Carl and me have arrived in Kansas from Wyoming for the second leg of our western hunt.
In following our adventure, you know some things are just not going right. With my hope of getting another “Slam” this year killed in Florida, back in March, and me striking out in Wyoming, I am in Kansas just hoping to have a good time. I have hunted two states and four tags are just sitting empty. Carl has gotten his “Grand Slam,” which is what this trip is mostly about anyway, although I am still fussing that he did it by way of a Merriam Jake.
I love to hunt with this Kansas outfitter, Tom and Vonda Palmer, and guides Bill and Sandy Anderson. I have hunted with them for 17 years. They are fine people, and the Little Creek Ranch is full of the Rio Grande turkey.
The first morning of our hunt sounds like the world is exploding as the long beards started to gobble at daylight. Soon after sunup I hear a shot ring out. It is coming from the direction where Carl is hunting. Since Carl and myself are the only hunters on the sprawling 6,000 acres that is Little Creek Ranch, I know it is Carl shooting so I get back to calling.
A short time I hear another shot ring out. Again I know it is Carl. As I have told him, do not kill Jakes. If you do they will never grow into long beards. I keep working my calls until lunch, and have brought nothing into my area. I have now gone back to the bunkhouse and to my surprise Carl isn’t here. I arrived thinking he must have killed out hours ago, and was resting or chatting with Sandy and Bill. Wrong!
I think I should go look for him, which is always a tricky move. He might have some long beards coming to his calls, and the sound of a truck would send them away. I do go looking for Carl and find him sitting in his blind, with two turkeys beside him. One I can tell is a nice three-year-old, but the way the other one is positioned, I can just barely tell it is a turkey.
Carl picks up his two turkeys and puts them into the back of the truck. I move the nice three-yearold to get a better look at the other one. Yep, you guessed it — he has killed another Jake. I am now going off the deep end. First, Little Creek Ranch has hundreds of mature gobblers. There’s no need to kill a Jake. Second, the guides and outfitter will kick you off their land for pulling such a bonehead trick. You keep killing Jakes you have no population of long beards left to hunt.
Because of my longtime friendship with the people of Little Creek Ranch, I knew they would say nothing, but I also know what they were thinking. I asked Carl, “Why did you kill a Jake?” He answered, “When it was coming toward me gobbling I thought it was an old turkey.”
That doesn’t hold water with me. An old gobbler and a Jake sound nothing alike.