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Memorable Turkey Hunt

A couple of days ago I had the pleasure of spending some time with Mike Ficht of Sugar Springs, Michigan.

Mike had won a turkey hunt at a fundraising banquet sponsored by the good folks at Ameristep.  His prize was two days in the woods with Chet Loar of Star Creek Guide Service, and me.

Chet is one of the best turkey hunters I’ve ever met.  If there are birds in an area, Chet can find them and get his hunters close enough for a shot.  I was along to  provide support and encouragement….and to videotape the hunt.

I liked Mike right away.  I could tell he had a few years of experience behind him, but I was surprised to find out he was 74.  He looked a lot younger.

He was in good shape too.

Chet likes to cover some ground while chasing turkeys, and Mike was able to keep right up with him. We were both relieved though when Chet said  it was  time to change tactics and sit in an Ameristep ground blind for a while.

Our first day of hunting was pretty slow.  It was real warm and the birds weren’t talking.  We tried calling,  sitting on dusting bowls and setting up an ambush…but nothing worked.

The second morning found us sitting in a blind near a roosting area.  We could hear at least one tom gobbling at daybreak, but he shut up shortly after hitting the ground.  I was afraid we were off to another rough day in the woods.

We tried a couple more spots with no luck.  Again the birds weren’t talking and the temperature was rising fast.

About ten thirty Chet set Mike and I up over a couple dusting bowls on the edge of a field.  He said when it gets hot the birds like to dust themselves to cool down.

That turned out to be a good move.

Before Chet even had a chance to leave we had two hens walk ten yards in front of us and put on a show.  After about twenty minutes they left and so did Chet.

While Mike and I sat there we had a chance to talk.  I learned he was an avid hunter who hadn’t spent much time chasing turkeys before.  I also found out he was a retired cop.  Hunters and cops, two groups I respect….no wonder I liked Mike so much.

After about an hour Mike nudged me and said “There’s a bird”.  I looked out the side window and saw what I thought was a hen about fifteen yards away, on the edge of the field.  Then the bird turned sideways and I realized it was a jake.

Mike had already told me he’d be more than happy to shoot a jake, but it didn’t look like this guy would give us the chance to do that on camera.

The bird was slowly making his way around the blind and I had no way of getting the video camera pointed his direction.

I had to make a decision.  Pass on the bird and risk a TV show, or get out of the way and let Mike shoot him.

I figured with the hunting conditions so tough the last couple of days it might be our only chance, so we switched places and Mike got ready for his shot.

Chet’s gun is patterned pretty tight.  In fact, his hunters routinely take birds out to fifty yards with it. This jake was only about twenty yards and at that distance there’s not much room for error.

I didn’t need to worry.  With the calmness that only years of experience can provide, Mike settled the bead on the bird’s head, pulled the trigger and dropped him.

As we walked up to the bird and I saw the smile on Mike’s face, I knew we’d made the right decision.
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