Monday, April 6, 2020

In search of turkeys

Call us crazy, but Gary and I went tromping through the woods today. Together. For fun. And for a very good reason--at least to my dear husband. Me? I was just happy to be in the mountains.

With a beautiful day at hand, we hopped in the car and headed across the valley to the mountains.
Once on the picturesque Blue Ridge Parkway, he steered the car northward in search of his “spot.” The goal was to scout for turkey sign as a precursor to the start of the upcoming season in short six days. He is beyond excited at the prospect of hunting more than normal now that the world seems to have closed up shop due to Corvid-19. Less work=hunt more.

Here’s the back story. Hunting turkeys is a favorite pastime for this husband of mine. For years he ventured into the national forest for a chance to call in a big ‘ol turkey before blasting pellets into the bird. He often took friends with him, parking in the dark, wee hours of the morning, bushwhacking up the mountainside, and positioning himself to outwit a gobbler in search of love by replicating the irritating yelp of the female. Many of his hunts proved successful. An unproductive Elmer Fudd he is not.

I'd follow this man anywhere
Though it was not immediately clear which parking area he used to call home base, he figured it out based on his recall of how the climb began. So off we went; across the parkway, finagled our way up an unmarked ridgeline to the right, trudged through stands of mountain laurel, and eventually intersected high up on the mountain with ATV trails that pass through the forest.

The hike along said trails led us first to a relatively flat area that he frequented when he hunted this area in years past. He told me stories of how his dad shot a bird 25 years ago, and how a friend missed one that Gary called in. We abandoned the easy trail and began to look for sign in the woods. “I’ll head to the left and you look to the right,” Gary instructed. “You know what you’re looking for, right?”

Good question. Turns out that turkeys love to scratch around in leaves in their quest for bugs or whatever it is they find tasty. “So I’m looking for messy leaves?” Hum. This should be interesting in a forest with a leaf-covered floor. He showed me an example of a scratch, but I wasn't convinced. I tried hard to find an obvious sign of gathered turkeys. Nevertheless, I think I was concentrating more on not tripping over dead-fall than I was in finding sign.

It wasn’t until we checked out another area of open hardwoods that I really caught on. I began to
recognize areas of dirt with leaves shoved to the side. “Is this it?” I queried Gary. As he affirmed each identified turkey scratch area, I felt like I had added another important life skill to my resume’. I was becoming a certified turkey stalker.

So think about this. If wild turkey routinely leave signs, I’m wondering how hard it should be for our presence as Christ-followers to be identified? 

It seems to me that we should be making a difference wherever we are. People should be able to say, “Look. A Christian has obviously been here. We can tell."

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. John 13:34, 35

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