About The Author

Kim Hiss, an associate editor at Field & Stream, has hunted ducks, antelope, turkeys, and deer throughout the country, enjoying a number of women's hunts along the way. She lives in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Click here to email Kim.

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October 13, 2008

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Turkeys in Training


I'm thrilled that I'm starting to get season updates from blog readers, and I just got this great email from Judy Black. She was bowhunting for whitetails when she got to see some exciting displays of nature at play.
    What's your best moment of the '08 season so far? Or do you have a favorite daybreak story from seasons past? In the meantime, I'll get out of the way and let Judy tell hers. - K.H.

     I absolutely love the sound of the world waking up, and there is no place better than a tree stand to experience it.
     On Saturday morning my husband had harvested a doe and cleaned it out on the south end of the field where I hunt.  I hunted my stand Saturday night and there were a few deer in the field feeding when they all came to full alert.  I thought, what the heck is coming that caught their attention? I couldn't see anything from my stand but they sure could.
     Now if you have ever been in a treestand and had turkeys come through, you know they sound like a small freight train.  They not only make a lot of noise as they move through the field or brush, but they are constantly making clucking noises.  With none of that going on, I waited to see what had caught the deer's attention.
    Soon two small, young turkeys showed up and they made little noise, only faint little "peeps."  Once they made their way through the field, the deer could see them and settled back to eating.  The youngsters moved along and eventually I saw them fly up into a tree to roost.
     The next morning I was in my stand at first light and the crows and ravens were feeding on the remains of the doe that was harvested the day before.  They would take turns flying in, taking a piece and then you could hear them as they flew overhead.  As they flew over, I remember thinking how cool it was to hear the wind under their wings.
     I had heard the turkeys fly out of their roost but they didn't come out on the field.  I listened as the blue jays and chickadees came to life.  The squirrels ran up and down the pine tree next to me knocking down the pine cones.  A woodpecker broke the morning silence with his extremely LOUD pecking.  The deer continued to feed in the field and when they were out of sight, you could hear them pulling up a mouthful of rape and chewing it.
     As I sat there, I heard a sound that was unfamiliar to me.  It was like a shrill whistle and then almost like a yelp.  Again and again I would hear this and even pulled up my face mask to hear it more clearly.  Again and again but often it would be two whistles and a yelp.  Then one whistle and two or three yelps, moving around but not far.
     I finally figured out that what I was hearing was the young turkeys.  They were too young to make the sounds that the older turkeys do, but were working their young voices up to the yelps and clucks.  By the time I left my stand, I heard more yelps and whistles.
     Not long after the turkeys moved away, I saw a head bounding through the tall grass on the south/west side of my field.  What in the world was that, I found myself saying out loud.  I leaned forward and a large coyote raced across the field towards the spot where the doe had been cleaned.  The trees came to life with crows and ravens and the sound was deafening.
    Within minutes, movement caught my eye and another coyote came out of the woods.  He stood on the west side of the field about 60 yards from the tree that I sat in.  Soon another coyote joined him and they stood together on a rotten log.  The two of them wanted to join the first one across the field but soon turned to walk back into the woods.
     Those two were not out of sight when I spotted yet another coyote making his way to the field.  Four coyotes in less than 10 minutes.  Almost immediately the three of them moved back in to the woods and disappeared.
     I climbed down out of my stand and couldn't wait to get home and tell of my morning in the blind.  My husband told me he thought that was better than seeing the 8 point bucks that had frequented my field.  Many people don't get to see a coyote in their lifetime and those that are lucky enough to get to see one.  I got to see four in one sitting.
    I cannot stress to people how wonderful it is to sit and listen to the world wake up.  Whether it is on your front porch, on your back deck, in a tree or at a park, there just is nothing better.  It truly is the greatest therapy and is there for everyone, free of charge.
     I love to morning hunt and most days I have to go to work once I get out of my stand.  That couple of hours in my stand has awakened every one of my senses and cleared my head for the day ahead.  I am relaxed and ready to meet the challenges of the day.  I have woken up with nature and it just doesn't get any better than that. - J.B.


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NorCal Cazadora

Judy, GREAT STORY! You should start a blog - there's always room for more huntresses in the blogosphere! :-)


Wonderful story Judy!

It's still very early in the season, but I have a feeling this past Saturday will rank high in my favorite hunting memories off all time.

Saturday was the opening of duck season. My husband and I were up at 3:30am, met our hunting partners in the parking area at 5am and started to hike in to a spot that I had found while scouting. We were pretty worried about competition, but hoped that the work involved in getting back to that pond would discourage a lot of people. Thankfully we were right.

We set our spread of decoys and settled behind some timber to wait for shooting light, listening to the night sounds of the woods around us. As the sky started to lighten, I started to hear the whistling of wings and the sounds of ducks hitting the water. And then the unmistakable quacking of a mallard hen began. She was doing all the calling for us! We didn't need to call at all!

Three minutes before legal shooting hours the gunfire began on some private property to our south. From there the gunfire rolled like a wave of thunder around us. It began in the south, rolled through the lake to our east, and continued to the marsh to our north. It sounded like a war had started. And we waited. We could have opened up on the ducks already on the pond, but it was still hard to distinquish drakes from hens. But then, the occasional sound of whistling wings became a roar and the ducks from the nearby lake and marsh came pouring into our spread. Wings cupped, the red morning sun reflecting off their bodies, it was a truly beautiful sight. I actually sat there in awe until I realized I should be shooting. By the time I picked my jaw up from the muddy ground it was too late to get a good shot, but the guys had at least dropped a few birds. My uncle shooting his first. Later in the morning when I did get a shot at passing wood duck, my gun jammed and was out of service for the day. And even though I only got one shot off for the day, it was so worth it. I can't wait for next Saturday morning.


What a great morning/memory. I can't agree with you more, there is nothing like hitting the woods and then watching and hearing the woods wake up.
Those turkeys give my heart a start everytime they fly into or out of their roosts. I love watching the deer come across the field at night, the young ones playing little games. You can almost be certain which ones will grow up to be a doe and wich a buck by their actions. I hope my 2008 memorable hunting moments are yet to come, right now they are of the beauty that surrounds me. Most of my hunting pictures are of sunrises, sunsets, and some awesome clouds.

Lou Alexander

We won't start bow hunting until this weekend, but I took my girls camping this past weekend on our place in SE Kansas. The first morning about sunrise there was a throw down between some crows and a hawk that kept circleing the crows. Boy can they make a lot of noise!! Early the next morning I heard a deer blowing and stomping just outside of camp, then the pack of coyotes lit up about daybreak. Waking up with the wildlife. . . priceless :)

Judy Black

Thanks for all the great responses. It is great to know that others are out there enjoying the gift we have been given.
I went camping this past week with my girlfriends and we all took our horses.
We rode in the most incredible colors as they are at their peak in northern michigan. There are times when we are riding that nobody says a word as we are all just taking in the breath taking beauty and the smells of fall. There is nothing better than riding in the woods and all you hear are the horses hooves rustling the fallen leaves. Between that and the sounds of nature around you, it just doesn't get any better.
Glad we got to go as the rain has moved in with lots of wind. The leaves will be gone and so will all the beauty.

Laura Bell

That's an awesome morning for sure! Too bad those coyotes didn't come a tad closer though, they need thinned out.

I haven't had anything too exciting while deer hunting in the mornings. I do remember, from a couple years back, leaving the woods one morning after an unsuccessful turkey hunt. Just as my dad and I were walking past a crick, my dad stops and pointed out a beaver. We were only several feet from it and he didn't even act like he seen us. So as we stand there watching this beaver it became obvious that it was building a dam. He already had a small mound of sticks etc. piled up and he continued to "pack" it together. That was the coolest thing! Normally when hunting around beavers I had only heard them smack their tails in the water or just have seen the top of their heads in the water for a few seconds.
I know you can probably go to a zoo and see something like that, but to watch this beaver build and act natural in the wild was just awesome to me. The only bad thing, no camera with me. Now a days I carry one almost every time out. This way I can show my family and friends what goes on while I'm out there.


This is great! I love reading about hunts, and especially women's hunts! Keep 'em comming ladies!

I keep a hunting journal. Started it sort of accidentally, the first time I took my granddaughter to the woods. She was 2 yrs. old, and I wanted to have a record of it for her, so I wrote a little story with the highlights of the day, took some pictures and put it in her scrapbook. The idea took wings and I started recording my thoughts, sights, and experiences from the hunts in a journal.

That was 5 years ago, and now when I take her (which is OFTEN!) she and I both write in my (our) hunting journal. She's the only child I know who'd rather have a bedtime story read from our journal instead of a fairy tale! (Doesn't hesitate to correct an oversight on my part either.... "No, Nana, there were THREE baby raccoons in the corn - not two!")
I have so many wonderful memories of hunts past, but my favorite are the ones we shared.

"AFRICA JACK" - (pseudonym)



I couldn't agree with you more Judy. Nothing seems to awaken your sences and your feel for living, than being up bright and early, in your hide or on a hunt.

Only one thing I believe that can better your feeling, and that's waking up in Africa on a hunt. Hearing the lions wake up and the baboons answering nervously.

The amazing thing of Africa is the way the bush wakes up in the morning and beds down at night. Nothing will get your sences tuned in like a lions growl, a couple of yards away from your camp.

Most people however believe that Africa, is just too far and out of reach for the average American hunter or huntress. How wrong can't they be!

You can come to Africa for less than $10 000 and shoot animals everyday!

Visit our blog for interesting news and stories "Out of Africa".

Regards and God Bless you.

"Africa Jack"

Lou Alexander

So many great stories, this re-enforces the fact that there is much more to hunting than shooting things. So many non-hunters don't realize that the harvest is just the iceing on the cake.


Jack is right about the Africa hunting experience....it's more afordable than you might think, and well worth the money. I went on my 4th safari last August with the NRA "Women On Target"....for a lot less than I can go on an elk and mule deer hunt here in the states. Since it was a "no boys allowed" hunt, my husband (and hunting partner) didn't get to go; but he and I have hunted Namibia, S. Africa, and Zimbabwe
together and there is nothing like it!!!

Judy Black

My husband and I went on a whitetail hunt in Saskatchewan for our honeymoon. I took a tablet of paper with me and scribbled notes of things that happened,what we had to eat and the animals we encountered. I brought it home, tucked it away and just kind of forgot about it.
In 2003 when I got my bow and we decided to start traveling to hunt, I bought myself a journal. I thought it would be kind of cool to write about my hunts and the adventures of.
My first mission was to find that old tablet and get out my notes. I found it and that is where my "hunting" journal begins. That hunt was with a rifle and the rest have all been with my bow.
I have written articles about my last three hunts and submitted them to various magazines. One has been published by Bear Hunting Magazine, and oh what a thrill that was to see my story and my pictures in a world wide magazine.
I carry a small spiral notebook with me and each day I write the events of the day. I do this everyday of my hunt and then when I get home, I transfer them to my journal.
These are memories that will last a lifetime and something I can hand down to my grandchildren.
It is also fun to go back and read my journal...sometimes you feel like you are reliving the whole hunt.
I love to hunt but I also love to tell the stories. Now I just need to figure out how to make a living at doing the two thinks I love the most :)


I can't imagine what it would be like to see a coyote like that, and then to see four, that's awesome! Good luck for the rest of the season!

Season hasn't started for me yet, but I hope to have some great stories once it does!

Good luck everyone!

Kimberly Hiss

What great stories! Shannon's ducks, Lou's crow throw-down, Jan's granddaughter's impeccable attention to detail -- this is when our blog is at its best -- just telling stories about great times in the field. life is good. -K.H.