I make no apologies for this affliction I have. You won’t see me stand up at a meeting and proclaim, “Hi, my name is Andy, and I’m a turkey hunter!” in an effort to take on the 1st of a 12 step program that most addicts do when they begin on the road to recovery. Quite honestly, I don’t want to cure my turkey hunting addiction. I like it… alot!
I went on my first turkey hunt at the ripe old age of 18. Despite the fact that I heard turkeys gobble I was not immediately spurred by the turkey bug, although I can’t say the same for my fellow rookie turkey hunting partner. Even we did not kill a turkey that day – or even come remotely close, I still remember that very brisk morning hunt like it happened yesterday. I cannot say the same for my first deer hunt. I continued to turkey hunt very sporadically with no success until another novice, but amazing caller, friend called in a bird for me. That 1st gobbler is still one of the biggest turkeys that I have ever killed. Seasoned hunters know that the hunt is what makes the trophy, and this hunt was a very memorable one.
This late season bird did everything a turkey is supposed to do as he gobbled, strutted, and drummed while walking into range. He looked like a Volkswagen Beetle coming through the woods. I was obviously pretty excited after I squeezed the trigger and dropped the turkey just over 20 steps away, but I still wasn’t spurred.
I enjoyed turkey hunting, but I think I just enjoyed being in the springtime woods more. In 1994, I called my buddy, Brian, for another springtime hunt that ended successfully with each of us taking a jake – click here to read this story. Still, after kill #2, I wasn’t afflicted by the turkey bug. That happened after kill #3.
Kill #3 was the first turkey I called in by myself, and little did I know that turkey #3 was the beginning of the end for me. The end of my daydreaming of deer hunting. The end of the annual chase of a wall hanging bruiser of a buck. The end of my craving to be in a tree an hour before daylight, and the end of my patience to sit in that same tree until dark. The end of 8 – 5 workdays in the springtime, and the end of spring weekends dedicated to yard work and honey-do lists.
Yep, that gobbling two year old turkey spurred me that day while hunting the National Forest, and I’ve never quite been the same. I don’t mean he literally spurred me, but that hunt changed me. I now eat, sleep, breathe, and drink turkey hunting. I hear turkeys gobble in my head immediately after I hear a crow caw in the middle of September in the middle of downtown Birmingham. I don’t believe I am the most afflicted turkey hunter that I know, even though my wife and family cannot make the same statement about me. I’m likely to miss family events, holidays, parties, and special occasions during turkey season. I’m most likely going to miss church on an April Sunday morning, and I’m most certainly guaranteed a discussion with my bride regarding my absenteeism during the spring as well. I’m definitely no saint, and I am by no means perfect. I AM turkey hunting!