You're a turkey hunter, however, so you shake it off. It only takes one bird in the right situation to turn bad hunts into great memories.
But there I was near Cheyenne, Okla., feeling sorry for myself as promising setup after promising setup seemed to evaporate. I'd called in 10 male turkeys the first day; eight jakes and two gobblers. A friend and I couldn't get shots at the gobblers. The jakes wouldn't leave.
The second day, another friend and I watched as field turkeys taunted us for hours. Calling helped pass the time. It didn't seem to sway the turkeys.
The third morning, wave after wave of hens and gobblers poured into a wheat field ... 150 yards to our right. Then two gobblers hammered from behind us ... and joined their friends in the field.
Before I knew it, the final afternoon had arrived. Somehow, despite tremendous support from camp hosts Realtree, Atsko, Remington, Trijicon, Under Armour, Knight & Hale and Croton Creek Ranch, I was turkey-less and facing a deadline.
But then something weird happened. I actually believed my inner pep talks and felt confident. Soon after I slipped into the area I'd hunted on Day 2, several hens came in from behind me, and three gobblers appeared to greet them. One longbeard saw my jake decoy and approached to within 30 steps.
The shot and recovery were no different from those I'd experienced during scores of other hunts — except, perhaps, for the little sigh of relief I uttered. I was finally on the board for Spring 2012.
"I never had any doubts," a friend said later.
I thanked him for his faith. Heck, it might have carried me through.