Opening Day of Turkey Season - A Reflection

This morning a young turkey hunter showed up at my door at 5:30 AM to ask permission to hunt and hear a few tips for from "an old grey beard" in his flannels. Instantly, memories came racing back of mornings just like today, sun rising, fog, and a shiver as you watch your breath rise thru the trees. Then the unique cackle of a far-off gobbler headed your way, and your nervousness hoping to sound perfect, imitating an attractive hen. The look on this young man's face, the gleam in his eye, his overall excitement as if he was six years old and he just learned "Santa had been here." Now at age 18 this boy, like most boys his age, sleeps in too much, forgets his chores, is late for school, has senioritis and, yes, gets in a little trouble. Yet today there's none of that, he's up very early, and he's motivated. Today I'm certain this young man will turn out just fine.

I would have liked to been there last night, seen him all alone preparing his pack, making sandwiches, and laying out his favorite camo jacket. Nature has a way of preparing us for our children's departure from "the nest." I think that is why teenagers (including all of us back in the day) are irritating, arrogant, and self-centered. It's nature's way of getting parents ready and sometimes even anxious to see these children grow up and "take flight."

Today however.....today is different. Skipping school was not about sleeping in or being lazy this morning. Up at 4:30 AM today was about an excitement looking forward to a day in the woods, a day to remember, a moment in time sitting alone on a hedgerow with time to think, time to be thankful and time to imagine the future. Deep in his own thoughts briefly forgetting about where he is and what he's doing, the thunderous rattle of a big Tom jolts him back to the moment and there, right before him in the first rays of the morning sun, is an open feathered fan on the skyline. The moment of truth for the young hunter has arrived...."don't move a muscle, do I call again or remain silent, how and when will I raise my gun, and will my aim be true?" It's the moment his heart is doing double time, his hands are shaking and yet he suddenly forgets he's cold.

Another sip of coffee from my comfy kitchen chair as I wonder and look forward to his return with a story of "how that Tom got away" or "I got a beauty." Either way, I'll listen intently, act surprised and with him, reliving the moment knowing the outcome either way and knowing I've told that same story to one of my elders almost 30 years ago...

I don't know why but this reflection brings tears to my eyes...

Dan Christmas