Spring in our neck of the woods…Dogwoods and redbuds in bloom, morels popping up, the scent of honeysuckle, locust trees flowering…marshmallow peeps and chocolate bunnies and my annual love/hate relationship with Eastern wild turkeys!
Frustrating, aggravating, exhausting…Ugh! All ways to describe turkey hunting in late April! How can a semi-flightless bird with the brain the size of a pea outwit and outsmart me on a routine basis? I am after all a member of the species at the top of the food chain…Why do I even chase the fool birds? Why!
Call, don’t call, did I “over” call? Is he coming in or not? Roost the birds here the night before, they show up over there the next morning…Set up perfectly, not a sound made, still as a statue and he walks the other way. Completely incognito, camouflaged from head to toe, blended in seamlessly only to have his x-ray vision pick you off as he “putts” and spits and tells all the other birds you’re here…busted again! You sneak in under the cover of darkness and they fly to the next ridge…You slip into your spot only to find that the birds have slipped to another. He comes in blasting gobbles one second and then sneaks in, stealthy silent the next, only to sound off ten feet from you, nearly causing cardiac arrest! He’s answering your best impression of a love sick hen, coming on a frozen rope cutting the distance only to hang up at a broken down stand of barb wired fence or a teeny, tiny ditch…Full strut, outdoor theatre at its best, with his electric blue head changing colors just to have him lock up beyond your decoys, too far to shoot and too close not to try…Then there’s snakes and spiders, ticks and mosquitoes and don’t forget the poison ivy and dew soaked webs…
Yep, frustrating…but when the plan all comes together, that booming gobble, that thick, black rope of a beard, his fan fully displayed, moving side to side as tom makes his way in to impress all the girls and show the other guys who’s boss…that rush of adrenalin, the goose bumps and raised hairs, that quickening in your breath, the pounding of your pulse…the colors of the wild flowers, the smell of the damp dirt. The early morning sunrise…The draw of your bow or the subtle click of the safety on your shotgun at the moment of truth…challenging, exciting, thrilling…that’s why.