Turkeys and mushrooms

By Larry Dablemont, Contributing Columnist
Posted 4/19/23

I have decided that turkey hunting and life in general have a great number of similarities. For instance, sometimes in life, striving for the goal is more enjoyable than reaching it and accomplishing …

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Turkeys and mushrooms


I have decided that turkey hunting and life in general have a great number of similarities. For instance, sometimes in life, striving for the goal is more enjoyable than reaching it and accomplishing it. When you have pulled the trigger and the great bird is down, flopping around in his death throes, don’t you feel a little bit of sadness down deep inside? Don’t you wish he had been a little slower and gobbled a lot more and strutted longer in the direct beams of the early morning sun?

See, it’s a lot the same way you feel when you’ve finally bought that new pickup you always wanted and you drive it home and you know it’s going to be a mess in a month with a dent in the bumper. Driving it out of the driveway at home will never be as great as it was driving it off the dealer’s lot. It’s much the same way you feel when you’ve been married a year and suddenly you see your wife in curlers and an old robe and you realize she looks a lot like her mother. If she would have agreed to marry you on the first date, you’d have missed all the enjoyment of being told “no” so often.

A dead gobbler isn’t the reward of the hunt. He is the reason for it, but he isn’t the reward. If you don’t understand what I’m talking about, you might be greenhorn. But it’ll come to you someday.

Life is a series of rare successes, great and small, occurring between numerous failures. That’s what turkey hunting is. If you hunt turkeys, you can deal with life’s failures, because you know there will be another gobbler, another day. You know that the wind and the rain and the cold only goes on so long and eventually you are going to have that beautiful spring day when it is calm and sunny and warm, and some gobbler just can’t stop gobbling.

You know that one time or another each season, there’s going to be one that comes like he’s on a string, like he hasn’t seen a hen since the end of last summer. And that’s when you forget that there have been a dozen or so that got spooked, went the wrong way, found a hen, or put food above romance.

Turkey hunting has taught me to be patient and persevere and be thankful for every minute whether the sun is warm or the rain is cold. Turkey hunting has taught me that sooner or later, every hog finds an acorn, every novice learns the ropes, every hard-luck-Harry gets a break. You just don’t quit. But in time, the reward isn’t just a dead turkey, it’s the trying and the failing and trying again, knowing if you don’t quit, you’ll have your time.

You can find treasure in the difficulties, and you can have a great life just finding occasional rewards here and there amongst the failure. Just don’t ever forget, in your day-to-day life, that quite often, the turkeys win. That’s the way it oughta be!

But as difficult as times have been for the wild turkey, hunters like me should start thinking about no longer hunt gobblers with a gun. Gobblers in most regions of the state are declining badly. In some spots they are down only 40 or 50 percent, but in some areas they are down 60 or 70 percent. It is time to stop hunting them, because if we do not, it will be worse next spring. If you want to keep shooting them, use a camera, as I do now. The ineptness and greed of our game departments will not bring them back, we hunters have to do it. Join me and some other old-time hunters in saying… ‘not this spring!’

Is it true that the Missouri Department of Conservation gives 100 thousand dollars each year to the National Wild Turkey Federation? I understand that they have done that for many, many years, and the money is wasted. The NWTF has done nothing for wild turkeys in Missouri, nor anywhere else for that matter. It is another one of those organizations where money pours into the pockets of a few and pays for vehicles and equipment used for private use.

It was the NWTF that came up with the idea of “scoring” turkeys, where you could get so many points for the length of beard, length of spurs, number of beards, weight, number of teeth and that kind of thing. If your point total got high enough, you could get in their record book and get a patch and become famous.

Shortly after the scoring system was developed, several of the NWTF’s higher-up officers were arrested in western Missouri for baiting turkeys and taking more than the legal limit. They confessed that they had been feeding the gobblers corn because they were trying to kill a really big, long bearded gobbler and get in that NWTF record book.

I have been told it is a good thing that I never did drink or smoke because I have exhibited addictive behavior, concerning eating and hunting and fishing. I notice that when I get to hunting mushrooms I forget where I am and where I am going. I have scratches on my forehead from running into tree limbs, and I left a good turkey call somewhere out there in the woods where I came across a pretty good grove of mushrooms. There was one tree that had about fifteen nice big morels around it just recently and if I knew where it was, I’d know where that turkey call was. Glad I didn’t leave my camera with it!