Well, it's finally over, and boy am I glad!
"What is finally over?" you may ask.
Silly COVID-19 restrictions? The daytime TV talk show "The View"? My latest dentist appointment?
No, I'm not referring to any of those things. I'm talking about spring turkey hunting season. Some of you who follow "The Trail Less Traveled" will recall that a few years ago I listened to friend and gun writer Richard Mann (emptycases.com) — who has no great love for turkey hunting and, believe it or not, shotguns — when he stated plainly that "turkey hunting is stupid."
I'm not bashful on following the lead of a great idea, so I have written several installments on this theme. Well, here you go for 2021.
It's hard to believe, but turkey hunting was even more stupid than usual this year. Ask any of your demented turkey hunting friends, and they will tell you this was a crazy season. The turkeys, at least anywhere I hunted, acted like they owed you money and would not talk to you. One morning you would hear some gobbling while the turkeys were on the roost; the next day, in the exact same spot, the woods would be as silent as the inside of Grant's tomb. One day you might hear a turkey gobble his head off while on the limb and then fly down and walk off to parts unknown.
To make things even worse, more than once I sat and watched big, long-bearded turkeys of the male persuasion walk away as I tried to get their attention with pleading hen calls. What is up with that? These gobblers were alone, had no visible girlfriends around and should have at least walked over to get acquainted. But there was no response: nada, zip, not even a "see you later" gobble thrown over the shoulder as they walked away. (No comments about the quality of my turkey calling, please.)
Turkey hunting is stupid.
On the personal side, this season was tougher than usual. I have written to you several times about the trials and tribulations of not getting enough sleep during spring turkey season. If anything, this year was worse. Getting out of bed in the middle of the night to be in the woods before sunrise gets increasingly harder for me. If I am hunting alone that day, it is even tougher. I know I don't have anyone to meet somewhere, and if I just go back to sleep, nobody will know the difference, including the turkeys.
Coupled with this early morning regimen is the dreaded drive to the hunting spot in the darkness before dawn. There you are, speeding down the road (usually running late) as you strive to keep the truck between the ditches and dodge the various creatures that may dart across the road. Deer, raccoons, opossums and the occasional werewolf are all coming off the late shift and just trying to get home. In truth, you are still a little groggy and trying to take in enough coffee to keep you alert.
All of this is crazy, or just plain stupid.
Another part of the turkey hunting craziness equation is the amount of gear some of us are now carrying. Every year it seems we have some new and improved thing we have to stuff in our turkey vest and increase the weight. Sometimes when I pull my vest out of the truck to begin the day's adventures, I think some blacksmith has put his anvil in there.
How could this thing be so heavy? What have I got in there, for Pete's sake? If I take the time to look, there are three extra box and slate calls I don't need, an extra jacket and hat, plus half a box of shotgun shells. (Probably did not need all those.) Every year I think about getting back to basics, maybe using the old military surplus shoulder bag I carried so many years ago. I would take maybe two diaphragm turkey calls and one extra shell.
Carrying all of that extra stuff is, well, stupid.
Yes, friends, turkey hunting is stupid — and you know that I am not going to quit. The fall turkey season is only five months away.
"The Trail Less Traveled" is written by Larry Case, who lives in Fayette County, W.Va. You can write to him at email@example.com.