Hunting with Papa Bill by Jeff Huggins
Hunting with Papa Bill
My Step-Father as we called him, Papa Bill. He passed away June 9th 2012. I told my mom Alma Mintz that I wanted his fishing hat for the fishing memories. I saw his hat hanging in my office before my hunt so I decided to bring it and him along with me for luck.
Early Saturday morning with a crescent moon and one bright star rising in the eastern sky, I let out a couple of yelps. Right off 2 gobblers on the roost cracked the silence and only 1000 yards away.
Monty Mesimer and I quickly closed the 1000 yards and set out a single Avian Hen decoy in a small green patch in the bend of the old dirt road and tucked under an overhanging bush and just sat on the ground. As the sun began to brighten the dark sky, we yelped again, gobbles from both Tom’s still on the roost, one behind us and the other in front of us. This set off an amazing dueling of gobbles that lasted 30 minutes. Then we heard the first Tom fly down, but he was headed behind us. The second Tom stayed on the roost for at least another 25 minutes before he like the first bird, headed behind us. Monty looks over and says, I know where they are going, to a food plot behind us about 300 yards.
Jumping up and leaving the decoy behind we worked our way around the corner of the dirt road and downhill through the standing pines, as the sun was now visible low on the horizon. The road led to a bottom with a small creek running across it before winding uphill to our left, to a large opening with a stand of large oaks. Before reaching the bottom, Monty spotted the Tom across the ridge, 150 yards or so. He was in full-strut almost motionless and in the company of 3 hens, at the top right hand corner of the opening. They were busily scratching around at the base of a massive oak in the leaves for acorns, the second Tom nowhere in sight. This would be our chance.
The noisy scratching would be our sound cover however; we had very little sight cover as we belly-crawled around to the right along the creek and up the ridge through the sparsely spaced oaks. I was in the lead with Monty on my heels.
We got within 50 yards of the group still on our bellies, as I peeked under the floppy billed hat, still downhill from what would be my only cover, a 15 inch trunk of an oak tree still 8 yards away. To my left at 30 yards was a hen feeding my way. to the right at about 35 yards, another hen feeding towards the first hen and 50 yards between them, the Tom; still in full-strut with the third hen. I was thinking this was not good. After about 5 minutes the hens changed direction which gave me the chance to close the final 8 yards to the tree. I got up on my elbows and peered around the tree to the left, hen number 1 now 50 yards away. I peered around to the right as hen number 2, 35 yards away, walked out of my sight to the left blocked by the small oak. Hen number 3 started walking straight to me with Tom in tow and full-strut. It’s now or never I was thinking as I raised the Remington to my shoulder and aligned the glowing, green bead on the barrel to the Tom’s head, now 42 yards away. The hen now sees me and breaks to the left as I push the safety off, the Tom breaks down his strut but to late…..Bang, Flop, as wing beats fill the morning air. Mission accomplished.
Thank God for a great experience and keeping me from having a heart attack. Thank Monty for the greatest hunt ever. A memory I’ll remember forever. Thanks Papa Bill for leaving some luck in the old hat!