By: Monte Perron
My first spring turkey hunt of 2000 began with the approach of a Florida wildlife officer’s vehicle instead of the gobbler I had roosted the night before. My hunting partner, the late Mike McKinsey of Realtree, and I had just hiked 45 minutes with video and hunting gear to the area where I had located the bird the previous evening. Shortly after reaching our listening spot, we heard a shot from the roost site instead of our turkey gobbling to entice his harem of hens. We were on a special draw hunt and it seemed that a poacher had shot “our” bird. The aforementioned game warden quickly asked for the direction of the shot and departed in hot pursuit of the violator. What had begun with the excitement and confidence that comes from knowing the position of a gobbling turkey had become a potentially dismal situation.
We were in an unfamiliar wilderness area that a vehicle had just passed through (not an everyday occurrence) and there were no other turkeys gobbling in ear range. Only seeing one set of tracks while scouting most of the previous day added to our opportunity for despair. At this point, I was really tempted to get discouraged, but instead, I fell back on a philosophy that I believe is essential for success in any endeavor, including turkey hunting. That philosophy was that we had to rely on what we could control – our attitude and actions! Mike looked at me and asked “now what?” Realizing that I could not change any of the events of the recent past I responded with “I am going to walk down this path and pretend that we are in the best turkey hunting spot on the planet. Furthermore, I am going to choose to believe that we will hook up and take a bird this very morning!” What else could I do? I wasn’t going to leave.
Within two hours of that decision I had harvested my first Osceola longbeard. Over the next three days, I filled both of my tags, and Mike also scored on his first Osceola. Wow! We could have given up in the first 30 minutes. Instead, as the old saying goes – we made lemonade, or maybe turkey tenders.
Many people approach turkey hunting from a position of developing technical skills. Proficiency in hunting skills such as calling, turkey behavior, woodsmanship, breeding stages, and food sources are important to the turkey hunter but no guarantee of success. The bottom line is the most experienced hunter is in pursuit of a creature that he cannot make do one thing. Those who do not understand this fact are often frustrated. Hunters become discouraged when they do the technical things and still come home empty handed.
Satisfaction, on the other hand, is the reward of those who understand how powerful a prepared person is with the right attitude. Every time I guide another hunter I squelch the anxiety about success by reminding myself what I can control- my actions and the attitude I take those actions with. For example, I cannot make a turkey gobble, but I can exhaust every effort to locate a gobbling bird by walking and calling on every inch of land I have available to me. I handle the pressure of knowing that someone is counting on me by being willing to do everything in my control to help that person harvest a bird.
The relief comes from the realization that as long as I am willing to do what I can control then I have done as much as could be expected of me. In addition to being comforting, this knowledge has produced many successful hunts. In the next few paragraphs I hope to explain both the actions and attitudes I have used to have many great hunts in the turkey woods.
To be continued.
“Get After Em”