I am a Junkie

I am a junkie; an addict. It’s true! And quite frankly, I am not ashamed to admit it. I was not truly aware of the full extent of my affliction until today. I’ve got it bad!

Today was opening day of turkey season. Of course, I had to work. I had already made plans to hit the woods on Wednesday, my next day off. However, as I finished up with my last patient of the day and noticed how light it still was outside, I suddenly realized “I still have time to make it out to my honey hole and try to get a turkey!” Then the inner battle started. “No, I shouldn’t go. I have way too much to do…. But I can find time to do that another day…. No, I really need to run some errands….” This battle went on and on as I watched the clock tick closer to quitting time; six o’clock. When I left my office, I still hadn’t completely made up my mind.

As I drove out of the parking lot I turned toward home, deciding, or so I thought, that I would go hunting. But even as I was driving through town, I continued to battle with myself, almost turning toward the neighboring town where I had errands that I needed to run. But instead of turning, I kept going straight toward home, almost as if my truck had a mind of its own. At that point, I conceded and called my husband to inform him that I would be heading for the hills.

Knowing that time was limited and at best I would have about an hour-and-a-half to hunt, I pushed the speed limit as I rushed home. I hurried to change into my hunting clothes, let the dogs outside briefly, apologized to them as I brought them back in and raced back out the door, my bow and leafy-suit in hand. I was off again!

As I neared my hunting location, a familiar sense of excitement and anticipation overtook me. Even if I didn’t see a single animal, I was where I wanted to be and I knew I would have a great time.

When I got out of the truck, the sound of the creek, swollen from the heavy rains we had over the weekend, welcomed me. I quickly donned my leafy-suit and my backpack, grabbed my bow, and headed toward an area I had heard turkeys a few weeks before. As I raced along an abandoned railroad bed toward my destination, my ears strained to hear gobbles over the sound of the creek, at the same time scanning the area for deer or birds. After I left the main path and headed up the hill, I saw the shape of a deer through the trees and stopped to watch a doe working her way into the brush. Once she was out of sight, I continued on my way.

I still had not heard a gobble, so I took out my box call and did a few calls, hoping to attract the attention of a tom that might be willing to give away his location. No luck, so I continued on. I hadn’t gone 25 feet before I heard heavy fluttering in the trees in front of me. Scanning the treetops, I saw a turkey fly from one tree a few yards in front of me to the next tree. As I strained to see if it had a beard, I realized that in my haste, I had forgotten my binoculars in the truck. Fortunately, I could see that it was a small bird and with it backlit by the sky, I could see that it didn’t have a beard.

I scanned the trees and listened for other birds nearby, but did not see or hear anything, so I moved on. Another deer worked its way through the trees ahead of me, eventually catching my scent and running deeper into the forest. Using my box call again, I still could not instigate a gobble, so I slowly worked my way along a path toward an open grassy patch among the trees, hoping to catch a tom moving toward its roost. I did come across some turkey tracks, but they were all working the wrong way. Truthfully, I didn’t care that I wasn’t hearing any turkeys. I was just so thrilled to be exactly where I wanted to be.

As I worked my way along one of the many paths that crisscrossed the area, I came across a porcupine sitting up in a tree. After snapping several pictures with my phone, I moved on, thinking to myself, “Now this is the life. If only I could do this all day, every day.”

I continued working my way up hill toward a field, having decided that most likely all of the turkeys had already roosted. Now I was just exploring, looking for whatever new adventures I could find. As I neared the field, I saw a deer looking straight at me. After a several second stare-down, she ran off and I continued on.

Hoping to find a shed antler or two, I started working my way through the trees that skirted the field. As I got closer to the edge of the field, I noticed an animal standing on the skyline about 100 yards away. Slowly, I worked my way forward to where I could see more clearly and was surprised to see a cow elk. The wind was blowing toward me and she hadn’t seen me, so I decided to see how close I could get without spooking her. I slowly continued to work my way through the grass and brush, still unnoticed. She kept looking to her left, so I looked to see what she was watching and saw two deer, one of which was looking in my direction but the other was totally unaware of my presence. I stood frozen as the oblivious young doe crossed about 50 yards in front of me. As she did, five more elk drifted into sight and joined the cow on the skyline. I watched as they all relaxed and started to graze, all of them still unaware of my presence except for the doe that had been watching me. She finally wandered back into the trees while the rest of the animals fed. I just stood there taking it all in, thinking to myself how lucky I was to have opportunities like this so close to home.

Somewhere far below me, a shotgun blast broke the silence, quickly followed by the gobble of a turkey in the distance. I suddenly remembered why I was there…I was supposed to be turkey hunting!! As more turkeys gobbled, I became torn. Should I stay here and watch this peaceful scene in front of me or should I follow the sounds of the turkeys and see if I could locate a roost or perhaps a tom coming in late to his tree. As if to answer my question, a turkey gobbled somewhere between me and my truck, so I decided to make one final pursuit before nightfall.

I backed away slowly from the field’s edge so I wouldn’t disturb the feeding elk and headed down the mountain, following the sound of the turkey that continued to taunt me with his gobbles. As I got closer, I could hear two toms calling back-and-forth from the same vicinity, as well as – strangely enough – several coyotes howling. As I moved closer and dropped further into the trees, I realized it was getting pretty dark and my chances of catching a turkey on the ground were slim, so I decided to back out and head for the truck. As I hiked back, it was rapidly getting darker. I looked at the time on my phone and realized I had been there for only about 90 minutes. I could hear and barely see a porcupine slowly working its way down a tree on its way to its nocturnal meal.

I was amazed at all of the incredible experiences I had in that short period of time. I had seen and heard turkeys, encountered porcupines, stalked deer and elk. I hadn’t killed a turkey, but that didn’t matter one bit. It was probably one of the most action-packed 90 minutes I had ever had in the woods. I had enjoyed every single second of it. Then I realized why I am so addicted to hunting. It isn’t the killing of an animal. Some of my most exciting and memorable hunts are the ones like today. It is the thrill of the adventure and the anticipation of what might lie around the next corner or over the next hill. It could be anything. No two hunts are ever the same. There is always something new to learn, some new encounter to experience. I don’t think I have ever come back from a hunt without some story to tell my husband or anyone else who will listen. I have far, far more fond memories of hunts than I have of trophies of hunts.

Yes, I am a hunting junkie. I am hopelessly addicted. I wouldn’t have it any other way. The only cure: I must go hunting!

Apr 29, 2013 | Category: Blog | Comments: 1


One comment on “I am a Junkie

  1. Tom Payton

    Wow Thia what a great 90 min. I am like you , I have the addiction bad! What a great addiction to have.

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