The “serpant” slithered across the leaves toward me. A few of the snakes in the Yucatan are lethal so I never moved. The forest was nearly as hot as I was so I stood still as the snake slithered past my boot. Not sensing my motionless body he gave me a pass. Matia slightly laughed at me then refocused on the singing tom only a hundred yards ahead.
Light was building and as with most hunts for Oscillated turkeys we searched out a slight clearing in the jungle where we could call him into our trap. The little clear area wouldn’t be considered back home but it was all we could hope for here in the jungle.
I took cover against a large Yaaxche tree while Matia slid off into the grey light behind me. We then waited. The rhythmic calls of the Oscillated tom picked up pace as the sun illuminated the jungle. At last, I heard him fly down and land on the jungle floor. Immediately, Matia made his first call behind me.
His call sounded more like a chicken than a turkey, but the Oscillated tom answered Matia and began ‘pounding’ our way. Slowly the tom eased closer and began answering every call we offered. My pulse quickened as I heard the Oscillated turkey’s footsteps. He was coming my way but still behind a wall of foliage.
I eased the bow up awaiting my quarry. Funny thing was, up until this point I had never even laid eyes on one of these jungle birds so the wait was exhilarating. And then again he drummed another call, close, much closer than before. He was within bow range but still out of sight — until suddenly, there he was!
His blue and orange head bobbed back and forward as only a turkey will do. He then broke cover and stood before me. A breath taking sight, one worth my journey. He kept coming and would cross at twenty some yards ,but drawing on him so close in felt risky. So I waited.
Again the Oscillated tom stopped and called, looking for that which had beckoned him near. He veered off to my left and in doing so walked behind the stump of a fallen gum tree. I drew and waited. Then out popped his head. Next came his beautiful white wing. And at last he was clear, so I sent it!
The Grim Reaper Broadhead caught him just behind the wing butt and passed through, splitting a sampling beside him. The ensuing chase was short and brief.
A moment later I found myself gripping the neck of the most beautiful turkey the world has ever known. Describing the Oscillated tom’s beauty is pointless. I will leave this to my photos and even they cannot illustrate his vibrance.
I left the jungle knowing that God had definitely took his time with the Yukatan and especially poured his touch into the Oscillated Turkey.
The jungle is being cut each year at an alarming pace. The Oscillated turkey, the jaguar, monkeys and all that live in these lush forest could one day be in peril if we fail to stop the destruction.
Fortunately, hunters and fishermen contribute millions of dollars annually to the Yucatan economy. It’s all because of our love of hunting and the wild things we cherish. Ultimately the hunt for turkeys in the Yucatan has slowed the forest destruction in sections where hunters pay to chase these elusive birds. So for now the Oscillated Turkey still calls out in the morning light and could one day answer the call again.