I know it can be dangerous but I was just thinking …

So there’s this article in an outdoor magazine I read every once in a while. In the last issue, there was a short report about this slob who poached a heavy-antlered buck in Ohio and got caught. The story went on to detail how the suspect was fined “for illegally harvesting a 25-point buck” during the archery season.

Now, I have a big problem with this report or, rather, with one word in the report. We have become so language-correct that even in the blood-splattered world of deer hunting you will hear big-game Bubbas blabbering about how they “harvested” their deer. While I cannot speak for anyone else, when I shoot a deer, I kill a deer. That is never going to change, no matter what politically correct language becomes popular.

* * *

So, I visit my pal in Florida last winter, and he gives me this cool, camouflage baseball cap, just right for turkey season. But when I get back to Vermont, I notice, for the first time, some striking artwork on the side of the hat, an image of a big tom and two hens blended in black. Now I decide the hat is so nice, I could never wear it due to the sweat, tears and toil that go into turkey hunting.

I hunt the first two days of the spring turkey season last May and have nothing to show for it. The next morning, by mistake, I pop the new hat on my head and head out, well before the sun comes up. Long story short, a few hours later I shoot the heaviest gobbler — at 22 pounds — that I’ve ever taken in my lifetime. What brought all that about? Could it be the hat? Of course not. That’s just silly superstition. But I’ll tell you this much: When opening day comes around, you have to know what will be sitting on top of my head.

* * *

Did you ever see that bumper sticker, the one that really, really irritated me? “Let me tell you about my grandchildren.” Every time I saw that message, back in the earlier days, it was like, “How pathetic is that? Give me a break.” Now, it seems, I have had an awakening, as in six grandchildren. Does anybody out there know where I can purchase a bumper sticker that goes, “Let me tell you about my grandchildren”?

* * *

If you elect a clown,

expect to see a circus

* * *

Was headed to Rutland this morning and, on the way, I spotted three jake birds (one-year-old tom turkeys) strutting and competing for several hens. It is almost comical to watch their mating dance as the hens move along, totally ignoring the spectacle, played out just for them.

I have no idea how much breeding is done by these young gobblers, but I suspect that as in much of nature, the female will look over her suitor and decide, as in this case, “I don’t think so.” On the other hand, I have observed in April and May big, mature gobblers trailing a hen while putting on his display and had no doubt that this guy is almost certainly passing his genes on to her.

* * *

The spring turkey season is only weeks away. It’s time to break out those box calls and diaphragm calls and start irritating those poor unfortunates nearby who have to listen to some obsessed bozo who thinks he or she sounds like a hen looking for the attention of a big tom. I’m told it sounds more like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Personally, I was banned from inside-the-house-calling long ago. I won’t say who imposed that ban, but you can make an educated guess.

Funny thing, though, on those May mornings when I do find success and that big tom is later roasting out on the grill, no one complains about that.

* * *

I suppose that you have to give credit to people who admit to wrongdoing, whether it’s jacking a deer in the dead of night or paying half-million dollars in graft to get your poor kid into college.

But over the past couple of years, I have heard comments on TV or read accounts of powerful male predators, corrupt politicians and notorious game thieves who, when the evidence makes it clear that they are guilty, have this to say, “I take full responsibility for my actions.” Really? You take full responsibility, as in, who else should be taking full responsibility? This is simply the guilty telling us how really great they are for owning up to their crimes. How about this, instead? “I did it. I’m guilty. I’m sorry.”

* * *

Well, you know I could just go on and on. But I need to get away from words and concentrate on sounds, as in standing out on the front porch, box call in hand, and sending out the pleading yelps of a lonesome hen looking for lover boy. And what is that sound, out up on the ridge across the road? Is that a tom, gobbling back to me? No, it’s a dog. A barking dog.

Contact Dennis Jensen at d.jensen62@yahoo.com.

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