Truth Found in the Turkey Woods

As the whole world goes crazy, and for once that’s not an exaggeration, I prepare for the third day of Georgia’s Spring Gobbler season.  Going through my turkey hunting vest, I’m watching the news, switching channels between commercials, going from Fox to CNN, Fox Business, Bloomberg and occasionally MSNBC. 

Earlier I had listened to President Trump during a Coronavirus Task Force update.  A few minutes later I see a headline on CNN about something Trump said.  He did say it – no doubt about that.  But CNN left out the part of what he said “after the coma”.

CNN’s reporting struck me as slanted and dishonest and moved me closer to a decision not to watch CNN at all.  I’m puzzled why CNN’s executives allow this kind of reporting.  You’d think their dismal ratings would move them to make more sensible decisions.

I didn’t think it was wise for Trump to talk about opening the country by Easter, either.  But he did go on to say he would listen to his advisers and make a decision between the human cost of the prolonged shutdown of the economy and the health risks.

But all CNN reported was Trump’s desire to relax social distancing by Easter as if all he cared about was the economy.  They could have easily made their point and told the rest of the story.     

I don’t particularly care for Trump.  CNN makes Trump out to be dishonest and ineffective.  I can understand why at times.  Sometimes his rhetoric leaves him sounding like an insecure bully in a school yard. That’s not the way I want my President to come across. But if I have to choose between CNN and Trump, and as I weigh the lesser of two evils, I chose Trump by far.  Trump may not be my preference for the kind of President I want, but I prefer him as President immensely more than I do CNN as the place to get my news.

When I switch on the news to find out what’s transpiring in the world, I want the truth.  I don’t particularly expect the truth from a politician.  My low expectations of politicians is not a unique personal trait. It seems to have been a part of the human condition in every society from the times of the first elections in ancient Greece, and not just a recent Trump phenomena. 

But I do expect news outlets to accurately report the news.

With the left wing’s at times undeniably careless reporting, it leaves Trump room to cry foul.  If the left wing media had reported only the facts absent the exaggerations, lies, and suppositions these last 3 years, Trump by now may have done himself in.  Instead of hurting Trump, they are helping him.

Again, all I want is the truth.  I don’t care how it benefits the right or the left.  But I guess those guys in charge of the cable news networks and newspapers have all drank the same cool aid.  Yes, and Trump has drank from his own cup.  You kind of expect that from a politician, though.

So most days I find myself switching between channels, wading through a stream of editorial crap, left on my own to decipher what the real deal is.

I suppose I’m not much different from a gobbler at daybreak sitting on his roost pondering whether what he’s hearing is a sweet young hen (the truth) or a deceptive hunter (a dishonest, misleading newscaster).

The prime time pundits on Fox are as slanted right as CNN is slanted left. But I feel Fox mostly saves the editorializing for their prime time line up at night while all day long CNN takes every opportunity to denigrate Trump. During the day, I feel I have a better chance of getting real news without the editorializing from Fox. Fox attempts to be uplifting. I’m beginning to find the thinly veiled glee from the pundits on CNN revolting as the country struggles through this challenge.

Fox News goes on a commercial break, so instead of switching channels, I turn the TV off and concentrate on getting ready for the next morning’s hunt.

I don’t get the thrill I once did killing a turkey.  But I enjoy hunting them as much as I ever did.  But with social distancing, it’s more difficult to find someone to take hunting than it was in previous years.  My wife and I have our 9-yr.-old granddaughter with us for a few weeks while she’s out of school because of the pandemic.  And while Amaya said she would like to go turkey hunting, Mary and I both know she would only be good for about 15 minutes before wanting to come home.  And Mary, my usual hunting partner, can’t come with me because someone has to watch Amaya.  But that’s okay, having this time with Amaya makes up for time not spent in the woods with Mary.

Mary with Her First Gobbler

So I decide to take one turkey all by my lonesome.

I have a blind set up, but since I’m hunting by myself, I decide to run and gun.  Driving past a couple of places I’ve shot turkeys in previous years, about a half mile into the lease, I get out of my old, 2006 Sequoia in the predawn gloom and attempt to locate a gobbler, imitating a barred owl. 

Immediately a gobbler challenged my owl call. The bird sounded to be located on another property, across a field about 100 yards from our property line.  Even though I doubted I could call him across that field onto our lease before he got hung up with hens, I decide I’d give it a try.

The planted pines on our lease in this area had been thinned the previous year.  It would make it easier to get a shot if I was able to call him in.  I set up in the 2nd cleared row of pines on our side of the fence.  By the time I had set out the hen and jake decoy and was settled in, the gobbler was sounding off frequently answering the hens that had roosted in the couple of big, old oaks near me in the field.

I figured my chances of luring that gobbler past the hens into the pines were slim to none.  But maybe if he saw the jake decoy he would try to run him off before he got down to business with the hens.

I called aggressively to retain his attention. When he flew down, I needed him to come my way far enough to see the jake decoy.

I’d call and he’d answer back every time. I did a fly down cackle and continued to call more than I normally would hoping he would come my way before the hens that were roosted between us flew down. That gobbler was certainly enthusiastic on the roost.

Then I called and for once he didn’t reply with a lusty gobble. Had he left the roost? If he was going to show up he would show up very soon or probably not at all.

And then there he was, coming across the field.  I could just make him out in the early morning gloom as I peered through the palmettos and pines that were on my side of the property line.  I lost sight of him as he went to my right trying to find a place to come under the fence.

I raised my gun while he was out of sight and was ready for a shot when he cleared the palmettos in the pines on the other side of the cleared row.  He didn’t know what hit him.

I was surprised at the heft of the bird when I picked him up to take back to the car.  He had inch-and-a-quarter spurs, a foot- long beard, and I later found out he weighed well over 21 pounds, probably a 3 year old bird or better.

It was early.  I thought about going home and making coffee for Mary and delivering it to her while she was in bed, as she usually did for me.  But it was early and maybe I could locate another gobbler to guide someone to later in the year.

I stopped at several places and called to no avail.  This year, for whatever reason, the gobblers were hardly gobbling at all after they flew from the roost.  I ended up going to a food plot by the river and sat up in some brush on the upper side of the field where I had watched birds enter in previous years.

I sat there for a couple of hours, calling occasionally, listening to the song birds enjoying the morning.  Finally, preparing to leave, I gathered the calls I had handily dispersed on the ground around me.  In those last few moments as I sat content, ready to go, I heard a squirrel begin to bark behind me to the right.

What had disturbed the squirrel?  It could have been a turkey responding to my calls, or just as easily a deer coming by, or some other animal.

No harm in waiting a few more minutes. Mary and Amaya would be up by now and they didn’t expect me for a while anyway.

Then I heard something coming softly through the leaves.  It sounded much like a man walking.  It could have been a deer, but knowledgeable outdoors-men will all tell you a turkey sounds just like a man slipping through the woods.

I shifted my eyes to the right hardly turning my head as two big gobblers came into view and entered the field 20 yards away.  They seemed to be twins but one was definitely boss as only he for the first several minutes broke into a strut.

They strutted and paraded around my jake and hen decoy. I could clearly hear a “thut” as the dominate gobbler shifted his feathers presenting to the decoys in full strut. With their attention diverted, I was able to slip off my right glove to take pictures and a couple videos with my phone.

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Two Big Gobblers Dancing Around the Decoys

I had no intention of shooting either one of those birds.  I had called in a bird the first day of the season and didn’t shoot wanting to bring Mary or a friend so they could enjoy the thrill of at least a close encounter. 

As the turkeys were losing interest in the motionless decoys, I got the idea to raise my gun so I could honestly tell Mary I looked down my barrel at two big gobblers this morning and didn’t shoot.

I carefully sat my phone in my lap and picked up my Remington 1100.  The turkeys by this time were walking away from the decoys and were hidden by the branches of the small trees immediately in front of me.  I thought that, well, maybe I couldn’t have shot them after all.

But I still clicked off the safety as I sat there peering through the brush, not intending to shoot, but wanting to be able to say I did everything but pull the trigger. Then one of the turkeys took a step and he was in the clear. His neck was stretched and his big, red, white, and blue head looking like it was perched on a periscope.

If I had it to do over, I definitely would not have squeezed the trigger.  Do news producers feel the same way when they’re tempted to lead with a sensational headline that’s not accurate, and end up doing it anyway?  I’m allowed 3 gobblers per season in Georgia.  It was legal for me to shoot that bird.  No reason on many different levels for me to feel bad.  But I do. 

The Deed is Done

I can’t help but wonder if newscasters have the same difficulty with their conscience when they slant the news as I did when I shot that big gobbler.

I told my Venezuelan brothers-in-law that I thought Chavez had good intentions at one time in his life.  They all adamantly assured me Chavez was corrupt and a devil from conception.

I think Trump would say the same about those responsible for fake news, and likewise, those media guys would return the sentiment.  I’m reminded of the old television series, Dragnet.  I long for a journalist who will share “nothing but the facts, Mam”. Trump’s lack of civility and decorum doesn’t justify the left wing media’s deplorable reporting.

The left wing media attempts to call it accountability, but they ask those slanted, obvious gotcha questions for the same reason my little brother pestered me when we were kids. It was the only way he could get my attention. CNN and NPR’s identity is based on those gotcha questions. Presently, I don’t know if CNN or NPR could ask an honest question if they wanted to. Trump is tired of it and he’s no longer taking their abuse. You would think they would have learned by now. It has become hard to watch when he slaps them upside the head verbally, but in this case I feel they deserve it.

My Mom would verbally abuse my Dad occasionally. She would keep it up, and keep going on until he would finally hit her. Dad was a good man but he wasn’t perfect and there is never an excuse for a man to hit a woman. There were probably some very good reasons for some of the things my Mom said. I’m sure there was. Without Mom’s haranguing we kids could have seen Dad’s faults. But there could never be a good reason for her to keep going on like she did, either. That’s why none of us kids never really blamed Dad when he finally lost it on Mom. I feel like that’s where Trump is with the reporters when they ask those question.

Accountability, hardly.

As imperfect as Trump is, I feel he’s doing a good job encouraging and lifting the nation up in this time of trouble. The way businesses have come together under his direction is remarkable. The left wing media is doing its best to point us in the other direction hoping to make Trump look bad. I don’t know about everyone else, but their repeated attempts have certainly backfired on me.

Admittedly, in the woods I mislead gobblers and do things that are legal but that I feel bad about doing later. I fear the honest truth is, that it’s only fair that the left wing media is playing me for a turkey.

2 thoughts on “Truth Found in the Turkey Woods

  1. Good read enjoyed it. Most reporters report the news the way there paid to depending on if they work for a left or right news company. Truthful journalism is gone. God help us in the future trying to find the truth.


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