I don’t want to start off on a negative note here, but I really do not believe all that stuff about the groundhog. You know, the whole bit where he (the groundhog) is supposed to peek outside of his den on February second and look for his shadow. Most of us know that no self-respecting groundhog is going even think about leaving a warm bed at the beginning of February. The snow is usually piled up over his hole on that date and the groundhog is in a deep sleep, (they are true hibernators) and probably won’t get up and make coffee for at least a month. O well, that is not what I wanted to talk to you about today anyway.
I brought up Mr. Groundhog to say at this time of year I sometimes think I know how that big rodent feels. The first time he (the groundhog) pushes his way up to the entrance of his den and sticks his nose outside and says “Man!” “It’s pretty nice out here! It’s almost springtime!” Well now that we are getting some pretty days occasionally that is kind of how I feel. It is not quite spring yet, we will have some cold and wet days ahead, but we can see it coming. The hope for this is maybe what gets us through the winter.
Springtime for me (as most of you know) in large part means spring turkey season. Some states have already started this season, parts of Florida, and I believe Georgia just had a youth season, and many other states will soon follow. Most of us still have plenty of time get ready time and every year I get on you to get your gear, your turkey calls, and your shotgun ready before opening day. Have most of you done any of this yet? Yep, that’s what I thought.
Doing all this thinking about turkey hunting coming up and getting ready for it one cannot help but reminisce about past hunts and adventures, and when I do this, I think of hunting with my Dad. My turkey hunting experience with my father was maybe a little different than some. He got me started on small game like rabbits and squirrels and grouse, but in my early days we didn’t really have many turkeys around our area. Later when I went out into the big wide world and became a Conservation Officer I was stationed in an area where turkeys were found and all my misadventures with them started.
As I look back on it I can see now that while Dad went with me on many, many turkey expeditions, he was probably just going along to humor me. Now he was a hunter and he loved getting out into the woods, but in truth he probably wasn’t as mad at the turkeys as I was. That was one of his sayings, if I asked him if he wanted to go hunting today, he might say something like “No, I'm not really very mad at them today.” I do cringe however when I think of the days he did go with me. This was many years ago, my Dad could get around fairly good and I was just plain crazy about the amount of ground I thought we had to cover. I mean I usually over did it and would walk him though the mountains way too far. I could not see it at the time and I don’t remember him complaining once. Sorry about that L. O.
Time has its way of showing us all of the folly of our ways in past hunting experiences and many other things in life. We can sit and think about our adventures in the woods with our Dad, other family members, and old hunting and fishing buddies. Without trying to sound dramatic I think what we would give to have one more day out there with Dad or any of our long-gone woods traipsing partners. That day both of you missed the same big buck, the turkey that came in behind you, twice, and the time you got snowed in at camp for two days and nobody cared. Our hunting memories with Dad and others are the greatest thing we take with us from our hunting heritage, and it is why we want to pass it on to our children and anyone else that wants to learn.
Spring turkey season is almost upon us. Get your gear and shotgun ready and get out there and listen for a turkey to gobble. When you hear that first distant turkey maybe take a minute and think about Dad or a hunting companion who did this with you many times. If your Dad is still with us, hunt with him every day you can.
Maybe he will go with you even when he is not that mad at them.
Larry Case writes about the outdoors for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. Contact him at Larryocase3@gmail.com