Horizontal strokes of rosy pink brushed the pre-dawn sky. We traipsed the semi-mud, harvested soybean field and entered the forest. An occasional breeze kissed our cheeks. Leaves and fallen limbs underfoot. Bare wood towering around us. Before we entered the denser forest I made a last glimpse of the morning clouds snuggling around the low hanging moon.
My brother-in-law David and his 9-year-old son and I had broken into the pre-dawn with turkeys on our minds (wild ones, that is). It was Thanksgiving Day morning in northwestern Pennsylvania and the rest of the family was still snoozing at the house.
I’m no hunter, so the opportunity for adventure was a welcome one—and worth a lot to me.
I was provided a thick sunkist orange stocking for hunter safety and black Tingley rubbers to protect my Keen adventure shoes. Delightfully perfect.
We tried to get the attention of any nearby turkeys with a homemade handheld device that creates a sound similar to blackboard scratching. But we didn’t see any turkeys or bring any home. However, the experience taught me a few lessons.
Lesson #1 • It’s easy to be called a hunter.
(I’ll probably get in trouble with hunters on this one.) It seems if I have the equipment and I go to places where hunting takes place at the proper times, I can be dubbed a hunter, even if I have no harvest to show for it. I think it works for fishing also. I’ve gone fishing, but didn’t catch. (The reason this one stuck out to me was that it doesn’t seem writing operates by the same rules. If I have pad, have pencil, and announce that I will write, doesn’t really make me a writer. I really do need to write to be a writer. Just had to tuck this one in to remind myself.)
Lesson #2 • A new environment is good for the soul.
Trees. Leaves. A smelly bog. Mud. Fallen limbs. Buck rubs. Woodpecker slices. Crunchy soybean pods. Not my normal environment. A new and different environ works wonders deep down when I inhale the fresh air and walk the mud trails. It alters the perspective. It clears the mental palate. It’s good.
Lesson #3 • Hunting with others is an excellent way to share an experience—and make sure it happens (Especially at 6AM).
Doing an important activity with someone creates a powerful accountability factor, for One—to get it done. And two, so that all can benefit equally. Hunting together is not about greed and selfishness. It’s about sharing the same experience. The hunting activity mixed with the wild outdoor environment are an excellent mix for building and establishing friendship and camaraderie.
I’m not a tree hugger, but I decided the forest is a sanctuary. I also realized that there’s something intimate in a forest that’s absent in an open field.
I conclude that hunting can indeed be productive without bringing home the game. We had a turkey previously prepared for Thanksgiving Day Dinner. For which I was grateful.
What memory-making activity did you do around Thanksgiving Day this year?