this was the first time I had ever hunted turkey in the fall. The only thing I knew about their fall habits, is that they are in very large flocks of 50-150 birds, so it's pretty easy to spot sign around water holes telling you that they are using that watering hole.
So with my thought to be advanced education regarding fall turkey hunting, I set out to scout them preseason, and figured if I can identify where they are watering, I can sit a water hole and ambush them when they come in to water. And beyond not seeing any turkey, what could possibly go wrong.
So I find the perfect water hole, lots of turkey tracks in the mud. So I watched the water hole and sure enough, turkey were coming in to water first thing in the morning, almost like clock work. So I see this giant downed pine tree laying about 10 yards from the edge of this small water hole. When I say small, it's probably 30 yards across, so getting a good shot should be doable from any where around the pond. So I decide to lay next to the downed tree, this will conceal me until they're preoccupied at the waters edge.
So on opening morning I arrive while it's still dark, and I lay down on my back up against the downed tree and wait. After dozing off a couple times, it's now starting to get light so I know it shouldn't be more than an hour before they show up. Then as I'm laying there, I feel the ground rumbling, like really rumbling, and I'm thinking, what the heck can that be? I don't think it's turkey. Then it rapidly gets louder, and louder, and pretty soon it's obvious something is running straight toward me. And before I can peek over the tree, BTW, glad I didn't, holy crap, I have hooves brushing over me. It turned out to be a massive herd of elk coming into water. They're running full bore, jumping right over the top of me, and into the water hole, as if they're playing or something. I kid you not, there must have been 40 or 50 of them jumping over me.
Considering this happened following my first experience with elk, in which I walked up to 5 bulls, I was pretty worried about this huge herd stomping me to death if I should spook them. So using every bit of restraint I had, I laid perfectly still while they jumped and did what appeared to be playing in the water. Then after about 15 minutes or so, which BTW, was about the longest 15 minutes of my life, they decided it was time to leave. In the same exact fashion by which they arrived, they came running full bore out of the water, but this time I was on the facing side of the tree, so I got the crap beat out of me as their hooves slammed into me as they jumped back over me and the tree. It took everything I had to not yell in searing pain every time a hoof would smack me. When they all finally left, I was bruised almost from head to toe, and had a pretty good gash on my forehead.
Note to self, don't lay on the ground in front of a water hole, ever! I did kill my turkey though, but not until a couple days later, after having healed a bit.