by Steve Sorensen (Originally published in the Warren Times Observer, May 11, 2013.)
5:38 AM on May 3, a gobbler pulls his head out from under his wing. He listens.
Songbirds. Then a few crows squawk. He strains to hear that soft, seductive
voice of a pretty hen. In a nearby tree another gobbler utters a low yelp,
almost imperceptible. That’s all he hears.
turkeys stand up and stretch their wings. They fan out, but only for a second, then
fold up to lay every feather perfectly in place. More than 20 minutes pass in
silence. The gobblers stretch their necks to peer at the ground. A deer drifts
by. Then a skunk.
6:01 AM the sun is about to peek over the horizon, and the gobbler is overdue
for a morning shout-out. “Gobbellobbelll!”
His proud call is met
with silence. Minutes pass.
big bird pitches to the ground, then the other. Both gobblers patrol the area
of their roost trees, but only one has anything to say today. “Gobbellobbelll!”
few hens were in the vicinity yesterday. Maybe they’re in the field. So, the
gobblers walk across a ravine and snake through the berry bushes at the field’s
edge, and into the green, luscious grass. Hen’s love it here. This early in the
morning the wet grass provides moisture and the cool temperature slows the bugs
that live there. It’s an easy, succulent breakfast. “Gobbellobbelll!”
yelp, yelp. Cluck. Cluck.” There she is,
still over in the woods, across the ravine but downhill from our roost site.
“Gobbellobbelll! Here we are, come on
Maybe if we fan out she’ll see us. “Gobbellobbelll!”
yelp. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrr. Cluck. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrr.”
She’s not coming yet, but she will. I’ll fan
out again. “Gobbellobbelll!” I’m irresistible. She wants me.
the gobbler can’t count the minutes that pass, his ears are tuned for more
yelps. They do not come. She must be on
her way over here.
|The 19-pound gobbler that didn't|
survive the morning of May 3.
few minutes later, “Yelp, yelp. Cluck. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrr.”
She hasn’t moved. “Gobbellobbelll!” His
proud call is met with silence. Minutes pass again.
yelp. Cluck. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrr.” She’s
few minutes later a cacophony of inharmonious sounds surge across the ravine. High
pitches. Low pitches. Sweet. Raspy. Hard clucks and loud, rattling purrs. A bunch of hens. They’re all over there, and
they all want me. I’ll head on over. Maybe they’ll meet me halfway.
gobblers saunter to the edge of the field and stop to listen. The loud hen
voices erupt again. They haven’t moved.
They’re still over there. The gobblers step into the woods, head toward the
ravine, and pause at the brink to listen and watch. The hen chorus bursts forth
a third time, and the gobblers hurry across.
first head pops up from the ravine; he knows right where the hens are. A few
more steps and he stops to look. They’ve
gone silent, but they can’t be far away. The second gobbler catches up, and
turns sideways. A 9-inch beard juts from his chest.
A thunderous noise. The second gobbler flops and is still. The blast shocks the
first into sounding off. “Gobbellobbelll!” A man stands up where those hens
were supposed to be. Muscular wings thrust the gobbler out over the ravine.
Every beat pumps nearly twenty pounds of turkey toward the treetops.
man straddles the gobbler on the ground. The gobbler kicks and tries to spread
his wings, but his strength is reduced to uncoordinated impulses.
down in the valley, a gobbler glides to a landing and folds his wings. He
stands as still as a statue for five minutes before walking away.
goes on. Tomorrow will be another new day, and he’ll greet it with another