(OK - US) Killing turkeys on Wildlife Management Areas; 11-yr-old's 1st hunt

Snugglezzz at aol.com Snugglezzz at aol.com
Mon May 5 10:03:14 EDT 2003

letters at tulsaworld.com 

It's all really about happenstance 

By SAM POWELL World Sports Writer 
View in Print (PDF) Format Jessica Oxford of Broken Arrow harvested this gobbler in Kansas. 
Photo courtesy / Fred Oxford 

Below: Sam Powell, and his Eastern wild turkey taken on Honobia WMA public lands. 
Photo courtesy / Tom Slamans 

A long-sought mature gobbler is finally harvested, with a bit of luck, in the gorgeous Hanobia WMA. 

Webster describes happenstance as "a circumstance that is due to chance." 

I just shook my head as I walked up to a magnificent wild turkey gobbler, feet still slowly kicking in the air, in the gorgeous, sun-dappled woods of Pushmataha County. 

I had finally harvested a good Eastern turkey after countless trips into our spectacular southeastern woods, mountains and rippling streams. 

That memorable incident occurred on April 26, as the spring hunting season was winding down in eight southeast counties. 

I had taken about a half-dozen jakes in that wonderful country in years past, but never a mature bird. 

My longtime friend Tom Slamans of Okmulgee and I had been invited to hunt with John Bell of Antlers. 

We stopped at Bell's convenience store in the heart of that metropolis and purchased our required access permits for Honobia WMA. 

Just a few hours later we were following a dusty forest trail in the heart of that huge area on a perfect spring hunting afternoon. 

There was virtually no wind, the sun was shining and birds had been gobbling that very morning. 

Bell had hunted several times in the area over the previous week, and although he had not killed a turkey, he knew there were birds around. 

We split up at that time and I walked about a mile and a half east on the trail. 

I came to what looked to be a perfect spot to set up  and call. A saddle separated two steep ridges, and I found fresh turkey sign. 

I was smart enough to recognize the possibility of an encounter with other hunters, but the trail had no fresh tire tracks and we were in a very, very remote area. 

I set out three decoys, clipped a little hide out of a cedar bush and began calling. 

About 45 minutes later, I heard a vehicle rattling towards me. Sure 'nuff, the vehicle stopped about 70 yards away, just around a little bend in the road. 

I got up quickly, just in time to see two locals standing there, shotguns drawn. "Hey, we were just about to shoot your decoys," one of them laughed. "Looked real good though. . . . there's another truck following us. . . . they'll probably try to shoot them, too!" 

They weren't hunters, and said they were going crappie fishing in a big nearby slough. I had the decoys sacked up by the time the second old truck and its two occupants bounced by. 

I headed back in the direction where our threesome had entered the woods -- disgusted that another trip was soured, and this first outing probably spoiled. 

But a couple of hours of hunting remained, so I hiked to the top of another steep, hardwood ridge where Bell had heard turkeys gobbling before. 

I found a huge, fallen tree, covered with green vines, a perfect natural hide. I set three decoys out again, but chose not to call for a half-hour or so. 

Shortly before that 30 minutes expired, I heard him gobble, quite a ways back to the east. I picked up a Lohman box call and squawked as loud as I could. 

Gobbbbblllee. . . . gobbbbbllllee. . . . gobbbbblllee! 

He triple-gobbled back, and the real fun began. 

I worked him for probably 20 minutes and finally saw a softball-sized white head floating through the woods. Then he disappeared for several minutes. 

Next sound, phhhhttt. . . . vooooom. . . . phhhhttt. . . . vooooom. 

Oh man, he's close! And drumming. Don't move. Don't even breathe. 

A few long, long minutes later he stepped out behind the bush and I took the 35-yard shot. 

As the sun sank through majestic pines a while after that, I waited as my companions hiked up the trail and saw the bird lying there. They were great enough friends to hoop and holler and congratulate me. 

I told them it was all simply due to happenstance. 

If those local sportsmen had not driven down that trail and tried to shoot my decoys I would still have been there, in that first spot, till dark, and probably heard nothing. 

I did deserve that good gobbler, though -- it only took probably 5,000 hours of hunting on previous trips for one shot. 

He weighed 23 pounds with 1-1/4-inch spurs and 11-inch beard. And once again, he was the only bird our party managed to harvest in two and a half days of tough hunting. 

I'd much rather be lucky, even if it's only once in a great while, than good. 

Grandpa guides: One of the better outdoor experiences is when mom or dad takes a youngster for his or her very first, special outing. 

And, it's even better when the tutor is a grandparent. 

Jessica Oxford, an 11-year-old fifth grader at Lynnwood Elementary in Broken Arrow, went on her first wild turkey hunt, guided by Fred Oxford of El Dorado, Kan. 

Hunting on Lagoon Creek public land near his home, grandfather called up a nice Rio Grande gobbler with a 9-inch beard. 

Jessica dispatched the bird with an old 20-gauge over/under that Fred has used for quail hunting for many years. Jessica is the daughter of Mark and Tina Oxford of Broken Arrow. 

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