Big Jake

My first turkey — taken in the beautiful foothills of Sonoma, California.

My first turkey — taken in the beautiful foothills of Sonoma, California.



I killed an oxymoron this morning.

The young male turkey, or “Jake” as he’s known in turkey parlance, was at the head of a gang of five, walking cautiously along a fence line as he craned his neck to eyeball our decoys. At 36 yards I pulled the trigger, and the borrowed 870, tricked out for just such a bird and moment, dropped him with finality. It was only around 10:30am but we’d been at it since dawn. He felt heavy when I hoisted him up, about 16 pounds. More accustomed to holding a duck in my hand, he was huge by comparison. So I decided to call him Big Jake.

Of course, veteran turkey hunters will laugh and say there’s no such thing as a big Jake; that only a fully mature male – known as a gobbler or Tom – can be deemed big.  But if a TV show can call itself the Walking Dead, I feel just fine about his moniker.

I mean, there are Jumbo Shrimp, aren’t there?

I hadn’t intended to take an immature bird. Leading up to the hunt, the daydreams had featured a real monster, red waddled, beard dragging. We certainly heard several around dawn, hefty gobbles in response to guide Greg Smith’s enticing calls, far off and in different directions. We even had an exciting and agonizing few minutes of watching one come on, seemingly eager for a hot date with our hen decoy as he plumped his feathers and strutted a zig-zag path toward our hiding spot. But he hung up about 50 or so yards out. I tensed it out for many more minutes, gun still at the ready, thinking he might circle back around after he had disappeared. But he was gone, for good.

And that wasn’t the first time a prize gobbler had given me false hope. Over the years, some have crossed fields towards me, only to change their pea-sized mind at the last moment and veer off. Others weren’t at all enticed by my decoys, not with a harem already in tow. I’ve even passed on Jakes before, thinking a bigger, better bird would show up at any minute. And of course, they never did.

Yes, hunting is about the experience. It’s not about trophies, or bragging rights. But then again, there’s nothing zen about an empty cooking pot.

Anyway, that’s where Big Jake is headed. My first turkey. And he’s going to be delicious.



~ by SpeakingZenaphorically on April 18, 2014.

2 Responses to “Big Jake”

  1. Nice Bird!

  2. […] “” This entry was tagged Jake. Bookmark the […]

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