I have been on a lot of turkey hunts in my life, but the last two seasons have been the most challenging. In 2016 we had a banner year, I filled two tags, called in one of the biggest birds I had ever seen for my Unlce Mike and that was his second bird of the season. Perhaps shortsightedly, we shot all of those birds from the same area, rather than conserving for future hunts... Then the Great Awful Really Bad Winter of '16-'17 hit and I am pretty sure did a number on the turkeys in that area. It is rare for none of our group to fill a few tags every year. I felt as though there was no way that the same area could still be in recovery mode for 2018, but there I was opening morning praying for a gobble but hearing nothing but deafening silence in our usual spot.
Now, my brother did fill a tag on a jake in that area opening day, but even that left me pondering if the number of males in the area had seriously declined. So we moved locations. I called in a nice tom for my buddy Dan, who is a new hunter, later that week in a completely different area. I told my buddy Luke who is in his second season that I felt good about getting him on a bird despite the poor luck last year. He and I even located a bird in the same place where Dan shot his, but we were unable to get on that bird. When we went back again this last weekend, not only was that bird not gobbling but my Uncle found a pile of feathers by a campsite near where we had heard that bird.
Luke and I hunted and hiked our butts off for a few days but I was unable to help him find a bird. The season isn’t over yet but Luke is short on days available for the rest of the season and so am I. With all that said, the other day we got a tip from a local who had heard some birds in an area near where we have been hunting. My Uncle, my brother and I all went and hunted there but did not hear a damn thing. Sitting in a beautiful meadow with deer passing by and squirrels every now and then threatening their own existence by barking at me, I thought about the time and work put into last season, and this season and about how I was feeling that it was unlikely for me to shoot a turkey this season... Then I thought to myself: “nature owes you nothing”. A friend of mine who had filled an elk tag every year for a decade but didn’t in 2017 came to mind. The elk season for 2017 was weird too, similar the 2017 turkey season, the elk had come off a really harsh winter and then had a fall that was cut short as well. The duck season in 2017-18 was weird too. Because of all the snow melt from the previous year the rivers were still running high in the dead of winter. That meant fewer mallards using the river where we hunt. In my opinion the 2016-17 winter is still sort of haunting us.
Nature owes you nothing. Nature does not care how many days you hunted. Nature doesn’t care if you don’t think you’ve made any mistakes. Nature doesn’t care what camouflage you use or what scent block you use. Nature doesn’t care if this area has always produced birds or elk. Nature doesn’t care if the river is too high for good fishing or duck hunting. Nature doesn’t give a shit about your vortex optics. Nature doesn’t care what gun, or bow, or sidearm you carry. Nature doesn’t care about top of the line or bottom of the barrel. Nature doesn’t care if you didn’t get enough sleep. Nature doesn’t care if you are sore. Nature doesn’t care if your feet are wet. Nature might try to kill you. Nature doesn’t care. Nature owes you nothing.
Nature is beautiful. Nature is terrible. On May 7th, despite Nature, we located a gobbler.