Turkey season has ended in Alabama. As I sit here listening to the birds wake up, the geese honking in the neighbor’s pond, watching the sun rise and dry the dew off the wet grass, I am grateful. I am grateful that I have been able to put in so much time and effort, waking up before daylight (and even losing sleep) to pursue my passion of hunting while trying to learn everything I can about turkey.
I’ve hunted a long time now but this is my second season hunting these birds and it is not easy.
I have had a few friends along the way try to teach me how to call and what to do, but for the most part, I am a self-taught turkey hunter, which is why it seems more difficult.
My goal this season was to call in a bird on my own, which I have done. But I have never pulled the trigger because they were Jakes. Although it helped my confidence calling in a turkey, I’ve also called with no response, no location, and I have had to watch long beards walk away because they wouldn’t come within shooting range. You want to talk about frustration? When that happens, it is heartbreaking.
What makes turkey hunting so different for me than other animals I hunt? It’s not only challenging and emotional for me but in my opinion, it is about the kind of hunter I am. What do I mean by that? Sometimes, it’s really comfortable and easy to sit in a blind and wait for a deer to walk out. (Before you think I’m judging, I am an avid deer hunter and I hunt that way too.) When you turkey hunt solo you have to find them and call them on your own and you have patience like no other. You have to know the area you’re hunting and be able to identify a hen from a Jake or Gobbler because sometimes you don’t get to see a beard to make that determination.
They’re not always gobbling and strutting.
All the turkey whisperers I know know exactly how and when to talk to them, I’m still learning that skill by watching how-to videos and asking those more experienced than me.
I’ve traveled out of state to hunt turkey and although I came close, I’ve had to eat tag soup. That’s always a humbling thing. It felt like I had a black cloud over me.
The day before turkey season ended, instead of running and gunning, instead of calling, I got quiet and I listened. I sat on a spot where I’ve seen turkey crossing and I watched. I just wanted to figure this hunting turkey thing out. They may have small brains but they are very intelligent birds.
I told someone in an interview once I think turkeys are actually the only animal I’ve ever cried over because I put so much work into hunting them. Then something happens or you make a mistake and there goes a hunt that you just knew would end with bragging rights. I’m telling you, I get so frustrated.
On my last hunt, I put in an all-day hunt and it was terrible. It was hot. It was slow. And I never once heard a gobbler. Its bittersweet because pridefully, I don’t get to show off a turkey. But I’m blessed to be out here learning, growing, watching, listening, and hunting.
This turkey season, if you hunted your heart out, walked the soles off your snake boots, and didn’t bag a bird, remember it’s about the hunt, the experience. It’s about never giving up.
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