If hunting or trapping was too easy it wouldn’t be any fun
By Jim Spencer
Nobody likes being a loser. However, sitting here in my camper in north Missouri in early May, listening to a steady, hard rain pounding the metal roof, that’s what I feel like.
Maybe it’s the rain that’s got me feeling glum. Maybe it’s because it’s 4:30 a.m. and I’m still half asleep. Maybe it’s because Jill and I have been chasing turkeys more or less nonstop since late March and we’re starting to get a little frayed around the edges.
All those things are probably contributing factors. But the main reason for this droopy mood of mine is the fact that so far this spring, the turkeys we’ve been hunting have been cleaning our clocks on a regular, monotonous, frustrating basis.
I’m no stranger to getting beat by turkeys. It doesn’t bother me to lose. What does bother me, though, is getting completely ignored, and that’s what these Adair County birds have been doing for the past 10 days. Between us, in that whole time, Jill and I have worked a grand total of three gobblers. All three were straight off the roost, all three came close enough to kill but remained out of sight behind vegetation or ridgelines, and all three got tired of it and left without giving us so much as a glimpse.
Sure, we’ve tagged a few birds this spring. In fact, we started off like a house afire: a gobbler on public land in Hawaii, three apiece in Texas, and a big one on home ground in Arkansas. But that’s where things came unraveled. Since that home field bird, we’re 0-for-16, and it’s starting to get old.
Compounding the frustration is the fact that over the years, we’ve accumulated a whole bunch of turkey hunting friends around the country, all of whom seem compelled to send photos of their turkeys. Since most of these people are pretty deadly hunters, every day my phone chirps several times and shows me Andy with his latest longbeard. Or Darren. Or Dale, or Jim, or Harold, or Larry, or Steve, or Randy, or . . .
You get the idea. I bet I’ve looked at 150 dead turkey cell phone pictures this spring.
But of course, I’m just feeling sorry for myself. Turkey hunting isn’t supposed to be easy, any more than trapping is supposed to be easy. If these activities didn’t present a challenge, if they didn’t require dedication and commitment, what would be the point? You and I are trappers (and many of us are turkey hunters) for precisely that reason. We like to beat the wily old longbeard or the three-toed coyote, sure. But more important than the win is the fact that we’re out there playing the game.
That’s what I’m having a little trouble remembering at the moment, sitting here listening to the pre-dawn rain hammer the camper. But the rain will stop and this mood will dissipate. Tomorrow morning I’ll be back out there, listening for that first gobble between the cardinal and the crow. I’ll have that same feeling I have when I get in my truck each frosty morning to go run my trapline: one of delicious anticipation, like a kid on Christmas morning.
Every morning, trapline or turkey woods, is a new beginning. I can hardly wait.
For information on trapping plus a few other handy tips, Jim’s book “Guide to Trapping” is available at www.treblehookunlimited.com.