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The Roving Sportsman… Go Anyway!

Sometimes, it just seems like the effort will be wasted. You’re tired from the hard work the day before, it’s raining, it’s windy, it’s too cold, and you overslept and now won’t arrive at your hunting spot until much later than you had planned. You’ll jump the deer or turkeys as you try to hurry to get to your stand or the game you are pursuing will have already passed by where you plan to hunt. It just doesn’t make good sense to go – slow up, relax and take the day off. Well, that’s what it sounds like when you are trying to come up with some excuse – any excuse – skipping out on a day of hunting and opting to just do nothing. Sounds good sometimes, but you may be making a big mistake.

We all have heard tales or have experienced personally situations where you or a hunting buddy decided not to go out and the end result was that the person who did go ended up shooting a buck of a lifetime or caught a huge lunker bass! It happens all too often. Well, here is a great example of why you should just “go anyway!”

During the first week of the New York State spring gobbler season last year, I drove to a beautiful 700 acre property that had an abundant population of wild turkeys. The place I would be hunting had everything going for it – plenty of turkeys, a nice mix of hardwood forest and fallow fields on rolling hillsides and lots of acorns in the woods and a bit of standing corn from the previous fall that kept the turkeys well fed. I had even been offered the opportunity to stay on the property overnight in a guest house, which turned out to be a beautiful split log cabin tucked into the woods along a small brook. It was a perfect setup!

For several weeks I had been waking up on my own around 3:30 to 4:00 o’clock every morning. I think I was just eager about the upcoming spring turkey hunting. But, just for good measure, I set my alarm as a backup. It did its part, and woke me up at 4:15. And then, as I rolled out of bed, I glanced at my watch. It was 5:45! I had fallen back asleep and it was now past the time I should have been at my hunting spot – a 30 minute hike through the woods! I panicked.

Soon it would begin to get light out and there was no way I could make it to my spot without being detected by nearby turkeys or without spooking deer as they were heading to their bedding area. I messed up and now I thought I should just bag it for the morning. But, the turkeys were still out there and would be all morning. It seemed ridiculous to get such a late start, but then, I decided to just “go anyway.”

It was 7:15 as I hurriedly puffed my way up the hillside to a clearing, set out two decoys and settled myself against the base of an old chestnut tree snag. I listened intently for 20 minutes, and then made a call on the slate call – a long slow series of yelps. Nothing responded and I thought that I really didn’t deserve to succeed today since I was so late getting started.

Almost 30 minutes had passed when I caught movement to my left. A hen appeared and slowly walked and pecked her way toward the decoys. Moments later, the gobbler showed up, quietly following the hen and occasionally stopping to strut his stuff to “his” hen. Neither the hen nor the gobbler had made a sound, but slowly continued to ease their way closer to the decoys.

At 22 yards, and as he slowly circled the jake decoy, my shot rang out and the hunt was over! From the time I had made my call until I pulled the trigger, a mere 35 minutes had elapsed. It was one of the shorter hunts I had ever experienced and I smiled to myself as I stood admiring the gobbler and thinking how close I was to cancelling out on the morning hunt!

So, the next time you come up with an excuse or two or three about not going out, just remember that the turkeys are out there in the woods somewhere and you will definitely not get one if you stay inside! If you want to bag a spring gobbler, forget the excuses, gather your gear and just determine to “go anyway!”

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