Thunderstorm Thunderchicken

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During college, living the fast life, I finished my finals early to catch some good spring turkey hunting and meant to pick up my uncle along the way. He came up with something important to do that evening when I passed through so he was going to drive down and meet me the next day. I arrived at his hunting cabin a little before nightfall, so I took my binos out to my favorite field to see if I could see some birds.

When I drove the golf cart to the edge of the field, I walked out a little ways and started glassing.

As I glassed, I saw numerous groundhogs, and then there it was, a thunder-chicken. I walked over a small rise and pulled my 15x50 binos up to behold an over grown tom raising heck in the midle of the narrow field. I was staying here to watch where he was roosting! I heard several other gobbles and I didn't move a muscle. I waited there until I heard him fly into a tree. I marked the location in my memory and headed back to set my alarm clock. It stormed all night, keeping me paranoid the power would go out and I woudln't wake up with the alarm clock being reset. When 4:30 rolled around, I headed to the kitchen... Coffee, lots of coffee. It was the only medicine for my condition.

The next morning, I was in place. My blind was in place and my shotgun was ready. When the gobblers started sounding off for morning reveille, I waited, decoy in place, and soft hen yelps working their morning magic through the fog produced by the fresh evaporating rain on the grass.

Much to my disappointment, three gobblers walked in circles 100 yards out from me most of the morning. My big-bird among them. chasing hens until the disappeared finally at about 8:30. I didn't hear another sound. At 9:30, I decided they weren't coming back. This decision was possibly brought on by a severe caffeine induced bout of impatience. I began collapsing my blind and had it fully put away when I hoisted it to my shoulder, I noticed two gobblers working their way towards me just 50 yards away. I dropped to the ground, luckily they did not see me.

I shouldered my shotgun and readied myself again a small tree. 40 yards. 35 yards. 34, 33, 32, 32.5, 32.25, 31... (I'm sure you know how this feels) and 30! I pulled the trigger, and the tom ran. unhit. Angered and flustered I rose to my feet, chasing the young tom. I went only steps when I noticed the GIANT tom standing just behind a small clump of brush. I fired the second shot from my over-under gun. The megabird was floored by the majority of my shot pattern!

To this day, I have no idea what could have led to my frst shot miss. However it happened, I am glad, because it gave me the oppertunity to take a great tom! Never Give Up! This was by far the largest tom I have taken. His spurs were broomed and worn down considerably. His beard, was just a fuzz under 11 inches and very thick. But his body, his body was massive, I still remember him as Andre The Giant Tom. He weighed in on a check station scale at 24.5 pounds.

Even though the quality of the digital picture is poor, The bird is large in commparison to my body, and I'm a pretty stout individual.

When my uncle arrived, I was still in town, as in Ohio, birds must be checked in by a certain time every day. Upon my return I plucked the breast of the bird to find the old boy lousy with lice. a time when I found myself without a change of clothes.

I took every procaution, to ensure I wasn't transmitting lice in my household. This is where I had the most awkward conversation with my dad EVER! You see, I purchased a lice-killing shampoo and washed myself according to the manufacturer's instruction, then left the bottle in the closet should I require it again. But there are two very differnt types of lice you can get in two very different ways. Naturally, my father being an only-parent of 3 rowdy boys assumed the more probable cause of lice infestation... When I was done explaining, I'm not entirely sure he believed me!

Comments

ManOfTheFall's picture

Great story, I really enjoyed

Great story, I really enjoyed it. Congratulations on your trophy tom. A very fine bird. That's pretty funny what your dad thought about the shampoo.

groovy mike's picture

Congratulations on that huge bird

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Ndemiter:

I concur with the other comments posted below.  That’s a great story and a good looking bird.  You are absolutely right that we should never Give Up! – especially when we are turkey hunting!  See my story posted elsewhere on thsi website titled iI don't deserve a turkey!'

 

Coffee is a blessing and curse!  For me, it is an hour and a half after coffee – like clockwork – I gotta go.  There is no denying it.  But have you noticed that precisely an hour and a half after you leave your door is when the big buck white tail deer or turkey is just barely checking out your hunting area to see if it is safe to venture into?  They are in my minds’ eye anyway!  In any case – I enjoyed the story and the photograph.  Thanks for sharing both of them with us.  And Congratulations on that huge bird (yes I remember the wrestler Andre the giant too!  - Do you remember the match against seven midgets?)  lol.  Andre stacked them all up and sat on them.  It must have just about killed the little guy on the bottom!  If you haven’t seen it be sure to check out Andre the giant as an actor in a great movie called “The Princess Bride” it is well worth the time to watch.

GooseHunter Jr's picture

Great story and a great

Great story and a great looking bird.  Dad was probably kids will be kids...we that is what my Dad would have said.

arrowflipper's picture

I'm sure

Fun story. I'm sure most of us can relate to the coffee (or lack thereof) induced impatience.  How many times have I gotten up to leave, only to scare an animal at close range?  We all tend to display some impatience when things aren't going the way we think they should. 

I am surprised about two things.... first, that those two toms didn't spot you right away and vacate the area.  They have the sharpest eyes of any animal I've hunted and they seldom miss a movement.  They might not run immediately, but you'll be hearing the little putt, putt warning sound and they'll be moving away rather than coming towards you.

Secondly, I can't believe you walked right up on that big old fella.  He didn't get that big by standing around watching the tourists stroll by.  Maybe he was standing there fixating on a lovely hen he had in mind to visit?  Maybe he had just taken a valium?  You were one lucky dude.

Great bird Ndemiter!!  That is a huge bird in anyone's book.  Our Merriams in this area don't grow that big.  The biggest one I've ever seen was just a bit over 21 pounds.  Congratulations on a great trophy and thanks for sharing.