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A Turkey Hunter’s Poem

My Dad was the person that started me on the trek of the bearded one,

He instilled in me a passion that can result in frustration as well as fun.
My father has been gone now for many years,
I think of him on my hunts, as down my cheeks run the tears.
My Dad wore no camo; he carried a Lynch box and a L.C. Smith,
If I had one dream hunt to go on, it would be him that I’d be with.
All of us start out hunting with the goal of making that first kill,
But as we grow older we begin to realize that the HUNT is the thrill.
If asked what turkey season means to me, this is what I’d have to say,
Opening morning makes me feel just like a kid on Christmas day.
When the poplar leaves are turning green and the morels are a jumpin,’
The thought of chasing gobblers gets even the oldest heart a pumpin.’
We pursue this noble creature he of the thunderous voice,
I believe turkey hunting is in our blood, and it is not all by choice.
Opening day we’re in the woods early, dressed in camo from head to toe,
Even when the season nears an end we still find the fire to get up and go.
Alarm goes off at 3 AM, we jump up and gather our hunting goods,
All in an effort not to be late getting to the turkey woods.
We get thru the woods in different ways, we walk, roll and hobble,
All in hopes of getting the chance to hear that ol’ tom gobble.
Boxes, diaphragms, slates, and wingbones, even calls home-made,
These we carry to the woods for they are the tools of our trade.
We sit in morning darkness waiting for that wonderful turkey sound,
If we’re lucky when he gobbles he’s close enough to shake the ground.
We hunt our prey with diligence, the unknowing call us weird,
Just for chasing a big old bird which from his chest grows a beard.
He is a most regal bird and sports an elegant feathered fan,
But in the dreams of turkey hunters one tom haunts every man.
We hunt these birds that spend their nights just sitting up in trees,
Some say it is a passion, an obsession, perhaps even a disease.
Why is it that when we miss the turkey always looks much bigger?
Osceolas, Easterns, Merriams and Rios are some species of these birds,
To those that have not been to turkey school, these are merely words.
Eyes like an eagle, ears like radar, his senses serve him well,
With defenses such as that, I’m just glad turkeys can’t smell.
Clucks and cutts, yelps and purrs are used to call to these boys,
Those not familiar with this talk, they just think of it as noise.
Woodsmanship and calling are important traits to possess,
Mix these two with patience and you have a recipe for success.
We use different camo, different guns, different shells with different shot.
But if our hunting heritage is to continue, let us judge each other NOT.
We hunt with friends; we hunt with family, even a camera too,
But the competition in its truest form is between the bird and you.
You make your call and get a hot response; your bird is coming in,
Everything is going as planned ‘til you get busted by an unseen hen.
Young and old we make mistakes that can turn a hunt into a mess,
Old timers tell us to be patient, plan our moves, like a game of chess.
The bird comes in and does his dance; the game ends with a BOOM!
After a small celebration and thanks to God, admire the dogwood bloom.
Most successful hunts have a strategy and a few are a thing of chance,
When things go well and your bird comes in, just thank him for the dance.
All kinds of decoys are being used now, this gives us hunters another toy.
There’s real stuffed hens and struttin’ dekes like B-mobile and Pretty Boy.
We have favorite calls, favorite places, even birds we know by name,
But a kill does not define success, it is how you played the game.
With that in mind let us remember that the strategy we select,
Should be carried out in a way that shows the bird respect.
We hunt the turkey hard in the spring, our limit we try to bag,
If we can’t take him in fair play, then we should humbly eat our tag.
To do battle with a mature gobbler is truly a wondrous thing,
For then you understand what we know as the Rite of Spring.
There are gobblers we call to that hang up and others that walk away,
These are the birds that drive us to hunt them on another day.
Losing the game to an old monarch can make us cuss and yell,
But often these confrontations make the best stories we can tell.
I’m proud of the gobblers that I have killed, to this I will freely admit,
But ask me of my most memorable bird and I’ll tell of one I didn’t get.
We hunt Osceollas where the Seminole roamed, Easterns in woods and fields,
Rios in the land of cactus and mesquite and Merriams across rolling hills.
Some will travel cross-country in search of Grand Slam competition,
If one of you were to write a book, I’d like an autographed first edition.
To locate where a bird is roosted we’ll often use the hoot of an owl,
We’ll call like crows, scream like peacocks, even mimic a coyote howl.
A tom will gobble at many things, a clap of thunder, the crow of a rooster,
But to have one answer YOUR hen call is the ultimate confidence booster.       
He’ll strut and gobble, he’ll spit and drum, some time he says “PUTT!”
Leaving us bewildered and befuddled, just sitting there on our butt.
“I’ll kill that turkey in the morning,” many a hunter has boasted,
Only to be humbled by the old saying “Roosted surely ain’t roasted.”
God has blessed us with this great bird and we ask that it be His will,
For the shot to be clean when we pull the trigger, be it a miss or kill.
Some of us will shoot jakes; some will let them grow older,
BUT a trophy, just like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.
It is “Hunting” not “Killing” and in time we should all be able to say,
That we called in a bird and let him live so he may dance another day.
The filling of your tags doesn’t have to bring your season to an end,
Find a child that would like to go or help call one up for a friend.
We go after this bird in the rain, the wind, the snow and the sun,
Using tactics such as pre-set blinds as well as the “run and gun.
Sometimes we conquer, sometimes we fail, both are part of the game,
Just to have the chance to play makes us winners just the same.
Our failures have made many of us under our breath mutter,
That’s to be expected when you pursue the dominant strutter.
We’ll wear the same shirt, even underwear, out of superstition,
All with the hope that our future hunts will be of good fruition.
We learn from the masters, Tom Kelly, Neil Cost, Ben Lee and others,
When we heed their advice and enter God’s woods, we do so as brothers.
We get tips from other hunters and read from numerous books,
Hoping it all pays off one morning with a long sharp set of hooks.
In daily life we sometimes struggle, all in order to survive,
But in the turkey woods we are free, it is there we are truly alive.
Our days on this earth are numbered, that’s how it was meant to be,
But if I can call turkeys in the afterlife that will be Heaven to me.
Let us make it to next season, that is what we turkey hunters pray,
As we look for ways to pass the time until the next opening day.

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