Looking at DaWayne, the outdoorsman, in relationship to my accomplishments in the great outdoors, I find am not without merit. I proudly display a trophy buck on my office wall. The year after the dam burst at Lake Blackshear and everyone said that there were no fish in the lake, I took my largest bass, a fat eight and half pounder. I have successfully hunted piney wood rooters with nothing but my pistol. Dove and quail have both found their way in to my game pouch on trips afield in the fall.
Unfortunately, there is a deficiency in my outdoors resume, a deficiency that has been explained to me in no uncertain terms. The missing element on my resume is the wild turkey. My problem in the obtaining this missing element is that I can’t whisper.
It is a problem that I have had my whole life. In my elementary school years, my teacher was constantly telling me to be quiet and to quit disrupting the class when all I was doing was whispering or what I thought was whispering. I have been blessed (or cursed depending how you look at it) with a deep voice my whole life. My voice has a substantial amount volume with even the slightest of sounds that I make. How does this tie into not being able to harvest a turkey? When it comes to hunting the wild turkey, I am very much the novice. Even though I am a quick study and the woods is like a second home to me, the novice turkey hunter needs a lot of on the job training which means hunting in tandem with a more experienced hunter. Communication between student and instructor is paramount; that is a soft, whispering communication is paramount. You see, a lot is made of a turkey’s eyesight being so good, but their hearing is also incredible. A wild turkey’s hearing is 10 times that of a human.
Are you beginning to see my dilemma? I am a beginner turkey hunter with the need for instruction in the woods and I can’t whisper.
Let’s add another element to my problem. I have been blessed with a girlfriend who is an accomplished turkey hunter with over 50 birds to her credit including a Grand Slam ( a Grand Slam consists of the taking of one of all four species of wild turkey native to the United States: Eastern, Osceola, Rio Grande, and Merriam). She is a consummate professional when it comes to turkey hunting. So, have any of you gentlemen out there ever tried to teach your wives or girlfriends how to drive a stick shift? If you have then you understand what I am confronted with. She has been so patient and understanding with me, but you can only spook so many birds with a booming attempt to whisper before nerves will begin to get frayed. It is kind of like when your wife or girlfriend on one of your 5 speed teaching sessions slips the clutch and stalls your truck out on a hill in traffic for the 15th time. Patience will usually win out and the lady in your life will eventually learn to use a clutch and to shift gears, but I believe it will take more than patience from my dear sweet girlfriend for me to harvest a turkey. Divine intervention was the words I believe I heard used. It seems I have other problems as well.
The need for quiet in the turkey woods extends past my inability to whisper. My girlfriend is very petite. Her small body moves through the woods with the greatest of stealth. As she passes, there are no twigs snapping or leaves rustling. It is as if her tiny feet float across the ground not disturbing anything on her way. On the other hand, I am 6’ 3” and 260 pounds. My 13EEE hunting boots are not exactly ballet shoes. Following my girlfriend through the pre-dawn outdoors, attempting to mimic her every move and not step on a dry tree limb of some sort is just about impossible. No matter how hard I try, I still get tangled in a vine or pine top. After extricating my not so graceful self from an ensnarement, I look up to see my girlfriend with one hand on her hip giving me a “Mr. Spock” raised eyebrow. This is usually where I act like nothing just happened and motion for her to lead on. Did I mention that I have a very patient and understanding girlfriend?
We finally reach the place where we are going to setup. She motions for me to sit down beside the tree we are standing next to as she goes and deploys our decoy. I quietly push back the leaves from the base of the tree with only a minimum of ruckus. She returns and floats gently down besides the tree without a sound. An hour later, my back is aching and I have no feeling in my feet. I glance over my shoulder; my mentor is sitting quietly. She seems to be as relaxed as one can be. One would think that she was asleep, but beneath her hunting mask, her sharp and clear blue eyes are ever observant. She looks like she could sit there all day. As for me, not only are my feet asleep, but so are my legs. I try to move ever so slightly, but with my tiniest movement my girlfriend’s eyes cut to me telling me to sit still.
I see no relief in sight. My shoulder blade starts to burn where it has been leaning against the tree. I squirm a little more. I hear an exhale of disgust from around the tree. My bladder now decides to join in the party. The extreme need to see a man about a horse is causing spasms in my lower abdomen. Sweat is rolling off my nose and chin like Niagara Falls as I begin to tremble uncontrollably. It is about then that my girlfriend says, “Let’s take a break”. I answered as if it did not really matter to me, “Okay, if you want to?” Just before being swept away with the pain in my legs and back and the spasms in my bladder, I manage to get to my feet and find an appropriate tree to step behind and relieve myself on.
She has not given up on me as a turkey hunter. She gave me one of those little chairs that you put next to the tree now to hunt from so I can be comfortable while I am in the woods. I am contemplating going to a lighter weight hunting boot for turkey hunting instead of my heavier deer hunting boot in an attempt to be a little bit lighter on my feet and less noisy. This leaves me with just one problem left to solve if I am to fulfill my outdoorsman’s itinerary; to learn how to speak in whispers. How can something that a child can do so easily be so hard for a man of 47 years? Perhaps I should keep my mouth shut and say nothing at all. I do not believe that would solve my problem. The need of the novice to ask questions of his or her mentor is far too important. There are way too many things that go on during a successful turkey to let go by without explanation.
So, it seems this off season, I must incorporate into my practice sessions with my slate and striker some time to practice just talking softly. The difficulty of harvesting a wild turkey is hard enough, but with a handicap such as mine it is near impossible. I know there is an answer out there if I search long enough. There are cough silencers for those who cough and hearing aids for those who have hearing problems. Maybe someone will come up with an aid for vocally impaired turkey hunters who can’t whisper.