A few weeks ago, Karen Smoke penned an insightful Over the Garden Gate column about wild turkey behavior. Reading her piece, one sentence in particular caught my eye: “Meleagris gallopavo is known for its crafty and secretive nature.” I couldn’t help but smile at the statement, mostly because as a hopeless “turkey addict” I can attest these birds are indeed crafty and masters of detection. But if you ever want to pick a fight amongst a group of hunters, just mention the words “smart” and “turkey” in the same sentence. Chasing these beautiful creatures is a lesson in patience, because no two experiences are ever alike, even with the same bird. Wild turkeys will baffle even the most experienced hunter, making maddening last-second moves that can’t be explained with any type of logic or reason.
Early in my career, I was an editor for North American Hunter magazine, one of the largest sportsmen’s publications in the country. During that time, I had the opportunity to travel across the globe hunting everything from grizzly bears to prairie dogs. My most rewarding trip came in April 2005 when I scored a turkey “grand slam,” bagging Merriam’s, Rio Grande, eastern and Osceola turkeys on a coast-to-coast trip from Washington state to Florida. The feat was a combination of determination, skill and on one occasion plain dumb luck. Although the trip was a success it cemented my long-held belief that, like the game of golf, even the most seasoned veterans can be humbled in the blink of an eye.
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