An opening weekend trip to some of North America’s best turkey country had me giddy with excitement! I had been to the rolling red dirt hills of Oklahoma before, so the reality of what I had experienced exactly one year prior only fueled my turkey hunting obsession, knowing I was heading back to the same exact target-rich environment.
When our alarms went off on the first morning, the sheets of rain pounding on the tin roof of our cabin could be thought of as Mother Nature singing a lullaby and explaining there’s no point in getting up yet. We slept in.
When the rain moved out, we were quick to get to our spots to hunt for the day. The rest of the day produced little action. The birds weren’t gobbling much and there were minimal sightings of turkey.
The afternoon of the second day found a few of us down in a valley with our trucks parked, strategizing and telling exaggerated turkey stories. While solving all of the problems of turkey hunters everywhere, we looked across a large bottom field and saw three longbeards making their way along a field edge where we commonly see turkeys throughout the day. The turkeys were slowly but surely making their way to two ridges that feed off of the hills down into the bottom they were in. Based off of last year’s intel and the larger amount of experience the other guys in camp had with this spot, we quickly knew what we needed to do and where we needed to be.
While six of us were in that bottom solving the world’s problems, three of the six were committed to a project being completed for the new Mossy Oak GO app and the other three had turkey tags taking up space in pockets. The lucky three were myself, Mossy Oak’s Tim Anderson, and NWTF’s Brian Lovett. Between three love-hungry longbeards together, three longbeard-hungry hunters together, and the three cups of coffee I drank that morning, I knew we should all make our move fast.
We hopped in a truck, drove about two miles and walked a quarter-mile to our final destination that put us on the opposite side of the turkeys and put us in a position that would have us trying to call them into our setup directly above them. I setup our Avian-X quarter-strut jake and hen decoys. I may have even blown an extra few breaths into each decoy’s air hole. My goal was to inflate both of their breasts, making the jake look more studly and making the hen look more, well, you know.
When I knew I would be hunting with Brian Lovett, the hunting editor for NWTF’s Turkey Country magazine, I was immediately filled with an added confidence. There is a certain amount of experience, confidence and woodsmanship that is only earned through hundreds of successful and unsuccessful hunts and Brian had it. He carries the perfect balance of confidence and humility to give any hunt his best effort, yet identifies the variables of which he can and can’t control.
With Brian on my left and Tim on my right, we were completely snuggled together with no physical possibility of getting any closer than three happily married men would allow. We were shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder on two small trees and ready.
Brian let out a yelp on a slate call and the longbeards were promoted to gobblers. We were relieved, knowing they were still in the area after we made our loop on them and now we (Brian) had their attention. Some time went by with both some answered and unanswered calls. The gobblers were slowly, but surely heading our direction. After about 40 minutes from Brian’s initial yelp, the three gobblers revealed themselves at about 90 yards. They skirted our setup, gobbling and assessing our decoys the entire time.
When the gobblers walked to a small pond above us, we guessed our current setup to be a bust, given they didn’t initially commit to our decoys. A few more calls went answered, but the out-of-sight gobblers didn’t seem to be as interested, nor were they getting any closer. We were seconds away from crawling up the pond dam to spot the birds and make a new plan when I yelled (in a whisper) to Brian, who was between me and the turkeys, “Don’t move!” I saw a lone turkey head periscoping our setup where we last saw the gobblers. One head became three and the gobblers walked back into our lives and our setup. The path they were on had them at about 70 yards and not moving much closer any time soon. Brian purred at them, Tim cut at them and I just sat there. None of the tactics were seeming to make the gobblers move back into our lethal gun range.
Several more minutes of Brian whispering sweet nothings into the gobblers’ ears brought them from 70 yards to about 50 yards. Once they hit the 50-yard mark, they decided to commit to the decoys and went from 50 yards to 20 yards in what seemed like a blink.
At this point, Brian was in the best position to shoot the turkeys at any time. The discipline he possessed and confidence he had in our setup led him to let all of the gobblers work into our decoys. After much coaxing and patience, three what are now gobbler-hungry hunters had what are now three love-hungry gobblers standing 18 yards in front of them, working dancing and strutting around their artificially enhanced and fully-inflated decoys.
I began to whisper, “Alright, are you guys ready?” They each replied, “Yes!” “Okay,” I said. “I’m going to countdown from three.” The following transpired in slow motion:
In my best impression of Darth Vader, this is how I recall it, “Three…(loud breathing)…two…(loud breathing)…wuuuuuhhhhhh…BOOM!” Still in slow motion, I knew Tim had shot. And do you remember how I yelled, “Don’t move,” earlier? My gun was still on the ground because the gobblers had disappeared and reappeared and I wasn’t about to have my impatience ruin the hunt for my two amigos. So, all while I was counting down and Tim had shot, I was reaching for my gun and coming to aim. All STILL in slow motion, with the recoil from Tim’s shot transferring throughout our molded-together bodies, I acquired my sight picture. Exactly when I shot at the right of two still-standing what are now life-fearing longbeards, another series of shotgun recoil vibration was now hitting me directly in my shoulder and face from my shot; yet, another wave of energy was entering my body from the physical bond of two adult male bodies that Brian and I called ours.
When the vibrations seized and our ear drums stopped ringing, three Rio Grande toms were promoted to angels of the turkey heavens. Three Federal Ammunition Heavyweight TSS shells did their one and only jobs and three gobbler-hungry hunters were entered into an elite nonexistent club of turkey hunters that have experienced a true turkey TRIPLE, all having shot a turkey together within one second of each other.
For all of the people that never ask me all the time about the best turkey hunt I’ve ever been on, this hunt immediately became number one on my list. I have been blessed to experience some memorable hunts with even more memorable people, but this hunt was one for the life record books. It’s one that I was fortunate enough to share with two other turkey hunting nuts and what will live eternally as three angels of the turkey heavens.