Last week, in an inexplicable fit of optimism and an uncharacteristic spasm of pre-season preparedness, I bought my wild turkey, deer and bear hunting licences.
And, immediately, a few people I know questioned my sanity.
I understand that too.
The truth is I expect the seasons to go ahead as planned, but, if I had a farm, I wouldn’t bet it on this either. If I’ve learned one thing from this pandemic, it is that, much like last year’s bait box, it is full of ugly surprises.
Nevertheless, where I live all the stars are aligning. It seems as if we have perfect pre-season weather for the turkey hunting opener. And, when I say perfect, please know that this is from a turkey’s standpoint.
Last night, it was miserably windy and when I walked our dog this morning, there was snow on the ground.
This kind of weather is ideal for the turkeys. Yes, it’s cold, but they wear big insulated, feathery coats and get to move around to keep warm, so that’s not much of an issue. Plus, they’ve already made it through the worst of winter.
Hunters, on the other hand, are not so used to this. Nevertheless, we will go to our spots in the pre-dawn darkness, sit with our backs against a frost covered tree and shiver until sun comes up.
And all these thing give the birds a definite advantage.
Primarily, it makes it easier for them to see or hear a hunter due to all the shivering and chattering of teeth. Plus, if a turkey can’t immediately see a hunter, they just need to look for the pile of optimistically spring-like camouflage against the white background.
Don’t forget, this is also the kind of weather that causes calls to malfunction and decoys to collect blowing snow or frost, which does not exactly make a hen decoy look or sound all that sexy.
Yet, even with all these things stacked against us, hunting turkeys is still preferable to staying inside and self-isolating. For one thing, if you do manage to call one in and harvest it, the little dance you do warms you right up almost immediately. Plus you can hug the warm barrel of your turkey gun after the shot. Hey, no one is watching.
Plus, in the end, no one ever remembers the cold anyway. Instead, they remember the frostbite and hypothermia. Lastly, there is this. If nothing else, turkey hunting on opening day makes a person appreciate good coffee and a hot breakfast.
Now, however, because of COVID-19, we cannot be 100 per cent sure that our tradition will take place this year – although, as of now, the good news is no one has told us any different.
You’d be unreasonable if you thought this was any different than all the other traditions the pandemic has shut down. We are, after all, now living in times where decisions are made and revised based on new evidence and data that reveals itself each and every day. All we can do is hope that our governments will not have to close down travel and cancel unnecessary outdoors recreational activity. And while it would bother me, I also understand my compliance would be a small gesture compared to what others are doing.
I truly hope things get better and this doesn’t happen.
Either way, this year could be the year of cold turkey.