In the woods of the wild turkey -- Jason Hawkins

Jason Hawkins
Jason Hawkins

I am not sure of the size of my brain. I am certain, however, that my brain is larger than the brain of a wild turkey.

This thought was percolating on a recent morning. Also percolating was that, no matter how smart I am, collectively with my son leaning against my left shoulder we together must be smarter than a wild turkey.

We began the journey this day with waking, not too long after falling asleep, and the two of us tip-toeing, in the dark, into the woods, moving only inches at the time.

The day before we had walked in the darkness and settled against a pine tree, on the edge of the field and listened to a turkey gobble and gobble, boldly announcing his boldness.

We, being hunters, knew the challenge would be great. We knew that our walk into the woods and choosing this tree at the edge of a field would not be the only steps necessary to hunt this particular bird.

So we devised a plan.

We would be the early worm-getter. We would sneak and silently navigate the woods, in the dark, and get as close as possible, our collective smarts our best tool.

Now, as it goes in the wild and natural world, turkey birds are wild and natural and do not always use logic and do as we assume and think. And for certain, there are many trees in the tree-filled woods in which a wild and very natural and unpredictable bird may choose to roost.

We had heard the bird the morning before, and so we hoped the bird would return to the same area and if so, that our very slow and soft and virtually blind walk into the woods would lead to an excellent return on our collective smartness.

We waited in the dark, our backs against the tree, all of the wonderings of what lurks in the dark keeping us uncomfortable company as we waited for the world to stir.

“I hear something walking," said my son.

I dismissed it as a deer, the most harmless critter I could think of, and hoped it was not a critter with fang and curiosity.

Our wait was spent with moments of napping and moments of listening to the darkness. I looked to the east and her sky was vacant. We are smart, I thought.


Suddenly, though the anticipated must never be expected, the bird gobbled.

To my surprise, we were closer than I thought. We had managed to sneak to within 60 yards of where this turkey was perched, and even I believed in our smartness.

The bird was aggressive. Our calls were soft and seductive. The bird was engaged and excited, and we felt so very smart each time he gobbled.

For nearly an hour, this turkey bird gobbled from his roost. We waited and listened, those two hours of missing sleep rewarded each time he gobbled.

“He will come right to us,” I thought.

We watched. We listened. And when the bird left his perch for even ground, we thought he would be to us very soon. He was so very close.

And then when he didn’t gobble for a few minutes, and then gobbled farther away, I wondered about our collective smartness.

The bird did as a turkey bird does, and he did what we thought he would not. And we were reminded that wild turkeys are wild and nature is nature and that, even collectively, we are not always as smart as we think we are.

As we listened to the bird leave, it was a lesson in reality that nature is a mysterious and intelligent realm that will always be smarter than two sneaky humans in the dark woods.

Enjoy your time outdoors.

Jason Hawkins lives in Orange County. You can reach him at hawkinsoutdoors@msn.com