Wild turkeys are dumb! They are the only bird I know that can fly, but can't figure out how to get past a fence! They will run up and down it franticly because they can't get past it.............it's 4 feet high, there is boundless sky above it, they have wings, but they can't cross. The only bird I've seen fly, bigger than a turkey, is a peacock. My great uncle Elden Waite had some property on the south side of the Grande Ronde Valley that he was kind enough to let me hunt on. It had a few scattered pheasants, lots of quail, huns if you could find them, enough rock chucks to keep my .22 barrel hot all day, pigeons in the barn, and, at one time, before some trespassers shot them, a flock of peacocks............at least I think that is what they are called........nope, I just looked it up, it's a muster. I used italics for the same reason everyone uses them.......to look smarter than I really am! In the verbal.....ha ha, sorry oral language we use quotes with our fingers to look smarter..........or just really annoying!
So, there was a muster of peacocks on uncle Elden's place until scum shot them, and I was almost a scum the day dad took me hunting up there for the first time! It was my first year of bird hunting and we were looking for something to shoot at......I don't think dad thought I'd hit anything any more than I did, thats why I say "shoot at". We hunted the foothills SE of the old homestead circling down and around into the barnyard. We were almost to the buildings (remember I'm hunting, I have a loaded gun and a severe blood lust!) when a bird, big enough to block out the sun, with REALLY long tail feathers (think rooster pheasant here) gets up (meaning flushed-from-the-tall-grass-at-my-feet) and landed in the Hawthorn bush in front of me. I struggled to get the gun to my shoulder because I was small, weak, and trying not to crap myself..........IT SCARED THE DAYLIGHTS OUT OF ME! I remember my dad yelling not to shoot, so I didn't. I also knew enough to realize, after the shock of it all, that I wasn't looking at a bird I'd come to kill. So, we headed to the barn to wait for one of the wild pigeons to offer up its life to Mr. Stevens. Finally, a lone pigeon landed on top of one of the buildings. Being a true sportsman, I slipped out of the building we were hiding in and sluiced it off the peak of the old barn with that trusty, old Stevens 20 gauge, bolt-action shotgun; my first kill with it. It was a sweet victory!
We hunted up and around the old rock wall, headed north, until I flushed a small covey of huns, hitting one lightly. We followed it to where it landed and finally got it. My first kill on the wing; another small victory and another notch in my belt. We drove home along the marsh, down Pierce Rd, towards B & K auto, finding a pen raised rooster crouched near the road, in weeds that just didn't quite cover him. Dad handed me his 12 gauge and I shot his head off. I didn't even get out of the back of the truck; I just decapitated him right there. It was a glorious day.
We didn't have wild turkeys in NE Oregon when I was inadvertently hunting a muster of peacocks on my great uncle's place. Turkey hunting wasn't even interesting to me. I remember getting my Outdoor Life magazine each spring with all the turkey articles and wanting to cry. I hated turkey season, I wanted big mule deer bucks, elk bugling, and water buffalo charging from the thick, deep grass of Africa. I wanted Jack O'Connor shooting Dall Sheep and caribou in the north, I wanted steelhead articles, spring bear, and I wanted to be outside hunting shed antlers. Why would anyone want to chase a turkey around?
When we moved to Oregon from Wyoming I knew our hunting opportunities would pale in comparison. Deer hunting is embarrassing here. The deer numbers are so low, the average size of bucks so small, and the difficulty in drawing tags so great that I worried about giving my kids a chance to love what I love. So turkey hunting was a new avenue of success, or so I thought, and anyway you get a tag with the purchase of your sportsman's pack.
But this is a new year. I did a little preseason scouting, I bought some calls and practiced, and I had a network of knowledgeable people to draw from. As it turned out the network paid off. I didn't really find much scouting; it was a little frustrating; a reminder of last years season; but a friend called to say he'd found me some turkeys if I was interested. I happily took down the information and we planned our hunt.