John's Journal... Entry 193, Day 1
HOW TO HUNT PUBLIC-LAND GOBBLERS
The Occasional Disadvantages
EDITOR'S NOTE: Paul Butski of Niagara Falls, New York, hunts public lands in the North in his home state of New York and guides on private lands in the South during the early part of turkey season. According to Butski, public-land hunting for turkeys is altogether different from private-land hunting. This week he will tell us the differences between the two and the skills needed to bag that prize tom on your public land.
As the turkey approached, the ground shook with the thunder of his gobble. The tom was less than 100 yards and fast closing the distance to me. I sat beside a big oak tree and waited for the bird to appear down the only path he could take to come to me. My head was low on the stock. My eyes were trained on the trail. My finger was resting on the safety, ready to push it to the off position and fire when that white crown appeared beneath the neck of blue and scarlet.
To reach this prime hunting spot, my buddy Paul Butski and I had climbed two mountains, crawled through timber the wind had blown down during the winter and then covered the remaining ground at a forced-march pace to get close enough to call the turkey while he was still gobbling. Now the moment of truth was at hand. In less than a minute, the bird surely would show himself.
Boom! I heard as another shotgun reported less than 50-yards away. I could not believe my ears. We had hunted hard all morning and had played the game of turkey taking fairly. But our trophy had been stolen.
"I'm not sure what happened," Butski said. "Evidently another hunter got between us and the turkey. But, hey, John, that's what often occurs when you hunt public-land turkeys. The other hunter may have been set up on that gobbler before we arrived. That guy has won, and we have lost. Tomorrow is another day. We'll hunt another bird."
TOMORROW: HOW TO HUNT PUBLIC LANDS EFFECTIVELY