There are a few things that can cause one’s adrenaline to reach such a level that the image burns in the brain forever. For instance, one of my dream hunts involves trekking through the Rockies in pursuit of an animal that commands names for its size such as Royal, Imperial, and Monarch. I have watched video of them coming to within a few yards of the camera and bellowing an unmistakable trumpet that is known as an elk’s bugle. I have heard tales of great accomplished outdoorsmen who when confronted with this very scene are struck in such awe as to forget the shot. Buck fever pales in comparison to the plague of emotions one can encounter when witnessing a massive 6 feet tall rack fold back as the head and neck stretches up and out to resemble the howl of a lonesome wolf on a moonlit night.
Then you have the angler testing the shallow, shaded waters covered with a canopy of lily pads with a top water plug. With delicate and deliberate jerks the rod tip snaps the plug forward just an inch or two making a pop with the small gush of water in front. Out of the tea colored subsurface it strikes. Not like a thief picking the city dweller’s pocket, but more like a heavyweight fighter sensing a quick knockout of his opponent. The largemouth bass launches for the bait, no, through the bait, and walks across the now torn surface on its tail with intensity and anger. The only difference between the ole bucket mouth and a trained Seaworld dolphin is the slashing of its body as it tries to remove the steel piercing its teeth laden lips.
There is also the vision of the partly clouded skies, the type where the sunrise cannot be seen, but instead glows with red, orange and pink. Sounds of whistles, honks and clucks can be heard in the distance. The time is right and the trusty 12 gauge is clutched in the nearly frostbitten hands as you crouch down, waiting, wanting. On the horizon you spot three black specs. Wait, four. No, six! Just as they near your spread, the once graceful fast flying mallards turn into a haphazard group of kamikazes wavering and wobbling as they prepare to land.
Yes, all of these are great to behold. But there is another.
All the girls are out for an early morning meal having just come down from their roost. Making his way in tow, he knows he is the king of this land. He approaches the ladies-in-waiting and sticks his chest out, again confident in his prowess. There’s not a single one that does not want him. He is the man. He is not just the head of the harem, he has the swagger to prove it to all others. He blasts out his tail feathers with the pop of an oriental fan. Duck Dynasty may display the beards on television, but his beard drags the ground. This is Gobbler Dynasty.
That last vision has become one of my quests. The first time I saw an old Tom strutting around the field it enticed me to pursue the bird with more than just a seasonal hunt. Now, some seven years later, I still sit here having taken the exact same number as my daughter. The issue with this is not that she has been successful. In fact, this weekend I will be taking her on her first turkey hunt. The issue is I have yet to punch the hunter’s report card in the wild turkey column.
I have had plenty of chances. Some I have squandered. Some, like last year’s season, was just not in the cards as Mother Nature had other plans. Plans such as bears and bobcats. The bear came within a few yards of my blind as he chased away my Tom. The bobcat was interested in my decoys. It made for a great story, but as for a meal, not so much.
But my hunt is not here yet. My focus is bringing the birds in for my daughter. My goal is to make it as memorable as all of mine have been, whether successful or not.
North Carolina opens a youth turkey season from April 6, 2013 through April 12, 2013. Regular turkey season opens April 13 and runs through May 11, 2013.