It's Turkey Season in the Bruce Peninsula

James Smedley visits Kincardine, Ontario in sight of Turkey

I slowly crane my neck to glance down the tree line along the edge of the field. With my turkey-loaded 12-gauge resting across my lap, I’m wondering how I’m going to get my gun up without alarming at least one of the three young toms now high-stepping with abandon toward my partner Bill Wyatt and me.

I’d played out the scenario of one bird approaching a decoy many times; wait until he looks away then shoulder your gun. But with three birds now nearing our decoys 10 yards in front of us, I’m still not sure of my game plan. Suddenly the gangly group of red-headed fowl slows abruptly and starts making warning "putt, putt" sounds. From my right, I hear a loud whisper. "Shoot!"

Turkey hunt, Lake Huron in Bruce County
James Smedley enjoys a successful turkey hunt near the coast of Lake Huron in Bruce County. (Photo credit: James Smedley Outdoors)

Yesterday evening we were in Bill’s truck, scouting for the next morning’s hunt. Bill lives in Walkerton and is familiar with the area and many of the landowners. At one spot we see three toms on the edge of a field. “We could go in there,” says Bill pointing to a road leading into some open hardwoods, “and call them in.” It seems our best option for the morning until we pass a distant group of turkeys strolling up a ploughed hillside. Bill knows the farmer and secures permission to scout tonight and hunt in the morning. Bill wheels the truck behind the barn and I pull out the binoculars as more turkeys appear on the distant hillside. I count eleven. “I think we found our morning spot,” says Bill.

When we return in the morning the farmhouse is in silhouette before a quickly brightening sky. We head out across the first field. A few quick hen calls are answered by a single gobble and we make for the bush line. "We’ll set up here," Bill says, plunking down two decoys 10 yards out. Bill is about 15 feet to my right calling to dead silence and after a half-hour, I’m seriously considering suggesting a move when a hen comes out of the woods about 300 yards away. Soon after three toms follow. The hen swings wide across the field and the toms follow but then veer back toward the bush line.

I turn my head slowly to see three strutting fowl striking a lively gait toward the decoys. I realize it's now or never when the reckless toms suddenly become wary and halt a few yards from the decoys. This is when Bill whispers, "Shoot." I let off the safety, quickly hoist the 12-gauge to my shoulder, train the bead on a redhead and squeeze the trigger. One tom folds; the others fly.

"Awesome calling Bill," I said gripping his outstretched hand before hoisting the gobbler and heading back to the truck.

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About James Smedley

Professional photographer and writer James Smedley’s contributions—more than 400 pieces and close to 1,000 images—to U.S. and Canadian books, magazines, and newspapers have earned him over 40 national and international awards. In addition to teaching photography workshops, James is the travel editor at Ontario OUT of DOORS magazine. James has fly-fished for brook trout and arctic grayling in far northern rivers and continues to cast for trout, bass, and steelhead near his home in the northern Ontario town of Wawa where he lives with his wife Francine and daughters Islay and Lillian.


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