What’s in a Memory?

This article was first published May 24, 2017, at sportingclassicsdaily.com.

Like many hunters, I depend on the successes of spring to get me through summer. The memory of a dewy April morning often eases the misery of a scorching August afternoon.

I killed a turkey this year, but it wasn’t much of a hunt and therefore isn’t much of a memory. Three toms with three distinctly colored heads marched by in formation at 45 yards, no thanks to my calling or decoying. I just happened to be set up behind the right fallen log. I shot the lead bird, Red, and left his buddies, White and Blue, to gobble another day.

So I’ll be depending on other memories this summer as the mercury rises. Thankfully, there are plenty of them.

Hoping to intercept a flock returning to roost, my friend Joey and I had just settled into our setup when we heard a bird gobble behind us. I told him I thought I knew where that turkey was headed and that we could ambush him so we sprinted across a low water crossing and planted ourselves at the base of a twisted oak. The tom must have been senile because he was gobbling at nothing in particular, like a crotchety old man yelling at the neighbor kids to get off his lawn. He shut up quick, though, when Joey touched off the shot.

Late in the spring, I had a hen come off the roost, take one look at my decoy, and run for the hills. I guess she was looking over her shoulder as she ran because she sure didn’t see the tree limb that clotheslined her. She picked herself up in a hurry and putted her way to parts unknown.

My brother Kevin killed one of the prettiest Rios I’ve seen on the most picture perfect hunt I’ve ever been a part of. After gobbling a couple of times at 100 yards, that tom strutted the next 75 straight to our setup. The sun was placed perfectly in the sky and lit him up like a Christmas tree, his feathers flashing turquoise and copper. It was a sequence so beautiful I actually winced when Kevin shot.

On the last day of the season, I finally convinced three jakes that the hen calling their names was cute enough to cross the fence for. As I watched those birds strut across the pond dam, a woodpecker hammered the tree I was leaning against so hard that I could actually feel the vibrations.

With these memories in mind, I’ll mow the grass and swat at the mosquitos all summer long with a smile on my face, knowing that another spring, with another season of memories, is less than a year away.

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