General Vance's Charge

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Published on: Apr. 2, 2001

Last revision: Nov. 8, 2010

In past seasons, I have concentrated my efforts on a single area. I figured if I kept coming at them, I'd ultimately overwhelm them. By "them" I mean the mythical eastern wild turkey, a bird that apparently has been extinct since the day before I started hunting them 35 years ago.

They say a new broom sweeps clean. Time to clean out some new woods. I know every tree in my usual forest, mostly by running into them in the dark. And I know all the brambles by touch. And the sharp rocks by sitting on them. And I would know the turkeys if there were any. This has gotten to be old hat, no fun. Time to seek new horizons, vistas yet unseen. I want to fall into new ravines, run into new trees, embrace new barbed wire!

I had four areas available. Surely one would contain a caution-disadvantaged turkey.

First Day: I hunted on a nearby farm. "Sure, go ahead," the farmer said. "Love to have you."

I know why. I was keeping his woods safe from turkey contamination. And I did a great job. No turkeys slipped past my stern defense. Somewhere off the farm I heard a distant gobble, and then a distant shot. My woods were alive with wildlife, if you can consider dog ticks as wildlife.

On my way out of the woods, I met an aggressive loose-wire gate that attacked me like a rabid bobcat, leaving a half-dozen rips in my camouflage pants.

"What happened?" my wife exclaimed. "You look as if you'd been attacked by a rabid bobcat!"

"Never going back there!" I growled.

Next day, the farmer's son, home from college for one day, killed a turkey in the same woods.

Second day: I decided to hunt my own place. If I'm going to sit in a tick infested, turkeyless woods, I might as well be close to the coffee pot. I settled next to a tree and gazed across the pasture toward the distant woods where all the turkeys were. Perhaps if I were persuasive enough, I could call one across a half-mile of open space to my woods.

And when pigs grow wings they'll be farrowed at McDonnell-Douglas.

I called lovingly into the stern void, pouring my soul into those raspy yelps. I promised passion, endless love and thrills beyond experience. I sent a Hallmark card to the gobblers.

I heard the approach of a lusty male and my heart hammered with

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