To me hunting is not a sport, it is not a hobby and certainly not just another pastime; rather it is a “way of life”. Hunting is woven into every fiber of my being I must hunt in order to be whole, much as in the manner religion fills the yearning voids of spiritual need.
When a hunting season is not open I am planning my next; I am out there watching, learning and listening. More importantly, I am always hunting for that insight; you know; those fleeting moments when you see clearly the reasons…Then it’s gone just as fast as it came and on goes the hunt. But there are epiphanies, those moments when you understand a small piece of the driving force.
Turkey hunting did not grab me or more accurately infect me for several seasons. Originally turkey hunting started as an add-on hunt; in other words turkeys are only thing in my neighborhood available to hunt in the spring unless you consider bowfishing a form of hunting. Some do, some also consider fishing a substitute for hunting, but alas, for me, fishing does not quench my parching thirst for the hunt.
For several years, in the spring, when a 5 day permit could be drawn I’d halfheartedly turkey hunt and at times accidentally kill a turkey. Oh, I thought I was really turkey hunting mainly because I did not know any better and no one would ever have convinced me that dead turkey was an accident.
Until… A realization dawned; there was more to successful turkey hunting than hearing a gobbler, setting up, scratching a call and blasting him.
In truth turkeys are dumb, random in action and down right complex all at the same time. That is assuming you go out to kill one on purpose and not by accident.
What is an accidental turkey kill?
- You come around a bend in the trail to find a strutting gobbler – Bam.
- You set up on a trail, do no calling, turkey flies off roost and walks the only trail to the only food source – Bam.
- You lay against the trunk of a tree sunning yourself to nap, crack an eye see a bird – Bam.
Nice but accidental kills none the less. Yea I have had some “easy” turkeys but more often than not they have required some work, a lot of work plus strategy. These easy turkeys do not hold a candle to; putting one to bed, arriving before the hint of light, setting up and being part of the first turkey conversation of the day. Hooking that bird with your calls and bringing him in on the audio string, playing him like a fiddle or like fish on light test line careful not to break it before – Bam. Walking through the big woods lush in bloom of spring flowers; casting out your audio line anticipating the strike—set the hook and play in the string – Bam. The turkey offers a complexity like no other game. It needs to grow inside the hunter like a fragile seed planted in fertile ground. No one can place it there and you can not force it. Be patient. In the meantime enjoy your hunts with open heart. Mr. Turkey will take care of the rest and you too will be become “turkey hooked.”
Here is the moment I got turkey hooked.
One of the hardest things for me – a hunter is explaining why I hunt. Like those who have tried to justify hunting before me I feel a certain humble inadequacy with the subject. My insight into this question is no better than any others and you can learn from the greenest of hunters…….While elk bugling into Circle Creek Valley from high up on Saddle Mountain in Colorado; the young lad upon hearing a response exclaimed “he is talking to me, he’s talking to me!” Whereas my thoughts had just turned to a satisfying meat-laden pack biting into my shoulders. The lad was more right in his assessment of that for which I am forever grateful for that epiphany. A subtle and at the some time profound observation, for at that moment we had truly become a part of nature as participants. It carried forward into my next spring turkey hunt – “he’s talking to me!” In quiet moments I’ve thought how strange to have gotten “turkey hooked” on an elk hunt with one so inexperienced.