to course sounds. He could hear some, but could not tell which direction it was coming from. That’s why we always set up on the same tree so I could point him in the right direction.
We had hunted this bird several times before during this season. We had even seen him a few times from a distance. He always did the same thing. He would move back and forth and up and down the ridge but would not come in. This time I had him figured out. He was good as dead. He might as well lie down and give up. He had met his match…… I had a big surprise coming.
When the bird had moved to his further most point out, Pop moved up the cut just over out of my sight and set up. I began cutting with a mouth call. “Old Triple”, that is what we named him, answered with a double gobble and moved in. I cut at him again and he went nuts. He started triple gobbling and coming in fast. When he got to Pop he was still triple gobbling. I sat and grinned anticipating Pops three inch magnum booming. What the!!!!!!! He shut up and at the same time Pop was walking toward me????
“What happened?” I said, knowing that the bird was close enough to have seen Pop walking toward me.
“Well, you kept calling me three times with your gobble call, so I figured I’d better get over here.”
It took a few days to get over that one. I learned it ain’t over till the turkey says it is. Four days later we decided to try him one last time. We launched our boat into Grand River well before daylight. I cranked the outboard and we headed up the dark bayou with the seal beams cutting into the dark. I had serious doubts about Old Triple falling for the same trick or even if he was still on the same ridge. Well, I hatched all kinds of plans, but I knew he would be around next year because we had blown our one shot at him.
I eased the boat into Bulltail Bayou and up to the mouth of Lil Farmer slough. In the predawn darkness Pop tied the boat to a tree and I passed him the guns and vests. We snuck in on the ridge before daylight. Old Triple let loose with a tree yell. Pop said “listen listen”, my heart fell. He was roosted on the opposite side of the cut over by Bulltail about three hundred yards away. He wasn’t a hundred yards from the boat. He had to have heard us land and get out the boat. I told Pop I didn’t think he would come through the cut over, neither would he go around it nor pass right by the boat. We set up on the ridge by a big oak and lit the Thermocells. He was still gobbling in the tree. Pop was having trouble with his facemask causing his glasses to fog up. Finally he just took the mask off. We didn’t think we would see anything anyway. It was getting light enough to see. I gave him a soft call with a mouth call. He went nuts again, He was gobbling every breath. Pop and I started laughing. I gave him another call. HUH???? He flew into the decoys and started strutting. He just glided in. I saw him gliding over the cutover and into the decoys. It was awesome. Pop could not see him glide in or on the ground. There was a tree blocking his view.
”He’s here! He’s here!” I whispered to Pop. He shifted slightly and his Remington was in position.
“Where? Where? I can’t see him.” About that time he walked out where he could see him. Pop’s three inch boomed and Old Triple was done. He flipped over into a hole of water and had water flying. A wet turkey ain’t pretty, but we thought he was the best looking one we had ever seen. What a hunt. Ten minutes from start to finish. Pop and I were high fiving and congratulating each other as we headed back to the boat. There ain’t nothing to this turkey hunting.