Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Choices Within

First off, I'd like to apologize for the lack of material posted over what's becoming nearly a year.  The truth of the matter is that I started writing a bedtime story for my daughter, Lila, that turned into a 26 chapter string of closely related words that's taken nearly a year to see to fruition.  I can't and won't call it a book until I figure out how to get this thing published, but considering I'm editing the last chapter now, I thought I'd take a break for a turkey tale or two.  Hope I remember how to do this.

Yesterday's hunt began like any other.  The alarm clock went off, I hit snooze.  Ten minutes later, the process is repeated.  Twenty minutes after my alarm first went off, I rolled out of bed and began making coffee and pulling on the boots.  I was right on time, I plan for the "snooze" contingency.

There's little in life that's as good as turkey hunting.  It can be both a solitary venture pitting you against the bird, or a social event bringing friends together in the "gang" mentality.  Either way, I challenge anyone to find something "wrong" with it.  Sure, there's snakes.  And, of course, there's mosquitoes.  And, well, the weather can be uncomfortable given it is often as hot as the burning plains of the Sahara and as humid as the deep, dark of the Amazon rain forest.  And, the quarry itself is often a hard-headed lot, intent on offering just enough in the way of "he's coming, get ready" in order to drive the hunter to near certifiable lunacy.

You know, now that I write it down, turkey hunting ain't really the easiest thing to do.  And, it shouldn't be.

Too often, people try to place the pursuit of the wild turkey into a happy little box, complete with sides and borders.  They attempt to describe it in commercial ways of calls, and decoys, and camouflage, and guns, and shells.

We attempt to describe it with phrases such as "the first golden rays of dawn pierced the grey gloom of night's last goodbye".  We put value and currency on the first gobble of the morning and the 500th of the day.

Well, you can take all that and push it in the garbage, thankykindly.

There is NO one thing, and sure things don't exists.  This is an art, bottom line.  As personal as a painter's palette, as formless as potter's clay.

The older I grow, the more I understand the less I know.

To that end, I can't define turkey hunting.  It simply "is".

But, I've also come to the realization that there is one moment that makes turkey hunting what it "is", for me.  And, it doesn't happen every hunt, and that's a good thing by my estimation.  The fact I can't count on it is makes it so special when it happens.

I never really thought about it too much until yesterday, until right at the end, right before my trigger finger placed enough pressure on the trigger to start a chain of events that inevitably, for good or ill, ends the hunt.  It's the moments right before that bitter-sweetness that completely wraps the hunt up for me, and hypocritically to an extent, puts the bow on the pretty little box.

It's the "choice", and at this point, it's all on the bird.

The "choice" is a time stopper.  There you sit, staring down your barrel after a morning's marathon, after all the gobbles, after all the pleading yelps, after "the show", when time stops.  Your vision tunnels, your breathing slows, and your heartbeat can be felt in your eardrums.

And, there he sits, just behind a pine tree surrounding by privet hedges. 

You hear the spitting, you feel the drumming, you flinch then silently giggle at the gobble and there's little more to do...but wait.

It's on the bird.

He pauses, hesitating, he knows somewhere deep in his little turkey soul he's made some mistake along the way.  He knows, the game's up.  He feels it, and by right's, so do you.

He only has to take ONE.  MORE.  STEP.

But, he waits, he spits, he drums, and he struts...one last time.

Your arms tire, your backside aches, and you find yourself whispering, "Come on, just take that last step."

Then, as if in answer, you hear it.  A spit, and a step.

And, then:

 Just like that, it's over.

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