By James Elledge
April 5, 2108 - I felt a lot like Elmer Fud, tip toeing through the Tennessee woods at 5:30am trying to walk as softly as possible over crunching leaves. But we weren’t chasing wabbits; we were chasing turkeys. Those oh so elusive turkeys.
It was opening day of turkey season in Tennessee and my buddy Carl and I were determined to get a gobbler, or two. Carl, the much more experienced turkey hunter, outfitted me with a turkey vest and a camo shotgun. He gave me the low down on the property, a friendly suggestion for my big ass to walk as quietly as possible, and a granola bar. We set up our two decoys in a clover field and retreated to a little natural blind area he had built, leaning against two adjoined trees.
Not long after we sat down and got still, we heard thunder chickens gobbling in the trees. “They’re up in the trees still,” Carl whispered. I continued to sit still, shotgun shouldered and resting on my knee.
Carl sounded off a few clucks here and there, but it seemed the Toms simply shut up when they got out of the trees. That, or they walked off the property. After waiting patiently for three more hours, we got hungry and decided to head to the cabin for some breakfast.
We walked up to Carl’s Dad grabbing some farm fresh eggs out of the chicken coop. He had come out to the farm in Pegram, TN to eat breakfast with us and do some riding. He already had piping hot coffee ready, cooked us up some delicious eggs and hearty bacon, and asked about our morning hunt.
I started poking around the cabin and quickly realized this was a special place with some deep heritage. There’s just something about old things. I think it’s that old things tell a story – a story about a time in the past that we are not able to see with our own eyes, but can imagine vividly. This cabin was built in the 1850s, Pre-Civil War. It still had all original stone – its strong bones. I noticed a framed picture of my buddy Carl’s parents when they were in high school, standing out front of the cabin. I could picture them saddling up the horses and going for a nice late morning ride.
After breakfast, Carl and I decided we’d do some fishing in the lunch hour, so we grabbed a few beers and headed over to the river. The river was pretty washed out, but we managed to lip a smallmouth bass. The fishing wasn’t great, but the company was – and that’s what matters. We chased turkeys again that afternoon, but to no avail.
We did not shoot a turkey on our turkey hunt last weekend. In fact, over the two days, we didn’t even get one to work us. But the turkey trip to Tennessee was still a success. Sitting still and listening to the wilderness wake up, piddling around the camp house, training the bird dogs, sweet talking the horses, admiring the outdoorsmen father and son dynamic…all of it was a success. No gobblers this time, but I sure had a hell of a time at the Tennessee Turkey Camp.
Where do you find your special place outdoors? We’d love to hear from you.