By Mischa Schultz
There is a moment of silence after you pull the trigger that is hard to explain. Throughout this momentary silence gratitude floods your emotions as the adrenaline from the hunt subsides. This gratitude is not just for the meat, but the experiences that this bird gave to you. From hunting these animals, I have learned lifelong lessons in patience, stillness, and slowing down. This is the story of my first solo public land turkey from this spring written in two parts as I hunted this bird two days. Here is my ode to the wild turkey.
Ode to the Wild Turkey Part I A warm afternoon awaits, frost-bitten toes wiggling awake as Dark grey hues of the forest floor Change to carpets of vibrant green. I lack patience for the Old man of the woods. Lifting, Stiff palms push into the cold damp ground, My back presses apart from the old oak tree, Muscles cramp and release. The sunlight creeps across the forest floor, Illuminating spring beauty, may apple, and toothwart. I walk in search of the Old man of the woods. Uncertainty invades my thoughts but unapologetically, I continue to walk contours of the earth. Searching, Listening, Calling. Across the creek, beyond the cedar row an echo pierces through the air. Old man of the woods. My growing heartbeat drowns out the cacophony of spring. The crest in the hill hides a hunters breath. Uncertainty rises again, So close, but so far. Old man of the woods disappears into the horizon. I fall fruitless. Persistence. Ode to the Wild Turkey Part II Pitch black, A blanket of darkness covers the road ahead. Along the gravel, coffee is spilled behind a worn out wheel. Squeaking of the truck door disturbs the silence as my hunting boots greet the dark wet grass in Anticipation. A hint of orange light filters through the grey cloudless sky. Cold tree trunks divide the changing pale sunrise. I feel a sense of comfort. Back pressed against an old barb wire fence. A lone hunter tucked into the cedar row awaiting the sounds of daybreak. A thunderous gobble erupts from the tree line. My heart drops but again, I am no match for the Old man of the woods. An internal fight with patience. Disappointment fills my breath as I let out a sigh and drift asleep. The beat of a different drum wakes me “chhhkkkkkk, whoum” “chkkkkkk, whoouum” A kaleidoscope of colors gleams in the spring sun. Breathe in, breathe out. The shockingly cold stock pressed against my cheek calms my shaking body. Breathe, Relax, Focus. Iridescent colors flash before my eyes, “chhhkkkkkk, whooouum” “chkkkkkk, whoouum” He lowers his tail fan to belt out a gobble that would be his last. Wing beats on the ground cut the ringing in my ears I drag my fingers across his feathers as I feel a tear roll down my cheek. It is time to go home. Old man of the woods.