Hunting Stories

The Bearded Hen

By: Kenny Presnell

The wife and I went on a hunting expedition the previous day for signs, any sign, of that old turkey gobbler we saw during deer season.

We had driven down 10, past the first bar pit, around the curve, to the white stobs, where I spotted the wild turkey that day Bert shot a nice 6-point. I stopped. Got out of “Bubba,” my Chevy Silverado 1500 Z71 4x4, with the turkey yapper between my lips.

"Yap, yap." Nothing. Try again. "Yap, yap, yap."

My hunch was right. I soon saw a rustle through the palmettos, then watched as a silver grey head bobbled into view.

It was too late during the day to settle the score. The evening sun was setting into the glowing pink sky. What was the saying? “Pink skies at night sailors’ delight; pink skies in the morning sailors take warning?” The wife and I headed back to camp.

The next day at the crack of dawn I was solo back on 10 where we spotted the turkey. Either the weather man was wrong or the old folk lore was wrong. The weather wasn’t looking good. It smelled like rain. I was thinking I’d see that ole gobbler, make a quick kill, and be out of there before the first rain drop fell. That was the plan.

I
put on my raincoat and wide brimmed camo hat. Then I positioned my decoy hen about 30 yards away and crouched behind the blind with my Benelli Super Black Eagle 2. I was ready. “Yapp, yapp, yapp,” I called.

Immediately, the gobbler and 2 hens flew down from the pines – in the opposite direction from where I was positioned! Before I could get turned around, the bottom fell out of the clouds. The rain poured down my face as I grabbed up the blind and hen decoy. I got back in the truck and rode the roads waiting for it to quit raining.

A pattern began to emerge. . . . .

The rain would stop.
I would get out of the truck.
I would yap my yapper.
The rain would start again.
I would get back in thetruck.
The rain would stop.

This silliness went on for about three or four hours. The rain shower soon turned into a full-fledged thunder storm. Wind blew sheets of water into my windshield as the wiper blades roared on high. Mud splashed up over the hood of the truck and onto the mirrors.

I am a patient man, but have my limits. I headed back toward camp - past the bar pit, past the rocks, down the long flat, then around the curve. Then low and behold, in the middle of the road, in the middle of a thunderstorm was a soaking wet turkey gobbler splashing through the mud! I watched this incredible sight for about 30 minutes. Really, the gobbler waddled around in front of my truck, in the rain, in the mud for about 30 minutes!

I prepared my gear - 1 Benelli Super Black Eagle 2, 1 rain coat, 1 hen decoy, 1 wide brim camo hat. I watched the big black bird go in and out of the road onto both sides. My plan was to approach the bird down in the ditch when the rain stopped. Which ditch depended on the bird. First he went into the ditch on the left; then the ditch on the right; left, right, left. The rain finally stopped. I grabbed my gear and quickly exited the truck. I ran down the ditch on the left side to the green bush that I had planned on stopping at. I pinned the hen decoy in the left-hand rut, and ducked behind the green bush for cover.

I couldn’t see a thing. Where did he go? I moved down the ditch to reposition myself before I called the turkey. In a stretched out crouching position, I straddled the ditch. But before I was ready, the bird walked 20 feet in front of me! I could hear my heart pumping in my ears. I saw the beard. I quickly pulled the trigger. Boom! The blast echoed through the pines. It was over.

I un-kinked my hurting legs from the stretched out position and stood up. I walked toward my prize. Oh no, where’s the beard? My heart sank as I looked down at the soaking wet bird. Oh, man, I think I made a mistake – it was a HEN! I knew it had to be a gobbler! I watched him for an incredible 30 minutes as he strut his stuff. My thoughts were already turning to “what to say to the game warden.”

I reached down, picked up "Harriet the Hen" and to my utter joy and delight, out flopped a beard! As it turned out, soaking wet "Harriet the Hen" was in reality a fine and dandy "legal" bird whose wet beard had been stuck to his chest! I signed with relief.

Until next time…………………Kenny



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