Tale of the left-handed turkey: An old friend joins the hunt

Shadley shoots one wrong-handed, but he’s not alone on this solo hunt.

Sometimes you’re handed a gift. That’s how it worked out this morning. It was a cold, quiet morning in Franklin County and there wasn’t a lot of turkey gobbling going on. I could hear a couple of birds off in the distance, nothing close.

A half an hour went by and a bird gobbled on my neighbor’s property. I was trying to get him to move my direction when a hen between us started giving me hell. She scolded me for twenty minutes before landing forty yards from me in an oak tree. She scrutinized my calling for another five minutes before flying off. After that things were very quiet.

I picked up my shotgun and pack and headed south down the trail of disappointment once again. I’d only moved about 50 yards when I decided to make one last desperate call. The gobble was so loud it was shocking. Where had this bird been all morning?

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He couldn’t have been more than 70 yards away when I was talking to the first gobbler. Now what?

The bird was no more than 30 yards away but luckily I couldn’t see it and he couldn’t see me. I was scrambling. I’ve been in this situation before and it didn’t end well. Finally I just started backing up trying to put some real estate between me and the bird. I had to assume he was coming so I backed up against the nearest oak and set down.

No more than 60 seconds went by before I saw the bright blue head. The bird was close – 15 yards.

For a split second the head disappeared. This was my chance to get my muzzle pointed in his direction. Even though I was thrilled to have him in my lap he was 90 degrees to my right, an impossible shot for a right handed shooter.

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Quickly I shifted the gun to my left shoulder, punched the safety and pulled the trigger. He went down fast. An extra full turkey choke at fifteen yards does amazing things to a turkey head.

All morning I felt like I wasn’t hunting alone even though I was by myself. This past year I lost my longtime hunting buddy Bub Denneman. Last season Bud called in his last turkey not 40 yards from where I shot my turkey this morning. Even though he didn’t get to put the turkey in the freezer it was an outstanding hunt.

Bud called the turkey in to within 20 yards but never saw the bird. From my vantage point I had a birds eye view so to speak. The bird paused 90 degrees to Buds left, spotted me and slowly headed back the way he came.

Bud was an extraordinary turkey hunter. He didn’t give a damn that he wasn’t able to pull the trigger, it was always about the hunt, nothing more. I really miss that guy!


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Shadley’s interest in hunting, fishing and a ton of other outdoor activities started at a very young age. He was hunting and fly-fishing on his own when he was eleven; it’s always been his passion.

He was employed by the Indiana DNR as a conservation officer for 34 years. For the first 17 years, Shadley worked southeastern Indiana as a field officer. For the last 17 years he was in charge of Indiana’s Turn In a Poacher program (TIP) and was the chief public relations officer for the law enforcement division.

Since his retirement he’s spent most of his time fly-fishing, shooting sporting clays, hunting and photographing wildlife.

Shadley is Fishing Editor of the Sporting Report.

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Dean Shadley
Shadley’s interest in hunting, fishing and a ton of other outdoor activities started at a very young age. He was hunting and fly-fishing on his own when he was eleven; it’s always been his passion. He was employed by the Indiana DNR as a conservation officer for 34 years. For the first 17 years, Shadley worked southeastern Indiana as a field officer. For the last 17 years he was in charge of Indiana’s Turn In a Poacher program (TIP) and was the chief public relations officer for the law enforcement division. Since his retirement he’s spent most of his time fly-fishing, shooting sporting clays, hunting and photographing wildlife. Shadley is Fishing Editor of Sportsman Magazine

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