The Turkey Snorer

Calling in jakes with an unlikely instrument.

 

My snoring could wake up hibernating bears.

Yeah, I’m one of those guys. You know, the guy who no one wants to share a room with on a fishing or hunting trip because they know they’re not going to get any sleep.

I’ve gotten quite a reputation. I don’t know how many times I’ve awakened from a night of sleep to see a friend struggle out of an adjoining room in our cabin, looking like they had just been run over by a truck.

“Man, where did you learn to snore like that?” is something I hear from the polite ones. I get some choice words I can’t use in this article from others. But more than once I’ve learned that my snoring actually can be of use. I know this is going to be hard to believe, but I can call in turkeys with my snoring.

It’s happened twice now, and I’m rather proud of my accomplishments. The most memorable incident came when I was hunting with a friend in eastern Kansas. We slipped into a pop-up blind and settled into comfortable chairs. As it got light, my friend began calling.

“I usually see some jakes come across this corner of the field early,” my friend said.

He called; nothing. He called some more; nothing. When he paused I fell asleep.

I was having a nice dream about big gobblers strutting in a field, fanned out and coming toward us, when I felt a sharp elbow in my side.

“Wake up,” a voice said. “They’re coming in.”

I looked out of the window to see three young turkeys trotting toward us. Shaking his head, my guide for the day whispered, “I’ve never seen anything like it. Your snoring called those birds in.”

Thinking he was joking, I laughed softly. Then I looked at his face. He was serious.

“No, really, I just put my call down. When they heard your snoring, they turned and came right toward us,” he said. “Darnedest thing I’ve ever seen.”

I reached for my shotgun and got ready. I was waiting for my guide to take the first shot. Silence. The birds milled around our decoy for a bit, then ambled off.

“Why didn’t you shoot?” I asked.

“Those were jakes,” he said. “I’ve seen some big gobblers use this part of the land we’re hunting. We don’t want to take a jake on opening day.”

So we waited. I glanced at my buddy, thinking he was halfway hoping that I would fall asleep again, but I was pumped. Too bad the birds weren’t.

Those big gobblers that my buddy talked about never showed up. But I went out with a feeling of accomplishment. I had done more with my snoring than he had with his fancy calls.

That wasn’t the first time I had snored one in, though. In the 1980s, not long after I was hired as outdoors editor of The Kansas City Star, a reader offered to take me turkey hunting. We set up side by side, yet a fair distance apart.

I fell asleep on cue. I was awakened by a shotgun blast and the sight of a turkey flopping on the ground in front of us.

“I tried to wake you up,” my guide said, “but you were out. I wasn’t going to let him get away. He strutted right in here. I had to take the shot.”

Now that I have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, I use a CPAP machine and no longer snore . . . at least when I am hooked up to the machine that aids with my breathing. But I can’t haul the CPAP into the turkey woods with me, so there’s a fair chance that I will call in another turkey with my snoring someday.