So much goes into successful turkey hunting. Scouting, care and preparation of equipment, being familiar with the property you hunt and meticulous planning all factor into improving your chances of bagging a bearded bird. Despite all that, sometimes things still don’t go as we’d hoped or intended.

Then there are those rare days when luck intervenes on our behalf and tips the scales capriciously in our favor.

I was out one evening trying to roost a bird for the following day’s hunt but wasn’t having much luck. The birds I’d scouted during preseason were mum, either shot or harassed out of their routine. It wasn’t until my fifth stop that I finally roused the distant gobbles of several birds with my faux owl hoot. They were a long way off, and on unfamiliar ground, but at least they represented a possibility.

Before going to sleep I checked the forecast, which called for rain. It offered a convenient excuse for a well-needed sleep-in, but I decided to at least wake up and take a peek in the morning. I had mixed emotions when I stuck my head outside at 4 a.m. and the ground was dry, but I decided to give it a go.

No sooner had I arrived at my destination and stepped out of my truck when the rain started. The hard part — rising in the wee hours — was done, so I threw on some rain gear and stuck with the plan. My first owl hoot was again greeted with distant gobbles, so I took a compass bearing and lit out.

My line of travel was soon interrupted by a wide stream, which I paralleled for some distance before finding a suitable crossing. The birds were gobbling on their own now and dawn was beginning to win its battle with the heavy overcast, prompting a quickened pace, albeit through the still dark and occasionally thick woods. Still, I did my best to weave through the path of least resistance.

Seeing a clearing up ahead, I slowed. Drawing nearer I realized I’d made a wide arc, and was now back at the stream. Cursing myself aloud, I made a quick right turn and took several noisy steps on the still-dry leaves when a gobbler much closer than the others suddenly sounded off barely 80 yards away.

I froze and cursed myself again, this time under my breath. Stumbling around in the dark, I’d bumbled almost into his roost. The commotion had probably spooked the bird, but I really had no choice. Slowly, carefully and as quietly as possible, I eased myself down against the nearest tree, set my gun on my knee and melted into my surroundings.

The bird gobbled again, putting me a bit more at ease. Maybe, just maybe, I rationalized, the bird didn’t recognize my commotion for what it was, instead mistaking it for a deer or some other woodland creature. To hedge my bets I popped in a mouth call and gave a few soft tree yelps, announcing, “There’s a hen roosted over here, just waiting for you.” A responsive gobble boosted my confidence.

A few more tree yelps, and it was time to go silent. It was well into legal shooting hours, but the low clouds and thick evergreens overhead delayed the dawn around me. I wanted to wait as long as possible before trying to coax the bird out of his roost. Unfortunately, the bird had other ideas and caught me a bit off guard when he launched from the limb, soared in my direction and touched down barely 30 yards away.

He made four quick steps before coming to a stop, with all but his head and chest hidden behind a small rise. That was enough, and when I found the red head and dangling beard in my scope, I squeezed off a shot.

I barely noticed the rain coming more steadily as I headed back to the truck with 18 more pounds in the back of my vest, and I chuckled recalling that I’d almost slept in. There wasn’t much planning involved in this hunt. I’d done more wrong than right. Thankfully, luck was on my side that morning.

Bob Humphrey is a freelance writer and registered Maine guide who lives in Pownal. He can be contacted at:

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