The Boss of Beaver County
The Boss of Beaver County had a missing tailfeather and a raw attitude. There were four strutters in the field, but all eyes were on him—at least, he seemed to think they were. Even as turkeys go, this one was a narcissist; a pompous tough guy who dreamed of himself at night and tolerated the other males simply so he could whip them at his leisure.
Watching him from a distance through binoculars, I was relieved when he finally realized that it was getting dark and there was nothing left on the ground with him to fight or romance. Just watching him had made me tired. The Boss looked around a bit, gobbled twice, blew up in strut, and then flapped up to his limb. As he settled in, we watched as another gobbler hastily shifted positions and then winged out to another tree altogether. Evidently, he'd chosen to sleep too close to one of The Boss' women.
Arrogance can be a fatal flaw, though, and we guessed that The Boss would not take kindly to waking up to the sight of a scrawny jake having his way with a hen the next morning. Arranging this ploy would mean sneaking down The Boss' treeline in the pitch black, setting the decoys and finding a place to hide—not only for me and Hansen, but also for Daniel McVay, our host, of Buckventures Outdoors fame, who'd be running a camera behind us.
To our surprise, the only thing any nastier than The Boss' attitude were the attitudes of his women. Half a dozen or more of them flew down and began gathering into a jealous mob, eager to confront the harlot staked out with the jake in their wheat field.
It was still early, before we expected anything to fly down, and Hansen and I found ourselves unprepared—as in, guns on knees but not on shoulders—when The Boss landed in the field within easy gun range. He made no bones about his intent. He aimed to thrash that jake without mercy and then, using the jake's own girlfriend as the example, prove once and for all that hens do indeed squeal.
A satellite strutter lit in the field behind The Boss, but only to get a better view of the impending show. You could almost see it on his face as he stared at the jake in amazement. Kid's got guts. I'll give him that.
But one of the hens caught something before the first spurs were thrown—I don't know if she saw me or Hansen or the camera—but she putted, causing The Boss to crane his neck skyward for a nervous look. That was about the time Hansen aligned the bead of his shotgun on The Boss' wattles.
It appeared that the jake would be administering the lesson this morning, and though I can't prove it, I'd swear that decoy was smiling when the shooting commenced. Hansen dropped The Boss where he stood, and I killed the satellite strutter just as he turned to leave. You can see it all for yourself in the video above. -- W.B.