“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.
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.
Where have I been? I haven’t been in woods chasing after turkeys, I’ll tell you that. Most of the past month has been spent focusing on my day job (or at least doing my best to portray that), working on my house, and getting yelled at during a public meeting as a bonus.
It never fails that when a hunting season rolls around, unforeseen deadlines pop up. Who would have thought that the grass would need to be cut during the month of May? Ridiculous. I’m seriously considering entering my .6 acres of land into the Crop Restoration Program. At least that way I’ll have a reason for why my lawn looks so terrible. Plus, I hear 200” whitetails like to bed down in the cover provided from CRP fields. It’ll be like my own guilt-free hunting mecca. Who needs a yard anyway? There is plenty of room to play catch in the street.
I hold a certain affection for hunting turkeys much the same as I do for woodchucks. They drive me nuts, and I finally figured out why. It’s the way they look at you. A deer, for instance, will stare right at you if they sense danger, which is a logical approach. A turkey or a woodchuck will appear as though they are looking perpendicular to you, but in actuality, they are giving you the business out of one beady little eyeball mounted on the side of their head. I’m not sure why it annoys me the way it does, but their stupid little eye games make me want to bring them home for dinner.
I didn’t get out as much as wanted to, but I was able to hunt enough times to know that I’ll be back. It was a lot of fun. As a newbie to the sport, I learned a few tips I’ll carry with me into next season if I can remember them by then – eleven months is a long time to remember something.
I was hoping to get out in the late season but for a number of excuses reasons I wasn’t able to. First, against my better judgment, I let myself down by allowing my work responsibilities to take precedence over hunting. That better not happen during deer season or I’ll be very upset, and I hate being upset.