The second week of Missouri’s season and it’s Monday. My friend Tom has secured a new place to hunt for us at his friend Ray’s place near Ridgeway, Missouri. Ray and Tom worked together for years in law enforcement. Tom and I duck hunted with Ray several times years ago. Ray is a hunting machine. If it walks or fly’s he hunts it. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Tom has a knack with remembering weird names. He also has a knack for giving nick names and so aptly gave Ray the name Cigar Store Indian. Ray is just like one of those old wooden life size indian statues found in front of a tobacco store many years ago. Tall, bulky, olive skinned, mostly silent, and arms folded most of the time, while saying Ugh once in awhile. Ray and his wife have about 35 acres. Ray re-established native grasses, food plots, and has done timber thinning for several years now. Tom and I depart at 3:45 for the long-drive to Ray’s place. We arrive at 5:30 at Ray’s. Ray is supposed to hunt with us, but as it turns out he has a kidney stone and is in grave pain. Ray sends us to the north side of his farm where he’s been seeing turkeys on a green food plot next to a large wooded hillside along a creek on the adjoining property to the north. I had brought my pop-up blind just in case. After talking to Ray, I decided we’d better use it because there wasn’t much in the way of trees to lean up against in the food plot. Tom and I departed on foot and heard a pheasant rooster crowing in one of Ray’s native grass fields. The sky’s are overcast this morning with a good chance of rain, and it’s terribly humid out. Tom and I set up the blind a little before 6 a.m. in the middle of the food plot. I decided to scratch out a few soft yelps, no response. A few minutes later we hear one gobbler fire up with a tone of melancholy, almost as if he knew it was going to rain, but he decided to belt out a few gobbles just to keep in tune. About 6:50 we see a hen wander in from the north wooded hillside. She mills about in the food plot for awhile then wanders of to the southwest. By 8:30, we had not heard any gobbles since about 6:20 so we take a break and head back to the truck for a few minutes to get a drink and re-group. Tom and I hunted in the northeast corner of Ray’s land near some deer shooting houses and some timber for about an hour. Deciding nothing was likely going to show up suddenly, we went back to our food plot. There was a tree on the east side of the food plot that both he and I could lean up against that looked to be about 45 yards to the north fence line and timber. I did some aggressive yelping and cutting and the same hen I saw earlier in the morning returned from the southwest and headed back into the woods. We waited awhile and called again. This time, a jake showed up to Tom’s right at five yards. I could not see the jake, but Tom did. A few minutes later that hen comes back out of the woods with a gobbler in tow. The hen walks into the food plot and mills about at what I believe to 40 – 45 yards. The gobbler stays right along the tree line in strut. He never gobbled, but would parade back and forth. The gobblers body size seemed small and I knew I would have to try and call the hen closer to me with the gobbler in tow in order for Tom to take a shot. We both realized that the gobbler was further than 4o yards out, and would be a risky shot so we just waited. The feeding hen eventually returned to the woods with gobbler in tow. With no turkeys to spoke, Tom and I both independently used my range finder to confirm the shot distance….It was 71 yards. The ground on the food plot folded and dipped a little near the tree line, but you couldn’t tell from where we were sitting. We didn’t have a lot of options for trees to use and in hind site did the best we could short of trying to belly crawl down hill to a strutter. We got a good show from the longbeard, and before leaving I give Ray one of my white oak tail fan mount plaques as a thank you. He really liked it. With rain pending, we depart for Bethany on the interstate to have a tasty Mexican lunch and beer. As it turns out, Ray passed his kidney stone and shot that damn gobbler a week later. I guess with pain, there is always pleasure!
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