I got up at 3:30 the other day. In case you didn’t know, it’s a dark and evil hour of the night. It’s very quiet, to the point of being eerie, with specters and werewolves lurking around.
Why would I get up at this troubled hour if I didn’t have to? I was training to breed at that time to, you guessed it, go turkey hunting. One of the premises of the spring turkey hunt is that you must be in the woods, at your listening post where you hope to hear a turkey swallow, before daylight. This is my first complaint about the secular spring hunt and why I’m going to tell you this.
Turkey hunting is stupid.
I don’t really know how many times I’ve written about this, and to be clear, I didn’t come up with this idea as a series of articles on my own. Richard Mann, firearms author friend and fellow West Virginian, made this observation a few years ago, and I’ve been talking about it ever since. I don’t think Richard considers himself a rabid turkey hunter; he was just saying what he thought was obvious: turkey hunting is stupid.
To continue my point about getting up early and not getting enough sleep, this is perhaps the biggest downside to chasing gobblers in the spring. If you’re one of the legions of hunters who do this, you know what I mean. Hunting turkeys almost every day of a month-long season with the accompanying lack of sleep leads to all sorts of problems. About a week into this ritual, hunters will become aware of several creeping anomalies. Irritable and grumpy behavior begins and is quickly noticed by co-workers, wives, and loved ones.
This condition is aggravated as the days go by if the turkeys themselves act stupid, refuse to cooperate (which they usually do), the weather gets bad, or any number of things that can happen in the spring woods. We humans need sleep, and when we’re deprived of it, bad things start to happen. Turkey hunters like me try to compensate for this by living off copious amounts of coffee and Little Debbie cakes all season long. It works for a while, but eventually falls asleep at inconvenient times, like during meetings at work and while driving in heavy traffic.
Turkey hunting is stupid.
Over the past few years, dyed turkey hunters have become highly specialized in what they consider their weaponry and equipment needs. Once we used the same shotgun for rabbits, ducks, pheasants and even the odd deer. Now, no real turkey hunter will be caught rushing through the dark before dawn without a special shotgun designed for turkey hunting. These shotguns need to be fully camouflaged, and they’re often fitted with some kind of specialized optics so we can see better to get a bead on a big gobbler (in case one wanders within range). This special shotgun is not absolutely necessary to catch a turkey, but most turkey hunters should have one. I know because I have several.
Turkey hunting, what is class? Dumb!
(I’m in no way telling you not to buy a shotgun. Most of you will remember Case’s theorem #7: “You can never have too many shotguns.”)
Now we have to explore the nature of the bird itself as to the ridiculous composition of the turkey hunt.
I could never determine if the good Lord had a day off or a good day when he made the wild turkey. No other creature on earth can be as disconcerting, irritating, and downright infuriating as an old gobbler. One day they will go about their daily business as if they were reading the book about what a turkey is supposed to do. The next day, the same turkey can go completely crazy, buy a train ticket to the west coast, and never be heard from again. Turkey hunters will go crazy trying to figure out how a certain section of woods will sound with the noisy chasm of several turkeys one morning, but the next day the same woods are so quiet you might hear a mouse peeing on a ball of cotton.
The Gobblers are crazy and shouldn’t be trusted. Turkey hunting is stupid.
If you’re a turkey hunter and you don’t know who Tom Kelly is, shame on you. You can remedy this by researching him and buying some of his books. Kelly is the undisputed Poet Laureate and Dean of Turkey Hunt writers. Start with his first book, titled “Tenth Legion,” and go from there. You will be a better person and a better turkey hunter for this.
Kelly reportedly said, “I don’t hunt turkeys because I want to; I hunt turkeys because I have to.” Now, in truth, I don’t really need to hunt turkeys, but I want to and will hunt them every day that I can.
Even if the turkey hunt is stupid.
“Guns & Cornbread” is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can email him at [email protected]