By the time you read this, spring turkey season will be open in many parts of the South. This is a wonderful time of the year to be in the woods. In the hill country, the dogwoods generally are blooming, adding color to the already greenery the woods are displaying.
It must be some kind of a fraternity that makes men and women get up in the wee hours of the morning, drive to the woods, still in total darkness, and walk a mile just to see an eastern glow. Then we stand around and “owl,” hoping to shock a male turkey into “gobbling,” thus giving away his location.
Oftentimes we go past a bird only to run back and try to set up before things really get out of hand. We used to run turkeys all over the woods. Now I prefer to find a good ambush spot, set up housekeeping and start calling.
This plan gives one the flexibility of a short nap periodically. Remember, we get up at 4 a.m., am in the woods at 5 a.m., have walked or run a mile, carried decoys, a bagful of most every kind of turkey call ever marketed and something to eat and drink on. Yeah, I get tired.
At least it's generally cool in the morning ventures. Do all this in the evening and you will be sweating.
If someone invites you to go turkey hunting, do not get out of the truck without some type of good insect repellant and a plain common garbage bag.
The mosquito dope will help keep off the insects that have survived the winter and are trying to get back in biting shape. Long britches, long-sleeve shirts, gloves and such will help keep lots of biting insects off your hide.
The trash bag is to sit on. No matter where you sit in the spring, the ground will be wet. A wet butt is downright irritating. If you get a big-enough bag, you can take refuge under it in a rain and you can put a dead turkey in it to carry it back to the truck.
Everything else you can carry with you is just icing on the cake for an enjoyable outdoor outing.
I am reminded of a turkey hunt many years ago involving four of us. We met up in hill country and made a morning hunt. We scouted about a bit before making camp on a good knoll. Two brothers, Mike and Larry May, were staying in a pop-up camper.
My buddy and I were staying in two “geodesic” round tents. We fried catfish that night, had a few hors d'oeuvres and generally lied to one another about how life had been for us. Then, like most good turkey hunters, we went to sleep.
Along about 1 a.m., my buddy woke me up hollering, “Richard, you hear that?” He, of course, was talking about thunder. We had both set out little round tents up on the slope of the knoll of our camp site. Having spent many nights in many places hunting many things out of the little round tent, I elected to “sleep in.”
Folks, the first drop to hit my little tent must have come out of a 7-pound lard bucket. My buddy hollered, “I'm fixing to try to get to the truck.” That was the last I heard from him until the storm was over.
I actually got scared. I had not “staked” my tent because it had been bluebird clear at dusk; now I was about to float down the slope. I stayed dry, but I hunkered down on my felt like an Indian the rest of the night. Only during turkey season.
If you get a chance, take a kid fishing or hunting. For that matter, take anyone. One doesn't have to kill to enjoy our outdoors. Some of the best meals and friends are made “at the camp.”