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Turkey hunting is stupid

By Larry Case

Here’s something you don’t usually hear in this part of the world: Yes, it’s true,


Do you have a problem admitting when you are wrong about something? No, I didn’t think so. There may be an issue you feel strongly about and you know your friend is dead wrong. You will, of course, bring this up to your amigo as often as possible because, after all, you are right and he is wrong.

When the camo boot is on the other foot, however, things are not so easy. It may dawn on you, one fine day, that your chum is right about something and you, my friend, are absolutely incorrect, erroneous and, dare I say, wide of the mark. Admitting this to yourself is hard enough. Admitting to your buddy that you are wrong can be, well, painful. I will try to give an example.

I have spoken of my friend and noted gun writer, Richard Mann, in these pages before. Richard appears in many gun-related periodicals, has written several books on firearms and is considered an authority on rifles, bullets, ballistics and things that go bang. I gladly defer to his wisdom on such matters, with two exceptions.

One is the topic of shotguns, and for some reason I cannot fathom Richard will adamantly tell you he hates shotguns, has no use for them. I know, it’s crazy, I think he may have been scared by a Model 12 as a child. The other exception is turkey hunting. Richard says turkey hunting is stupid. He has a whole dialogue on this, believe it or not, and you can see it on his blog site www.empty-cases.com.

As most of you know, I consider myself a rather rabid turkey hunter, and I have always taken exception to his view on this. I mean, it’s turkey hunting, for heaven’s sake. To say you don’t like it is almost un-American.

Now this is hard for me to say, but lately I have been having second thoughts. Maybe I’m older; maybe I’m wiser, maybe not. I’m thinking maybe you do have to be a little wacko to be chasing that big bird with the funny-looking head. Maybe turkey hunting is, well, stupid.

I know, I never thought you would hear me say that either, but let’s try to look at it realistically. Here are some of the major reasons I think my shotgun-hating buddy may be right. (Man, that was hard to say!)

  • You have to get up too dang early! Even the most ardent, dyed-in-the-wool turkey hunter nut case will often tell you this. Spring turkey hunters (fall turkey hunting is a little more civilized) believe they have to be in the woods, where they will listen and start hunting, well before daylight. I mean, before the first crack of dawn, before the first little songbird goes tweet tweet.

This entails allowing for the drive to the hunting spot, the walk through the awful darkness, plus the getting up and getting ready time at home or camp. Most of us have to allow for the downing of several cups of coffee just to get us awake enough to start down the road. All of this means one must rise in the evil, dark and misty hours of the night when you feel your head is either full of cobwebs or have taken way too much cold medicine. I hate this part, it’s stupid.

  • Sometimes the turkeys act like they owe you money. You go through a lot of time, expense and preparation for this game. You go out there in good faith, and when you make a call on your turkey caller, you expect an answer, right? In case you didn’t know, and I hope it isn’t too early in the morning to bring this up while you are having your Cheerios, but spring turkey hunting is about sex. Yeah, I know, shocking, but the male turkey, the gobbler, makes a racket to attract girls. Not unlike when you had that band that played in the garage back in the ninth grade.

So, anyway, the idea is that you imitate the call of the girl turkey to lure the boy turkey in and get decently shot. Well, I know it is hard to believe, but often the gobbler does not follow the script and leaves you sitting there on the cold ground with no turkey, a damp hind end, and wondering how many ticks you’ve collected. Stupid.

  • Why do we put ourselves through this? The American wild turkey is a large bird that probably has a brain about the size of a medium peanut. Why do we continually go out of our way to be humiliated by a big goofy-looking bird that was probably not valedictorian in his class? We turkey hunters like to tell anyone who will listen how smart, wary, psychic and downright brilliant some old gobblers are.

That is while we are hunting them. Then, one day, you are driving down the country road and a whole flock is standing there, roadside. They don’t even move when you pull up and stop. You have the distinct feeling you could casually exit the family van and take the whole bunch out with a nine iron. No shotgun required. The next day, in the woods, hunting the same bunch of turkeys, you couldn’t get within 500 yards of them if you were Davy Crockett, Natty Bumppo and Dan’l Boone all rolled into one. Are they stupid, or is it us?

  • Lastly, it is not worth the domestic strife. Passionate turkey hunters know this. I maintain that no other form of hunting is responsible for as many stormy voyages on the holy sea of matrimony as turkey hunting. I think is has something to do with all that getting up in the middle of the night and banging around the house before you leave. This, plus about a month of constant practicing turkey calling in the house, is enough to send anyone running to find a cheap lawyer. Plain stupid.

Dedicated turkey hunters will tell you I have not even begun to list all the reasons why turkey hunting is stupid. Sad to say, but you know what? – we are going to be right out there doing it anyway. We love it too much to stop, and if you think that it is stupid, that’s OK. I won’t say anything about you chasing that little white ball around the cow pasture.

Sorry Richard, I tried to agree with you. We’ll talk about that shotgun thing some other time.





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