Just what is the biggest threat that hunting faces today? Is it shrinking participation numbers or accessible land to hunt? Maybe it’s anti-hunters? It must be Social Media, right? Is it Chronic Wasting Disease? I know, it’s climate change! Maybe it’s a combination of many different things, or maybe it all funnels back to one main reason.
“It can be a challenge to get out of bed so early, but I never regret it once I’m out here,” I whispered to Brett as we hiked up a Vermont ridgeline with daylight just starting to crack over the distant hills to the east. There is just something about the beauty of a warm spring morning in Vermont that’s difficult to adequately describe to someone who has never experienced it firsthand. Deer hunting in the fall allows one a front row seat to the beauty of the woods transitioning from life to death. Turkey season brings the opposite experience.
Good, solid hunting mentors like I had growing up are in serious demand these days. Without them, kids are content to sit inside, warm and dry with their faces glued to electronic devices. I never had that opportunity because electronic devices didn’t exist yet. I was forced to play outside. The out of doors, as near as I can tell, was the modern-day parental version of screen time. “Go outside!” my mother would often say with a sweet and kind tone to her voice. An aging group of mentors and kids growing up with no desire to step foot in the woods is a bad combination!
I still consider myself to be a newbie when it comes to turkey hunting, but I do think I’m starting to grasp the general strategy. Find the birds, figure out how to get close to them, and then shoot one. Two years ago, I tried spring turkey hunting for the first time and on my very first hunt I managed to shoot a sapling in lieu of a tom turkey. It was an invigorating experience for both Tom and me, but despite the disappointing end to my first hunt I knew turkey hunting was something I needed to try again.
Hunting stories have been told since the dawn of time. Some are told for the purpose of handing down family tradition. In a dimly lit cave, Thak used cave paintings of hunting expeditions to explain the family lineage to his son, Grog. Today, most stories are told purely for entertainment, though plenty are still told around a campfire and many of the storytellers still act like cavemen. Some constants will always remain when hunting stories are told.