I come to you traveling on fumes. You know, like when you are out of gas and you hope that the truck will go three more miles after the gas gauge is on “E”. I just came through the door, dropped my duffle bag on the floor, threw two shotguns on the bed, and remembered to put the leftover baloney and turkey breast in the fridge. Physically, I feel like I am in some sort of fog, as if I have either taken too much cold medicine or I am on the brink of complete exhaustion or a nervous breakdown. I hate turkey hunting.
I say that and yet I have just returned from over a two week stint of this madness. Strange, you say. Well, you should be used to me saying strange things by now.
My annual descent into the depths of turkey psychosis started in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The grass is always greener, and I have always loved this state, but I do wish they would change the opening of the season as this makes me start hunting three weeks before our season opens in West Virginia. Don’t even mention Georgia, they start in the latter part of March.
The days in Virginia are just a blur now, but the first was spent with a buddy as I tried to toll up a gobbler for him. The turkey’s response to my calling that morning was the same as that of a door to door salesman trying to entice Eskimos into buying Whirlpool freezers. Think what the noise level might be inside Grant’s Tomb. This was in the exact spot where the morning before sworn witnesses testified they had heard numerous turkeys gobble for hours. I no longer try to explain such phenomena.
Speaking of strange phenomena, (and I was) I witnessed a different kind that week. I was hunting alone one morning, (which I am going back to thinking that this is the best way to hunt), and I happened to call to a turkey that acted like he might want to get together. This gobbler soon arrived at the party but of course came up on my off side. I got a glimpse of him to my left and figured he would surely escape. I was amazed, (as was he) when I was able to get the gun pointed in that direction and end his time on earth. Maybe he was blind in that eye.
The next week was my annual reunion with game warden, turkey hunting pals from Georgia and West Virgina. Believe it or not, this fandango has been going on for thirty seven years. I know, I can’t believe it myself. The planning of this yearly endeavor has somehow reached the proportions of playing the Super Bowl at the World’s Fair during a Rolling Stones concert. Three guesses who gets to put this all together.
We had a wonderful week of good weather, the turkeys were not overly boisterous but we managed to take five gobblers. One member had a little trouble with the sights on his shotgun and actually missed a couple of big gobblers. After several group therapy sessions, a trip to the range and a new screw-in choke, he was fine. Getting right back in the saddle, he shot a big four year old turkey on Friday.
Even though I had to get up at the dismal, evil, hour of 3:30 am every day, it was a very pleasant week chasing the monarch of the woods with old friends. When you are hunting with partners that you have known for better than 30 years you are making new memories while reliving the old ones. Some of the stories never get old; you have heard them all before, you know them by heart, but in this setting you long to hear them one more time.
Wild places on mountain tops we may never see again are revisited, turkeys called in to the gun and turkeys that never answered are rehashed and relived. For six days we live in the past of treasured times in the woods, visit on the back porch with old hunting partners, and anticipate what the sunrise will bring.
I love turkey hunting.