by David R. Kelly •
I can only imagine that it is like a bad disease, or addiction.
Even though I have never been deathly ill physically, not addicted to anything other than coca-cola and sports on cable, I can only imagine that turkey hunting is very similar to being told you have a deathly illness or a deadly addiction.
In Florida it is hard not to tell when Spring has sprung. The scent of orange blossoms blow the promise of golden orange tangy liquid sweetness soon to be a freshly squeezed reality in country kitchens across the state. Oak blossoms gradually turn brown and fall covering the ground and brown leaves in the hammocks as the Oak trees are beaming brightly with a shiny green like the little leprechauns we see in March.
Birds are building nests and singing while they work, flowers are popping out flowers with an array of wonderful colors, and here in the sunshine state the humidity is starting to rise just about as high as the temperatures. Bass fishing is reaching a fevered pitch, deer are dropping their antlers and the honey bees are hard at work.
Meanwhile as the dawn breaks bringing all these things into fruition at the top of a lonesome pine, most likely the tallest in the forest, rings out a clamoring noise that causes grown men to become giddy like middle school boys after their first kiss, a noise that cause tough rugged men to get more goosebumps then seeing their daughter walk down the aisle,(well a close second.)this noise is so riveting, so invigorating, so exhilarating it will send 200lb plus men sprinting through swamps to close ground and get close to it.
This noise is the sound a male turkey makes, mostly in the Spring, a gobble.
A gobble, does several things. One it identifies a killable bird for turkey hunters, two it provides the hunter a location toward which to head, thirdly and most importantly it lets the hunter know that the male turkey is excited and ready to talk to another turkey.
But here’s the catch, the gobbler is a wise old bird, wary, and has great “escapability.” The Gobbler although susceptible to being patterned and susceptible to losing his mind and chasing a wild woman every now and then has the innate ability to realize danger and avoid it when you least expect him too.
I have tried to kill the same bird for several years and pretty sure it died of old age or from the claws of a deadly predator. The bird would do the same thing for weeks and then as I changed my setup would instinctively know that and change its path or pattern just to get away from my stealthy grip. It isn’t like I’m a novice to turkey hunting, I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I’ve killed my fair share of birds only going two or three seasons in that 30 year run without killing a gobbler.
So why is it so addicting? Why is it like a death pronouncement? I think it is because there is built into us a desire to figure things out, to know how something works and with turkey hunting you never stop learning. Each contact with a turkey you can gain some insight, some knowledge and the more time you spend hunting a particular bird the more you have invested and you want to kill that bird. There is a lot of dumb luck in turkey hunting, but there is also a lot of skill and hard work that can result into results that are consistently in your favor. But at the end of the day whether you have harvested a bird or not, you are left with a desire to do it again. You might say you feel a desire that nothing else will fill this void except being here and doing this.
I’ve been there, I am there regularly, but then I must take a step back and look around. Look beyond the iridescent feathers that shine majestically in the sunlight off of a black bodied bird, look beyond the flaming red head of a gobbler that wants nothing more than to mate, look beyond the stillness of the woods after an earth shaking gobble and see my Father’s handiwork. I’ve learned that I must worship Him and give Him thanks for this great hobby and passion that He has given me. I must not make turkey hunting my idol and worship it and think it will meet all my needs and desires, but give thanks and worship the One True God, that has given me the ability, opportunity to enjoy all that He has created.
May your passion be to worship God, and not His creation, but may you glorify God by loving Him and others while enjoying His creation. Is that a gobble I hear? Thanks be to God.