Tale of a waterlogged gobbler by Collin Ross

Well it’s Spring according to the farmer’s almanac calendar but if you have been outside the last 3 months you would know that old man winter has provided some unpardonable weather here in South Florida………………………….and why I expected anything different this last weekend, well would have been irrational.

Our crew embarked on our, now typical, spring turkey pilgrimage in hopes of bagging a few thunder chickens in the cypress swamp. We had spent a few fruitful days scouting this public dirt and had devised many plans of attack. However this weekend would prove that no matter how prepared you are things change and in the cypress swamp they change much quicker than we anticipated. Generally scouting is quite tedious due to the early mornings and the long hikes but given the ambiance of this area it has always been quite refreshing.

dawn in the cypress……

even a southern blue flag iris provides some simple exquisiteness in this vastly muddy swamp….

We arrived at camp Thursday night…..it was pouring………we woke up at 3:30am to start our 4 mile hike and it was still pouring………….after some coin tosses we decided to hit the trial rain or shine………..and as we arrived so did the bucketing rain.

signs of no hope…………..

We were outfitted head to toe in rain suits and huge rubber boots but they proved no match. The only life savers were the few large camo golf umbrella’s I grabbed at bass world before arriving to camp. Needless to say it was miserable.

the blind

Most of the morning was spent in pure silence or maybe it was the typhoon that drowned out every sound typically enjoyed at day break in the cypress swamp. Hooting owls, passing wood ducks, and the hopeful sound of a gobbler on the roost were all but faded into howling gusts of sheet rain. I assure you sitting still in the blind felt  more like mother nature’s natural waterboarding than hunting………….our spirits were breaking. And as the hours dragged on we more frequently cursed our decision to walk 4 miles in the gloomy no moon night, deep into the swamp only to find our highly scouted area flooding by the minute. By this time our shivering pruned bodies wanted a warm sleeping bag more than any turkey but the greatest disappointment lied in that every area we spent countless hours scouting would soon be flooded and our three day hunt looked to be over.

did I mention it was raining………….

By 9AM all morale had been lost and the thoughts of strutting gobblers had floated down stream only to be forgotten. By all intensive purposes given the state of our surrounding area finding a turkey today was a complete loss. They are barely active enough during the day to find and one would imagine even worse in the conditions we were being subjected to. Plans to call it had been laid and my two colleagues started to pack their stuff when the sound of drizzling rain was deafened by the sudden echo of large wing beats which literally froze us stiff. I had yet to begin to pack my stuff as the thoughts of leaving the somewhat dry realm of my umbrella was rather unwelcoming. I slowly lifted my head to see a mature gobbler standing right next to our decoy…………..truly what were the chances this would take place, I promise you very slim. I never had the chance to get nervous, never the chance to get the shakes……..I simply lifted my gun and BOOM my hunt was over.

everything was a soggy mess……….

exactly one year ago my Dad made this custom knife with a pair of turkey feet I had given him……….after forming the handle to specs he built the sheath. The strap is actually a turkey toe. It is a amazing piece of craftsmanship, now one of my most prized possessions.

The next few days we worked very hard trying to hunt but the shear conditions of swamp had changed drastically. In just 18 hours time and god knows how much rain the entire swamp rose a average of 3.5 feet!!!

We burned a lot of shoe leather over the course of the next few days………….even swam across some deep areas but could never reach the birds.

this used to be a giant field……….

But we will be back………………….