Have you heard this before? Turkey hunting is stupid | News

I got up at 3:30 the other day. In case you didn’t know, it’s a gloomy and devilish hour in the morning. It’s very quiet to the point of 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 in those days 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, a firearms writer friend and fellow West Virginian, made this observation a few years ago and I’ve been talking about it ever since ( is his website). I don’t think Mann considers himself a rabid turkey hunter; he was just saying what he thought was obvious – turkey hunting is stupid.

To follow up on my point about getting up early and being sleep deprived 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 begin to notice several anomalies that begin to creep in. Irritable and grumpy behavior begins and is quickly noticed by wives, coworkers, 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 are deprived of it, bad things start to happen. Turkey hunters like me try to compensate for this by living off large amounts of coffee and cake 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.

In recent years, diehard turkey hunters have become highly specialized in what they consider their weapon 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 darkness of dawn without a special shotgun, designed for turkey hunting. These shotguns must be fully camouflaged and are often equipped with some sort of specialized optics so we can see better to get a bead on a big gobbler in case one wanders into range. This special shotgun is not absolutely necessary to catch a turkey, but most turkey hunters should have one. I know, I have several. Turkey hunting, what is class? Dumb!

(Please remember that the paragraph above is in no way a form or form telling you not to buy a shotgun. Most you will remember from case 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 turkey gobbler. They’ll do things one day, going about their daily business like they’re 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 drive themselves crazy trying to figure out how a certain section of woods will sound with the noisy chasm of several turkeys one morning and the next day the same woods are so quiet you could hear a mouse. 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 the dean of turkey hunt writers. Start with his first book, “The 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 feel like it; I hunt turkeys because I have to. Now, in truth, I don’t really need to hunt turkeys, but I want to, and I will hunt them every day that I can.

Even if the turkey hunt is stupid.

Larry Case is a retired West Virginia Department of Natural Resources captain and lifelong outdoorsman. Larry writes for several newspapers and magazines. His website is and you can reach him at [email protected]