WOODS AND WATERS: Turkey tales abound

By Ed Gilbert • Last Updated 5:45 pm on Monday, September 26, 2011

Ed Gilbert

I’ll wager that poultry breeders have about perfected the growing and marketing of turkeys. The tame birds, that is. And I suppose that could cause some to wonder why a hunter would force himself or herself to sit cramped up for hours, camouflaged from top to bottom and in all manner of weather, while trying to entice one of those sharp-eyed birds within shotgun range.
Seems as though a simple trip to the market would be better, eh?
No, that’s not it at all. It’s the rush of adrenalin one feels as a turkey comes into view, just as it is with deer hunting. At least that’s been my experience over the years and sometimes hunting time can even have added value.
For example, take the time I sat for hours in a cold rain, waiting and calling, when suddenly one of those big gobblers flew from a tree right over my head and scared several years of growth rate from me. I never got my gun up to take a shot.
On another occasion, a huge longbird sat in the middle of a two-track road, right in front of my Ranger. The bird wouldn’t move, so I actually thought about running it over. Then I glanced in my rear-view mirror to see a conservation officer right behind me. Oh yeah, a close call it was. So I honked the horn and watched the bird make an exit stage left, then smiled at the CO. Funny, he didn’t smile back.
One of my best opportunities to harvest a wild turkey wasn’t even during turkey season. I was sitting in my deer blind on the opening morning of deer season a tad before daylight and suddenly heard what must be an entire herd of deer pawing and scratching the ground all around my blind. Well, when it got light enough to see, I had an entire flock of wild turkeys encompassing my blind. There must have been at least 25 birds there, all scratching around for acorns and bugs. Yep, right timing, wrong season.
While we’re about it, let’s talk wild turkeys for a moment.
The wild turkey is considered to be the largest game bird native to North America. They were somewhat domesticated by the Aztec and Suni Indians, and they not only used them for food but for sacrificial ceremonies. It is now believed that all varieties of turkeys throughout the world are descendants of this North American bird, which came from Mexican stock.
And many folks may be aware that from the first American Thanksgiving, the turkey has been the traditional symbol of our American holiday. And it also came in a close second to the eagle as our national bird. Really! Can you see a turkey on our folding money or coins? Imagine the jokes that could conjure up, eh?
Well, the season is on and I do wish those who are hunting those birds much success. But I must caution any hunter not to go rushing toward those gobbling sounds you may hear…Remember, fools rush in while knowing turkey hunters just sit tight and either get soaked or freeze their bottoms off.

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