I watch my son belly crawl alongside the gray log lying in the fencerow underneath Russian olive trees. “Stay there,” he murmurs to me, “Be very still.” We are dressed in camo from toe to tip, caps over our heads and our faces covered with thin camo mesh. According to Dan, turkeys can’t smell worth a hoot but their vision is legendary. I stay and stay still as he finishes elbow-walking his way to the edge of the cornfield that stretches out over the next two hills.
Two toms and a hen are in the field. The hen came in to within forty yards of us in response to Dan’s calls. One of the toms is in full strut three hundred yards away, the other just hanging out as if he is waiting to see whether his buddy’s routine works or not.
Dan continues the calls and works the tail fan he took from another bird. The toms move toward us. At least one of them sees the fan and Dan works it, shifts it sideways then back and forth, returns it to horizontal.
There is a gamble with using the fan while turkey hunting. A dominant or aggressive tom will charge in to defend his territory, slashing with those four-inch spurs to drive out the intruder. A submissive, less aggressive male will get the heck out of Dodge, so to speak, running for the nearest cover.
In our case, the gamble works. The unstrutting tom comes in on a beeline, covering the last fifty yards or more in a near run. Only thirty or forty feet from Dan, he apparently begins to wonder about that pale hand holding the black fan. He paces back and forth two or three times, then takes off along the fencerow. It would have been an easy shot if shooting had been the goal today. It wasn’t.
We came to do something together, something that I’d never done before with anyone. Dan wanted to show me the experience of turkey hunting and I wanted to be with Dan while he does something that he loves to do, something that he is very good at doing. Like true evangelism, this is about relationship, not trophies.