While it was still dark, he set up a couple decoys in a field and scoped out a place among the trees for us to wait. And wait we did. Normally the turkeys come out around sunrise. He had been scouting and for the previous two days they had appeared in that field at sunrise. We sat in silence and watched. A family of deer crossed the field. I was warm enough except my nose and toes. As sunrise approached I was instructed to put a mesh veil over my face because otherwise the gleam in my eyes would alert the turkeys. Then we heard a shot in the distance. Someone had gotten a turkey a field or two over.
We waited and after a time, he asked, “do you want to call it or keep trying?” I said, “let’s keep trying; I can still kind of feel my toes.” So we moved to a different location this time in the woods. Sitting in silence in the country, I could hear everything. Crows, geese, frogs, and birds I couldn’t recognize by call. Now that the sun was up, I could see more clearly the beauty of the woods after the snow. A glistening white dust painted the branches of the trees. The only distraction from the meditative quality of the experience was an occasional post nasal drip brought on by the cold temperature. We saw a couple turkeys fly out of their roosts (they sleep up in trees) in the distance among the trees. Later, we heard some gobbles in the distance, so he gave his turkey call to try to lure them over to us. Finally, he decided to move locations one last time to the field again. We waited, but turkeys never came.
He told me it was probably because of the snow. And maybe the other hunter. So, three hours after we started, we packed it in and headed back to the house where I cozied up to the fire place. I was bummed that I didn’t get to shoot any turkeys, but I’m still glad I did it. I have much more respect for hunting now. I wanted to try it for a couple reasons. One, after reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I decided a meat-eating person ought to have a better idea of how meat is procured, either by hunting or by visiting an abattoir. Hunting sounded more palatable and noble. And two, I like encouraging my students when I can, and this was an opportunity to bond with one of them. I was not raised in a hunting culture, so my previous impressions of hunting were molded a little by “The Second Week of Deer Camp” by Da Yoopers. I viewed hunting as a chance for less evolved people to escape civilization, drink, and prove their machismo by killing things. But when done properly, hunting requires great discipline, patience and appreciation for nature. There aren’t many kids (or adults) today who can sit quietly still for hours on end waiting for prey that may or may not come. Hunters, I’m sure, have a better understanding of how nature works; how species are interlinked; and how pollution, deforestation and other things negatively impact the earth.
I want to try again next week as I’d really like the full experience including gutting and plucking and, finally, cooking and eating the bird. I do believe that you shouldn’t hunt what you’re not going to eat. Even if I don’t get one next week, it will be another meditative (and hopefully warmer) Walden type of experience. Leave it to an English teacher to be sitting in the woods decked out in camo with a rifle on her lap and think of Thoreau.