Time to give turkey hunting a second chance

Published 11:07 pm Thursday, March 24, 2011

After seeing photos of some of the gobblers harvested in the area, I’m starting to feel a little bit of shame.

When I was growing up, I hit the woods often to fish, hunt deer or spend a day in the swamp with my dad and his beagles chasing cane cutter rabbits. We always did pretty well at all of the above. But the one creature I could never seem to outsmart is the wild turkey.

There are several reasons for this. First, I don’t keep their hours. My dad was up before the sun and usually back with a bird before I even rolled over. These days I am much more of an early riser, but in the days when I attempted to turkey hunt, I narrowed my odds quite a bit by sleeping in.

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The second factor in my unsuccessful hunts was battling the mosquitoes when warm weather arrived too early. Turkeys give you very little margin for error when it comes to movement. If you take a swat at these insects and there is a gobbler within sight, the mesquito isn’t the only thing that is going to fly away.

The third and final factor is I don’t speak their language. I don’t talk turkey. I never felt the need to practice calls and, for that reason, never had much luck.

To be honest, I never had an interest in turkey hunting when there was baseball to be played or spring football going on. I didn’t get it.

But, the more young people I see bringing in their bearded trophies the more I want to give turkey hunting a second chance. The look on their faces is priceless.

Saturday morning a young man named Joseph Estes rolled in with his first bird. I think I was almost as excited as he was. We rolled out the tape measure in the Times-Journal parking lot to see how the gobbler measured up. We all traded an enthusiastic high-five when the beard measured 10-inches. The best part of all, was the smile on his dad’s face.

Somewhere around 15 years ago I gave up on turkey hunting, but now I see there is a lot more to the sport than I ever thought. Like anything else, there are challenges and barriers. But, there are also rewards that come in all forms.

While I am a little late in realizing this for the 2011 season, I will be ready when 2012 rolls around.

I already had the equipment, now I have the will.