May 8, 2003

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Every year in the weeks leading up to turkey hunting season I bore my readers to death about "my favorite hunting pursuit" as I salivate over the "greatest three-weeks" of the year. As I sat under that tree Sunday morning as the second week of my three-week long nightmare stared me in the face I just wished I had my laptop to pound out a few of my current thoughts regarding this @#$! turkey season stuff.

Then again I was truly glad I did not have my laptop with me since I was in the middle of a downpour. One might be worried about the water/computer mix causing electrocution but that would have been nothing compared to the high voltage lightning that swept in crashing down around me. Funny how two weeks without a cooperative gobbler can sour your outlook. Add to that a cold trickle down your neck, which was the only remaining dry spot on your entire body and it's easy to understand my swing towards negativity.

But as I sat there trying to think in between shivers thoughts of perseverance, patience and plain old stubbornness kept me out in the rain. Besides I was already soaked and the coldest parts of my body were drifting off into numbness so they could no longer offer up their complaints. Then it happened. The bundle of dripping wet birds appeared on the horizon. They began marching toward me as if it was my destiny. There were five or six hens at the front of the marching column before my heart leaped from the basement to the penthouse when I saw gobbler #1. I was waiting for the inspirational theme music to begin as gobbler #2 came over the ridge next. The two weeks of tormenting, sleepless mornings and uneventful treks through the woods were quickly forgotten.

But as quickly as my hopes skyrocketed they quickly fell back to Earth when the procession turned the opposite direction as if there was road construction between us and they were taking the detour.

But (notice a theme here yet of the back and forth swings I went through) then another group of eight birds came marching in to meet my first suitors. Unfortunately (I thought) this bunch of eight turkeys was only hens, much to the delight of the two toms who puffed out their drenched feathers for a momentary welcoming strut. However I still had hope as these new birds appeared determined to come to me and give the gobblers the cold shoulder. This obviously frustrated the big boys as they started a chorus of gobbles that quickly became heated as my hens ignored the boys and continued toward my lone decoy.

So once again my emotions took the roller coaster ride to the top. The original group of hens began dispersing and heading off over the hill on their separate ways. What more could I ask for? I had real hens scratching the very ground beneath my decoy. The two gobblers were yelling at me left and right and their initial harem was disappearing.

But, yes one last swing, those two turkeys simply would not come within shotgun range. They obviously were interested and my setup was good enough to have eight other birds close enough that I could count their feathers. Yet the two gobblers just would not give in. After peaking my pulse for about 15 minutes they turned and went about their business over the hill.

So there was no happy ending to my story. I didn't get to ride off into the sunset. What's up with that? In the movie, the guy who has had all the bad luck simply has to stick it out through the toughest conditions in order to win. If that's the case I'm almost afraid to ask how it can get any worse in week three. Stay tuned, that is if I am glutton enough for some more punishment.

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