THEY SAY THREE is the charm. I say not always, but thank goodness for No. 4.

Snow still on the ground in places, cold, windy, overcast; it didn’t matter last week when opening day for my seven-day turkey season began. At 4:45 opening morning, I was in the woods wondering how long it would take to find a gobbler. It took a long time.

Day one, I started out atop a high ridge overlooking a creek. It is a place where I have killed three gobblers in the past several years, I almost always get some kind of action and I had found a gobbler roosted two days before the season.

It also was a place where, in two hours of sitting, waiting, calling and finally moving up and down both sides of the creek, I saw zero turkeys. I heard zero turkeys. It was as if my turkey woods had suddenly been turned into a barren desert.

I gave up and made a headlong retreat, on my way to look for greener pastures. As it turned out, there were none to be found. All my best spots, places where I had located gobblers during the preceding week, were devoid of any sign, sound or sight of a turkey.

The second day brought renewed hope and enthusiasm. This time, I turned to the same place where I have killed four bucks during the past five seasons. Last fall, it was a place where I ran into a whole herd of turkeys not far from my deer stand which included two gobblers.

A few days before season, just off that piece of private property, I had seen two hens and had a tom gobbling from the roost. The second day of season, the woods were empty, at least of turkeys. One deer, several squirrels and three pileated woodpeckers, two males animatedly chasing one female around a tree, were the highlights of my morning.

Day three, the one that was supposedly going to be the charm, turned out to be nothing more than a curse. For the third straight day, I neither saw nor heard a single turkey. I gave it up for a bad job and decided to try my luck at finding some early ice-out perch.

The perch apparently had been taking lessons from the turkeys. Two hours of trying waxies on a bare hook, an ice fishing jig, a Cubby mini-jig, and a Cubby mini-jig with wiggly tail and no waxies resulted in no hits, no runs and several errors. I should have stayed home with my jug of Crown.

Ah, but even as there is no crying in baseball, at least according to Tom Hanks, there is no crying in the world of turkey hunting. Fortunately, there is a day four.

A calm, clear morning with dawn just breaking, I was sitting with my back to a tree a bit off a sandy logging road where I had spotted a gobbler crossing a nearby road twice in the past week. Turkey tracks ran up and down that grade.

It was calm, quiet and within minutes after the sun began to show first light, I thought I heard the faint sound of a gobbler from far to my left. I was above a corner of a large swamp and it sounded as if the bird might be over on the other side. I tried a few mouth-call yelps and got a faint answer.

I decided to move 150 yards to my left where I would be on the other corner of the swamp. It was a good decision. My boy didn’t gobble much, but within 15 minutes, I could tell he was coming my way.

All of a sudden, a hen appeared to my left, walking down the logging trace. I held my breath and dared not blink an eye as she ambled by a mere 5 or 6 yards away from me. A spooked hen would likely mean a spooked gobbler, but luckily, she didn’t spot me and quickly passed out of sight.

I gave a couple soft yelps and this time, the response was close. Gun up, I waited. Seconds later, a brilliant red head bobbed as I spotted it through brush and a downed balsam sapling giving me cover to my left.

In full strut my boy slowly moved closer and closer. Aside from drake wood ducks, to me there is no more beautiful sight in the world than a tom turkey in full strut. For another minute or two, I watched as he edged closer.

When he cleared the brush, I put the bead on his neck and pulled the trigger. I paced off the distance at 17 yards. What a beautiful bird he was. Smallish at 18 pounds, he made up for lack of size with a full double beard.

Later that morning, I deboned every shred of meat I could get off him, including carefully trimmed thighs and drumsticks, and was rewarded with a bit more than 8 pounds of boneless turkey meat.

In the end, following the adage of never giving up and never surrendering, even after three days of nothing, I was rewarded with a great turkey and the promise of some tasty grilled, smoked or pan-fried turkey in the future, not to mention enough dark meat for two kettles of turkey soup.

Who could ask for more?