Sometimes You Need Checked

I killed my first turkey when I was seven years old.  Twenty-three years have passed since then and during those years I’ve gotten to experience a lot in the turkey woods.  I’ve had the privilege of being raised by a turkey hunting fanatic and to meet and hunt with some truly fantastic turkey hunters.  When these guys talk, I listen.  I’ve picked up things from them that I’ve used with great success and they’ve helped steepen the turkey hunting learning curve.  I’ve also boogered up more turkeys than I care to admit and had more than a few do things that range from out of the ordinary to downright logic defying.  And I’ve gotten lucky, a lot too.

If you turkey hunt long enough, you will eventually hit a hot streak and it will seem like you can do no wrong.  You might not kill every turkey you mess with, but your ratio of killable turkeys to non workable turkeys will be fantastic.  The birds will do everything “the book” says they should.  You will rely on past experiences when faced with more difficult turkeys and come out on top.  The days you really have to hunt your ass off to the last minute will be rewarded.  You start to feel like maybe you have this whole thing figured out.  Well, you don’t.

As far as turkey seasons go, nothing about this one has been easy for me.  I had some good success in the midwest, but back east where the true test of a turkey hunter lies, I’ve gotten my ass handed to me time after time.  During the pre season, I put in more leg work locating turkeys and watching their morning habits than I ever have.  I wanted to remove all variables this year and really put it to them.  Coupled with my fanaticism, my somewhat irregular springtime work schedule puts me in the woods more than most folks.  I’ve always used relentlessness as my ace in the hole when I run out of talent and it’s never let me down.  So far though, I might as well have not scouted and quit every day at 8 o’clock.  I’ve never had a season with so many tough turkeys that survived our encounters either due to their wiliness or my poor marksmanship.  It was this morning when I realized that over the past few seasons, I’ve been lulled into the false sense that killing turkeys isn’t as hard as it is supposed to be.  The past several years I just had a lot of things go right a lot of the time.

As frustrating as a tough season like this is, it’s seasons like this that make you a better hunter.  Things like this have a tendency to strengthen your resolve and make you want it more.  It will also make you appreciate those mornings when everything goes to plan.  I still have two weeks left to hunt and instead of throwing my hands up in frustration, I’m making the most of the experience I’m getting and trying to grow as a turkey hunter.  I’ve also been reminded that sometimes we try and put rhyme and reason to an animal that happens to operate in a space free of reason.  Hopefully I’ve used up all my bad days for the year and some things start to go right, but regardless if they do or not, the reality check I got is just what I needed.  Anyone who claims to have turkeys figured out is lying to themselves and others.  Perfection in this sport is unattainable.  It’s the imperfection that makes turkey hunting great.

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