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Springtime sanctity drives turkey hunters to the woods

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• Witnessing these beautiful creatures practice their version of courtship is a requisite rite of passage for those who worship in the woods.

It’s dark-thirty, and you’ve spent too much time already fumbling around the closet trying to dig out your camouflage from last turkey season.

The gun’s in the truck, along with plenty of shotgun shells and the cooler.

You rush out the door trying to beat daylight and burn rubber driving to the closest spot to park your truck before beginning your trek up and down hills and across creeks to that heavenly location you hope will be teeming with turkeys.

Upon arrival, you cease your rustling and settle down along the woodline, securely camouflaged, with an unobstructed view of the field in front. A few songbirds begin their morning chorus.

You take a deep breath and thank God you made it just in time to watch those first few rays of sun peek over the hillside.

 

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The whole natural world wakes up with a little more enthusiasm than it did all winter. Aware of spring’s promise of warmer weather and new beginnings, every creature in the woods senses that something special will happen today.

You call softly. That familiar sound answers in return. You know it’s going to be an exceptional day — not just because you get the chance to possibly harvest one of the most elusive and majestic birds in the woods, but because you have been blessed with the opportunity to witness the wildlife world welcome springtime in grand fashion.

And those gobblers know exactly how to make an entrance — flashy, iridescent tail features displayed with pomp and circumstance; bright red caruncles flapping in the breeze; long, distinguished beards announcing their wisdom and discernment.

What’s a hen to do? All winter she’s been hanging out with the other hens — young and old alike — just to ensure her own safety.

Meanwhile, the gobblers have just broken out of separate flocks for young and old. (Apparently, the males have a more difficult time getting along.)

But now, springtime has arrived, and the mature gobblers chase the hens, the hens chase the gobblers, and the young gobblers run around as confused as an 8th grade boy at his first dance.

Interestingly, the gobblers are focused only on the present, while the hen is already planning for the future after mating — nesting and brood rearing. If she’s not happy with her current winter abode, she will pack up and move to greener pastures.

Though the gobbler isn’t interested in a good nest site (because he provides no assistance in this area), he is interested in the hen, and follows her lead.

So the chase is on — for both the gobbler and the turkey hunter. And witnessing these beautiful creatures practice their version of courtship is a requisite rite of passage for those who worship in the woods.

Members of this woodland world have been waiting all winter for the chance to talk turkey, and its arrival leaves them both energized and humbled.

That glorious combination of vernal energy and humble respect for the season and its beauties is what drives turkey hunters and others to the woods every spring to observe the annual mating performance.

The honor of being a part of that sacred act is one reserved solely for those who truly appreciate the sanctity of spring.

 

    

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