THE CHILL WAS BECOMING UNBEARABLE. THE TREE TRUNK, MY BACK RESTED AGAINST, HAD SEEMED ACCEPTABLE IN THE PRE-DAWN LACK-OF-LIGHT BUT NOW WAS TERRIBLY GNARLED. THE ROOT STRUCTURE, UNDER THE TURKEY VEST’S SEAT CUSHION, WENT UNSEEN BUT DEFINITELY WAS NOT UNFELT. HOW MUCH LONGER?

‘LEGAL’ IS 30 MINUTES BEFORE SUNRISE. WHEN THE WATCH FACE GLOWED WITH THE RIGHT NUMBERS, TWO ROUNDS OF PLATED 4s, WERE STOKED IN THE UP & DOWN’S 3 ˝" CHAMBERS. THE SAFETY ENGAGED AS THE BREECH WAS CLOSED.

THE CIRCLES MADE ON THE SLATE EMITTED AN ALMOST IMPERCEPTIBLE PEEPS, THE ‘TREE CALL’ AS IT’S KNOWN. A SLIGHT PAUSE, THEN I SLATED ANOTHER SERIES. WHAT’S THAT? A GOBBLE? OR JUST A -- WAIT-- THERE IT IS AGAIN. IT IS! IT’S A GOBBLE, BUT TO ME OR TO--STOP. CALM DOWN! DO IT AGAIN. GOBBLE-GOBBLE-GOBBLE. A TRIPLE AND RIGHT BACK AT ME. HERE WE GO!

BEEN THERE, RIGHT. HOT BIRD, COOL MORNING, BUT YOU DON’T MIND THE TEMPERATURE, NOW. YOUR BACK DOESN’T HURT AND THERE’S NO ROOT ATTACKING YOUR BUTT—JUST THAT GOBBLIN’ BIRD COMING TOWARD YOUR SET UP!

YOU’RE JUST AT THE PEAK OF THE RIDGE, WHAT A PERFECT SET-UP. OLE’ MR. TOM’LL POP HIS HEAD OVER THE HORIZON AND TAKE A COUPLE OF STEPS, THEN BE ON HIS WAY TO THE TAXIDERMIST. JUST A MATTER OF TIME NOW.

LET’S BRING UP THE CALLING LEVEL A BIT. HOW ABOUT A COUPLE OF FULL CLUCKS, RIGHT... NOW. AND THERE’S THE GOBBLE, GETTING STRONGER—GETTING CLOSER. HE’S COMIN’ UP THE HILL.

BEST SLIP THAT MOUTH CALL IN, NOW, BEFORE HE’S TOO CLOSE. THERE’S PLENTY OF LIGHT. LOOKS LIKE THE DISTANCE WILL BE 20 YARDS OR SO WHEN HE TOPS THE RIDGELINE. A QUICK CHECK FOR TWIGS AND ‘STUFF’, NOTHING IN THE WAY. THIS’LL WORK!

A COUPLE OF YELPS OFF THE SLATE, BAM, THERE’S THE GOBBLE. HE’S STILL ON THE WAY.

THEN THE SILENCE. SEEMS LIKE YOU CAN HEAR EVERYTHING, THE CROW IN THE WOODS, THE HAWK OVER THE HAY FIELD, THE CAR ON THE HIGHWAY--EVERYTHING EXCEPT THAT TURKEY. WHERE’S HE AT. GO FOR THE MOUTH CALL, A LOW PURR, A SIMPLE CLUCK. BAM, HE’S STILL THERE ONLY NOW IT’S A DOUBLE GOBBLE. HE’S STILL COMING.

OOPS, WHAT’S THAT. AN ENGINE, CLOSE--TOO CLOSE. IT’S A DIESEL, THAT TREE CUTTER’S LOADER, AT THE BOTTOM OF THE RAVINE. DAMN, THAT’S CLOSE. FORGET IT. WHERE’S THE BIRD?

THEN IT’S NOTHING BY THE ROAR OF THE LOADER WORKING, THE BANGING OF THE LOGS AS THERE LOADED, THE SLAMMING OF THE TRUCK DOORS AS THEY PAUSE BEFORE PULLING AWAY. TRUCK AFTER TRUCK GETTING THEIR FILL OF THE PRE-CUT TIMBER. IT’S BEEN OVER AN HOUR.

WHERE’D THAT BIRD GO. IT’S LIKE HE DISAPPEARED INTO THIN AIR. ANOTHER DAY, EMPTY HANDED, AGAIN.

WELL IT’S HAPPENED ALL TOO OFTEN, TO ME, PROBABLY TO YOU, TOO.

SO WE DECIDED TO START DOING SOME INVESTIGATIONS. I WON’T SAY THAT WE’RE SCIENTIFIC IN OUR APPROACH BUT WE TRIED TO LOOK AT AS MANY ASPECTS OF THE ‘HUNT’ AS WE COULD. WE STARTED WITH WHERE WE FIGURED THE BIRDS HAD ROOSTED. SURE ENOUGH THERE WERE DROPPINGS. THEN WE LOOKED FOR THE FLYDOWN AREA, AND THERE WAS AN AMPLE OPENING THAT’D BEEN PERFECT. OFF OF THE OPENING WAS A TRAIL THAT EVENTUALLY STARTED UP TOWARD THE RIDGE WE’D BEEN ATOP. THE TRAIL WANDERED SOME BUT IT WAS ALMOST A SURE BET THAT’S WHERE THE TOM HAD BEEN. MOVING ON THE TRAIL, UP THE HILL WE STARTED SEEING SCRATCHINGS. IN SOME PLACES THERE WERE DOZENS OF THE OVAL TO HEART SHAPED DIGGINGS IN THE LEAF COVERED GROUND. CONTINUING UP THE TRAIL, WE FOUND WHAT APPEARED TO BE A FEATHER FROM A TAIL FAN. YEP, BET HE WAS HERE.

THEN WE FOUND IT. REALLY WE ALMOST MISSED IT, BUT THERE IT WAS, A DARK SPOT JUST OFF OF THE ‘TRAIL’. THERE WAS MARK WHERE A TURKEY’S TOE HAD BEEN DRAGGED RIGHT AT THE SPOT.

UNDER MORE CAREFUL INVESTIGATION, THE SPOT WAS THE OPENING TO A HOLE IN THE GROUND. NOT A BIG SINK HOLE THING BUT MORE LIKE, LIKE A BURROW. WE PEERED INTO THE OPENING BUT COULDN’T SEE THE LIMITS. I GOT ADVENTURESOME AND PUT A GLOVED HAND IN THE MINI-CAVE. THE SIDES WERE SOLID NOT LOOSE, BUT NOT SO SOLID THAT IT WASN’T OBVIOUS THAT THIS HOLE HAD BEEN ‘DUG’. I COULDN’T REACH TO A BOTTOM.

THAT’S WHEN WE PUT IT ALL TOGETHER. WE’D HUNTED THIS AREA FOR YEARS AND WE WERE JUST SURE AS COULD BE THAT HE WAS COMING, ONLY TO HAVE HIM DISAPPEAR. WELL NOW WE KNEW. WE HAD DISCOVERED A NEW BREED OF TURKEY. WE NAMED THIS HERE-TO-FORE UNKNOWN BREED " GLOBBERITUS BURROWITUS". YES, INDEED—THE BURROWING TURKEY.

FOR ALL THOSE YEARS WE’D THOUGHT THE SCRATCHINGS WERE MADE WHEN TURKEYS WERE LOOKING FOR FOOD, BUT IN REALITY THEY WERE CHECKING THE GROUND TO SEE IF A BURROW COULD BE EASILY DUG. OBVIOUSLY WHEN THE GROUND WAS ‘RIGHT’ THEY’D DIG OUT ANOTHER SAFE PLACE TO ESCAPE FROM THE HUNTERS IN THE WOODS. WHEN THEY SENSED THE HUNTERS WERE GONE THEY’D CLIMB OUT AND RESUME NORMAL ACTIVITY BUT THEY COULD ‘HOLE UP’ FOR HOURS OR DAYS IF NECESSARY AND WE, THE HUNTERS, WOULD BE NONE THE WISER.

WHAT A FIND. WHAT A DISCOVERY. NOW IT ALL MAKES SENSE.

WE’LL CONTINUE ARE RESEARCH INTO THIS NEW BREED AND KEEP THE REPORTS COMING REGARDING OUR FINDINGS. IN THE MEAN TIME IF ANYBODY ELSE LOCATES ONE OF THESE BURROWS, PLEASE LET US KNOW. WE’VE GOT A SUSPICION THAT WHAT WE USED TO CALL ‘DUSTING AREAS’ ARE SOMEHOW RELATED TO THE BEGINNING OF A NEW BURROW, BUT THERE’S NOT ENOUGH EVIDENCE AS OF YET.

ALMOST TRULY,

JUSTIN FUNN

PS. WE TOOK A PICTURE OF THE INSIDE OF THE BURROW.

I’VE SENT IT ALONG. PROBLEM IS THE FLASH UNIT DIDN’T

WORK TOO WELL.

 

PICTURE FROM INSIDE A TURKEY BURROW ------à http://www.tackleservicecenter.com/burrowpix.jpg