White Oak Mountain Ranger: Old Birds, Gurus, And Decoys

Saturday, April 17, 2021

“The bird possesses a remarkable ability to turn arrogance into hopelessness.” Tom Kelly

 

When confounded by birds, or fish, I always turn to my Gurus. My turkey hunting Gurus tell me that when a bird living around here makes it through five years, “He’s so damn smart that you can’t do a thing with him.”

 

The way I figure this particular bird I’ve recently had multiple conversations with, he’s at least six and he’s got to be a Sumo Cum Laude level PHD.

 

The other morning this old monarch of the White Oaks waited until 9:00 a.m.

before he uttered the first word. My right leg went stone dead about 8:30 a.m. The multitude of dog pecker gnats, ticks  and mosquitos, that did not need a meal on opening morning, were more than happy to feast on me now.

 

The bugs seemed mighty happy to see me, the big bird, not so much.

 

It’s just flat amazing how an environment can change in the span of a few short weeks. Suddenly we find ourselves alive in a moment where trees, just a few short days ago were mere buds once struggling, and now, in a matter of hours, a heavenly multitude of body eating bugs have dedicated their lives to chew on every living thing that breathes, squirms and itches.

 

This and enough pollen to kill a goat just drives me absolutely spastic.

 

Bugs and pollen aside, this old bird I’m dancing with has messed with my mornings enough for me to know that I’m up against a professional survivor.

 

He sends his hens to me as a test. They show up silently and hover nervously around twenty feet away, daring me to call to the old Tom. He stands off in the woods loudly gobbling to the hens and I’m dead certain he’s asking them if the coast is clear.

 

They seem to tell him that things look OK, but he isn’t buying it. He just sits back about 100 yards in the woods and gobbles relentlessly while I go nuts with a burgeoning population of bugs trying to eat their weight from my ears, neck and ankles.

 

When his two hens decide it’s time to answer his calls and wander off slowly in his direction, I plan a series of maneuvers that fail miserably again and again.

 

Decoys are supposed to work on dominant birds like this but I gave up on decoys when I retired Juanita a few years back.

 

I named her Juanita after a shapely, young working girl I spent some lovely time with the last time I walked across the border to boys town in Tijuana.

 

The new decoy was cheap and gaudy and smelled a little strange when I made the purchase.

 

She instantly took me back to a hazy time spent in a front street bar with my arm around a lovely young receptive lady named Juanita.

 

She had big sad eyes, long legs and a look that could charm the socks off of anyone that kept ordering overpriced and watered down Tequila.

 

Things went well that evening until a bus load of Turkish sailors showed up with more dinero than me, costing me the evening with Juanita. Deciding not to fight a bus load of thirsty Turkish swabies and abandoning Juanita that night left me with a true appreciation for the types of young and uninhibited Turks their navy recruited. Who knew Turkish sailors were so thirsty when landing in Mexico with large sums of money for all manner of Tijuana delight?

 

But, the memory of Juanita holds firm to this day.

 

I retired Juanita the decoy because she was pretty good at getting stomped by mischievous does and she was fairly effective at confusing coyotes, but she seemed to scare the living daylights out of most gobblers about the time they finally laid eyes on that vivacious foam body.

 

Now this is the time of year that old birds have to waited out. Let the hens go contentedly to the nest. Maybe some other devious trick might work on a bird that has seemingly survived all manner of techniques planned to end in graduation from survivor school.

 

Now is the time for development of new and massive styles of TRICKERATION.

 

There is hope. Hope is not a plan. My plan is full of hope, it just doesn’t include a new Juanita.

 

This is also the time of year my turkey hunting buddies flood me with phone calls and pictures of their successes and tales of their adventures with old birds that are survivors. The most recent call was from a buddy bragging about his most recent successful hunt.

 

It seems that he and his wife were lounging in the kitchen, enjoying their second cup of coffee, when they were interrupted by a rapid pounding noise coming from their carport. On closer inspection from the kitchen window, they watched in horror as a big gobbler was going to town on his reflection in the wife’s Kia driver side door. The door dents were apparently quite significant, causing the wife to scramble around the kitchen hysterically in search of the right tool to initiate combat-to-the-death on the big bird. She loves her Kia.

 

This gave my buddy time to load his twelve gauge and save the paint job on the Kia. He never left his deck, never got bug bit, no ticks, no walk in the snake infested dark. No problem other than multiple dents and scratches in the door. He said it was hands down the best turkey hunt he’s been on in years.

 

Maybe I’ll rent a red Kia and park it in the clover patch. Hope springs eternal.

 

Forget a new Juanita.

 

She was a fake to begin with.

 

But those big sad eyes and those thighs!

 

Who can forget that?

 

Some tricks you never forget.

 


Equine Infectious Anemia Reported In West Tennessee

Bluebird Trail Grand Opening In Red Bank Scheduled For Saturday, May 8

Harrison Pro Jacob Wheeler Earns Third Career Victory On Bass Pro Tour, $100,000


The state veterinarian is alerting horse owners of cases of equine infectious anemia (EIA), a potentially fatal blood-borne illness. Two horses in Shelby County, Tn. recently tested positive ... (click for more)

White Oak Park in the City of Red Bank will be the site of the grand opening of the Tri-State Bluebird’s Society’s newest Bluebird Trail. The public is invited to attend this educational event ... (click for more)

In a crazy finish that had bass-fishing fans watching the MLF NOW! livestream on the edges of their seats, Academy pro Jacob Wheeler of Harrison, Tennessee, held off a late charge from Berkley ... (click for more)



Outdoors

Equine Infectious Anemia Reported In West Tennessee

The state veterinarian is alerting horse owners of cases of equine infectious anemia (EIA), a potentially fatal blood-borne illness. Two horses in Shelby County, Tn. recently tested positive for EIA. The stable is now under quarantine and animal health officials are testing additional horses on the premises. “EIA is a devastating illness with serious consequences,” State ... (click for more)

Bluebird Trail Grand Opening In Red Bank Scheduled For Saturday, May 8

White Oak Park in the City of Red Bank will be the site of the grand opening of the Tri-State Bluebird’s Society’s newest Bluebird Trail. The public is invited to attend this educational event scheduled for this Saturday from 11 a.m.-noon at the upper pavilion at White Oak Park. Bluebird Trails are a series of bluebird boxes installed near each other so that volunteers can ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Parent Group Calls For Mask Mandate In Schools To End Now; Opponent Says Just Wait A Few Days

A group carrying signs and shouting slogans told members of the County School Board on Thursday night they want a school mask mandate to end now. Supt. Bryan Johnson earlier said on June 1 - a couple of weeks away - staff and students are not required to wear masks to ward off the coronavirus. A leader of the protest group said, "That's not good enough. It should be parents' ... (click for more)

2 Killed, 1 Injured In Shooting Wednesday Night On Ridgeside Road

DeQuan Paris, 25, and LaRome Ridley, 20, were killed and a 29-year-old man was injured in a shooting on Ridgeside Road Wednesday evening. The two men who died are brothers. They have two other brothers. Their mother, Amanda Del “Rat” Paris, died last Dec. 3 at age 39. Chattanooga Police responded to the 3600 block of Ridgeside Road on a report of a person shot at approximately ... (click for more)

Opinion

What Is The Price Of Democracy?

Most United States citizens consider ourselves fortunate to live in a modern, mature democracy. We appreciate the great freedoms and abundant material things our democracy affords us. But while we all know the old adage that freedom is not free, neither is democracy. Our system depends on citizens’ being in ultimate control of the government through a written constitution with checks ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: That’s ‘Nonya’ Business

In the Sunday editions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press the editors will often include a feature on “fake news,” or “News That’s Not” but I don’t suspect them to include themselves in the junk report this weekend. The Chattanooga newspaper once again stumbled Thursday when they had an embarrassing lead story on the front page. The headline read, “DA accused of marrying employee, ... (click for more)