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It's a Great Time

Advice for the Shooter

It seems that the days just fly by and we don't really realize how much we need to get done to catch up with our work. That's exactly how I felt today when I look at the many projects that are awaiting me.

The first several months of each year are full of activities that require 3 or 4 days time but several days of preparation. The SHOT Show, the NWTF Convention & Sport Show both take some planning and take several days out of our schedule, on both sides of the events.

Since Doris and I are involved in competitive shooting events and staged a new one in Southern Illinois this year, that also takes time. Then of course there is turkey season but mainly for me over the last few years, that means more of being here for my readers and folks who need hunting gear, chokes, etc. to help that experience, than it does spending time in the turkey woods. Absolutely no complaints about any of this but suddenly I realize that it's May and I have a lot of work to get done.

For many years I've commented that this is indeed a great time to be a turkey hunter. Turkeys are perhaps more plentiful than at any time in our history. They are now commonly seen in places that they never existed 20 or 30 years ago. There is indeed a generation, at least, of turkey hunters who do not understand that these birds were once non-existent or at least very rare in many parts of the U.S.

I'm glad of course that we now have so many turkeys but confess that I have some gnawing fear that with the abundance of these birds, their real worth may have decreased in the minds of some hunters.

When things are “common” we tend to value them less. Coal for example is sold by the ton for much less than a diamond that is sold by the carat. That's true even though you'd have a hard time burning any diamond to keep you warm on a cold winter night! It's value lies, at least in part, in its scarcity.

I am honored to be able to carry on conversations both in person, by phone and via e-mail and the personal message system of several Internet sites, with many hunters. They differ greatly in experience levels and that is really a wonderful thing. It means that we have new hunters coming into the sport on a very regular basis. Those hunters are learning to enjoy the sport that so many of us have spent years in and that we often refer to as an addiction.

I have however noticed that many of these new turkey hunters, perhaps most of them, have no real concept of what it was like just a decade or two ago. They have grown up seeing turkeys and can't imagine that not always being the case. Some will say something like, “My dad told me that when he was growing up....” and I realize it's like being told about some long ago war or how low gas prices used to be. There's really just no way to relate. That's just the way things are and I suppose the way it's supposed to be.

So, what's my concern? It has to do with value. The real value, remember the diamond and coal example, that we place on those beautiful big birds. To me, they are not just another game animal and killing one is not just something that I can add to the list of my accomplishments. I quit playing to the crowd many years ago. Turkey hunting for me is a sport of self-fulfillment and of being in the great outdoors to enjoy the whole experience of hearing the world wake up and maybe, just maybe, hearing, seeing and perhaps killing a majestic turkey gobbler.

Maybe it's just a part of getting older and reflecting upon what's really important. Maybe it's realizing how much there is left to do and knowing how quickly the time we have to do those things is passing. Maybe it's hoping for a few more seasons in the turkey woods and being able to pass along what I so love about the sport to my grandsons. Maybe it's making sure that I never forget the true value of the hunt itself.

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