Boldness was needed, and I remember the precise hour of my epiphany in great detail. My friend Ben and I were backed up against a big cottonwood to work a group of Merriams along the Little Missouri River in far western South Dakota. Snow spit sideways under a leaden sky while a prairie gale roared. Ben just laughed at my first sweet-and-soft call. "You've gotta hit it," he advised.
So I did. My mouth call was wearing out, and I know I came up for air a few times, but a half hour later the flock's boss gobbler had finally sidled and strutted to within 30 yards. My shotgun sounded like a popgun in the tempest, but it toppled the tom.