A younger friend of mine, who is also a dedicated turkey hunter, asked me the other day for some advice. Matter of fact, he started out the conversation with, “Uncle Bob, I need your advice on something….”
Glory! It’s been so long since anyone younger (of course, most of the world’s population is younger’n I am now!) asked me for any advice, that I’m having trouble remembering when the last time was. Younger people these days and times tend to regard their elders as proper things to have around in their particular place, like at church or a civic club meeting. They might ask an old codger to “Tell us what it was like before cell phones were invented,” or “before computerization.” But ask for advice? Opinions, maybe. Not advice.
I remember a quote from Mark Twain: “When I was 14, my Old Man was so stupid, I could hardly stand to be around him, but when I got to be 21, I was amazed at how much the old fellow had learned in 7 short years!” The same theory holds true today, but the age ranges are now from 14 to probably 60. “When I got to be 60, I finally appreciated what my Daddy told me about taking care of my knees!”
So, I straightened a few kinks out of my back, sucked my belly in, and stood tall as I could as I asked, “Sure, what do you need to know?” How’s that for starting right out with the impression that I could help the young man?
“The turkeys on my club don’t seem to gobble like they used to. How do you hunt wild turkeys when you can’t hear them gobble?”
Glory be twice! There weren’t many questions this young man could have asked that I’d have been qualified to answer (though I probably would have produced an answer anyway!), but he had hit the nail on the head. Here was something I knew something about!
See, I’ve been hard of hearing for all my life (don’t tell my choir), so to be able to turkey hunt, I had to have a different strategy that most hunters. Matter of fact, I combined the advice of two elders myownself: Mr. Jimmy Rodgers and The Brown Max. Their wisdom was: “find a place where it looks like a turkey might walk by, get hid and be still like if the turkey saw you first he was going to shoot you, and call about every 20 minutes.”
Now, I haven’t killed but maybe 250 turkeys in my life, but I have fired over 1000 shotgun shells at turkeys in nearly a half century. Wild turkeys do something to me. They have a gris-gris on me. Deer don’t. I have killed over 400 deer, and I bet I haven’t missed more than two dozen in my life. Buck fever isn’t a problem, but gobbler fever definitely is!
Matter of fact, this same young man remarked later in the conversation that, “I read THE FLAMNG TURKEY and couldn’t figure out how you could miss a gobbler, because I never had. Then after I finished the book, I missed the next five turkeys I called up!”
And now he was asking for advice? Anyway, I gave him the same that I had learned a generation before from Mr. Jimmy and Brown Max. Told him that I reckoned that for every turkey one calls up that you see, there are at least a couple more that come in but you never know they were there. They sneak in, make you, and leave you. So, if I’ve fired 1000 rounds at probably 750 turkeys, I must have had 2000 turkeys within gun range who came to my call. I never heard a peep out of over 90% of them. They might have gobbled, but I didn’t hear it. Therefore, I obviously don’t agree with the hunters who never hunt because they don’t hear a gobble. Hey, the turkeys are still there somewhere! Stay in the woods.
I even remember a biologist’s theory that we were killing off the birds who had the gene that makes them gobble, so the surviving turkeys are the silent type.
You may have noticed that I have referred to wild turkeys as persons; here’s another bit of advice: “If they gave turkeys guns, men would quit hunting turkeys!”