Sleeping turkey gets surprised by hunters

This turkey hunting story was shared with me by my friend Jim Robbins. It’s a good one and I want to share it with you. Here’s Jim’ story, in his own words.

One day in mid May my grandson Eli had Friday off from school so we decided that we would go turkey hunting together.  Knowing that teen agers usually don’t like to get up at 3:30 am I told him I would pick him up at 5 am.  We went to four of my favorite haunts but with no luck.

At one of the spots we could hear some gobblers way off but couldn’t get them interested in our calling.  At about 7 am we drove over to an old farm where I had some luck in the past.  Out behind the farm house there is a junk yard, typical of many old Maine farms.

The junk yard has some old tractors, trailers, haying equipment etc.  Beyond the junk yard there is a very large field.  We looked out into the field and about two hundred yards away there was what appeared to be a turkey- but it wasn’t moving.   There was no way to approach the turkey without being seen.        We finally decided to sneak up as close as we could and hide behind the last tractor in the junk yard.  The bird was still about 200 yards away.  I got out all my calls and started calling.  No matter what call we used the bird never moved an inch.

After about twenty minutes of calling there was absolutely no movement.  I said to Eli” I don’t think that is a turkey.”  He replied”I don’t think so either.  Why don’t we walk up and see what it is”.  So we did.

We picked up all of our gear and started up across the field.  My next thought was that it must be a big porcupine out in the field eating green grass, as they are prone to do in the spring.  When we got up to about 75 yards from it I could see that it wasn’t a porcupine and could see what looked like turkey legs and a beard- but there was no head on it.

I looked over to the edge of the field and could see an old outhouse about 50 yards away.  I told Eli that it must be a decoy.  I could now see the red wattles on it but still no head.

All this time we were discussing this with each other.  Why would anyone use a decoy with no head on it.? Why was the decoy 50 yards from their blind?  When we got up about 20 yards from the “decoy” all of a sudden a turkey head came out from under the wing and the gobbler started running across the field.

I said, “Shoot him Eli!”- and he did, making a good running shot.  Apparently the bird had been sound asleep out in the middle of the field, which I had never seen before, and he hadn’t heard us walking up in the wet grass.

As it turned out, the bird was a full gobbler with a full tail and nine inch beard.  However, he only weighed 12 pounds.  A two year old gobbler usually weighs at least eighteen pounds .  He either was a runt or something was wrong with him.  He learned the hard way not to sleep in the middle of a field.

Anyway, Eli was tickled to death with him and it ended up being a good morning of turkey hunting.  Come to think of it, any day spent hunting with a grandchild is a good day.

George Smith

About George Smith

George stepped down at the end of 2010 after 18 years as the executive director of the Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine to write full time. He writes a weekly editorial page column in the Kennebec Journal and Waterville Morning Sentinel, a weekly travel column in those same newspapers (with his wife Linda), monthly columns in The Maine Sportsman magazine, two outdoor news blogs (one on his website,, and one on the website of the Bangor Daily News), and special columns for many publications and newsletters. Islandport Press published a book of George's favorite columns, "A Life Lived Outdoors" in 2014. In 2014, George also won a Maine Press Association award for writing the state's bet sports blog. In 2016, Down East Books published George's book, Maine Sporting Camps, and Islandport Press published George and his wife Linda's travel book, Take It From ME, about their favorite Maine inns and restaurants.